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Our family just got back from a visit to Discovery Cove, swimming with dolphins, and it’s our new favorite place to visit in Orlando, Florida!

Swimming with dolphins at Discovery Cove
Swimming with Dolphins

Discovery Cove Family Experience

Discovery Cove in Orlando offers an amazing once-in-a-lifetime experience for families to see and interact with dolphins, sharks, stingrays, tropical birds, and a variety of other animals.

Snorkeling with a stingray
Snorkeling with a stingray – Photo courtesy of Discovery Cove
Otters at Discovery Cove
Otters – Photo courtesy of Discovery Cove

I was hesitant to take our three year old, but I speak from experience when I say, you don’t need to wait until your kids are “older” to enjoy Discovery Cove. We let them know we had a toddler at check-in and they scheduled us in two separate groups to go swimming with dolphins. We simply took turns watching Miss 3.

swimming with dolphins at Discovery Cove
Miss 3 wearing a full wetsuit

Swimming with Dolphins

Discovery Cove in Orlando is probably best known for “swimming with dolphins.” Toward the end of the group experience, you have the opportunity for a dolphin to tow you (while holding their fin) for about 10 seconds, from one end of dolphin lagoon back to the shallow end. With that said, the dolphin encounter is amazing!

Swimming with Dolphins
Swimming with Dolphins – The Maternal Hobbyist

Upon check-in, you get assigned a 30 minute time window with a small group of people. At your appointed dolphin swim time, you fill out paperwork for each person, then watch a safety video. They will have you remove all jewelry.

You follow your assigned instructor in to waist deep water where you stand in a line to touch one or more dolphins as they slowly swim by numerous times. The instructor will have the dolphin show your group different tricks they can do and the sounds they make.

Our group swimming with dolphins at Discovery Cove
Dolphin Lagoon

Toward the end of the encounter, it’s time for everyone to have their “swim.” You can choose between the shallow or deep water. We chose deep water, which gives a feeling of truly swimming with the dolphin while they pull you to shore.

After your swim, you get to hug and kiss the dolphin while the photographer captures your special moment. They also gave us the opportunity to bring Miss 3 in the water for family photos with the dolphin since she is not old enough to participate in the dolphin swim.

The Maternal Hobbyist Tip: I highly recommend wearing a full wetsuit during the dolphin swim. The water temperature in the Dolphin Lagoon is quite cold. You can always change out of the wet suit afterwards.

Swimming with Dolphins


With this amazing all-inclusive experience, families don’t need to worry about bringing anything other than their swimsuits, water shoes, and a change of dry clothes. Beer and wine are included with entry for guests over 21 with ID. Full bar and mixed drinks are available for an extra fee, and can be added to each ticket. (Discovery cove provides free reef-safe sunscreen too.)

Life Jackets provided in all sizes.
Life Jackets are provided for all sizes, including toddlers.

All food, drinks, and snacks are included. I have Celiac Disease and the chefs were able to accommodate me without any trouble. Discovery Cove is very allergy-friendly.

The Maternal Hobbyist Tip: Plan to eat breakfast early right after check in. Eat lunch at 11:15am, then plan to eat again around 3pm so you’re not hungry when it’s time to leave at 5pm.

• Discovery Cove Breakfast Hours: 7:15 A.M. – 10:30 A.M.

• Discovery Cove Lunch Hours: 11:15 A.M. – 3:30 P.M.

Snacks: Fresh fruit, chips, crackers, rice crispy treats, and peanuts
Snacks: Fresh fruit, chips, crackers, rice crispy treats, and peanuts
Snacks: Fresh baked pretzels and chocolate chip cookies
Snacks: Fresh baked pretzels and chocolate chip cookies
Icee flavors at Discovery Cove
The Icee flavors are amazing! (Non-Alcoholic)
Frozen Margarita and Pina Colada Mixed Drinks
Frozen Margarita and Pina Colada Mixed Drinks

Discovery Cove Hours

Plan to spend the entire day, from open to close, at this all-inclusive park. Check-in begins at 7:15 a.m. Discovery Cove closes at 5pm.

There are so many different areas to explore that your family will always have something to do.

Swimming with dolphins at Dolphin Lagoon
Discovery Cove Park Map
Enjoy swimming with dolphins at Dolphin Lagoon

Discovery Cove restricts attendance to about 1,300 guests per day. Therefore, it allows for a more intimate experience, unlike any other park. As a result, you and your family can get right into the action without waiting in line at the lagoons and waterways throughout the park.

Your Adventure Awaits

Overall, we created unforgettable memories that we’ll cherish for the rest of our lives. Miss 3 is telling everyone that she snorkeled with stingrays, and she’s more comfortable in the water thanks to our adventure at Discovery Cove.

Teaching our toddler to snorkel
Teaching Miss 3 to snorkel

We highly recommend Discovery Cove for the entire family! Your adventure awaits.

wind away river at discovery cove
Wind-Away River
Discovery Cove Tropical view

If you have any questions, feel free to comment below.

Orlando, Florida Attractions:

For information on The Best Time to go to Disney World 2019-2020, click here.

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