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I am a huge fan of WDW. It's my favorite place to be. But I must say that our experience at Discovery Cove was by far the highlight of our 11 day trip to WDW.
My DD has always dreamed about swimming with the dolphins so we decided to do the Dolphin interaction package. There were 7 in our group but we had a 5 year old with us (you must be 6 to swim with the dolphins). Here is how the day went:
We arrived at DC at about 7:30 AM. We were ushered into a large room and directed to one of the check in counters. We explained our situation with the 5 yr old and they split our group up into 2 groups. One group would swim with the dolphins at 8:30 the other at 9:25. We had our picture taken for the ID badge and all those over 21 had to show ID (they put "21" right on your badge so you don't have to take out your ID each time you want an adult beverage). They put the ID on a lanyard and that is also your pass to Sea WOrld (included in the DC package price). Then we were given the lay of the land by a staff memebr. The entire park has one pathway - you can't get lost. Every area is directly off of the main path. There are very clear signs that tell you where each attraction is. We opted not to have breakfast since our swim was early and we wanted to just get to the dolphin lagoon. On the way we grabbed a free locker then stopped at one of the many places to get out wet suits/vests/goggles and snorkels. I got the vest, which is pretty much like a wet suit material. It is NOT the bulky life vests I thought they would be. As a plus size gal, I was happy to see that there were several sizes larger than what they gave me so don't fret about the vests or wetsuits being big enough - they had some that looked like they could fit a 600 lb person! And since the park is so well laid out it is not a big deal to leave most things in the locker since it is an easy walk to get back to the locker if you need something. At 5 minutes before your appointed time, you go in to see a video, sign a release and meet your guide. Then you are taken to the lagoon and get into the VERY chilly water (72 degrees when we went). The groups are small - 9 people at a time only. We met "our" dolphin CJand got to touch him several times and feed him fish. Then we each had the opportunity to kiss CJ. What is great is that there is a videographer and photographer assigned to your group only and they are right in the water there with you! So you can get great close up pictures of your interaction! Once everyone had a turn kissing CJ, we then each had a photo shoot with him. They took about 3 pictures of you and your family with the dolphin. So cute! Then it was time to swim. There is the choice of a shallow swim or a deep swim. Same interaction, just in different depth water. You do not need to be a good swimmer to do the deep swim! I am a dog paddler and I was fine. You only have to swim out about 50 ft and tread water for a few minutes. And they don't rush you! They take you to the center of your area 2 at a time and then each person gets towed back to the shallow area by your dolphin. The entire "swim" only took about a minute but the entire interaction was about 35 minutes of dolphin time. What we really loved was that since we had 2 groups, the group not swimming was encouraged to take photos from the beach of the other group's interaction! So not only did we have professional photos taken , we got some great candid shots from our camera. One other great thing - don't be afraid to ask for any special photo ops within reason. Our 5 yr old was upset that he couldn't do the swim and one of the staff members noticed he was upset and asked if she could help. We explained the situation and she told us to be sure to ask the trainer before we went into the water if he could at least touch the dolphin. Well, we did that and as we went to have the family photo done with the dolphin, they told us to bring him into the water and let him take the picture with us. Then they allowed him to pet the dolphin for a bit and give him a kiss! They were wonderful! Then at the end of the second groups swim, we asked if we could get a photo of both groups and they accomodated us no problem, They brought a dolphin right over to the shallow water and made sure we got the 5 yr old in the group photo! It came out great!! immediately after the swim you go with your guide to the picture viewing. There you get the chance to see the photos from your group and choose your package if you want one. We went with the "ultimate Package" which was the cd, DVD, large poster of any photo you chose, and 7 8X10 photos and a photo album to put them in. Also came with 2 key chains of the photo of your choice. The price for that was $219 and if another person in your family ordered an ultimate package, they got their package for $119. So we got 2 Ultimates since we were in 2 separate groups. There is NO PRESSURE to buy anything! You actually design your package (pick photos) then pay when you pick them up. You can also add any other photos taken in the park such as the underwater photo to your CD at no extra charge. You can also have charging priviledges added right to your ID at check in so you don't even need to carry cash with you at all. So at about 4pm we went to the photo pick up area and got our package, We were shown the DVd and CD (not the entire thing) just to make sure it was the right group and reviewed all the pictures for the photo album. Those pics came in folders - we put them in the photo album when we got home. The pics were a little costly but I felt well worth it.
In addition to the swim, the coral reef experience was so cool! You are swimming with sting rays all around you and then you come to this huge hole in the floor and when you look down under the water, there is coral and tropical fish everywhere. You need to be able to swim in order to explore the reef but I was happy just putting my goggles on and peering under the water to see it. Absolutely gorgeous! The bird aviary was great - they give you cups of food that you hold up and the birds fly right onto your arms, shoulders, heads! Startling at first but really neat. The aviary has several different rooms with an amazing variety of birds. Then there was the lazy river. Beautiful, serene, with a few phopt ops there as well. We had photos taken at the waterfall and even a totally underwater photo taken - very cool! There are foam noodles to take with you on the lazy river if you need help with buoyancy - no tubes. And you must keep your vest or wetsuit on any time you are in the water. You can see monkeys and sea otters at play, go through a cave and a few waterfalls. The lazy river has areas of shallow water alternating with 8 ft deep water. There are signs to keep you apprised of the water depth along the river. The food was plentiful and delicious! You have a choice of things like sandwiches, spaghetti and meatballs,tilapia, salads, desserts - all you care to have. And the drinks are all you care to have as well - soft drinks, bottled water, frozen lemonades (yummy), wine, beer and a few frozen mixed drinks (also yummy). The cups are small but you can keep going back for more! At the end of the day, there are changing rooms with showers in each changing room in the ladies room. Wall dispensers of body wash, shampoo and conditioner are avaailable. Everywhere you turn you can find a clean, dry towel. The beaches are clean and the chairs are plentiful. We naver had trouble finding a lounge chair no matter where in the park we were. There are staff members who's only job is to keep sweeping the sand off the pathway and wash down the floors in the showers and changing rooms. Everything was so clean and fresh feeling! We left DC just a few minutes before 5 and felt like we had had the perfect day. I had brought along a book and a few magazines thinking I was going to just relax in the sun but there was so much to do that I never had the time! It was a wonderful, relaxing day and I can't wait to do it again and again!
Last edited by firstname.lastname@example.org; 10-26-2012 at 09:53 AM..
We just got back yesterday from a 9 day trip to WDW and for me the best day of the trip was Discovery Cove. For me it was getting to do the Dolphin swim that was amazing but for the kids it was swimming with the Manta Rays. They loved it. They also loved the unlimited free food and snacks. We ate all day long. I think 2 of the 6 pounds I gained was at DC on Saturday. They had some amazing grilled Talapia that was better than any Fish I have ever had. I ate some twice!! Their Sweet Tea was very good as well.
I would definitely do it again. Not sure if we ever will but I would love to.
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