Our first full day in Florida was spent at Discovery Cove. We last visited 14 year ago and fair bit has changed.
We booked for 2 adults and 1 child to do a Dolphin swim direct with Discovery Cove. I also took advantage of adding Aquatica and Seaworld Tickets. Since this trip was to celebrate our Wedding Anniversary we also booked an Elite Cabana.
The Elite Cabana gives you a few extra's: a private area for you which includes two sun loungers, 4 chairs, private locker under a gazebo. You also get a fridge and snack box (which is replenished by your host), Personalized buoy delivery during your signature dolphin swim, Photo Package ($229 value) and a Discovery Cove Signature Tote bag & towel. This cost us £993.
All food and drink is included in the ticket price as is the use of towels so no need to bring any with you. You can also borrow a wet suit (which isn't a bad idea as the Ray & Dolphin pool are freezing cold). Discovery cove do their own F30 sunscream which is animal friendly however, I did burn a little on my arms after using it....
Once we arrived we checked in and was given our dolphin swim time (12.15). We then headed to guest services where we were shown to our Cabana which was located next to the ray pool. Once all our personal stuff was locked away we headed to have Breakfast. There is only one restaurant that services the main food so be aware that you may have to queue for a little bit.
There was a lot of choice for Breakfast. There was a selection of hot foods (which staff served up for you) plus a selection of cakes/pastries, fruit and drinks. We enjoyed the breakfast - the french toast sticks are amazing!
After breakfast we decided to go and do the aviary. A few people had recommended to do this earlier as the birds are a little hungrier in the morning. You have the option of getting a little pot of food so you can feed them as you go around. Rebecca was dying for bird to come and sit on her arm and it wasn't until we were leaving that we managed to get one to come down to her.
Once we had done the aviary we headed back to the Cabana to get our swim gear and get dressed to go in the ray pool. Discovery Cove provide you with snorkels if you wish to use them. They also have child and adult life jackets for those, like myself, who aren't confident swimmers
We spend a hour of so with rays before getting ready for our dolphin swim.
The Dolphin swim isn't really a swim, it's more an experience. They get the dolphin to swim past you a few times so you can stroke them. You only get one opportunity to "swim" with them and that is when the Dolphin pulls you behind them. For this you can do deep water or shallow water. They are incredible animals and Rebecca learnt so much from meeting one.
Due us booking the package she was asked to help collect something from the dolphin. Our Dolphin, Rosie, was sent off to collect this item and bring it back and give it to Rebecca. She thought this was amazing, even more amazing when it was a buoy with name on.
The experience only last 30 mins and you are usually in group of 9 people.
Due to having the photo package included in the Elite Cabana we got all our photos but I would have been disappointed if we hadn't as the cost for them was crazy ($40 each). I can see why people get upset with things like this.
After the Dolphin swim came lunch. Again, we had a queue for a little while but there was quite a bit of choice and even a selection of desserts.
After lunch we did the quieter end of the park. They have a lazy river, but be aware, this is 8ft in places and you have to go through 2 large waterfalls. I like the area where there were sunbeds in the water and you could just sit a relax.
After 90 mins or so we headed back to the ray pool for one last look in there before packing up to leave. Discovery cove closes at 5pm - we left a little before this.
Overall, its a great day out. You don't need to do the Dolphin swim to enjoy it.
Would we book the Elite Cabana again? If we weren't doing the Dolphin swim, then No i would just book a normal one or even go without one. There are plenty of sunbeds around as entry numbers are capped so it's never massively busy. For me, I would prefer the Cabana, as I like to take some time out of the sun and sit in the shade.