Saturday, April 25, 2015

Vacation at Discovery Cove in Florida

With the letter “V” I finally get a chance to talk about my vacation. I even have a couple of links to share.

So from April 4th to the 12th, I was in Florida. Although the weekends don’t really count because I was on the road (see letter U for details.)

For a long time I have been wanting to go to Discovery Cove in Orlando. One of the main reasons I liked the idea of this park is because they limit entry, so you don’t have the problem of a crowded park. I also love swimming and snorkeling. I grew up on Lake St. Clair, plus I had been snorkeling in the ocean, swimming with sea turtles from a cruise. It does take some getting used to, but being in the water with fish and watching them is great. The purchase included breakfast, lunch and unlimited snacks. Plus unlimited entry to Sea World and their water park Aquatica. So while it was about $300 per person if you include the Dolphin encounter, I think I would have spent the same paying for everything individually.

The first thing we decided to try was the grand reef stocked with fish and stingrays. The water was cold. They have to keep it a certain temperature for the fish. A few others were already in the water, so I dredged up my lake days and made myself get in. I soon found out the pond has deep sections with jagged ledges of rock. The first time I swam with my face in the water I saw about three sting rays swimming toward me. I turned around and headed for shore. Then just to get used to it, I swam back and forth across the pond. So the bolder I became, the more I saw. I couldn’t believe the size of some of those stingrays…as in five feet across.

Then we did the dolphin encounter. They take people into the Dolphin Lagoon in small groups and you get to meet a dolphin and touch it as she swims past. The dolphins here once worked for Sea World, so they are trained to do tricks. The trainer had the dolphin make all sort of funny sounds and a few jumps. The best part is you get to be pulled by the dolphin with a choice of shallow water or deep. We did the deep water and it was only a matter of treading water for a couple of minutes. It was easy to get towed by a dolphin. You just hold onto the top fin with your right hand and then the front fin with your left hand. After she was done pulling everyone, we touched the dolphin and she was a bit warm from all the work. Oddly, this is what she liked to do and she went over to a different group just so she could pull more people. Her mom was working the other group and they traded places. We were also feeding them a lot of fish.

There is also the fresh water oasis, which is a long lazy river with heated water. This one was much different than any others in water parks. It was all natural with a sand or stone bottom and no chlorine. It has a fast moving current and I’m guessing a little salt, but it wasn’t that noticeable. The best part was it has deep sections. We went through it twice and this river also goes through an aviary where you can get out and feed exotic birds. 

This was also the first vacation where I rented a house, instead of staying at a hotel. Oddly, it was cheaper than staying in a hotel (unless, of course, you’re staying at an economy hotel) I found it through the Airbnb website a friend recommended to me. My first experience with it went well and it was much more peaceful than staying in a hotel. It even had a screened in pool.

Be sure to check out the Airbnb website. It’s fun just to look at all the houses.

Only one more week of A to Z coming up. There’s no stopping now.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

What an incredible experience! $300 is nothing - the one at Disney costs a lot more. I'll definitely put that on my list for the next time I visit Orlando.

Annalisa Crawford said...

Being so close to the dolphin must have been really special. I'd love to swim with them one day.

Annalisa, writing A-Z vignettes, at Wake Up, Eat, Write, Sleep

Pat Dilloway said...

I've looked at Airbnb but then I've also heard some bad stories about it. Anyway, nice that your dolphin encounter went a lot better than Hank Hill's in a "King of the Hill" episode.