Stay Safe At Discovery Cove This Fall
Come along with us as we escape to paradise for the day at Discovery Cove.
Like most Floridians, all of our big summer plans were put on hold due to COVID-19. We had been looking forward to a much-needed tropical getaway, but it simply wasn’t safe enough to travel far. That’s when our friends at Discovery Cove offered to let us explore their tropical resort! Come along with us as we take you through Discovery Cove, explore the resort, and review their new safety procedures and social distancing policies.
Discovery Cove is an all-inclusive resort, so no need to pack snacks, towels, or even sunscreen. I can’t remember the last time I showed up anywhere with so little. We arrived at 7:30 a.m. when the resort opened, winding through lush landscaping until we ended up at the main entrance. Before entering the lobby, we were handed a small clear pouch containing a soft cotton mask and a bottle of hand sanitizer. We were wearing our own masks, but these came in handy later in the day. Temperatures were checked, and we headed in. The lobby is reminiscent of a resort in Mexico or Hawaii, with windows open and natural breezes circling through. Our reservation specialist quickly checked us in, scheduled our excursions, and introduced us to our guide for the day, Todd!
Todd took us to our cabana so we could drop off the few things we did bring, and then he walked us over to the main dining area for breakfast! Discovery Cove is all-inclusive, so we helped ourselves to a wide variety of yummy breakfast treats. To increase safety, hot coffees, juices, and condiments are prepared for you. There was ample seating outside with significant spacing in between each group. The resort opens at 7:30 a.m., but the experiences open at 9:00 a.m. This will give you plenty of time to settle in, each a hardy breakfast, drink all the coffee, and get your gear before getting in the water.
You have two swim gear options; a short-sleeve wetsuit or a swim vest. We chose the wetsuits, which were absolute lifesavers several times throughout the day (more on that later). We also opted for mask and snorkels for everyone (Insider Tip: you can keep the snorkel as a souvenir)! After we suited up and applied the marine-friendly sunscreen provided by the resort, it was time to head for The Grand Reef.
The Grand Reef
This is Discovery Cove’s saltwater coral reef habitat, home to thousands of tropical fish. There are giant velvety rays, schools of beautiful fish, and even a place to view sharks (safely) as you swim. There are so many entry points, and even hidden grottos; it all felt very magical. It is cold (76-77 F), but the wetsuits kept us warm. I could have stayed at The Grand Reef all day, but our boys were eager to explore the Freshwater Oasis, so off we went.
The Freshwater Oasis is much warmer (85-86 F), and includes two very unique animal exhibits; the Asian Clawed Otters and Marmosets. You can swim through a cavern to view the otters above and below the water line. When you exit the cavern, you’ll immediately see Marmoset Island. You can swim around the entire island, and get a good glimpse of the adorable marmosets that live there (Insider Tip: go during one of the scheduled enrichment sessions for a best time to see the marmosets). Discovery Cove was serious about capacity and social distancing; we swam through the otter exhibit several times by ourselves!
Dolphin Swim Experience
We had just enough time to settle back in our cabana for a snack break before our dolphin encounter. Cabanas come well-stocked with beverages, snacks, towels, and sunscreen. The cabana is an upgrade we would definitely choose again! Did you know? Face coverings are not required in the water, but they are required during the Signature Dolphin Swim Experience. We learned so much about the dolphins at Discovery Cove, and about dolphins all over the world. Did you know dolphins can be found in every ocean? And that they swim in groups, called Pods, made up of sisters, mothers, daughters, cousins, and calves? We also learned that dolphin sounds come from their blow holes, not their mouths!
We worked up an appetite after the dolphin experience, so it was off to lunch! Everyone tried something different. I had the Jerk Chicken with island rice and mango salsa. I may have also had two slices of chocolate cake. The boys had chicken fingers and a pulled pork sandwich, respectively. My husband opted for the burger and mac & cheese. There were several healthy options as well, like seaside wraps, quinoa salad, and a yummy side of kale and wild rice.
After lunch we explored the Wind-Away River. We all agreed this might have been the biggest surprise of the day. This tropical river is amazing! It has an underwater cave, waterfalls, and it winds through the Aviary! That’s right; there is an entire section of river you can swim through, filled with tropical birds. Bring your mask and snorkel for the river too. There is so much to see beneath the water’s surface. We all agree no lazy river will ever come close to Wind-Away River.
Although you can swim into the Aviary from the Wind-Away River, you’ll need a mask to enter. The Aviary is a hidden gem at Discovery Cove. Guests can feed the birds a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables from small cups. There are several different rooms to explore, with some of the most brightly colored birds we’ve ever seen, and all eager to be fed.
In between our adventures, we stopped at the many snack stands for hot pretzels and frozen drinks. The grab-and-go options are an excellent addition to this amenity. For the adults, they have great mixed drinks and beer on draft.
At the end of the day, Todd checked in on us one final time and it was time to return our wetsuits and make our way home. Discovery Cove offers resort-style restroom facilities, including well-appointed showers and changing areas, so our full change of clothes made for a comfortable ride home. They even provide shampoo, conditioner, and towels. We stopped at the gift shop, but not before waving goodbye to our cabana, Todd, and the amazing experiences we had, all in one day. As we made our way home, it felt like we were just returning from a tropical vacation. We had made a week’s worth of memories in just a day.
What To Bring:
- Full change of clothes
- Water shoes (optional)
What To Leave At Home:
- Shampoo & Conditioner
For more information about their safety precautions, visit Discoverycove.com/orlando/park-info/park-safety/.
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