Discovery Cove & Sea World

Trip Start Jun 05, 2009
1
Trip End Jun 07, 2009


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Flag of United States  , Florida
Saturday, June 6, 2009

I have always wanted to visit Discovery Cove (http://discoverycove.com/DCO2/) in Orlando (http://www.orlandoinfo.com/), but the high entry cost has kept me from doing so .... until now. The normal entrance fee is $289 per person, but at this time they had a Florida Resident special of $199.

Friday June 5th

Michelle (my friend who discovered the Florida Resident special) and I departed Miami on Friday (5th) around 4pm and took US 27 (http://www.us-highways.com/flus027.htm) all the way North to I-4 in Orlando. We arrived at our hotel around 8:30pm. Traffic ran smooth and we just made one stop in Sebring (http://www.greatersebringchamberofcommerce.org/) for dinner. In Orlando we stayed at the Parc Corniche Hotel (http://www.parc-corniche-resort.com/), which is located within a mile from both Discovery Cove and Sea World and offers great rates.

Saturday June 6th

Discovery Cove is located at 6000 Discovery Cove Way, Orlando, FL 32821 (right across from Sea World (http://www.seaworld.com/orlando/)). Discovery Cove is open daily from 9:00 am to 5:30 pm. Check-in begins at 8:00 am. They issue you a photo ID card to which your credit card is linked so that you may purchase souvernirs throughout the entire park. Overall customer service at this park is excellent.

The entrance fee to Discovery Cove includes everything you need to spend the day there such as: complimentary parking, swim vests and/or wetsuits, a mask and snorkel, towels and beach chairs, use of lockers, sunscreen, shower amenities, complimentary entry photo, continental breakfast, lunch, all drinks and snacks, access to the Explorer's Aviary, Tropical Reef, Serenity Bay, Wind-away River, 30 minute dolphin encounter, and a 14-consecutive day pass to either SeaWorld Orlando or Busch Gardens Tampa (http://www.buschgardens.com/bgt2/). So if you stop to think about everything that you are getting for the entrance fee it is really a good deal.

At check-in they assigned us to an 8:40am dolphin encounter. We received the do's and don't about the dolphin encounter from "Amy" (a dolphin trainer) and thereafter were intoduced to "Nate" our four year old bottle-nose dolphin. Nate is one of 40 dolphins that call Discovery Cove home. Water temperature remains constant throughout the year. The fresh water Serenity Bay and Wind-away River are maintained around 86 F (30 C). The salt water dolphin pools, Stingray Shallows, and Coral Reef are 77 F (25 C). The dolphin encounter is something that I have always wanted to do, and I have to say that it was enjoyable. These creatures are extremely large, strong and smart. At no time did I feel uncomfortable in the water with this big fellow. You will see a few pictures of Nate and I attached to this blog. The trainer asked me to attempt to lift Nate up, which is why you will see a few funny faces that the photographer snapped. Keep the comments friendly; ok?  LOL

Thereafter we went swimming in the Coral Reef with the stingrays (all sizes and species). This was a really fun experience, and a safe one as they all had their stingers clipped. There were also all types of fish that we swam with and it was incredible to find how docile they were (very accustomed to human contact). There was a shark and a barracuda tank attached to the Coral Reef that are only separated by a sheet of plexi glass. It was fun to swim side by side these predators of the sea. Finally we took a swim around the Wind-Away River (aka Lazy River) that takes you around the entire Coral Reef and through the Aviary. We had a period of about 90 minutes that everyone had to vacate the water as an intense thunder storm had passed through -safety first!

A continental breakfast was offered (nothing special), but their lunch was magnificent. They offered seafood plates, burgers and chicken fingers, a variety of salads and desserts, and all the Anheuser Bush beers (http://www.anheuser-busch.com/) you can drink (Bud Light Lime for me thanks).

We left the park around 4pm, and later that evening we went for dinner at Landry's Seafood House (http://www.landrysseafoodhouse.com/). I have eaten before at this restaurant chain when I was in New Orleans and had a really good experience, but this time I was not so lucky. Actually we both felt a bit queezy after we left. I don't think the Red Fish I ordered was prepared well. From there we decided to go watch a movie and unfortunately we selected "Land of the Lost" (http://www.landofthelost.net/). Did I already say "unfortunately"? Yes? Good, enough said.

Sunday June 7th

We arrived at Sea World 15 minutes before the park opened at 9am. We had our priorities set (1) MANTA (the new roller coaster ride), (2) Atlantis, (3) Kraken and (4) Believe (the new Shamu show), and we accomplished all of these. The highlight of the day without a doubt was MANTA (http://www.ridetheflyingray.com). You experience this ride in a face down/horiztonal position (as if you were flying like Superman). We experienced speeds upto 60 miles per hour on over 3300 feet of track. What a rush !!! At the end of the day we had decided to go for another spin, but after standing line for 30 minutes already, with at least another 60 minute wait ahead of us they shut down the ride due to inclement weather (thunder storms) approaching. This is when we called it quits and decided to commence our trek home. Rather than taking US27, as we did on the way up, we took the Turnpike southbound. Within an hour of driving on the Turnpike traffic came to a dead stop as a Ford Excursion had rolled over about a half mile ahead of us. A medical helicopter had to evacuate the occupants of the vehicle and well over 16 emergency vehicles had arrived on scene. Fortunately I had a frisbee in the car trunk with which Michelle and I entertained ourselves in the middle of the Turnpike with thousands of cars just parked to either side of the roadway.

Well that summarizes this weekend outing. Next up I am taking my kids to see the Space Shuttle launch on June 13th at Cape Canaveral. I hope there will be no weather delays.

Till next time. Arrivederci.
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