There’s much to see and try at the Discovery Cove theme park in Orlando, so to help make the most out of your client’s trip, I decided to round up a few of the do’s and dont’s I discovered while on a recent press trip to the all-inclusive park. You heard right, this is an all-inclusive park, where each guest receives their own swim vest or wetsuit, towel, snorkel set and private locker, plus access to The Grand Reef, Freshwater Oasis, Explorer’s Aviary, Serenity Bay Beaches and Pools, and Wind-away River attractions, and unlimited meals at the onsite Laguna Grill restaurant and snack shops scattered throughout the grounds. Now let’s dive in!
1. Do book your clients a Discovery Cove Vacation Package. This new product is a convenient way for agents to combine a Discovery Cove vacation and a hotel stay at a SeaWorld partner hotel, with the option to add other products such as a 14-day ticket to SeaWorld and Aquatica Orlando. The Discovery Cove Vacation Package includes an all-inclusive day at Discovery Cove, where guests can snorkel with thousands of tropical fish and rays, hand-feed exotic birds and dine on unlimited snacks and drinks, including alcoholic beverages. Rates vary by season, month and availability.
2. Do upgrade to a private cabana. These secluded hideaways tucked away behind lush greenery are the perfect escape for couples and groups of up to six guests looking to relax in their own personal oasis. Each cabana comes complete with a table and chairs, chaise lounges, and rolled towels. My Sand Dollar cabana included a fully stocked mini-fridge with water bottles and sodas, a snack box with chips, a patio heater, and a hammock. Best of all, it was ideally situated right on the edge of the Dolphin Lagoon, so I was able to watch the playful mammals up-close throughout the day. Space is limited, so it’s best to book in advance by calling (877) 557-7404.
3. Don’t tote your phone around. One of the most freeing aspects of Discovery Cove is the ability to unplug, if only for a day. Admittedly, my phone died halfway through my visit, but once it did I was able to look up and really take in this once-in-a-lifetime experience. I also noticed that other guests weren’t glued to their devices either. Families were enjoying each other’s companies and couples were strengthening their bond. That being said, all guests are provided with a complimentary photo portrait of their party upon entry, and a professional photographer and videographer are also on hand to photograph and film group’s dolphin swim. So tell your clients to take my advice and securely stow away any electronic devices in their personal locker. They’ll thank you later.
4. Do keep a lookout for the special critters that make sporadic public appeareances. If your client is lucky, they will have the opportunity to pet a two-toed sloth or a cuddly kinkajou when the animal trainers bring out the docile mammals for limited-time petting sessions.
5. Do add on a Dolphin Swim Experience. This 30-minute, interactive, trainer-led experience is a real crowd-pleaser that allows groups of seven to nine guests (ages 6 and up) the opportunity to hug, smooch and swim with an Atlantic bottlenose dolphin. The highlight of the experience is no doubt the dorsal fin tow ride. If your clients are strong enough swimmers, suggest they try the deep water swim-up, where they paddle out to deeper water and wait to hitch a ride on their dolphin. With one hand on her dorsal fin and the other on her flipper, my dolphin, Roxy, glided across the Dolphin Lagoon, with me grinning from ear to ear the entire ride. The Dolphin Swim Experience must be scheduled in advance.
6. Do explore the underwater world in The Grand Reef. I donned my snorkel, goggles and a brave face wading into The Grand Reef. I had already witnessed some of its inhabitants—tropical fish and rays—from an upper deck and was a bit nervous about getting face-to-face with the thousands of fish teeming below the water’s surface. However, before I knew it, I was in the deeper end of the reef swimming alongside schools of fish, spotting out the different varieties, and confidently floating by rays. It was such an exhilirating experience, I hardly wanted to get out of the water.
7. Don’t stand directly under the trees in the Explorer’s Aviary (for obvious reasons). Guests can grab a complimentary cup of food and feed the more than 250 exotic birds in the free-flight Explorer’s Aviary. I was in complete awe at the beauty and height of some of the birds flying overhead, scurrying across the ground and looking out from their perches, high above in the trees. Suggest your clients visit the aviary earlier in the morning, as the birds get full towards the end of the day and are less likely to come down and eat.
8. Do work up an appetite. The onsite Laguna Grill serves tasty selections of dishes, from opening to 10:30 a.m. (breakfast) and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. (lunch), including daily seafood options, salad options, and vegetarian dishes. I tried a succulent new dish, chimmichurri steak served with fresh vegatable, but there were plenty of other menu options including sweet Hawaiian chicken, penne and meatballs and island-seasoned tilapia. All meals are included with admission.
In addition to providing agents with a dedicated portal, SeaWorld will be launching on VAX VacationAccess in the near future. Both platforms allow agents to book vacations and earn commission on tickets, dining experiences, tours, and vacation packages for all of SeaWorld’s parks. For more information, visit seaworldparks.com/travelagents.