When visiting Orlando, Florida (USA) there is a tendency to go with the two theme park mammoths of Walt Disney World and/or Universal Orlando. However, if you have been to Orlando before, you will know that this barely scratches the surface of what is on offer.
So on a recent visit to the Sunshine State, the #NInja decided to give some of the other parks / attractions in the area a blast and see how they fair in comparison!
The Crown Jewel in the Seaworld Parks is undoubtedly Discovery Cove. Put simply, DC is an escape from the nonstop madness of the Orlando theme parks and allows you to retreat to a calming oasis … yet still has enough to keep you occupied!!
You need to pre-book your day at DC as numbers are limited per day in an attempt to keep that exclusivity the park is known for.
You arrive early for check in – similar to a luxury hotel check in – where you provide your booking details and identification, before being shown to the breakfast and orientation area where all the details of your day are explained. Along the way there is an abundance of staff who will answer all queries.
Food and drink is included in the day ticket so your breakfast, lunch, soft drinks and snacks are complimentary throughout the day allowing you not to worry about handling money and paying for things. There are also a selection of alcoholic beverages included as well so you are able to properly relax in the sunshine!
Breakfast is a plethora of hot and cold items, enough that you will be fully stocked for your day ahead!! You are assigned a locker area and there you are supplied with towels, wetsuits and suncream for your day ahead. Lunch (at the same area) has enough choice for all types of people, while the snacks and drinks in between will keep you well energised or cooled off!
There are several highlights within Discovery Cove – away from the man-made beaches and luxurious relaxation zones – and every one of them should be experienced with your party:
Learn about & Swim with a Dolphin
What an experience this is! The main reason for most people in purchasing this day pass will be the opportunity for a one on one encounter with a dolphin. You are given an allocated time at some point through the day when your dolphin experience will happen. At this point you meet for a short orientation from the friendly instructors and dolphin trainers, before you head to the fresh water lagoons.
The water temperature will shock you at first as its much more chilled than the rest of the areas – but that will be why you are provided with a wetsuit or wetsuit vest (it is compulsory to wear one when you enter any water area in Discovery Cove). Wading into the lagoon you get to stroke, pet, hug and even feed a dolphin before its just you swimming alone with your new best friend – an amazing experience!
You then get the chance to purchase a photo / video package of your once in a lifetime experience that has been captured by a professional photographer / videographer who is alongside you in the water.
The Grand Reef
After being provided with a snorkel at the locker areas, you can head straight to the reef where you can swim through tropical surroundings, snorkelling with a variety of fish – yet another chance to get up close and personal with your new underwater buddies!
Animal Meet & Greets
There are some amazing opportuities that pop up throughout the day to meet such creatures as a two-toed sloth, a kinkachu (honey bear) or a giant tortoise. You can also head to the Explorers Aviary to hand feed a selection of tropical birds!
If you are an underwater thrill seeker then you can even experience the Grand Reef in a completely different way by wearing dive helmets and coming eye to eye with the schools of fish, rays and even zebra sharks … through the safety of of a glass panel!! (*additional charges apply for this attraction)
Want to take some time away from swimming? Then grab a quick refreshment and head into the Freshwater Oasis or Serenity Bay for the perfect way to chill out in the sun.
Every one should experience DC at some point – whether they are visiting Orlando for the first time, or if its one of many repeat visits. The big selling point is always going to be the Dolphin Swin however the chance to retreat to an all expenses paid relaxation area is enticing enough to anyone regardless of whether they want to take the opportunity to swim with some friendly porpoises!
To read the #NInja Verdict on Seaworld please CLICK HERE
To read the #NInja Verdict on Busch Gardens please CLICK HERE
To read the #NInja Verdict on Aquatica please CLICK HERE
In summary, the choice on offer with these parks is certainly comparable to the Disney and Universal products. There is so much variety in what they can offer, and whilst they may not have the polished shine or magic of Disney, they will more than fill your day with bundles of hours of fun for kids and adults alike.
The best value ticket for visiting these parks is the 3-Park Seaworld, Aquatica and Busch Gardens Ticket, or the Discovery Cove Ultimate Package. The 3-Park ticket offering 14 days unlimted entry to those 3 parks when guests book and visit before 31 December 2019. Tickets also include free parking at the 3 Parks.
The Discovery Cove Ultimate Package includes a one day reservation at Discovery Cove (with 30 min dolphin swim experience, all meals, snacks and beverages included) plus 14 days unlimited entry to Seaworld, Busch Gardens and Aquantcia Orlando
The biggest selling point however is the ticket price – offering you entry to Seaworld, Aquatica and Busch Gardens for 14 consecutive days from only £110 per adult or £106 per child. This stacks up very well against the more premium priced Disney and Universal ticket entry and allows for many repeat visits over 2 weeks.
For more information on Seaworld Paks please visit http://www.seaworldparks.co.uk or for ticket purchases, visit http://www.attraction-tickets-direct.co.uk – or why not visit your local #NInja travel agency who can help plan your perfect Orlando holiday.
The NInja Verdict #NInja Review – Universal Orlando Resort Apr 17
The NInja Verdict #NInja Verdict – Chicago, USA Dec 18
The NInja Verdict #NInja Destination Review – Providence, Rhode Island Nov 17
The NInja Verdict #NInja Verdict – Top Ten USA Holiday Hotspots Mar 20
The NInja Verdict #NInja Verdict – Siam Park, Tenerife Jul 19
The NInja Verdict #NInja Verdict: Dublin to LA with Ethiopian Airlines Jul 18