Discovery Cove east coast Florida Pandemic Florida Trip travel Uncategorized

Swimming with the Fishes – Day 9

Today was the day we both were waiting for. Something I never thought I would ever do but I knew my daughter would do at some point. Today we were going to Discovery Cove and swimming with dolphins and of course, the fishes. Thankfully, we were doing this in Orlando and not Jersey. 

Today started like the last couple of days. Me being up early and waiting around for my daughter to wake up. I ended up waking her up around 05:30 so we could leave by 06:30. Discovery Cove doesn’t open till 07:30 but I wanted to get there a little early since I wasn’t sure what to expect. Plus I needed to fill up the car and fill my body up with coffee. Luckily I could do both at one of the Wawa’s in the area. 

Boy do I miss my morning coffee from Wawa. I’ve been so used to getting it a couple days a week for the past year. It’s definitely not the best coffee in the world. But when you leave for work everyday at 04:30am, a hot cup of Wawa coffee hits the spot. If you plan a trip to Orlando and are not from the Philadelphia/Jersey area. Stop on in for all the amazing things Wawa has.

After filling up and getting my coffee we arrived at Discovery Cove around 07:10. There already had to be at least 2 dozen cars in the parking lot. Now we didn’t have to pay for parking. Parking was included with our ticket. That was nice when you consider that at most of the theme parks in the area you are paying $25 plus to park. 

At Discovery Cove we didn’t have to pay that. We also didn’t have to worry about food and drinks today either. Discovery Cove is unlike any other theme park in the Orlando area. Well, it’s not really a theme park. I don’t know what I would call it other than an animal encounter. 

The tickets are not cheap. Off season you are looking at around $175 just to enter. To swim with the dolphins is a little more at around $200. This does include parking, breakfast, lunch, and drinks. Perhaps the best thing about it is beer and wine are included too. 

Anyway, we stood in line to check in. Check in was pretty easy and they took your photo to put on your pass for the day. This way you can enter and exit the park. We also got our time to Swim with the dolphins. We were in the first group and only had about 20 minutes to go before we had to meet up to go for the swim. 

We headed over to find a locker to put our stuff in for the day. We also grabbed our wetsuits, googles, and snorkels. Before you knew it we were checking in for our dolphin swim. 

Now they made everyone that didn’t have the vax put on a mask. All the kids in the group also had to wear a mask. This was to make sure the dolphins didn’t get sick. 

This morning the dolphins were being difficult and didn’t really want to come out, the trainers were saying. We almost got pushed back to 3:30 in the afternoon. However, luck was on our side and we were able to have our session. 

The trainer took us over to the lagoon that the dolphins were in and we met our dolphin. We were the lucky group today. Instead of meeting one we got to meet two. Sadly, I cannot remember their names. The first one we met I believe was one of the oldest dolphins there. The other one was one of the younger ones. They had to do this since the younger one couldn’t yet pull people in the water.

The whole experience was a really neat one. Both of us have touched dolphins before. We did this a few years ago at SeaWorld. Today it was different. Much different. We got to touch our dolphin five or six times. She swam by us a bunch of different times. 

We also got to make her do tricks or make sounds. It was really fun and exciting. Each group got to do a different hand sign for the dolphin. These animals are very intelligent. After we all did our hand signs it was time to “swim” with the dolphin. 

We went out to a little deeper water and grabbed on to her. Now dolphins can pull twice their body weight. Our dolphin weighed at least 500 pounds if I remember correctly, so she wouldn’t have a problem pulling me. 

My daughter nearly pushed me out of the way so she could go first. Well not really but she would have if I was in front of her. She was so excited to do this. She just loves dolphins. Really she loves all animals. But right now she wants to be a dolphin trainer when she grows up. I do hope her love for animals continues as she gets older. 

The dolphin pulled her with ease. In one photo the dolphin was even smiling. I’m sure she would have too but she didn’t want to get all the salt water in her mouth. Smart thinking on her part. I on the other hand had a mouthful of salt water.

