Join us as we explore a world of family-friendly fun at Discovery Cove® — and all the reasons you’ll want to add a day in this all-inclusive paradise to your next Orlando getaway.

If you and your family are ready to get away from it all — I mean, really get away — it doesn’t get much better than Discovery Cove®. This all-inclusive resort in Orlando is home to incredible animal encounters, breathtaking views, tropical vibes, and relaxation for all. And the best part is, you barely have to pack a thing.

Discover: Orlando Travel With Kids

Sunscreen, water, snacks, meals, wetsuits, towels, and more relaxing amenities are all included in the cost of admission, making this the perfect destination for a fuss-free family getaway. So grab your kiddos, swimsuits and sunnies and let’s dive in!

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Inside Discovery Cove®

A woman snorkeling at Discovery Cove Wind-Away River
Wind-Away River at Discovery Cove®

I recently spent the day at Discovery Cove with my husband and 4-year-old daughter, and let me tell you: This is now my number-one spot for family relaxation in Orlando. We swam with rays, sipped tropical drinks by the shore, floated in a lazy river and fed jewel-bright birds in the aptly named Explorer’s Aviary. We packed only swimsuits and left with dozens of new memories — plus a burning desire to book our return trip as soon as possible.

Save on discount tickets: Discovery Cove

We were shocked by the incredible value this all-inclusive slice of paradise can offer families. And I’m not just talking about money saved. The opportunity to destress, connect and unwind together was invaluable, and Discovery Cove eased or eliminated many of the things we might usually squabble about.

Discover: 10 Tips for Relaxation in Orlando

I think you’ll agree: Why pack a beach bag when you can experience sandy shores, crystal-clear water, unlimited food and drink, and unique animal encounters right here in the heart of Orlando? Plus, this tropical oasis has some seriously cool features that you won’t find anywhere else in Central Florida. Your kids will love it, and so will you.

Read on to discover why Discovery Cove is the perfect family getaway.

It’s a True Tropical Oasis

New Seaworld Landing Page Images 2023
Discovery Cove® in Orlando

The thing I’ve always heard about Discovery Cove is that it feels miles away from the rest of Orlando, and honestly, it’s true. As we made our way down a winding path surrounded by tropical foliage, we heard only the breeze in the trees, the light croaking of animals, and the ebb and flow of a nearby lazy river. It was easy to forget that we were mere minutes from top-tier thrills and high-octane attractions in Orlando’s main tourism districts.

We caught our first glimpse of sea and sand as we emerged near Laguna Grill, where we would enjoy free snacks and meals throughout the day. We hit the beach right away, where Lily promptly plunged her hands into the sand and Dan and I stretched out on a couple of lounge chairs.

Discover: Things to Do at Discovery Cove

The rest of the day passed in a similar fashion. We drifted in the lazy river, waded in Serenity Bay, relaxed in the shade, and snorkeled in The Grand Reef. We were surrounded all the while by incredible wildlife, tropical foliage and postcard-perfect views of blue skies, white sand and shimmering azure water.

If you’ve ever joked about needing a vacation from your vacation, trust me: This is the place.

All-Inclusive Food & Drinks

A couple eating at Discovery Cove Laguna Grill
Laguna Grill at Discovery Cove®

Yep, you read that right. Not only is Discovery Cove super relaxing, but it also eases the fuss around what I’ve found to be the trickiest part of traveling with kids: mealtime. Breakfast, lunch, snacks, and even beer and wine are included with admission, making it easy to balance everyone’s needs. You can also upgrade to include cocktails and liquor for adults 21+ for full tropical vibes.

There’s no need to pack snacks and cooler bags, lug water bottles around, or even carry your wallet from place to place. Eat as much or as little as you like, with loads of healthy, freshly prepared options like wraps, salads and fresh fruit to balance kid-approved picks like hot dogs and ice cream. There are no dining plans, no wristbands, and no nickel and diming here. Simply dine at your leisure for happy kiddos and happy memories in paradise.

Honestly, one of my favorite things was just being able to grab snacks whenever I felt like it. I loved being able to eat fresh fruit and crispy bacon for breakfast, sip on fruit-infused water throughout the day, and stock up on plantain chips for a lazy snack break on the beach. Perfectly sized post-snorkel flatbread? Don’t mind if I do. The complimentary beer and wine contributed to our laid-back, beachside state of mind, and Lily loved lounging in the rope-hung bar chairs with a tropical slushie in hand.

