Want to Swim with Dolphins? Discovery Cove Is the Place to Do It
If you have ever wished you could swim with dolphins, Discovery Cove Orlando is basically your dream destination. Part of SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, along with its sister parks SeaWorld Orlando and Aquatica, Discovery Cove is an all-inclusive day resort that mixes the relaxation of a beach day with the activities you might get during a day on a private island during a Caribbean cruise or at a water park. Think snorkeling with tropical fish and sting rays in The Grand Reef, floating down the lazy river, soaking up some sun with your toes in the sand, splashing around in Serenity Bay and, as we just mentioned, swimming with dolphins.
Best of all, much of what we just listed is included in the cost of your Discovery Cove admission. One thing that isn’t? You guessed it—the dolphin swim experience. (Don’t worry. We’ll get into how much it costs in a bit.) So, what can you expect when you swim with dolphins at Discovery Cove? How much does it cost? What do you wear? How long does it last? And, most importantly, is it worth it? We’ll dive into all that and more in this guide to Discovery Cove Orlando’s most popular experience.
So, You Want to Swim with Dolphins at Discovery Cove Orlando – Here’s Everything You Need to Know
Not sure if a visit to Dolphin Lagoon is worth adding to your day at Discovery Cove? We’re here to answer all of your most pressing questions and hopefully help you decide if booking the resort’s Signature Dolphin Swim Experience is right for you and your group.
Discovery Cove Orlando’s Signature Dolphin Swim Package: Your Ticket to Dolphin Lagoon
As we hinted at earlier, although much of what you can do at Discovery Cove Orlando is included in your day resort admission, some activities, like its Signature Dolphin Swim Experience, do come at an additional cost. So, if you want to swim with dolphins at Discovery Cove, you will specifically need to book the Dolphin Swim Package instead of the basic Day Resort Package. Note that the only difference between these two Discovery Cove Orlando packages is the addition of access to Dolphin Lagoon. In other words, if you want to participate in other add-on experiences like the SeaVenture underwater walking tour, Flamingo Mingle or Animal Trek, just to name a few, you will still need to purchase them separately.
How much does it cost?
The cost of the Signature Dolphin Swim Experience at Discovery Cove greatly depends on when you will be visiting. This is because Discovery Cove Orlando uses dynamic pricing that fluctuates based on the season and day of the week, as well as how busy it is. As a result, Discovery Cove resort admission is more expensive during busier times, like in summer and on the weekends, and cheaper on weekdays and in the winter months. This also applies to the dolphin swim.
In general, admission to Dolphin Lagoon and the rest of the resort can cost anywhere from around $135 to close to $400 per person per day. This breaks down to anywhere from a $25 to a $75 difference to swim with dolphins in Dolphin Lagoon. On the bright side, thanks to our partnership with authorized ticket seller Undercover Tourist, you can buy discount Discovery Cove tickets (and SeaWorld and Aquatica tickets, too!) at a savings of $200 or more per person. Click here to book yours!
How do you make a reservation for your encounter?
Once you’ve purchased your admission that includes access to Dolphin Lagoon and selected the day of your visit (Discovery Cove only welcomes a maximum of 1,300 guests per day to keep things more intimate and relaxing), you’ve done all you can until it’s time for check-in. Then, on the morning of your day at Discovery Cove, you will want to plan to check in as early as possible. In fact, getting an early start is probably our biggest Discovery Cove Orlando tip. This is because you will get first dibs on scheduling your experiences for the day.
Once it’s time to schedule your visit to Dolphin Lagoon, we suggest you choose an early morning slot. Not only will this give you the opportunity to meet the dolphins when they are still feeling fresh and ready to interact (the dolphins get to decide if they want to participate in the meet-and-greet; they aren’t made to do so by the trainers), but there should also be less of a chance for delays due to bad weather or a finicky dolphin.
Requirements for Swimming with Dolphins: Discovery Cove Orlando Experience FAQs
Are you wondering if your little one can join you in Dolphin Lagoon or if you need to be a skilled swimmer to participate? Or, maybe you’re curious about the guidelines for what you can wear or bring with you. Here are some things to keep in mind when deciding whether to add the dolphin swim to your day at Discovery Cove.
What is the age requirement?
