Treat Yourself to Orlando’s Number One Attraction: Discovery Cove

By: Janice McSherry

If you had to guess what is the number one attraction in Orlando you would probably say Disney World or Universal Studios, but you would be wrong. According to a respected source of travel information, the attraction with the most appeal is Discovery Cove, an ocean theme park that will let you get up close to dolphins, tropical birds and other exotic creatures.

Discovery Cove offers a variety of activities including snorkeling on a coral reef and getting safely up close to sharks and barracudas, but the standout attraction at this park is the chance that it offers you to wade or swim with bottleneck dolphins.

The park, which is located right next to the more famous Sea World, features 30 bottleneck dolphins and you don’t just look at them through a plexi glass wall, you can hug, kiss and swim with them one to one in a special dolphin swim.

Here is how it works. First you watch a video which explains what you need to know about dolphins and how to communicate with them through hand signals. You learn how to give them positive reinforcement and you get acquainted with safety procedures too.

After the orientation video, you get a chance to get wet and meet the dolphins “in person.” Groups of 6 8 people wade into a lagoon where they play with a dolphin for thirty minutes. You can pet them, stroke them and get to know them, but the highlight of the encounter is when you go on a one on one swim with a dolphin through the lagoon.

The second biggest attraction at Discovery Cove is the snorkeling experience. Instead of watching a film or movie about tropical fish, you can put on a snorkel and fins and swim over a tropical reef, past shipwrecks and grottos and view all sorts of tropical fish as well as sharks and barracudas. You don’t have to worry about the sharks and the barracudas, they are kept safely away from you in a glass enclosed area of the lagoon.

You swim with a dolphin and then snorkel up close to sharks. Is there anything else that can top this? Well, at Discovery Cove you can also go for a trip up a tropical river and experience what it is like to visit a tropical rainforest. The rainforest at Discovery Cove has waterfalls, a freshwater lagoon and underground caves, and 250 tropical birds. The birds are quite tame and will even eat out of your hand.

If all that is not enough, you can get your snorkel and fins on again and go into the ray lagoon and get up close to the very gentle cow nose rays.

Visitors to the popular website Trip Advisor voted Discovery Cove as the most popular attraction in Orlando, and as can be expected it is not so easy to visit the park. You definitely have to reserve in advance and be prepared to pay a rather substantial price. An admission with a dolphin experience costs $289 and admission without a close up with the dolphins costs $189. But, if you want the ocean adventure of a lifetime, then don’t let these obstacles get in your way and go find out why this is the most popular attraction in the Orlando area.