The Grand Reef is pretty cold – but once you get under the water you get used to the temperature! For warmer water, head over to the Wind-Away River. It’s a bit like a lazy river, but without the floats. Parts of the river are very deep, so if you are not a confident swimmer, consider picking up a flotation life vest from the racks nearby.
There isn’t much to see underwater around here – some rocks here and there, maybe a sunken leaf or two… I always wish they’d put something there to make it more interesting for those who like to swim under the water!
If you or one of your party are not a confident swimmer, you can pick up a flotation life vest from racks around the park.
Ride the soothing currents of a tropical river as it winds past sandy beaches, through a dense rain forest, beneath the rocky terrain of cascading waterfalls, and through an underwater cave. – Discovery Cove
We missed a couple of things on this visit – Explorer’s Aviary where hundreds of colourful birds soar above and around you. You can even feed them! We have been in the Aviary before – in 2013, and just like at The Grand Reef, you can pick up a guide telling you the different species that live there. I know we entered Explorer’s Aviary from the Wind-Away River – I don’t know if that is the only way you can get it, or if you can walk there… it’s not very clear on the map either….
Here are a couple of photos from the Aviary in 2013. You can also see my husband wearing one of the life vests as we had just come out of the river to see the birds.
The Freshwater Oasis Experience was new to us in 2013, and we didn’t see it then, or during our 2016 visit either… However, Discovery Cove’s website says:
The animals are behind glass, you don’t actually swim with them!
Also included in your day at Discovery Cove are snacks. Just like the lockers, there is a Refreshment Kiosk at the three different areas of the park. Snacks and drinks are subject to change, but generally you will find: potato chips, warm soft pretzels, sugar-free cookies, fresh fruit, and slushies (Snow Icee), assorted Coke products, water, hot chocolate, and coffee. Over 21s can enjoy these alcoholic beverages: frozen cocktails, red and white wine, and Anheuser-Busch Products.
As you can see from my photo below it is self-serve, but some things are on request. Should the weather turn (as it can quite often do in Orlando), these kiosks do shut up shop until it passes, so if you think rain is on its way, grab a drink and a snack!
Meg and I were very partial to the Pina Colada slushies!
Eventually, Chris and Meg went off for their Dolphin Swim, which is 30-minutes and includes a shallow water dolphin interaction with a deep-water tow for the entire group. You can read about the time Steve, Liam and I did a Dolphin Swim at Discovery Cove in 2011.
While those guys did that, Steve and I went back to The Grand Reef because it’s a lot more exciting than the Wind-Away River! So, you guessed it – more pictures ahead! Oh, I forgot to mention that the water in this reef is salty, so you might want to rinse that salt water off your hair and swimming costume – there are showers both outside and inside – in the three main areas.