Discovery Cove Here We Come!

We were all excited about going to Discovery Cove. We had to make reservations long in advance, even with it being off season. Pop had not wanted to go, but promised that he would be there tomorrow for our last day at the Magic Kingdom.

We got up and did showers and stuff but didn’t have to worry about breakfast since it was included in the admission price. We drove in and missed the turn initially …it’s pretty low profile. After doing a couple of turn-arounds we found the entrance and still arrived just after 9am.

The grounds are very lush and the Check In/Welcome Center lobby has a nice tropical theme and looks very comfortable. We just stayed there long enough to get our pictures taken and our ID cards printed out. They hang around your neck on lanyards and act as access passes/mementos of the day there.

If you are going to Sea World on the week pass you get with your purchase, they also act as your ticket to get into that park. Once the paperwork side of it is done we were told that we could have actually arrived at 8:30am and that the breakfast buffet started then …grrrr. Oh well, still plenty of time to eat and have fun.

We headed out the back door and onto a deck where we outfitted Nana and my Mom with these funky bubble-tired wheelchairs that we found out work GREAT on the sand but not quite as well on sidewalks. You follow a trail through tropical plants and trees and over bridges, working your way down to the cabanas and bungalows where the house the gift shop, dining area, and access to the different water areas.

Here are a few pics as we walked down the trail towards the main park area:

The Coral Reef and cabanas from afar

More thick foliage

A lifeguard on watch at part of the Tropical River

As you can see they really cover the whole concept of “lush” 😀

We were stopped almost in sight of civilization and had our picture taken. I know we have that one somewhere, but I haven’t come across it. Ahhh well – I’m sure y’all can survive with one less picture from me – lol.

From there we were directed to the buffet line where we grabbed up some good breakfast grub. The seating was outside and we chose a table overlooking the dolphin pool. After yummy vittles time we walked down to our assigned cabana to get our lockers and wetsuits. If you do this the short-sleeve/legged versions are the way to go. Much cooler while walking around the park.

I think all of us except the kids had to try on at least two to get a good fit – not much fun peeling them off but worth it in the end. It was about 10 when we wandered down to the beach by what they call the resort pool. It is shallow and made into rock formations with a double waterfall that cascades over a water cave system.

Of course the girls were first to get their snorkels on and try them out

My mom gives some helpful hints

And away they go!

The pool/river area is a comfortable 86 degrees, so even though it was overcast and not a particularly warm day, you could take a dip in this area and be nice and comfy 😀

Nana is getting a kick out of watching the girls swim

The girls start following the current provided by a series of water jets that are placed all along the river loop

It takes you through the caves and around the tropical river through the aviary if you let it. Or you can go more towards the waterfall and just float around – good spot for smaller kids. Here is a couple of shots of the pool area and the entrance to the cave

I went with the girls for a ‘once-around’ on the tropical river. You go through the cave area (has light from openings all along it while still maintaining that ‘cave’ feel). After that you go into a deeper pool followed by a water wall entrance to the aviary. You can also get out and walk through chambered doors to the aviary and feed/interact with the birds.

We just floated through, looking at all of the cool looking birds as they flew around above us. The current carried us past another area where you can get out and walk the aviary and then through the exit water wall, which keeps the birds from flying out.

After that there are some themed areas of the river including some Atlantis-style pieces and a sunken cannon. Then you come around a bend and there is an underwater window that lets you look into the coral reef area. From there it is a few more turns and you are back to the pool

Roxy and the moms had the girls under their watchful eye so I walked back up the beach

…and around…

…over to the dolphin lagoon

They break everyone up into groups of eight or less and set times for them to interact with the dolphins. Our time wasn’t until 3pm. Here are some other folks enjoying their time with them.

From there I walked over to the Conservation Station, where they have animal and marine exhibits and interactions with a focus on protecting/restoring the environment for animals and humans alike.

When I was there they were speaking about different birds and specifically owl breeds and their environments and the effect of human encroachment.

I scoped out a couple of areas on the river

…and then checked out the coral reef area

The coral reef, ray pool, and dolphin cove areas have temps around 77 degrees to make the marine life as comfortable as possible. On a hot day I can imagine it would be very refreshing, but for us it was just a touch on the cool side.

As you may have noticed you can hardly see a picture without a lifeguard in it. The resort is VERY focused on the safety of the guests. And with so many different land and water features I must say I was impressed with their ability to cover all the angles.

I strolled over to the pool area (other side from where I was earlier) so I could get pics of the whole thing and especially the waterfalls.

You can really see the side openings for the cave section of the tropical river in this one

And here you see the snack bar located in between the resort pool and ray pool. Here they had those big soft pretzels, a slurpee-styled concoction called cherry snow, chips and other munchies, plus a big chunk of the Anheuser-Busch line of products. Since all food/drinks were part of the ticket price I enjoyed several Amber Bocks throughout the afternoon – Whoohoo! 😀

On to the Ray Pool

I walked around to the other side and discovered that the rest of the fam had gone in to say “hi” to the rays

There’s my girls!

