The oceans are calling your name. That is, they’re calling your name from Orlando. Nearly 1.6 million people visited SeaWorld Orlando in 2020, making it one of the most popular amusement parks in the country.
But you shouldn’t book your tickets just yet. SeaWorld Entertainment runs several attractions, including one named Discovery Cove. Before you decide where you want to go, you should examine SeaWorld and Discovery Cove.
Is Discovery Cove better than SeaWorld? What are the attractions at SeaWorld and Discovery Cove like? Which park offers the best live shows, dining, and shopping options?
Answer these questions and you can have the ultimate amusement park vacation. Here is your quick guide to SeaWorld and Discovery Cove.
Interactions With Animals
Both SeaWorld and Discovery Cove let you get close to animals. Guests at SeaWorld can feed stingrays and dolphins in enclosed habitats. You and your family can go on tours and even have meals near where orcas are swimming.
Discovery Cove offers a great degree of interactivity with animals. Guests can go swimming alongside tropical fish, flamingos, and otters.
You can also go for a walk through the Explorer’s Aviary, getting close to tropical birds. You can buy food and feed the birds, or you can take photographs of them.
If interactions with animals are just one activity you want to do, you should consider SeaWorld. But if they are your main activity, you should visit Discovery Cove instead. Keep in mind that you will need to swim in order to access the animals, so you should go on a clear day with warm weather.
SeaWorld offers six roller coasters and two water rides. The Ice Breaker is one of the park’s newest rides, offering a beyond vertical drop at a 100-degree angle. You can also ride Kraken, a floorless roller coaster that operates at highway speeds.
The park does offer a few rides for kids. Elmo’s Choo Choo Train is a train ride that adults and children can ride on, taking guests around Sesame Street Land.
Discovery Cove does not offer roller coasters or traditional amusement park rides. It does allow guests to swim at several locations, including in the Wind-Away River, which is a lazy river.
Attractions for Kids
Both SeaWorld and Discovery Cove are great attractions for families with young children. SeaWorld offers Sesame Street Land, which includes a junior rollercoaster and a water play area for young children. Your kids can take photographs with their favorite characters from Sesame Street.
Children can participate in all of Discovery Cove’s attractions, though an adult needs to accompany them. Children who are inexperienced with swimming can enjoy the Wind-Away River and the Traveler’s Aviary.
SeaWorld offers educational resources for kids and families, promoting conservation efforts that have saved more than 33,000 animals. In the Manatee Rehabilitation Area, your children can learn about manatees and see how park staff help sick animals.
Both parks offer special services for children with autism and motor processing issues. You or your child can go to a quiet room to take a break from sensory stimulation. Each park has a guide you can review to see how an attraction can stimulate your child’s senses.
SeaWorld is perhaps most famous for its live shows. The park no longer runs the Shamu show, but it offers the Orca Encounter show. You can receive educational information about orcas and see them swim through the water.
If you prefer to see dolphins, you can watch the Dolphin Adventures show. Park staffers will tell you about how dolphins have evolved over the years and what roles they play in the oceans. Dolphins do jump out of the water, and you can get splashed if you are sitting close enough to them.
Besides shows, you can also attend several events at SeaWorld. The park commemorates holidays like Christmas with parades, festivals, and live music performances. You should check the website to see what events are upcoming.
Discovery Cove does not offer live events as SeaWorld does. You can take tours from park personnel, though you may need to pay money in order to do so.
SeaWorld offers a wide range of dining options. You can try out barbeque, pizza, and Mediterranean dishes. If you’re looking to save money, you can buy a dining deal package and eat from a restaurant once every 90 minutes.
Discovery Cove offers only one restaurant, but the price of food is included with your ticket. You can eat as much as you want, whenever you want. The restaurant offers breakfast and alcoholic beverages as well as meals for kids.
You can find a few different stores around SeaWorld. Besides SeaWorld merchandise and photo packages, you can buy T-shirts from Simply Southern and Guy Harvey. Your children can design teddy bears at a Build-A-Bear Workshop in the park as well.
Discovery Cove is home to only two stores. The Beach Kiosk lets you buy supplies for the beach while Tropical Gifts lets you purchase souvenirs.
The Essentials of SeaWorld and Discovery Cove
SeaWorld and Discovery Cove are two bold Orlando attractions. Both let you get up close to animals, with Discovery Cove letting you swim with them. Both are extremely family-friendly, including for children with special needs.
SeaWorld is a traditional amusement park. You can find roller coasters, restaurants, and shops throughout.
Discovery Cove functions more like a resort. There are no live events, but you can spend time swimming and lounging on the beach.
You can look at other parks as well. Fun Park Go provides informative guides. Read our guide on the Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom.