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Ultimate Animal Encounters at Discovery Cove Orlando

  • By Christopher da Costa
  • Published 12 October 2023
  • Revised 30 October 2023
Ultimate Animal Encounters at Discovery Cove Orlando
  • By Christopher da Costa
  • Published 12 October 2023
  • Revised 30 October 2023
Ultimate Animal Encounters at Discovery Cove Orlando
  • By Christopher da Costa
  • Published 12 October 2023
  • Revised 30 October 2023
Calling all animal lovers to Discovery Cove! This tropical oasis in the heart of Orlando lets you go fin to fin with tropical fish, frolic with freshwater otters, befriend bottlenose dolphins and let exotic birds land on your shoulders – just to name a few encounters. 

Stick around to learn more about our favourite animal experiences at Discovery Cove and what else this all-inclusive blissful bay has to offer on Florida holidays. 

Swim with Dolphins

Take it from us, swimming with dolphins is an experience that lives with you. At Discovery Cove, their signature, one-on-one encounters with the ocean’s friendliest mammals are a once-in-a-Florida experience. Before your 30-minute swim, you will learn all about the bottlenose dolphin’s behaviour and habits from an animal specialist. 

Then in no time, you’ll be one of the pod and ready to swim with the dolphins in one of the resort’s crystal clear swimming areas. Next, each member of your group (who must all be above the age of 6) will have the opportunity to personally interact with a dolphin, and due to their incredible communication abilities, the chance to build a bond with one of nature’s most awe-inspiring creatures. 

Swim with Sharks

Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water… the sharks fancy a swim too! Thankfully, the sharks at Discovery Cove are almost as friendly as the dolphins. With the guidance of expert Aquarists, you can free swim alongside blacktip reef, nurse, zebra, and bonnethead sharks.

During the experience, you will also gain a better understanding of each shark species, an education which will go a long way to dispel the unfair and often unhelpful assumption that most sharks are dangerous. With shark conservation in mind, 5% of proceeds from the Shark Swim Program at Discovery Cove is donated to the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation. 


Explore the Grand Reef

Always included within your Discovery Cove admission ticket, and perfect for snorkelling enthusiasts, dive into the Grand Reef to swim with thousands of tropical fish in a stunning coral reef habitat. You can explore the reef from above, below, and around, surrounded by an array of species, ranging from colourful angelfish to velvety rays.

On foot, you can travel across the Grand Reef bridge above swimming sharks before crossing paths to the reef’s islands and hidden grottos for more delightful marine surprises. 

Discover a SeaVenture like No Other

To feel utterly immersed in the underwater world, look no further than SeaVenture. This is a walking tour like no other; an innovative experience that places you inside a diving helmet and takes you all the way down to the reef floor. Here, you will be eye-to-eye with sharks with just a panoramic window between you. At 8-foot-tall, and 21-foot-long, the glass acts like a giant sea cinema. Better yet, you will get to touch unique sea life found along the way and encounter schools of fish and velvet rays. 

The 45-minute excursion ends with the Discovery Cove trainer guiding you through The Grand Reef to a grand finale of fish feeding around you amid a backdrop of the massive open reef. 

Afterwards, Discovery Cove proudly donates 5% of proceeds to Rising Tide Conservation, a non-profit organisation dedicated to supporting sustainable aquaculture.


Be a Trainer for the Day

Get the VIP treatment by adding the ‘Trainer for a Day’ experience to your visit. Up to eight people in your group can follow the lead of a Discovery Cove Aquarist as you enjoy a behind-the-scenes tour and exclusive animal interactions.  

This includes a separate dolphin encounter with a private photo session, special meet-and-greets with tropical birds and small mammals, the chance to feed fish in The Grand Reef, plus a private session with otters in the Freshwater Oasis (more about this attraction below). 

Please note that Trainer for a Day must be booked in addition to a Discovery Cove Dolphin Swim admission package and that everyone in your group must be above the age of 6.

Uncover the Freshwater Oasis

Otters are playful and curious by nature, and at the Freshwater Oasis, you will have the chance to view and have fun with these creatures through the underwater viewing windows. With a rainforest canopy above and clear spring waters below, the stage is set for an enriching experience with these unique mammals. Be sure to bring your mask and snorkel along – and with your fastest swimming stroke – to race these webbed-footed Asian small-clawed otters. 

It’s also easy to plan your Freshwater Oasis experience as weather permitting, the ‘enrichment sessions’ with the otters happen daily.


See More for Less With the Discovery Cove Ultimate Swim Package

The aquatic adventures can continue far beyond Discovery Cove in Orlando. Especially when the Discovery Cove Ultimate Package promises unlimited 14-day admission to Discovery Cove, SeaWorld Orlando, Aquatica and Busch Gardens Tampa. So, you can come and go as you please, taking your time to uncover every corner of these three parks. 

Along the way, the wild at heart will also discover the fastest, tallest, and steepest rollercoasters in the whole of Florida. And whenever you need to refuel, you can rely on free breakfast, lunch, snacks and unlimited drinks at Discovery Cove! What’s more, you will have unlimited free parking across the parks, and if Busch Gardens Tampa is too far away without a car, then fear not - you can ride the Busch Gardens return shuttle for free.

Read more about which SeaWorld ticket is best for you in our dedicated guide - or check out our award-winning 2024 and 2025 SeaWorld holidays and your Florida travel dreams will only be an Ocean away. 

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