Hoppy summer, dudes and dudettes! No matter when you're reading this, it's basically always summer in Orlando, Florida ... especially at Discovery Cove! If you're not familiar, Discovery Cove Orlando is an all-inclusive day resort right across the street from SeaWorld Orlando ... with all of the aquatic adventures to match. Sounds like froggy heaven, right? Right.
Mommy Frog (that’s Flora to you folks), Dad (Leap), Lily and I recently had the pleasure of visiting our dolphin friends at Discovery Cove. I’m going to answer some frequently asked questions about the Discovery Cove Dolphin Swim, and tell you all about our experience along the way. This is the most popular add-on experience at Discovery Cove, and best of all you can book your Discovery Cove dolphin swim with us at a discount.
Discovery Cove Dolphin Swim Experience & FAQ
When you're exploring something new (and investing in an add-on experience), you're always going to have questions. Don't worry — we wise frogs have the answers you seek. Have more questions not answered below? Hop to our comments and shoot 'em our way.
How do I make my Discovery Cove Dolphin Swim reservation?
Check out our discounted Discovery Cove ticket options, and be sure to select one of the packages including the dolphin swim. You'll need to choose a date for your visit, as only a limited number of people are allowed in the resort per day. (For ultimate relaxation, duh.)
Upon arrival, you will choose your Discovery Cove dolphin swim time with the host or hostess you check in with. The early frog gets the fly ... meaning the earlier you arrive, the more flexibility and availability there will be with your swim time.
I don't do well in deep water. Can I handle the Discovery Cove Dolphin Swim?
Previously, you were able to choose between shallow and deep water dolphin swims. The shallow swim keeps you closer to the shore and there won't be any point at which you can't stand up. For the deeper swim, you are still standing for a majority of the time and only need to briefly swim about 20 feet for the dolphin to pick you up for your ride-along. Go for the shallow swim if you have little ones with you or if you're not a fan of deep water (it's a no-frog-shaming zone)!
Currently, due to COVID-19 guidelines, dolphin interactions are only taking place in shallow water.
What else is different due to COVID-19 right now?
At orientation, you'll be given a water-resistant mask. For unvaccinated guests, it must be worn during the experience. However, you will be able to pull it down under your chin for photos and the actual dolphin swim. Groups remain physically distanced from each other, and if you're in a group with another party, you'll be asked to stand at a safe distance. Pre-COVID, you'd be able to kiss your dolphin mouth-to-mouth, but at this time, only cheek kisses will be given.
Are there any age restrictions?
Unfrogtunately, tadpoles ages 5 and under cannot participate in the dolphin swim, and tadpoles ages 6 to 12 need to be accompanied by a paying adult who is also participating in the experience. This policy was set to ensure that the children can interact in a social setting and follow instructions from the trainer, as well as be physically capable of standing in 4-foot-deep water with large, powerful animals.
What do I wear for the Discovery Cove Dolphin Swim?
Great question! You'll need to wear either a wetsuit (short-sleeve or long-sleeve options available) or vest during your swim. The water can feel quite chilly, so we recommend the hoppy medium of the short-sleeve wetsuit on most days. All of these choices are provided to you at no extra charge! The beauty here is that the Discovery Cove employees will choose a size for you, and they're awesome at estimating your fit. If it's too big or too small, no worries ... just go exchange it! No questions asked.
What else am I allowed to wear for the Discovery Cove Dolphin Swim?
Sunglasses are allowed and toadally recommended for the Discovery Cove Dolphin Swim, because the glare of sunlight on the water can get pretty intense. You can wear regular glasses as well, or prescription goggles are available at guest services at no extra charge. However, you are definitely encouraged (if not required) to remove any jewelry possible, including bracelets, necklaces, etc.
You should wear your Discovery Cove lanyard to the swim, as this will be your proof of purchase and swim time! You will be asked to tuck the lanyard into your wet suit before diving in.
What about my rings? I don't want to leave them in a locker.
If you're wearing an engagement ring or wedding set with a large stone ... first of all, congrats! But more importantly, one of the Discovery Cove employees will ask to wrap it up for you with a gauzy material to make sure you don't accidentally scratch the dolphin, or have a stone fall out and become dolphin dinner. That would be disastrous for everyone involved!
Will I receive any training or education beforehand?
