News Ticker

Editor’s Review – Discovery Cove, Orlando

Located on the outskirts of Orlando, Florida, alongside sister parks SeaWorld and Aquatica, Discovery Cove is a beautiful resort that will whisk you away to paradise for a day’s experience you are unlikely to forget.

The park provides an all-inclusive day of unique opportunities, such as swimming with dolphins or sharks, or a day of relaxation on the winding lazy river or in tropical lagoons. As well as these, you can also snorkel amongst thousands of tropical fish and rays in the Grand Reef or encounter other animals such as otters, marmosets and exotic birds. The all-inclusive nature of Discovery Cove also covers the amenities with free lockers, sunscreen, towels, wetsuits, snorkel gear and shower facilities for the end of the day. As you are in the park for the day, food and drink is also included with your entry fee. This covers a freshly prepared breakfast, gourmet lunch, snacks and drinks (including alcohol for the adults).

On arrival, we were met by our host for the day, who was around to assist all-day to ensure that we had whatever we needed and was there to answer any questions. He showed us to one of Discovery Cove’s private Cabanas, which we had the use of for the day. This comprised of a private roped off decked area under a gazebo, with sun loungers, a double hammock, table and chairs, a basket of snacks and a mini fridge with complimentary soft drinks and water. There is ample room for up to eight guests, including space for children to play in the sand, and comes with towels and sunscreen. Our Cabana came with a wonderful un-obstructed view of the dolphin pool.

The first item on our agenda was to enjoy the included breakfast. There was a fine range of fresh fruit and berries, waffles and pastries, cereals and hot a buffet selection which included eggs, sausage links and breakfast potatoes, accompanied by hot drink, juice or milk – very satisfying.

After breakfast we collected our wetsuits and prepared ourselves for the undoubted highlight of the day the swim with the dolphins. We were put into one of three groups, and shown to our designated zone in the crystal clear dolphin swim area. We were given an in depth talk about the dolphins by the trainers, there habits, communication, behaviour and diet. The trainers were extremely knowledgeable and happily fielded any questions. Then came the introduction to the dolphin, again the trainers put the anxiety of younger members of the group at ease and made them particularly comfortable with the animal, enabling them to touch and be pulled along by them, with a few tricks thrown in for good measure. You are given plenty of time to interact with the dolphins, both as an individual or as a family group, and you get a photographer taking photos throughout your interaction to preserve those cherished memories of an awe-inspiring experience.

Being at Discovery Cove for a whole day, means that there is plenty of time for relaxation, and with the number of visitors limited per day, there is never the feel of overcrowding, with ample space, white sand beaches and sun-loungers around the park. If you prefer not to sunbathe, then there is the relaxing tranquillity of the tropical wind-away river. Lie back as the current takes you lazily through rain forest, rocky gorges, waterfalls and through an underwater cave. As you float along, there is the opportunity to stop off at the Explorer’s Aviary – hundreds of colourful tropical birds, which provide a cacophony of sound, are happy to feed from your hand.

For those who love snorkelling, the Grand Reef provides a wonderful experience. Thousands of tropical fish, rays and sharks are within touching distance and the visibility is crystal-clear. The reef is shallow enough in places to enable even the least confident swimmers, the ability to enjoy the beautiful creatures of the seas.

As mentioned, lunch is also included in the admission price. There are options to ensure even the most fussy eaters are catered for. For the smaller appetites there are a variety of salads and wraps, all with freshest ingredients. For those whose exerts from the morning have left them hungry, they can enjoy a selection including jerk chicken, peppered steak, crusted salmon or pulled pork. Each is beautifully cooked and packed full of flavour. If you are in the vicinity of the Hibiscus Hideaway, as well as a full bar service to get your alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, you can also pick up a snack in the form of flatbread pizza or ice cream.

After lunch, we returned to our cabana, taking advantage of the privacy and to lay back and relax with one or two of the glorious, brightly coloured cocktails. The seclusion is so peaceful that it is easy to lose an hour or two.

We finish off our afternoon by having another snorkel in the Grand Reef; you will honestly discover something new every time you venture into the water, and a final trip around the wind-away river, this time stopping off at the freshwater oasis to see the otters happily playing both above and below the water surface.

A visit to Discovery Cove is truly a magical and memorable day, providing a very different vibe to the rest of Orlando’s theme parks and resorts. Rushing around between rides with long queues does not exist; the whole resort is the opposite. From watching dolphins leaping from the privacy of a Cabana, to snorkelling amongst sharks and rays, to floating effortlessly along a lazy river with tropical birds flying overheard, the laid back relaxation and unique experiences will never be forgotten.