Although the entire family is welcome at Discovery Cove Orlando, young guests hoping to swim with the dolphins must be between the ages of 6 and 12 and participating in the experience with a paying adult by their side. This is for the safety of both the child and the dolphin, by ensuring that the child is large enough to interact with the powerful marine mammal and also in the presence of an authority figure who can make sure they understand and accept the instructions from the trainer, as well as act accordingly in the water.
Do you need to be a good swimmer?
Discovery Cove Orlando is designed to be accessible and fun for guests of all ages and abilities, and that includes Dolphin Lagoon. In fact, you will be wading in shallow water for almost the entirety of your dolphin encounter. Not only will this be where you will meet and pet the dolphin, but this is also where you’ll have your mini photo session with them, too. For reference, the shallowest point of Dolphin Lagoon is only around a foot deep.
The only time that you will be in deep water of as much as 12 feet is during the time when you will actually take a swim with them. And even then, you won’t have to tread water or paddle from one place to another. You’ll simply grab onto the dolphin’s dorsal fin and hold on tight as they swim from one shallow area to another. Plus, as anyone who has ever read news articles about dolphins saving swimmers can attest (look it up—they’re incredible), there is no one that you would rather be caught in deep water with than a dolphin.
Do you have to wear a wet suit for the experience?
Yes. During the dolphin swim, you are required to wear either a swim vest or wetsuit, both of which are provided at no additional cost to you. We actually welcome wearing the wetsuit due to the relatively cool water temperature (Dolphin Lagoon is kept at a chilly 76 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit (25 degrees Celsius). Fortunately, the process is very easy, as Discovery Cove team members are great at sizing you up and picking the appropriate fit for you. And if the one you’re given happens to be the wrong size, all you need to do is ask for a different one. You can also choose between a short- or long-sleeve wetsuit.
Can you wear jewelry or sunglasses in Dolphin Lagoon?
So, what about accessories? You are welcome to wear sunglasses in Dolphin Lagoon. In fact, we suggest you bring a pair, as the sunlight glaring off of the water can make it difficult to see at times. And trust us, the last thing you’re going to want to do is miss anything. Relatedly, you are also free to wear normal glasses or, if you have them, prescription goggles. If you don’t own any, a complimentary pair is available upon request. The only thing you can’t really wear is jewelry like bracelets or jewelry. The only exceptions to this are wedding bands and watches. Additionally, if you wear a hair tie around your wrist like I do, you will be required to put your hair back with it or remove it altogether.
Can you take a camera with you?
Although you are welcome to take your camera to other places around Discovery Cove Orlando, like Wind-Away River, Serenity Bay, Freshwater Oasis and even The Grand Reef, no devices are allowed in Dolphin Lagoon. Not only does this help to protect your equipment, but since mechanical items can mean small pieces that are dangerous for the animals, it also helps to keep the dolphins safe.
But don’t worry! A Discovery Cove photographer will be in the water with you to capture the action. In fact, each person will get their own photo opportunity, complete with kisses, with your dedicated dolphin, and group photos are typically also available. The photographer will also be there to commemorate your big ride-along moment. These images are then available for purchase through a variety of photo packages. Options range from $99 for four 6×8 prints to $299 for prints ($254.15 if purchased in advance)—including ten 6x8s and a frame, a 16×24 poster and a metal print—as well as a photo album and all of your digital images.
Diving Into Dolphin Lagoon: Setting Expectations for Your Experience
Alright, you’re ready to make a splash in Dolphin Lagoon. Here’s everything you can expect when meeting your new dolphin friend, including our take on the most popular question: “Is it worth swimming with dolphins during a day at Discovery Cove?”
How many people will be in your group for the experience?
During your Discovery Cove dolphin encounter, you can expect to be part of a group of around 6 to 10 people, including yourself and the rest of your group. That said, Dolphin Lagoon is actually quite large, with three separate sections and space inside each for four separate groups.
Will you receive any instruction or education before the encounter?
Yes! For the safety of both you and the dolphin that you will be interacting with, there will be a short, 10-minute orientation session out of the water beforehand that addresses issues like safety and gives guests an opportunity to ask questions if desired. Throughout the encounter, you will also learn from an animal care specialist about dolphin habits and behaviors, like their unique communication skills, as well as the care and relationship-building that is done with these intelligent creatures every day.
How long is the experience? What about the actual time spent swimming with the dolphin?
