Today was our Discovery Cove day. We were anticipating this day a great deal and our day exceeded all expectations! This day was wildly expensive but in our opinion it was completely worth it.
We arrived at the the park a little before 8:00 a.m. We had to wait behind one other family to check in. The check in took about 5 minutes and included having our pictures taken for ID badges. Once that was done we had breakfast. Breakfast was good but certainly not gourmet.
For some reason we had to go to guest services to get our cabana assignment. We had purchased the elite package that included a cabana, full photo and DVD package, keepsake bag, dolphin stuffed animal and personalized buoy delivered by a dolphin. We were escorted to our cabana. It was in a beautiful location by the coral reef but very far from everything else. The cabana was awesome. It included stocked refrigerator with drinks (sodas and juice for us but it could have included adult beverages if we had wanted some), snacks, towels, a table with four chairs and two chaise lounges. It also had a heater that we certainly did not need.
We the. Got our wet suits, masks and snorkels. You have a choice of long or short sleeve (and leg) wet suits or vests. I chose long sleeve (in part to avoid the sun). The rest of my family chose short sleeve. We saw many people with just vests. The water for the dolphin swim and the coral reef is quite cold. The lazy river water is very warm. The wet suits are quite difficult to get on and off.
Since our dolphin swim was scheduled for 10:30 a.m. We spent a long time on the coral reef. This is really fun. There were huge numbers of fish and many really large stingrays as well as lots of smaller stingrays. If you are adult sized the wetsuit provides enough bouyancy to float but DD8 needed a life jacket.
We went over to sign in for our dolphin swim but found out that the Dolphins were not cooperating (mating season is near) so our time was pushed back 30 minutes. We decided to head over to the aviary. This was fun but we should have done this earlier since the birds did not seem that hungry. We also had left our cameras at the cabana in the locker.
It was then time for the dolphin swim. The orientation was quite disorganized but as soon as we got to the water it was great. Our group (9 of us - our family plus two other families) was working with a dolphin named Capricorn. He is close to a 50 year old dolphin. We is huge - about 10 feet long. The trainer had us rubbing his back and learning how to make him speak. When it was time for all of the family pictures he decided that he was more interested in the female Dolphins. He was allow to follow the girls and we were introduced to a new dolphin. Her name was Jenny. Jenny gave all of us (except my DH) the dorsal fin tows. Jenny is a much smaller dolphin than Capricorn. There was a bigger male dolphin named Akai that they brought over for the last dorsal fin tow. There were tons of pictures, both individual and family.
My DH a is turning 50 later this year so I surprised him by having the dolphin bring the buoy with the birthday message. Since DH's birthday is quite a ways off he was very surprised.
When the swim was over were were led off to a booth to choose the 8 printed pictures as well as the large poster that is included with our package.
After this it was time for lunch. The food is good but not excellent. We decided to bring our food back to our villa. It was very peaceful.
After lunch we had another long swim on the coral reef. Then we wanted to go see the otters and marmosets. That water was very warm and a nice change from the cool water in the coral reef. Then we spent a very long time in the lazy river. That water is also very warm and the river is very relaxing.
Eventually we decided to go back to the reef. We stayed there until about 5:00 p.m. when we went back to the aviary. We finally found birds that would land on DD8 (something she really wanted). We stayed there until closing time at 5:30 p.m.
It was absolutely a fabulous day that I highly recommend to anyone that can afford it. For today the listed price last fall was $259/person. I got a Black Friday deal for $219/person. I noticed that the last minute prices were about $100 more a person. It seems like you really need to book in advance.
The elite package was an additional $399. Having the cabana was a hugely special treat and we really wanted the photo and DVD package so the rest of it made selse.
After we got back to the hotel we let the DDs go swimming while we drank margaritas by the pool. We had planned to eat at the pool bar but they were not serving food. We ordered to go from Tropicale and that worked very well.
It was a completely wonderful day and we are looking forward to Seaworld tomorrow for our last full vacation day.