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The Top 10 Things You Need to Know About Discovery Cove

UpClose with Dolphins in Orlando

When considering a vacation destination that offers a chance to swim with Dolphins, you would not think Orlando, a landlocked region of the sunshine state, would be one of your best options.  But you’d be wrong, because Discovery Cove, located in Orlando, offers one of the best Orlando swim with dolphins experience and so much more.

You get an all-inclusive experience including the chance to interact with many animals, eat and drink until your heart is content, and relax and be pampered by an attentive staff.  After visiting Discovery Cove many times, I have come up with my Top 10 insider secrets.

1. Get  there early 

The expression, “The early bird gets the worm” is true here. When you purchase a ticket at Discovery Cove, you don’t get a set time but a confirmed day. The spaces are on a first come, first served basis.  So, if getting a swim time before lunch is important to you, you want to get there early. Otherwise, you will have to take the last swim times in the late afternoon. Also, if you have little ones, you might need to split the swim times, so mom can go with one child and dad go with another. The only way you can do those things is to get to Discovery Cove Early.  The doors open at 7:30am.

Checking In at Discovery Cove – Early Bird gets the Worm

2. Split up your times

If you want to take photos of each other, I would recommend splitting up your swim times.  This way one person can take photos of your group and the other person can take photos of you during your dolphin interaction.  Note: the professional photographers can take much better photos than you can, but it’s always nice to have a choice if you’re on a tight budget. Photos can cost $100 and up.

Split Up Your Session Times

3. Stay at a SeaWorld approved Hotel

Orlando has many choices for hotels, but if you stay at one of  the Sea World-approved hotels, you will get many perks at Sea World, like special amenities for the shows, speedy check in at gate, close proximity to Discovery Cove and Sea  World, free shuttles to the parks, and even a free souvenir cup.

4. Enjoy the extra activities at Sea World

Your admission to Discovery Cove includes admission to Sea World and Aquatica, 14 days before or after your admission date.  So why not enjoy all that Sea World has to offer, like some really exciting VIP tours? The Frozen VIP Tour gives you a chance to meet and touch seals, Beluga whales, and a huge walrus. This 90-minute behind-the-scenes tour is memorable and provides a ton of great photo ops.

Extra Activities at Sea World

5. Cool off at Aquatica

Aquatica was one of those blessings to have included during the super-hot summer month of August. My children and I spent all day in the water and stayed chilled out even though it was 90 degrees plus.  The waterslides and pools were so much fun.  Many folks don’t take advantage of this bonus park. Again, you have 14 days before or after to use this park pass.

Cool Off at Aquatica

6. The Lazy River is a blast

The lazy River at Discovery Cove is really fun. You can grab a water noodle and start at one end of the river and move around the park.  This river is usually not very crowded and a great way to relax for 20 – 30 minutes.  The gentle manmade current pushes you through the river so no swimming is required and you pass a bird sanctuary, a long cave, waterfalls and beautiful gardens.

7. Did anyone say open Bar?

At Discovery Cove, all your meals are included, including breakfast and lunch. But a nice surprise is that all of your drinks and snacks are also included.  When I mean drinks, that includes beer, wine and frozen drinks like strawberry daiquiris and pina coladas.  They have a tiki bar set up and you can go there any time during the day for a nice cold one. Be careful, it is easy to get really drunk and you don’t want to drive.

Friendly Service at the Open Bar

8. Choose your spot wisely

Once you get to the park, you’ll be given lounge chairs and then it’s time for you and your family or friends to hunt for and claim your spot. Do you best to find a spot that offers shade and is close to the open bar and food and to where you’ll be swimming with the dolphins. If you want less crowds, set up camp near the Lazy River side.  The chairs go quickly, so the early bird gets the worm and lounge chair.

Choose Your Chair and Make a Home Base

9. Plan a full day

I highly recommend that you spend the full day (from 7:3am to 3 – 4pm) at the park. I know it sounds like so many hours but it will fly by because you are enjoying the dolphins, the food and drinks and all the amenities.  It’s almost like being on a cruise ship but on land. Why not take the entire day to relax and have fun?

