NileGuide Expert Says:
Best close encounters with dolphins and marine life
6000 Discovery Cove Way
Orlando, FL 32821
Universal Studios & International Drive
tel: +1 407 370 1280
NileGuide Expert tip:
The park stays open late in the summer offering a twilight rate that includes dinner.
In July of 2000, Discovery Cove opened its gates and began providing a unique theme park experience that is nothing short of extraordinary. With a maximum of 1,000 guests per day, the park has managed to create an intimate feel – more like you're visiting a swanky resort in the Caribbean than visiting a theme park in the middle of Orlando. The admission price, though hefty, includes all of your needs…
towels, wet suits, lockers, snorkels, masks, sun tan lotion, souvenir photos and parking.
Meals and snacks are included as well (and not just hot dogs and hamburgers either). You'll start the day with a continental breakfast (pastries, muffins, fresh fruit, juices and coffee). You can have a hamburger for lunch if you'd like, but Discovery Cove also offers such items as grilled salmon and pasta primavera. Unlimited snacks such as chips, pretzels, nachos, ice cream and smoothies are available all day. You can also enjoy as much bottled water, soda, beer, and cappuccinos as you like.
If you've booked yourselves into the Dolphin Encounter, the friendly concierge will schedule your time in the Dolphin Lagoon when you arrive. During the 30-minute encounter, you and 5-7 other guests will wade into shallow water and get up close and personal with a very sociable and playful Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin. Your trainer will guide the dolphin through a series of activities, allowing you to touch and instruct the dolphin. You'll also be able to experience a dorsal tow ride. For dolphin lovers, the extra admission price to include this encounter is definitely worth it.
When you arrive, you'll also want to check on the feeding times at Ray Lagoon so you can make sure to schedule that into your day. You can interact with dozens of rays of all sizes, some up to four feet in diameter. It's an amazing experience to be amongst these gentle and graceful creatures. The Coral Reef is where you'll really get to test your snorkeling skills as you float along amongst the hundreds of brilliantly colored tropical fish and rays. Make sure you find the shark encounter. Don't worry… they're behind thick glass.
You'll want to make several trips down the warm Tropical River, drifting in the slight current, under waterfalls, and through an underwater cave. The river also takes you through the Aviary, where you can hop out of the water and interact with over 250 exotic birds, none of which are caged. Having a toucan land on your arm is an interesting experience. Discovery Cove's beach is a great feature as well. Along
the huge expanse of white, sugary sand, you'll find hammocks, umbrellas, and cabanas for your use. When all the swimming and snorkeling leaves you exhausted, grab a beach lounger and have a nap.
To avoid disappointment, reservations are a must!
by Kristen Manieri