As I went for my “swim” half my face was below the water. I didn’t expect it so my mouth might have been open just a tad. It was one heck of an experience for the two of us. Something we both will remember for a long time.

Once all the groups went for their swim it was time for pictures. This time the trainer brought out another dolphin. Our first one did a nice wave and jump as she was leaving which was really cool. 

Our new dolphin came by all of us twice so we could touch her. The trainer also pointed out some of the marks on her from her time playing with the other dolphins. Not only was this whole experience fun, it was also a little educational.

Now was our time to get some close up photos with the dolphin. We got one together and a couple alone. We got to have one behind the dolphin and one “kissing” the dolphin. I do have to say I wish I spent a little more money on the picture package. The ones I got already cost me almost $200. I could have gotten them all for $240 I believe. At the time I didn’t want to spend that much. 

By the time our encounter was done it was close to ten. Neither one of us ate anything so we headed over to grab breakfast. Breakfast was pretty damn amazing. 

They had sausage, potatoes, scrambled eggs, biscuits, french toast sticks, muffins, cinnamon buns, fruit, yogurt, cereal and so much more. The selection was amazing. Plus everything we had was delicious. 

We quickly ate breakfast and headed back to the locker to grab our stuff so we could hit up the Grand Reef lagoon. Here we went snorkeling with hundreds of tropical fish, cownose and southern rays. We ended up spending most of our day in this area. 

It was a lot of fun seeing everything swimming around you. Rays would come right up to you as they swam by. Sometimes they would even brush your leg. The fish weren’t as brave but they still came up really close.  

Now I already knew we would be spending most of our day here so we got out and grabbed a drink and a snack. Yup, drinks and snacks are included. I didn’t need my wallet all day which was nice. Sure I paid for it before we came but it was all inclusive. 

After we finished our drinks we headed over to the freshwater oasis. I must say I was a little disappointed since I thought there would be freshwater fish in here. There wasn’t but you could see some other land animals as you went around. Plus you float through the Explorer’s Aviary. That’s another amazing place that I will talk more about in a little bit. 

The freshwater oasis as you would expect was freshwater so I didn’t float as well as I did in the Grand Reef which was salt water. Some of the areas around the oasis were pretty deep. Probably at least eight feet in spots. It was really fun going around and we ended up doing it a couple of times. Keep in mind we didn’t have tubes.

You are swimming or floating under your own power. It did get tiring at times for me. She didn’t seem to get tired at all. Not once all day did she say she was tired. The girl was definitely a mermaid today. When we were in the water she wouldn’t spend more than 30 seconds above the water. It did make me a little nervous. However, she did a great job. 

Once we checked out all the different areas, we went back to the Grand Reef. We swam and swam. All around the area. My daughter just kept diving down deep into the water. She was just having a blast.

Before I knew it, it was after one and was time for us to head over to Laguna Grill for lunch. Again, the selection for lunch was amazing. We ended up getting pulled pork sandwiches, grilled churrasco steak, salad, mac and cheese, plus some desserts. 

Just like breakfast, everything we had was delicious. The steak was nice and tender and seasoned perfectly. The pulled pork was also tender and had the right amount of BBQ sauce on it. It wasn’t dripping wet in it. The seafood salad was also very tasty. It had nice sized pieces of crab and shrimp. 

All the different desserts we tried were also amazing. Our favorite had to be the chocolate cake and cheesecake. I do have to say they beat my expectations. I wasn’t expecting the food to blow me away. I used to work for SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment when I was a teenager at Sesame Place in PA. I started when I was 15 and worked at Captain Erine’s cafe. I was expecting food similar to that. 

Thankfully, it was nothing like that. The food was so good that I would come back just for that. Of course, that would just be silly. I mean the food is that good but how can you come here and not swim with the fish? 