10. Tick Tock watch the clock

The only thing that is a little stressful, and I really do mean only a little, is making sure to be on time for your dolphin swim.  When you check in at the gate, you will get a swim time.  There are clocks everywhere with in the park, so know where your clock is so you are not late for your swim.  That is another reason why I like doing my swim early, so I don’t have to look at the clock anymore and just relax the rest of the day.

Know Your Swim Time

Hopefully this Top 10 list will make your experience at Discovery Cove Orlando even better.  Wait, I do have 1 one more tip, if you plan to come to Discovery Cove, makes sure to make your reservation early! You can make your booking right here on Dolphin World with real time availability. After all, your vacation only comes around once each year, so you want to be sure it’s as stress-free as possible. Have fun!

Book Your Discovery Cove Programs >>


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Join the Eternal Vacation in Beautiful Key West, Florida

If you’re in the vacationing mood, head to beautiful Key West, Florida, where every day is a perfect excuse to play and party under the sun and stars. Key West is the kind of destination where time completely stops. There’s no need for a watch or an itinerary here, visitors simply do whatever they fancy. Boasting more sunny days than not, the area is ideal for those who want to snorkel, scuba dive, kayak or just lay on the beach and catch some rays. And, when the sun goes down, it’s time to party down with other tourists and locals who just want to have a good time.

There are a plethora of activities for visitors to partake in and here are just a few highlights:

Snorkel and Hang Out with Wild Dolphins

Hop on board the Amazing Grace, a Wild Dolphin Tour, an ultramodern boat that offers 6 passengers a rare look into the underwater world surrounding Key West customized deck viewing area. You’ll have the opportunity to encounter wild dolphins, a most memorable experience, and watch as they frolic and play below and all around. For those who feel like getting a little, or a lot, wet, dive in for some magnificent snorkeling among the many vibrant coral reefs. You’ll see colorful tropical fish and sea turtles as you glide through the azure waters just off the coast. A day on the Amazing Grace isn’t just a tourist attraction, it’s a memory you’ll never forget.

Wild About Dolphins in Key West

Food and Fun on a Sunset Cruise

There are dinner cruises, and then there are dinner cruises. Grab the one you love, or, okay, a bunch of people you at least like very much, and hop aboard the Sunset Culinaire Food and Fun Cruise where you can enjoy a luxury cruise at sunset skimming over the ocean’s surface. When not gazing in awe at the spectacular sunset, dine on gourmet cuisine prepared with love by a Chef, who’s been concocting delicious appetizers for 35 years. In other words, he’s got this whole cooking thing down pat. This dinner cruise is one you won’t soon forget.

What’s Better Than BP & J?

Answer: Rum and Reggae
Take a one-of-a-kind sailing adventure and head out into the famous crystal blue waters surrounding Key West for a day of sailing and, well, drinking – only in Key West, right? You’ll board a state-of-the-art luxury catamaran and head out to explore the beautiful coral reefs and miles of beautiful coastline. During the trip you have access to unlimited sodas, beer and rum punch and you’ll listen to the rhythmic beats of reggae music while literally sailing into the sunset.

Rum and Raggae Snorkel Cruise Key West

Up, Up and Away…

Come on, you know you want to try parasailing. Well Key West is one of the best places to do it. Get an aerial view of the fantastic scenery below as you soar 600 feet above the island. You can enjoy a solo ride or tandem, and, for those who want a dry adventure, you may choose to take off and land on dry ground. Once you try parasailing, you may become addicted!

ParaSailing In Key West

Who Doesn’t Love the Aquarium?

