September 2011: Is it a water park, a get-in-the-water version of Sea World, or both?
For guests willing to spend almost $300 per person (or as low as $140 if traveling in slow season and pre-booking), Discovery Cove creates the illusion of a tropical paradise where visitors can swim with peaceful (usually) sea creatures. It’s Sea World for the upper crust. The cost of admission depends on whether guests choose the “Dolphin Package” option, which allows guests to get in the water and swim with the squeaky sea mammals. Without the swim with Flipper, it costs about $140 per person if booking early.
When considering the steep admission price, however, note that it also includes Sea World, Busch Gardens in Tampa, or its water park, Discovery Cove. It also includes a light breakfast and full lunch, wetsuits, masks, towels, chairs, sunscreen (animal-friendly), etc. Parking is free. Pay your money upfront and simply enjoy the rest of the day.
Orlando visitors who can afford the price of admission generally love Discovery Cove. It’s almost relaxing enough to be considered a day off from the theme parks, and an “I swam with dolphins” stands out in the memory of most kids.
A warning: Discovery Cove limits the number of guests admitted each day. If planning a trip during busy seasons, reserve your space as early as possible.