In general, you should set aside approximately an hour from start to finish for your visit to Dolphin Lagoon. This is to account for the info session at the beginning and our recommended early arrival about 10 minutes in advance, as well as the roughly 30-minute in-water dolphin experience. Since your new flippered friend can run on dolphin time, it is possible for the interaction to run over. The actual swim itself lasts as long as it takes for you and your dolphin to get from Point A to Point B.
How many dolphins will you meet during the interaction?
Although Discovery Cove Orlando is home to many dolphins, your group will only get to meet and interact with one dolphin. This helps you feel like you really get to know all about your dolphin. But that doesn’t mean that you won’t get to see other dolphins hanging out in the lagoon. However, they will just be playing in the water or participating in other dolphin experiences instead of hanging out with you.
What will your dolphin encounter be like?
Your dolphin encounter at Discovery Cove will be broken down into a few different parts. After your safety briefing and Q&A session, you’ll then make your way into the lagoon. Once you’ve all lined up in the water, the animal trainer will direct your dolphin to swim past you so you can give them a pet. This will happen a few times during your experience, giving you plenty of hands-on interactions. You will also be taught a bit about specific dolphin habits and behaviors, during which you will learn some hand signals that you will use to try and encourage your dolphin to do things like flip or wave their fin. After that, it’s time for the dolphin swim. Once it’s your turn, you’ll simply be asked to hold onto their dorsal fin for your magical ride through the Dolphin Lagoon.
Is it worth it?
If you want to swim with dolphins, Discovery Cove Orlando is, in our opinion, a great place to do it. But it really depends on what you’re hoping to get out of your day at Discovery Cove and, more specifically, the dolphin swim experience. If you’re hoping for a bunch of one-on-one time with your dolphin doing laps in the lagoon, then you might be disappointed. Additionally, if all you want is a relaxing day that doesn’t require too much of an investment, then the Discovery Cove dolphin swim might not be for you. After all, it definitely isn’t cheap (but then again, neither is Discovery Cove Orlando).
But if you set your expectations accordingly and appreciate the dolphin encounter for what it is, then chances are good that you will come away thrilled with your experience. Is it cheap? Not at all. However, how many other times are you going to get the opportunity to learn about dolphins while actually being in the water with them? And how often do you get the chance to be pulled along by a dolphin, even if it is only for a relatively brief time? We’re pretty sure that the answer to both of those questions is not a lot. Taking all this into account, if it’s in your budget, we can’t imagine a more memorable addition to your day at Discovery Cove than a visit to Dolphin Lagoon.
Discovery Cove Dolphin Swim Alternatives: The Grand Reef and Beyond
Thinking of giving the dolphin swim a pass? Or perhaps you just want to keep your options open. Fortunately, there are plenty of other ways to make a splash at Discovery Cove that are just as fun. And, bonus, some of them are free, too! The most obvious suggestions are hanging out at Serenity Bay, the resort’s beach-like pool, or taking a trip down the lazy Wind-Away River by pool noodle.
The Grand Reef – Dive into the cool water of The Grand Reef for a snorkeling session through a meticulously realistic coral reef habitat with beautiful tropical fish like angelfish and graceful rays
Freshwater Oasis – Wade into the sparkling spring of Freshwater Oasis for an up-close encounter with Asian small-clawed otters and, in the rainforest canopy above, adorable marmosets
Explorer’s Aviary – Feed a feathered friend from the palm of your hand in a free-flight aviary home to hundreds of exotic birds
Animal Trek – Meet cuddly Discovery Cove Ambassadors like a sloth, anteater or kinkajou on this behind-the-scenes tour (starts at $39)
SeaVenture – Put on an astronaut-like dive helmet for a truly immersive underwater walking tour across the floor of The Grand Reef, with an animal expert and thousands of fish as your guides (starts at $39)
Flamingo Mingle – Join Discovery Cove’s flamboyance of flamingos for their morning mealtime and quick wade in The Grand Reef (priced at $59)
Ray Feeding – Give southern and cownose rays, as well as tons of tropical fish, their morning meal during this hands-on encounter (starts at $59)
Shark Swim – Enjoy an intimate swim with toothy denizens of the deep, like blacktip reef and nurse sharks, during this unforgettable aquatic experience (starts at $169)
Are you ready to swim with dolphins at Discovery Cove Orlando? Click here to learn how you can save on day resort admission and make your dolphin swim a little more affordable with our discount Discovery Cove tickets. Have you already had the chance to experience Dolphin Lagoon? Do you think it was worth it? Let us know in the comments!