…and the rest of the ladies

Notice the ever-present birds in the background waiting for a piece of fish to come their way ;-]

My Pumpkin Girl

The moms

And of course my Beany Girl

She gets in one more good pet before getting out with the rest of the ladies. As I said, the water is a bit cooler in the areas with sea life

Where there is a beach and sand you will always find kids who want to play with it

The moms discuss their continuing adventure

And now from a different perspective, Roxy with one of the waterproof cameras, so rewind to:

Nana getting tickled

My mom taking a turn


And Gillian

The girls say “cheese”

Bean found a new friend

Pumpkin Girl had a whole line of them swim past her

Smile ladies!

After everyone was out I panned over and caught a couple of quick shots of the coral reef section from the other side

Nana and Roxy went to warm up in the pool and the girls were hungry so we had some snacks and drinks at the snack bar. Then the girls went to join the other ladies warming up in the pool area. I talked to my mom for a couple of minutes and we decided to check out the aviary.

Once inside I took a shot of mom in front of this interesting monolith-looking thing.

There were birds in the trees all around us

They have people situated in each area with cups of food to feed the birds with

And then we had a visit from these little deer …they told me the name and origin of it, but I can’t remember it.

We walked back to one of the bridges and were followed by some friends

The trees are pretty big in there, allowing for some pretty big birds to roost

Another colorful friend visited mom

We then walked down towards the water wall exit on the river. There were some peacocks in the trees above us

And a cool yellow parrot that simply refused to get close enough for a good picture

Here’s a shot of the water wall I’ve been talking about. It is interesting to swim under and makes a really good deterrent to keep the birds inside the aviary.

Here is another one of the interesting features they built into the river. It really works well to immerse you in another world

Looking “upriver” in the aviary

Then we turned around and found that we had a little visitor 😀

They are very cute and only a little skittish. We said goodbye to the little guy and walked through to another chamber of the aviary. I think there are three chambers total, each with different types/sizes of birds.

Across the bridge and through to the next area we were greeted by a turkey of all things

Some other birds

I stepped out one of the other doors and snapped a shot of the “entrance” water wall

And upriver towards the resort pool area. You can just see the exit of the cave area

And back in to go to the last area of the aviary which held the smaller birds

We walked back out and stared to round up everyone as our dolphin encounter time was getting closer and found Nana and Bean talking to one of the life guards. He was a pretty cool guy who we ran into several times that day. Again, big kudos to the staff there.

We all met up and went to our assigned cabana for the highlight of our day – dolphin time!!!

We had to do an orientation consisting of a video and a talk with the dolphin handler assigned to us and sign a waiver. We then walked out to the pool and one by one waded into the water. Our group consisted of our family and a young couple from Miami.

They had us stand in a crescent and brought up our dolphin Jenny. The handler talked about dolphins in general and Jenny’s history. She had been a show dolphin at Sea World San Antonio. She floated in front of us and let us pet her back and tummy and we learned how to do some hand signals for tricks. We each got to feed her a couple of fish after certain tricks or interactions.

Then it was time for the individual interactions. Pumpkin Girl was up first and gave Jenny kisses 😀

Played a little

And then went for a ride

Next up was Bean – she gave big kisses

And then took her ride :-]

Roxy had her turn

Next was my mom, who must have given Jenny at least a dozen kisses 😀

Nana had her turn

As you can see she really enjoyed her ride!

Sorry, no pic of me kissing the dolphin – I did do a chivalrous bow to her, but they didn’t catch it on camera ;-]

Honestly and odd experience for me which I wouldn’t do again. I’m glad the rest of the family enjoyed it so much though!

And then a couple of family shots with Jenny to wrap up the experience

After saying goodbye to Jenny we headed over to have lunch. Due to the scheduling of our inter-action we were one of the last groups to eat but there was still LOTS of good food 😀 We all had our fill and the moms both decided they had had enough aquatic fun. My mom called my pop and he came by and picked her up.

Roxy helped Nana get changed and helped her up to guest services next to the gift shop while the girls and I took another turn around the lazy river. I caught a couple of pics of the girls, most of which didn’t turn out.

I tried to get one of them sitting under water on a sunken cannon and this was the best one of the bunch

We popped up in the aviary and Bean tried to get some birds to come to her, but no cup o’ food, no birdie ;-]

We finished the circuit and the four of us got back together and entered the coral reef. It has dozens of varieties of tropical fish and HUGE rays – some with wingspans wider than six feet! Here is Kyra saying “hi” to one of the medium sized ones

Both girls exploring

And coming to get me!!!!

We swam around the reef for a while just watching the big fish and rays swimming right around us. It was very cool but it was also getting pretty chilly! Kyra and I did one more turn around the river while Roxy and Gillian checked out the aviary.

We were basically chased out of there by the lifeguards as it was closing time. While we were swimming around I looked down and saw someone’s ID badge in amongst the rocks on the bottom. I thought I’d be doing a good Samaritan job by giving it to the lifeguard until I looked at the picture and saw it was Bean’s!!! Lucky break that she didn’t lose that as a memento.

We all met back up by the restaurant and I took a quick shot of the now calm and empty dolphin pool, one lone life guard keeping watch

I enhanced the light on that one, it really looked like this as we headed to the gift shop

We met back up with Nana and bought some trinkets at the gift shop and spent WAY too much money on the picture package. We all trudged back out …darn them for making the way out uphill!! But being as that was my only real complaint about the day I’d say we did pretty good 😀

We loaded up and went back to the resort for showers and such while our minds floated on the great day we had. Our minds also wandered to what we would see and do the next day, AKA our last day at Walt Disney World!