The Key West Aquarium is the only one on the island, and it offers those visitors who aren’t too keen on snorkeling or diving, or those too young, an opportunity to get up close and personal with some of the most incredible creatures from the deep blue sea. The aquarium features a touch tank that holds rays, sharks and turtles, and you can feed the sharks and the turtles daily. The aquarium also has a Turtle Hospital where dedicated staff members work hard to protect these creatures that are now endangered. If you’re traveling with kids, the aquarium is a great way to spend an afternoon.

Key West Aquarium – A place to see !!

Key West is one of those destinations that seem too good to be true. But lucky for you, it’s completely true.

Where to Stay in Key West

Pier House Resort & Spa

Pier House Key West

Located in Key West Historic District, this beachfront resort is in the city center and within a 5-minute walk to many attractions, Audubon House and Tropical Gardens, and Mallory Square. Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum and Southernmost Point are also within 2 mi (3 km). Catch some rays on Pier House Resort & Spa’s private white sand beach or spend the day relaxing at the full-service spa. Then enjoy a meal at one of the resort’s 3 restaurants. All 142 rooms provide conveniences like refrigerators and coffee makers, plus free WiFi and flat-screen TVs with cable channels. Guests will also find patios, minibars, and room service. < More Information about the Pier House >

Your Key West Experience and Feed Back

We would love to hear from you and what you did in Key West. Did you do any of these activities that we have listed here? What places do you recommend to go stay in or eat at? In fact we are so interested in hearing what you have to say that we will entice you to comment, the first 5 comments will receive a $5 Amazon Gift card by email. The only thing we ask that you comment has something to do about Key West and your stay there or the nearby area.

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Get Your Summer Fun On in Panama City Beach, Florida

Royal Dolphin Swim in Panama City Beach FL

Panama City Beach, Florida is a little slice of paradise. With white sand beaches that hug turquoise waters, it’s no wonder people from all over the world flock here. But what some don’t know is that Panama City Beach is a destination where you can “get your fun on!” Whether you’re interested in fantastic family attractions, top-notch dining, luxury shopping choices, water sports or a raucous nightlife, this little slice of Heaven has it all. In fact when you visit, you may find it hard to choose from all of the fun things to do.

Royal Dolphin Swim in Panama City Beach FL

To help you out, here are some of our recommendations.

Home Away from Home

Legacy by the Sea is a beachfront resort offers One-bedroom suites rooms with beds and full kitchen facilities and great views of the Gulf Waters. This hotel is located a half-mile from the swim with the dolphins park, 1 mile from Pier Park, and three miles from Shipwreck Island Water Park.
Private beach access, an outdoor pool, and complimentary Continental breakfast are offered at this Panama City Beach hotel.

Get Up Close with Wild Things!

Head to Gulf World Marine Park to get a Royal Dolphin swim where get to dorsal fin ride and the famous foot push too. This dolphin experience is NEW, so you can be the first to try it. Also, you can see spectacular shows featuring dolphins, sea lions, tropical birds and even reptiles. There are also fun exhibits where you can learn all about penguins, alligators, sharks, flamingos and many more animals that live in the region. And, there’s also a stingray petting pool, regular dolphin swims and encounter(non-swims), and a tropical garden theater that features music and magic.

Book Your Panama City Beach Dolphin Programs >>

What’s with That Upside Down House?

That’s what you’ll probably ask yourselves when you first lay eyes on WonderWorks, the outside of which actually looks like a house just fell out of the sky and landed on its roof. But then when you step inside you’ll see it’s an absolute magical place where you and your family can let your imaginations run wild. Inside there are dozens of hands-on experiments that allow kids to learn while having the time of their life.

Wonder Works Panama City Beach
Wonder Works Panama City Beach

Water, Water, Everywhere

Shipwreck Island Waterpark is where to go to cool off and have some fun! The wavepool has 500,000 gallons of water with 4 ft. waves, and there are professionally trained lifeguards on staff at all times. For the smaller swimmers in your group, there’s the Tadpole Hole where little ones can splash around. You can take a leisurely and relaxing ride down the Lazy River, or if you want more thrills, try the Tree Top Drop or Racing Slide which offer 65 foot falls that can get you up to speeds of 35 miles an hour. As if those weren’t enough, there’s the Rapid River Run that offers a white water experience, and the Zoom Flume waterslide where parents can go down with their children. And these aren’t even all of the attractions. You just have to see Shipwreck Island to believe all the fun you can have.