Yes! You’ll meet at a covered station where one of the trainers will give you a nice safety spiel and play-by-play of your anticipated adventures. We even got to watch a cool video telling us all about dolphins!
How many people will I be grouped with?
Dolphin Lagoon is divided into three main sections, and each of those sections has room for four groups. (Everyone begins at the same time.) Including you and your party, your immediate group will be approximately 10 people. It was fun seeing other families, couples and even people hoppin’ solo while interacting with the dolphins! We shared our dolphin, Thelma, with another family, who was visiting all the way from Idaho!
How many dolphins do you get to meet during the Discovery Cove Dolphin Swim?
You’ll meet one super special dolphin during your swim, but see many others playing and swimming in the lagoon. We love that this makes the experience a bit more intimate, as you really get to learn all about your dolphin. Our friend Thelma was the matriarch of her pod. Your designated trainers (there are two with you — one of which is the primary “narrator” so to speak) will answer any and all questions you and your tadpoles have about the dolphins and other Discovery Cove wildlife. The trainers will share fun facts and ask YOU questions, too, making the experience interesting and informative. Did you know that dolphins only have one set of teeth for their entire lifespan (about 50 to 60 years)?
How much dolphin interaction will we receive?
When you think “Dolphin Swim,” you inevitably imagine doing the classic dolphin ride-along, and probably not much else. Don’t be fooled or scared away by this misconception! The Discovery Cove Dolphin Swim will wow you with the interaction you receive. I’ll walk you through our experience to help paint a picture for you!
To start, our group lined up and the trainer had Thelma swim right by all of us, allowing us to “pet” her just past the dorsal fin. Like most humans and frogs, dolphins don’t feel too comfortable with you touching their faces. We got to do this about four times during our interaction! Then, individually, we were able to give her some more well-deserved pats and a hug. As a group, the trainer walked us through a few hand signals that encouraged Thelma to perform her behaviors, such as waving, spinning in a circle and even making adorable sounds. After this came the dolphin swim itself. We each met one of the trainers at a distance in the shallow water, and hitched a gentle ride with Thelma. Photographers were there to capture all of the magic! As the grand finale, Thelma joined forces with the dolphins from other groups to do flips together. I think Lily’s face turned into the actual heart-eyes emoji.
How long does the dolphin interaction take?
The in-water experience takes approximately 30 minutes (though there's such thing as running on dolphin time!). The orientation takes about 10 minutes before you walk down to the lagoon. We suggest arriving about 10 minutes before your scheduled time so you don't run late. Overall, budget about an hour for the entire experience.
What about the most important part … the photo opportunities?
You can let out a sigh of relief because I assure you, your Instagram will be hoppin’ after your Discovery Cove Dolphin Swim. The trainers, a photographer and Thelma herself were all awesome about all of the photos! Of course, photos of our ride-along were captured. Afterward, Thelma was sweet enough to pose for both solo and group shots, both standard and KISSING! That’s right, Thelma kissed us each on the cheek, which resulted in the most adorable pictures. While photographers are available to take pictures, photo packages come at an additional cost. We recommend springing for the largest photo package (especially for a big group!) so you can get all of your photo downloads.
Can I bring a waterproof camera?
Nope! As the Frog Family's resident videographer, it breaks my heart to say that you are not allowed to bring cameras of any kind into the Discovery Cove Dolphin Swim — but it's for a very good reason. Cameras have tons of tiny, small parts that could easily fall into the water and become a danger to the animals. As frogs, we must put the safety of our fellow aquatic friends first!
Like we mentioned, Discovery Cove has photographers in the water with you to capture your experience. You'll definitely want to purchase a photo package to take all the fun home with you (and it makes great social media content, duh). If there's anyone in your party not participating in the dolphin swim, they're more than welcome to take photos and video from the shoreline.
What if it rains?
Ah, the beauty of SeaWorld parks! Discovery Cove has a generous inclement weather guarantee. If rain spoils your Discovery Cove dolphin swim plans, the staff will do their best to reschedule your experience to another day during your Orlando visit. If you’re not available, you have up to a year to come back and splash with your dolphin pals!
Are you ready to dive right in and swim with the fishes ... or in this case, dolphins? Hop on our discount tickets today and get cruisin' to your Discovery Cove dolphin swim. If you have more questions (whether frequently asked or not!) comment below so we can help you out. That's what Frogs are for!