Discovery Cove#9 in Best Things To Do in Orlando-Walt Disney World
There are animal encounters and then there's Discovery Cove – a companion site to SeaWorld Orlando that receives rave reviews from past travelers. Here, you can get up close and personal with dolphins, stingrays, marmosets and otters, plus exotic birds. And since it's a reservation-only park (capacity is capped at 1,300 guests per day), you'll get to interact with the animals and trainers more intimately. When you're not swimming with the dolphins, try snorkeling with tropical fish and rays in the park's coral reef or floating throughout the park's lush landscape on the Wind-Away River. If you need a break from the water, dry off on one of the beaches or feed some of the birds in Discovery Cove's Explorer's Aviary.
According to recent visitors, it's this plethora of diverse attractions that make Discovery Cove such a memorable Orlando experience and many also comment on how relaxing the park is to visit. While a trip here will cost you (packages start at $149 per person without the dolphin swim experience), past visitors offer a few cost-saving tips: Avoid buying the pricey photo package offered by Discovery Cove. And if you're not set on swimming with dolphins, opt for the standard Day Resort Package instead of the more expensive all-inclusive Dolphin Swim Package (which starts at $199 per person). If you're planning to visit SeaWorld and Aquatica, it may be worthwhile to purchase one of the park's package deals, which offers one-day admission to Discovery Cove, as well as unlimited admission to SeaWorld and Aquatica. Packages start at $170 per person.
Discovery Cove is adjacent to SeaWorld Orlando near International Drive; it's open every day from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., with breakfast provided at 7:15 a.m. The city's LYNX buses (Nos. 8, 38, 50 and 111) stop near the property, and free self-parking is available on-site. All day packages include use of snorkeling gear, wet suits and lockers; unlimited access to attraction's Grand Reef, Serenity Bay, Explorer's Aviary and Wind-Away River; and two meals, snacks and drinks (including alcoholic libations). Age restrictions apply for the dolphin swim. Visit Discovery Cove's website for more information.
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#1 Walt Disney World Resort
Excessive, exhausting and expensive, Walt Disney World Resort is above all else enchanting. Composed of four theme parks (the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney's Hollywood Studios and Disney's Animal Kingdom), two water parks (Disney's Typhoon Lagoon and Disney's Blizzard Beach), more than two dozen hotels and the Disney Springs shopping, dining and entertainment complex, this sprawling property features iconic sights and rides like Cinderella Castle, "it's a small world," Spaceship Earth, Toy Story Land and Pandora – The World of Avatar. Even Anaheim's Disneyland can't compete, according to some.
Of course, there is one major drawback. Walt Disney World park tickets are expensive, regardless of whether you're visiting for just a day (single-day tickets for kids and adults ages 10 and older start at $109). Meanwhile, one-day water park tickets start at $64 for adults 10 and older. Most suggest you visit this expansive property over the course of several days to justify the high entrance fees. If you have limited time, consider skipping the parks in favor of exploring Disney Springs, which is free to visit.
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