Awesome Aquatic Adventures

Discovery Cove 2024 Grand Reef
The Grand Reef at Discovery Cove®

When you’re ready to dive into a world of underwater fun, simply suit up and explore Discovery Cove’s many rivers, bays, lagoons and reefs. Animal-safe sunscreen, towels, vests and wetsuits are all provided, as are snorkels and masks. You can even keep the snorkel mouthpiece and take it home with you for future adventures.

Depending on what you’re doing, you may need to wear a swim vest, half wetsuit or full wetsuit. Discovery Cove makes it super easy to get into the water, with multiple gear rental stations and attendants to help you find the correct gear. They also have spacious changing rooms and showers with shampoo, conditioner and body wash to help you prep for your next adventure. This is extra helpful at the end of the day when you’re ready to wash off the sand and sea and go out to dinner together.

Whether you’re seeking wild underwater views or a tranquil day on the water’s edge, Discovery Cove has you covered for all kinds of fun. Just remember to bring a wet bag for your swimsuits at the end of the day.

Incredible Animal Encounters

Mingle With Flamingos at Discovery Cove’s New Flamingo Point

I’ve lived in Orlando for over 15 years, and I was absolutely wowed by the variety of animals you can see up-close at Discovery Cove. Some encounters are included with admission, like the Explorer’s Aviary, where you can see and feed hundreds of tropical birds. This was a dream come true for Lily, who successfully convinced a bird to land right on her outstretched feeding dish.

There are also some paid upgrades, many of which have minimum age requirements. I was among the first to try the Flamingo Mingle program, where I got to enter the new Flamingo Point habitat, learn about the park’s gorgeous Caribbean Flamingos, and feed them a mixture of food and water for easier consumption. Five percent of the program profits are donated to Audubon Florida to help protect birds and their native habitats. Depending on your kid’s age, this can be a unique, hands-on way to learn more about their favorite animals.

Kids snorkeling in the water with fish at Discovery Cove
The Grand Reef at Discovery Cove®

As a family, our favorite included experience was snorkeling and swimming with rays and tropical fish in The Grand Reef. Lily was elated to bob around in her yellow safety vest and practice swimming while I half swam, half snorkeled beside her. We spent two hours in this area alone, and when Lily is older, I know she’ll get a kick out of the nearby shark snorkeling experience as well. I certainly did!

If your little ones don’t measure up for certain experiences, don’t sweat it. The a la carte animal encounter pricing makes it easy to customize your day with just the right level of fun for older kids and adults in your group. The little ones can feed the birds, see otters and flamingos, and even learn about armadillos, a sloth and a variety of feathered friends at the Conservation Kiosk, all included with admission. Current age minimums are as follows:

  • 6 years old to swim with dolphins, feed rays or flamingos, or participate in the Animal Trek or Trainer for a Day program
  • 10 years old to swim with sharks or trek across the reef floor in SeaVenture

Note: If both parents want to enjoy premium animal encounters, but your kids are too young, be sure to book different time slots for each adult. There is no child swap for these timed experiences, but you honestly don’t need it. Dan kept Lily happily occupied while I snorkeled with sharks and fed flamingos, and later Dan got to do his own thing while I went swimming and snorkeling with Lily in the Grand Reef.

Limited Capacity

Discovery Cove family at Serenity Bay beach
Discovery Cove®

We absolutely loved the laid-back pacing of our day at Discovery Cove. Attendance is limited, so there’s no rush to claim a beach chair, find an empty locker, load up on towels or eat at odd times to avoid the crowds. Instead, you can pursue whatever strikes your fancy, moving from activity to the next and maybe grabbing a free snack or drink along the way. We found plenty of loungers, empty lockers and wetsuits throughout the park, making it super easy to pick up and go on a whim.

That said, I do recommend arriving early so you can take full advantage of all the incredible things Discovery Cove has to offer.

More Family-Friendly Features at Discovery Cove

New Discovery Cove images for the website
Discovery Cove®
  • Free Lockers: Discovery Cove provides free, full-size lockers with plenty of space to store pumps, bottles, formula, diapers and any other supplies you might need. If you plan to split up at any point — maybe Mom takes the older kids swimming with sharks while Dad takes the littles to the lazy river — you can grab two free lockers for easier coordination.
  • Certified Autism Center: Discovery Cove is a Certified Autism Center™, and their staff receive special training to help them be patient, empathetic and responsive to guests with additional needs. Discovery Cove also has plenty of open spaces and a low-stimulation Quiet Space near the First Aid unit.
  • Stress-Free Booking: If your kiddos get sick and your travel plans change, you are allowed one complimentary date change prior to your visit. You can even receive a 100% refund if you cancel more than 30 days before your scheduled arrival — though I recommend you do whatever it takes to keep your reservation. This is one experience you do not want to miss.

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