After lunch we first headed towards the front so we could drop off our pictures in the car. On our way to the car we walked by the two parrots. As we were walking by, the one said something. Pretty sure it was hello so we stopped. We said hello and tried to get them to talk again. It sounded like the one said no and was shaking his head. The other started bouncing up and down. So I started to bob up and down. It was pretty fun. Actually it was a lot of fun. I’m smiling right now as I write this. 

When we got back in we headed over to the Explorer’s Aviary hoping we could get a similar encounter over there. We did not but we did get to feed some of the birds. Some of the birds were shy. Others were not. We ended up spending about 15 minutes trying to feed the different birds. Then we were off again. 

We spent the rest of the afternoon grabbing some drinks and snacks. Swimming with the fish. Floating in the lazy river and just relaxing and enjoying our time at Discovery Cove. 

We spent so much time in the water that we were all wrinkled. From our head to our feet but it was well worth it. This place was amazing and we both really enjoyed it. Plus I got a lot of cool video and pictures.

It was just so much fun. We did a lot today and it was only 4. We still had the whole evening to do stuff. 

We left Discovery Cove and headed towards Disney. Now I wanted to stay at a Disney resort for the next two days but the rooms were too expensive. All Star resort was $175 a night and POP was over $200. I was not paying that amount of money and not getting any of the perks that you normally would get. Besides I wasn’t going to the theme parks just yet so it wasn’t worth it.

I ended up booking two nights at Wyndham Grand Resort Orlando Bonnet Creek. This place is located on Disney Property not far from Disney Springs. Looking on a map it is kind of behind Caribbean Beach Resort. 

Let me just say that Wyndham Grand Resort was nicer than Caribbean Beach and it was also cheaper. There was so much at the resort that we could have stayed here a week and still would need more time to explore the resort. 

There are so many pools, activities, and restaurants to check out. Plus they have grills and swings located all around the lake. It was a good thing there was a lot to do since we would be here till Saturday morning when we go to the airport and pick up my mother, brother, and his girlfriend. You checked in Thursday so we had the rest of tonight and all day tomorrow. The only thing we had planned for tomorrow was an early breakfast at Ohana. 

After we checked in we went to our room. I booked a room with a balcony and boy was I glad I did. My shoes from yesterday were still wet and needed to dry off and air out. They went on the balcony with the hope they would be good to go for the rest of the trip. 

Not only was the balcony amazing. The whole room was amazing. Tons of space for the two of us. Plus it had a Keurig so I knew I would be having a decent cup of coffee the next two mornings while I sit out on the balcony watching the sun rise. 

After we toured the room and I got my pictures we went outside to tour the resort. This place was amazing. It seemed like there was a pool every couple of hundred feet. Plus they had grills and swings around the lake. I will tell you I wish I knew they had grills. I would have picked up some burgers and hot dogs for dinner tonight. 

Now the other thing besides pools that Wyndham Grand was not lacking was places to eat. So many different places. We ended up going to Escudos Bar & Grill. It had a nice outside area to sit in. We didn’t order much since I ate so much at Discovery Cove but we did order nachos. I don’t remember if we ordered pulled pork or chicken but it was delicious. 

After our dinner we walked around a little more checking out the rest of the resort and headed in to get our swim gear on. With so many pools to choose from it was hard to decide. My daughter ended up picking the one with a lazy river. We didn’t end up spending too much time at the pool since it was dark and we were both up early. Plus tomorrow we will be waking up early again for breakfast at Ohana. 

Once we got in the room and settled down it was time to relax. Crack open a cold one and watch the storm off in the distance. I tried and tried to capture some lightning. I did get a decent photo but not what I was hoping for.

Tomorrow should be a fun day of relaxing around the resort and having an amazing breakfast at a place I’ve never been before. Heck, other than passing the Polynesian on the monorail. I’ve never been to that Disney Resort. I always wanted to check it out but never had enough time. I really need to do a day or two just resort hopping. I really can’t wait till everything goes back to normal.

Check back tomorrow to see what happens on day 10. Yup that’s right we are hitting double digits on this trip. Do you think we will be gone for 20 days? Or are we just doing 14. Guess you will just have to wait and see. 

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