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Discovery Cove Info & Trip Report

Updated: Jan 26, 2023

Discovery Cove – Best Family Vacation Ever!

discovery cove

Are you looking for an affordable yet memorable vacation?  Look no further – Discovery Cove should be at the top of your list! 

My family of six visited Discovery Cove and we all LOVED it.  Our kids range in age from 8 to 17 and this is the one vacation that was fun for everyone! 

First off, you can’t beat the price for all you get.  When you book a Discovery Cove vacation package, you get all day access to basically what feels like a private island.  Breakfast and lunch are included, as well as snacks and some alcoholic drinks.  Not only do you get the package at Discovery Cove, but you also get 14-day admission to Sea World and Aquatica (water park).   For an additional $25 per person, you can also add on Busch Gardens Tampa Bay and shuttle service will be provided.  There are hotels close by that offer a great rate when booking with a Sea World / Discovery Cove package, plus you get extra perks such as a free quick queue pass for rides at Sea World, 10% discount on the Discovery Cove picture package, 10% off souvenirs and also many of the hotels offer free breakfast.  For certain hotels, the 5th night is free.  When you have a large family of six like me, this definitely helps save some money!   There are hotels that sleep up to six people as well – which is sometimes hard to find. 

Our Trip Report

We arrived by 7:15am hoping to be one of the first to check in to get an early dolphin swim.  I wanted good hair for my dolphin pics – but I must have forgot I was in Florida – I never have good hair here, lol.  But at least I didn’t have wet head, right?   At check-in each person has their photo taken and a lanyard made with your photo and a map on the back.  This lanyard will also serve as your admission to Sea World and Aquatica.  Our dolphin swim was scheduled for 9:30am, which gave us an hour to enjoy breakfast.  The breakfast was really yummy! 

discovery cove check in

Check-in area where they take your photo and give you a lanyard

discovery cove food area

Food Court Area

discovery cove breakfast

Yummy breakfast!

Next we were off to grab a wetsuit (you can get a full suit or just a vest, it’s up to each individual person).  They provide special animal friendly sunscreen there for you to use as well.  We lathered up and headed to our meeting place for instructions for our dolphin swim.  

After receiving our instructions and completing paperwork, we followed our trainer to the dolphin lagoon.  I seriously can’t stress enough how amazing this was!  You will spend about 30 minutes with your dolphin and dolphin trainer.  There are no more than 10 people per dolphin, so you will be paired with another family.  After the introductions, each person has the opportunity for touching the dolphin, a quick kiss and individual pictures, as well as a picture of the whole family.  Each person also gets either a shallow water or deep water swim (your choice).  There will be about four to five groups of ten in the lagoon at once, and the trainers will get the dolphins together to put on a little show of jumping in and out of the water for you.  You are not allowed to take a camera into the water, but there will be a photographer there to capture photos of you and your family.  If you have other members of your group who do not participate in the dolphin swim, they can take pictures of you from the beach area.  After your time is up, you are led to a little area close by where you will view your photos on a screen.  You can go ahead and order the prints/packages you want, or you can wait until later in the day at the photography location at the gift shop.   We ended up ordering the photo cd.  It is pricey, but totally worth it for the memories.  Here are some of our pics:

dolphin kiss

dolphin swim

discovery cove dolphin

dolphin swim

After we finished with the dolphin swim, we headed over to the snorkeling lagoon.  You are provided with snorkeling equipment to use.  There are TONS of fish in the lagoon!  I brought along our waterproof camera and the kids loved taking pictures.  There is also a glass wall in the lagoon that has another area with sharks and other fish.  It looks like they are there with you but thankfully separated by that strong glass wall! 

underwater snorkeling

snorkel lagoon

See the shark in the background?!

snorkel lagoon fish


After we spent time in the snorkeling lagoon we went up on the beach area and lounged around and ate some snacks. 

We then headed over to the Aviary.  I originally thought this sounded kind of boring, I’m not a big fan of the Aviary at our local zoo, but this was completely different and a big hit with all the kids!  You can get a little container of bird feed and all of these exotic looking birds will fly and land on your arm to eat.  There are lots of areas so if you see a crowd, keep walking – there are tons of more birds to be found.  My son was so popular he had one on his head and on his arm, lol.  


The birds liked him! LOL

aviary 2

At this point it was time for some lunch, so we headed back over to the dining area.  We were really pleased with the variety and quality of the food here.  I completely forgot to take pics of the food – I must have been hungry.   Some of the choices were:  Chicken tenders, hot dogs, club sandwich, cobb salad, blackened fish, pulled pork, pasta or a burger.  We all really enjoyed what we got!  

After eating, we thought we’d head to the lazy river to relax a little.  This was another big hit with the kids (are you sensing a trend?)  We probably spent up to 2 hours in the lazy river.  See how beautiful it is there?

lazy river

Beautiful Lazy River

After hanging out in the lazy river, we went for more drinks (they had some delicious fruit flavored slushies that the kids loved)!  We then went over by pool area that has some stationary lounge chairs built into the water.  I didn’t get a picture of these unfortunately.  

When we finished our drinks, we headed back over to the lazy river again.  After we went through a couple times we decided to dry off and call it a day (it was around 3:00pm at this point). 

I still needed to head to the area to pick up my photo CD that I wanted before we left.  So while I went to do that, everyone else hung around the gift shop. 

I will say it again, for the money, you cannot beat this vacation!!!  This was just the Discovery Cove day trip report….don’t forget we also went to Sea World and Aquatica water park – all included in the price!!  Click here to see our other trip reports!  

Are you ready to go?  If you book a Discovery Cove Package for the rest of 2018, I will include a $100 gift card of your choice for packages over $2,000 or a $50 gift card for packages less than $2,000.  Full payment is required at time of booking with Discovery Cove trips.  

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