Discovery Cove, Orlando
I was able to finally swim with the dolphins yesterday. This has been on my bucket list since high school (along with learn to play the guitar and see Les Miserables which were both completed a long time ago).
I learned about Discovery Cove in Orlando through Mealsandmiles. But didn’t really have any idea of when I was going to be able to actually do it when a month ago, Bruce suggested we use a hotel living social deal for a weekend away in Orlando. The deal was about to expire. With a two night stay in Orlando, we knew we had to do something fun. Since we are doing Disney World in October we crossed that off the list first. Then there was the decision to swim with the dolphins at Discovery Cove, go to Universal Orlando, or spend the time shopping at the great outlets.
My husband knew it was always going to be swim with the dolphins. You see we had tried to swim with dolphins on our one year anniversary in the Keys but the weather (constant rain) made the timing not right. So I quickly booked our reservation to Discovery Cove. Yes you have to have reservations because the park is limited in the number of people allowed in each day and they fill up on the weekends quickly so book early if you want to go.
We ended up arriving at 9 am and the line was long but it did move fast. The park opens at 8 am so next time I am getting there earlier. This is the building where you check in. You are given a badge that identifies you and your time to swim with the dolphins. If you chose to drink, the badge will notate that you are of age and if you chose to connect your credit card to the badge it can be used to buy souvenirs in the park. The swim time is given on a first come first serve basis. Since we were late, we were given a 4:10 pm time.
After checking in, you have the chance to get a complimentary photo taken of your group. Do it as it is free. Sorry for the bad pic of a picture. But the grin shows you how excited I was. After the picture, we got our free locker (so convenient) and found chairs to save for the day. If we would have waited we would have had a hard time finding two chairs together but we lucked out and got chairs in the shade too. Get the shade because you spend a lot of time in the sun while you are swimming.
After relaxing for a bit we decided to stroll around the park and decide what we are doing first. The first stop was the reef and snorkeling with all types of fish and stingrays. There are shallow areas where you don’t need to snorkel and still pet the stingrays or there are deeper areas (12 feet) that allow you to dive too. So you do what you feel comfortable doing. Here is a picture of Bruce in his snorkeling gear ready to explore.
And a picture of me because we can’t just embarrass Bruce.
It was cool to snorkel right next to sharks. Bruce was trying to knock on the glass to get their attention.
We saw some pretty coral too.
I should mention the water is cold. It has to be cold for the fish. I was glad the sun was out and if I kept moving I was fine. Check what a pro I was at snorkeling…
This was what I was checking out. These two sting rays looks to be bigger then me. A little scary but maybe they were sleeping because they didn’t move.
There were school of fish too. The reef was so much fun.
After the reef, Bruce and I went back to our chairs with drinks and snacks to warm back up in the sun. We had a nice lunch and went around the lazy river. We didn’t take the camera so no pictures. About 3/4 of the way through the lazy river we were told we were on silver alert because of a storm that was coming so to be a little quicker on the way to the exit. There are only two exits in the river so plan on spending some quality time chilling unless you want to swim a lot to get out faster. By the time we exited we could see the storm clouds so we decided to give up our chairs and chill. We also started to worry about our dolphin swim. We asked an employee and was told that only lightening would delay the swim. Rain = water and would not stop the action so we shouldn’t worry. Although there never was a down pour it did sprinkle on and off during our dolphin swim. They do not allow cameras on the dolphin swim but there are professionals there so we got a nice picture of Bruce and I playing with our new friend.
I loved every second of the time with the dolphin. We got to touch, kiss, hug and play. Getting to grab onto her fins and have her pull was amazing. I could feel the power and strength as she moved her 400 pound body through the water pulling me. It was amazing. And then it was over way too quick. At that point I realized, I was freezing and the sun was not out to warm me. Don’t be fooled by the smile, it was cold.
I was so glad we had brought dry clothes to change into. By the time we were done with our swim it was after 5 pm and the park closes at 5:30 pm. With no time for another swim in the reef, Bruce and I had hot showers (with free shampoo, conditioner, shower gel) and got dressed in dry warm clothes. We walked around one last time to get some more pictures and drink one more beer. One of the employees offered to take our picture. (Actually more then one!)
What do I really think about Discovery Cove? The bad – it is EXPENSIVE. But you have to take into account that they limit the number of people in the park and that makes the customer service so much better. The park was kept clean through out the day. Every time I went to the bathroom it was clean which has to be hard with all the sand and water being dragged in. The food and drinks were good and included in the price. We enjoyed not having to worry about how much food cost and considered it to be cruise like for that aspect. Plus they supply sunscreen, towels, bath supplies etc. So you don’t have to pack it all with you. The extras we bought were a underwater camera which was $14 because we didn’t have time to stop and get one before hand. The $14 was worth it as she wrote my name on it with sharpie saying if it gets lost it would be at the lost and found. I would never have thought of that if I had brought one from home. We also spent $20 on the picture of the dolphin. Pricey but how often do you get to swim with one? So it was worth it. We had so much fun and even though it was expensive we will be going back someday. It was too much fun to not go back.
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