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Discovery Cove: Top 5 Things Our Family Loved

Posted April 26, 2022

The sun shines on an outdoor water area containing tens of guests in swimwear and lifejackets.A man and four children wear black and yellow wetsuits on a sandy beach under the sun and pal trees.

Andrea Rasmussen

Andrea is a content creator and stay-at-home mom to four adventurous kids. She and her husband Cory aim to inspire and encourage intentional, family-focused living and travel throughout their everyday life and adventures in the outdoors and around the globe. Most weekends you’ll find them in the mountains hiking and camping with their kids, which allows them to disconnect from the busyness of life and create some awesome family memories. They do not believe that having kids means life stops and you can't travel or go on adventures ... for them it's just the beginning and they love showing others over at Hiking the Globe with Kids.

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Discovery Cove is an all-inclusive day resort of adventure where you can swim, snorkel, explore and relax.

Owned by SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, it offers many experiences to interact with all sorts of wildlife, including dolphins, sharks, sting rays, tropical fish and many kinds of colorful birds.

Orlando might have sandy beaches nearby, but finding this ocean paradise in the middle of Orlando was like discovering a hidden gem.

When our family walked in, it was like we were in a tropical oasis. Discovery Cove is beautiful with all the dense rain forest and sandy beachfront.

We honestly did not want to leave — and once you read these top five reasons our family loved it, you probably won’t want to leave either.

A man, woman, and four children wear black and yellow wetsuits on a sandy beach under the sun and pal trees. These family photos are hard to get as a family of 6! Cherishing this day!

1. Everything is included

Discovery Cove is all-inclusive, so breakfast, lunch, snacks and drinks are included in the price of your visit.

Snack bars are located throughout the resort where you can fill up on an assortment of beverages, like soda, water, frozen Slurpee’s, beer and wine, plus snacks, like pretzels and chips … ALL DAY LONG.

Breakfast and lunch are served at Laguna Grill. Breakfast is between 7:30–10:30 a.m. and lunch is buffet-style, served from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Their menu has a wide variety of options, and you can go back as many times as you want. This is a huge relief when you have a family of six to feed, like we do!

Pro Tip: Discovery Cove is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., but be sure to arrive early to book your excursion times and enjoy breakfast.

A young girl holds a white cup wearing pink, floral sunglasses and a black and yellow wetsuit near a rack of multi-colored lifejackets. Finley drinking up her slurpee!!!!!

2. Encountering wildlife

The Grand Reef was our absolute favorite thing to do at Discovery Cove. You can swim and snorkel with thousands of different fish and stingrays throughout the reef.

I know that for some parents, snorkeling with younger kids in the ocean can be difficult or stressful, but Discovery Cove was the perfect place to take our four younger kids. Most of the Grand Reef is shallow water, which is great for little ones.

The shallow water also gave our kids the confidence to take their time and go at their own pace to explore more of the reef and wildlife.

Our son Eli was a little nervous to swim with stingrays, but after watching them swim around in the shallow end and seeing the staff feed them, he became more confident.

By the end of the day, he was swimming around the entire reef alongside his older brother with no problems.

There are plenty of other areas around the resort to experience different wildlife, too.

Left: Three children wearing black and yellow wetsuits with yellow snorkel gear wade in shallow waters outdoors. Right: A boy wearing black and yellow wetsuits with yellow snorkel gear reads an informational sheet containing various exotic fish.The kids learning how to snorkel, and Liam looking at all the topical fish in the Grand Reef.

3. No lines or large crowds

Orlando is known for its world-famous theme parks, which can get really busy. You might have to wait in long lines for an hour or two just to get on a 5-minute ride.

At Discovery Cove, they limit their daily attendance, and you don’t have to wait in any lines to swim and discover the waterways.

4. The relaxing environment

This is such a different experience than the local amusement parks. Discovery Cove is a place you can explore at your own pace instead of being on the go.

You can snorkel in the Grand Reef, sunbathe in your pool chairs or cabana, or float through the lazy river.

Plus, with everything provided, we didn’t need to worry about packing a ton of stuff; all we needed to bring was ourselves, and then enjoy the adventure.

The sun shines on an outdoor water area containing tens of guests in swimwear and lifejackets.The beautiful beachfront of the Grand Reef at Discovery Cove.

5. There are a ton of activities for everyone to do

With four kids (ages 3, 5, 7 and 9), sometimes it’s hard for us to find a place where they can all participate.

Three children in wetsuits and snorkel gear swim near a young boy in a grey wetsuit holding green floaties in an outdoor water area.The kids using pool floats to swim around Serenity Bay.

Even though our two youngest kids couldn’t swim with dolphins, they were able to do everything else, like:

  • Swim and snorkel in the Grand Reef with thousands of fish and rays
  • Enjoy the 85-degree water at Serenity Bay
  • Float through dense rain forest, waterfalls and an underwater cave down the Wind-Away River
  • Feed birds at the Explorer’s Aviary
  • Interact with otters and marmosets in the Freshwater Oasis
  • Relax on the beach
  • Play in the sand
  • Get close encounters with all different kinds of animals, like armadillos, sloths, birds and more at the Conservation Kiosk

Kids ages 6+ can swim with dolphins and feed rays, and kids 10+ can swim with sharks and take the SeaVenture tour.

SeaVenture is an up-close and personal underwater walking tour through the Grand Reef. This 45-minute tour takes you eye to eye with sharks, unique animals, schools of fish and velvety rays.

Where to Stay Near Discovery Cove

If you’re planning a visit to Discovery Cove, we highly suggest you stay at Orange Lake Resort.

It’s less than 20 minutes away from Discovery Cove and centrally located near all the places our family wanted to explore, so we could take a quick trip back to the resort if we needed anything.

Left: Four children wearing swimwear stand in front of a yellow mural that reads, 'Sunshine State of Mind in Orlando.' Right: A man carries a young boy on his back as they swim in the pool near a building exterior. We especially loved Orange Lake Resort’s mural in the North Village and the zero-entry pool in River Island.

Orange Lake Resort was absolutely beautiful and had everything our family looks for in a place to vacation. Some of our favorite features were:


Discovery Cove was our family’s favorite experience while on vacation in Orlando. We hope you have as much fun as we did!


Our guest bloggers are compensated for their writing contributions and honest opinions.

All information is subject to change. This article is a curated guide and is neither sponsored nor considered an official endorsement. Please be sure to check information directly with any/all tours, guides or companies for the most up-to-date and direct details.

Andrea Rasmussen

Andrea is a content creator and stay-at-home mom to four adventurous kids. She and her husband Cory aim to inspire and encourage intentional, family-focused living and travel throughout their everyday life and adventures in the outdoors and around the globe. Most weekends you’ll find them in the mountains hiking and camping with their kids, which allows them to disconnect from the busyness of life and create some awesome family memories. They do not believe that having kids means life stops and you can't travel or go on adventures ... for them it's just the beginning and they love showing others over at Hiking the Globe with Kids.

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