Hmmm, That’s Odd…

Have a blast exploring Robert Ripley’s one-of-a-kind Odditorium where you can see over 400 amazing exhibits, weird and unusual art and genuine artifacts from around the entire world. There’s also a 4D Moving Theater that offers a simulated roller coaster ride that gives you the stomach-flipping thrills without actually going upside down. Sure, all of that would be more than enough to entertain your family for the entire day, but there’s even more. Spend some time in the Impossible Laser Room and test your laser-dodging skills, or check out the shooting gallery for a chance to get a bullseye!

camp helen state park
Camp Helen State Park

Connect with Nature

Camp Helen State Park is a beautiful place to spend the day communing with the natural world around you. Bordered on three sides by water, the gulf to the south and Lake Powell to the north and east, Camp Helen is an ideal location for exploration. The park consists of 183 acres and offers swimming, beachcombing, hiking, biking, bird watching, and both fresh and salt water fishing. Plus, there are fun events that happen at the park all throughout the year.

A vacation in Panama City Beach will put a smile on everyone’s faces and leave you planning your next trip.

Insider Secrets

We would enjoy to hear any of our reader’s insider secrets, if any of you have traveled to Panama City Beach Florida and want to share some of your travel experiences there. For example, Where did you stay and how did you like it? Did you find any interesting restaurants or attractions that you enjoyed and want to write about? How did the locals treat you? Please share your experiences below in the comment section. Our community of avid travelers and dolphin lovers would like to hear what you did and your travel advice.

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Quick Getaway – Swim with Dolphins in Islamorada Keys

Have you ever dreamed of what it would be like to swim alongside a bottlenose dolphin in their natural habitat? Imagine you and your new pal gliding through the warm waters of the lagoon together, swimming in circles around one another. And when you reach out and touch his flipper, you’d have a moment of disbelief. Could this actually be happening or are you dreaming?

For some it may only ever be a dream, but for those who visit Theater of the Sea in the Florida Keys, that dream can become a reality. Read about my quick getaway, Swim with Dolphins in Islamorada Keys and what travel ideas I have to share for you.

My Swim with Dolphins in Islamorada Keys

Swimming with Dolphins in the Keys

In our estimation, swimming with dolphins in the Keys should be on everyone’s bucket list. There is something absolutely magical about an up-close-and-personal encounter with such an intelligent creature. It’s no wonder dolphins have mesmerized human beings with their playful and friendly antics over the years.

The great thing about Theater of the Sea is that it offers various programs to match the needs of the individual, no matter their age or swimming ability. Whether you’re 6 or 96, you’re sure to find a dolphin encounter that’s just right for you.

Some of the dolphin programs offered at Theater of the Sea are:

Meet the Dolphins

This is the perfect interaction for very young visitors or for those who aren’t comfortable in the water. From a floating dock you will have the opportunity to touch and interact with the dolphins while a trainer guides the dolphins through a series of tricks. You’ll be able to get a kiss from your new friend and watch as they retrieve their toys located all around the lagoon.

Meet the Dolphins in Islamorada Keys

Dolphin Encounter Program

This program is appropriate for kids as young as 3 and up to age 7 with a parent or guardian participation. Because this program only includes wading in shallow water, this is also great for any senior citizens who are not comfortable with a full swim encounter.

You’ll get some memorable one-on-one time with your new pals. You may get a chance to hug and kiss a dolphin, rub their belly, and of course take many selfies of you and your new BFF together for your Facebook page.

Swim with Dolphins Program

This is the one you’ve been waiting for –  the program that makes your dream come entirely true. The ‘swim with dolphins’ program provides you with a rare opportunity to experience a magical animal in its own habitat.

