I’m a firm believer that travel should be equal parts adventure and relaxation. This is why Discovery Cove in Orlando, Florida is such a great destination for travelers like me. You can come nose-to-nose with a dolphin or snorkel among stingrays for an unforgettable thrill. Or, hit up the lazy river with a drink in hand followed by a nap in a hammock.
What is Discovery Cove?
Discovery Cove is an all-inclusive aquatic day resort filled with incredible experiences such as animal encounters, water activities, and wildlife education. Throughout the day, you’ll have the opportunity to do everything from meeting a Two-Toed Sloth to snorkeling with tropical fish. Or, kick back and relax in a private cabana with never-ending food and drinks. The choice is yours!
12 Discovery Cove Tips You Need to Know
Of course, there are a few Discovery Cove tips you should keep in mind in order to have a great day. The last thing you want is a bit of frustration throwing off your day of adventure and relaxation. These tips will show you how to make the most of your day.
1. Book Your Visit in Advance
Since Discovery Cove is an all-inclusive day resort, the facility operates on a reservation-only basis. Plus, to ensure animals and humans alike have a pleasant and safe experience, a maximum of 1,300 guests may enter each day.
As one of the most important Discovery Cove tips, it is imperative that you book your visit as far in advance as possible. Reservations for Discovery Cove fill up weeks in advance. Also, if planning to visit during the busy summer season or around a holiday, plan to book your reservation no later than two months ahead of time.
Once your reservation is set, all you need is your name, confirmation, and valid photo ID to check-in on your scheduled date.
2. Everything is Included
Remember, Discovery Cove is an all-inclusive day resort. There’s no need to bring anything other than yourself, a swimsuit, and a few personal items you may need throughout the day.
Discovery Cove provides guests with:
- Beach Chair
- Life Jackets
- Food and Beverages
- Shower Amenities
- Souvenir Snorkel
- Prescription Masks
- Access to the Explorer’s Aviary, The Grand Reef®, Freshwater Oasis®, Serenity Bay, and Wind-away River
- Unlimited admission to SeaWorld and Aquatica for 14 consecutive days around your reservation.
You won’t have to pay extra for snorkel equipment, meals, or memorable experiences while at Discovery Cove!
3. Know What to Bring and What Not to Bring
While quite a lot is included in your experience, there are a few things you should bring to Discovery Cove, such as:
- Cover-up Clothing
- Water Shoes/Flip Flops
- Personal Snorkel and Mask
- Books or Magazines
Cameras and phones are allowed throughout the park with the exception of the dolphin lagoons. These items are not permitted in this area for the security of animals and guests.
In addition, the following items cannot enter the park:
- Outside Food and Beverages
- Diving, Swimming, or Flotation Equipment
- Personal Sunscreen
Guests are prohibited from wearing jewelry or watches as these can be distracting and damaging to the animals. For your convenience, either leave jewelry in the car or don’t wear it at all.
In addition, personal sunscreen may not enter the park as it is harmful to the animals and reefs. Instead, Discovery Cove provides an approved sunscreen as part of the all-inclusive admission.
4. Come Hungry
Although you might be inclined to bring your own snacks to Orlando theme parks, there’s no need to here. In fact, one of the top Discovery Cove tips is to come hungry!
Guests are treated to unlimited breakfast and lunch while at the park. Food and drink items include:
- Hot Breakfast
- Chicken Tenders
- And More
Plus, with a kid’s menu and a variety of gluten-free meal options, you’ll have peace of mind knowing there’s something for everyone.
5. Arrive Early
The earlier you’re at the park, the more time you have to explore and discover the underwater worlds at Discovery Cove. Check-in and breakfast begin promptly at 7:15 am and the adventures and water activities open at 9:00 am.
The park is open until 5:00 pm, so plan your day accordingly and have fun!
6. Understand the Age Requirements
When planning your day using our Discovery Cove tips, you should pay close attention to this advice if visiting with children. Although all ages are allowed into the park, certain activities and areas have age requirements. These age limits are in place for the safety of all involved.
Age requirements for various activities include:
- Swimming with Dolphins: at least 6 years old.
- SeaVenture Sea Walk: at least 10 years old.
- Ray Feeding: at least 6 years old and comfortable in the water.
- Shark Swim: at least 10 years old and comfortable in the water.
- Trainer for a Day: at least 6 years old.
If you have any questions about the age requirements, be sure to speak with guest services during your visit.
7. Safety First!
Discovery Cove places the utmost importance on the safety of guests and animals. From providing reef and animal safe sunscreen to life vests, you’ll feel safe and secure throughout your stay.
Be prepared to participate in training sessions for certain experiences. For instance, there is a short orientation session required before swimming with dolphins. Use these opportunities to ask questions about the experience, safety measures, and more.
8. Visit the Conservation Cabana
For an extra treat, make a pit stop at the Conservation Cabana at least once during your day. Here, you’ll find a variety of animal encounters. You never know what type of animal you’ll meet! From two-toed sloths to majestic birds, it’s quite the experience!
9. You Don’t Need to Know How to Swim
Not everyone in your party may know how to swim and that’s perfectly okay! At Discovery Cove, there is plenty for non-swimmers to do. They can explore an aviary full of tropical and exotic birds, relax in a hammock, or go for a shallow float down the lazy river.
And, if the non-swimmers in your group want to participate in water activities, life jackets are readily available throughout the park.
10. Always Wear a Wetsuit or Life Jacket
At the beginning of your adventure, you will be offered your choice of a wetsuit or life jacket. Guests must wear either of these items in any water area, including the lazy river. If you are confident in your swimming abilities, the wetsuit is your best choice. Or, if you’d rather not be restricted, opt for a life jacket.
11. Watch Where You Stand in the Aviary
On top of aquatic experiences, you can also enter a flight-filled world of exotic birds in the Aviary. However, among the most imperative Discovery Cove tips is to watch where you stand in here. If you stand under the trees… you might be gifted a not so pleasant present.
12. Consider Upgrading Your Experience
Along with everything that’s included in your Discovery Cove admission, you can choose to amplify your relaxation or adventure-packed day with an extra experience. These experiences include:
Kick back and relax while surrounded by the sun, lush landscaping, and hammocks in your own private cabana. It’s the perfect place for those who want a quiet place to relax.
Go on an underwater walking tour using state-of-the-art dive helmets. You won’t need a SCUBA certification to dive under the surface and explore the reef.
Don’t worry, they’re friendly sharks! You’ll embark on a training session with an expert aquarist while swimming alongside sharks.
You’ve likely felt a stingray at an aquarium before, but have you fed one? Now’s your chance! In addition, participants will get to feed hundreds of tropical fish as well.
Trainer for a Day
Celebrate your adoration for animals by becoming a trainer for the day. You’ll enjoy up-close encounters, training and educational sessions, and other exclusive opportunities.
Put Our Discovery Cove Tips to Use
Do you remember what tip #1 was? Book early! Start planning your Discovery Cove adventure by making your reservation today.