You must be a good swimmer for this program, as sections of the lagoon are 20 feet deep. You should also be comfortable swimming with a snorkel so you can dive underwater side-by-side with the dolphins – a thrill you will never forget.

Not only will you get to swim with dolphins, but you’ll also get to participate in getting them to do some tricks, and also experience a dorsal tow and foot push. You’ll feel like you’re flying through the water!

Whichever program you choose, you and your loved ones are sure to make memories that last a lifetime.

Snorkeling with Dolphins in Islamorada Keys

Theater of the Sea

Theater of the Sea is special for many different reasons. Because of its proximity to Miami and Key West (it’s a1 and ½ hour drive from Miami and a 2-hour drive from Key West), it makes the perfect day trip for visitors to those famous destinations.

Something else that sets this wild life park apart is its attention to detail. The landscaping is lush and beautiful, and the minute you step foot inside the park, you feel like you’ve been transported to a tropical paradise. And maybe you have!

Also, Theater of the Sea is smaller than other sea life parks, and because of this, it has a more intimate and personal feel to it. The quaint size also lets you see everything you want to see in a single day, and your little ones don’t get tired having to walk as far to all of the different shows and attractions.

Finally, and perhaps the most special thing about Theater of the Sea, is that the sea life enclosures are organic and part of the landscape. You won’t find typical glass enclosures between you and the animals. You might find yourself strolling along when you suddenly spot the turtle lagoon just feet from you, surrounded by lush vegetation.

Pelican Cove Hotel Islamorada FL
Pelican Cove Hotel Islamorada FL

Getting Around the Keys

The Florida Keys are a beautiful chain of islands that extend out like a tendril, forming one, narrow band. Visitors have a few different options as far as getting from one island to the next.

If you’ve driven to Florida or rented a car from Miami or Ft Lauderdale airports, your easiest bet is to drive on Highway 1. Having said this, the bridges between islands also have pedestrian and bike routes, so if one were in shape, one could also hoof or peddle it around the Keys.

To make it very easy for visitors, there are some shuttle services that operate between the mainland and the Florida Keys, such as Greyhound and the Key West Shuttle. These also serve as a sort of bus service between the islands. Dolphin World does provide a van service from Key West or Marathon to Islamorada, for those who are traveling to the lower keys and need some transportation help.

And finally, consider chartering or renting a boat and spend the day island hopping. The Keys offers you a variety of boating facilities, from modest boat slips to full service marinas. If this interests you, be advised that reservations are recommended and sometimes required.

There are a lot of terrific places to stay in the Keys, but our personal favorite is Pelican Resort Cove. Recently renovated, the resort is located on Islamorada, and just a stone’s throw away from Theater of the Sea. This beautiful ocean-front resort offers visitors salt-water breezes, pristine beaches and a friendly island vibe.

After a full day of sightseeing, you and your crew will most likely be very hungry and will no doubt want to chow down on a delicious seafood dinner. You are, after all, in the Florida Keys. We recommend heading to The Islamorada Fish Company Restaurant not far from the resort. Feel like fish tacos? They’ve got them. Maybe you’re in the mood for raw oysters? Yep, they’ve got those, too. Chances are, if it once swam in the ocean, they can serve it to you anyway you like it.

After dinner, take a sunset stroll down to Lorelei Restaurant and Cabana Bar for a nightcap. They don’t call this place the pulse of Islamorada for nothing!

You could do just about anything on the island of Islamorada in the Florida Keys and it would be pretty special and memorable. But swimming with dolphins… that’s nothing short of a dream come true.

Insider Secrets

We would enjoy to hear any of our reader’s insider secrets, if any of you have traveled to the Key Largo/Islamorada area and want to share some of your travel experiences there. For example, Where did you stay and how did you like it? Did you find any interesting restaurants or attractions that you enjoyed and want to write about? How did the locals treat you? Please share your experiences below in the comment section. Our community of avid travelers and dolphin lovers would like to hear what you did and your travel advice.