7 reasons I should have waited to visit Discovery Cove when kids are older. Our travel and entertainment experience at Discovery Cove with young children.
Let me preface by saying, this is my experience at Discovery Cove with my kids. Not that Discovery Cove wasn’t awesome, because it totally was. Just that my kids weren’t! And, I appreciate my dad for this massive gift that my kids ended up not appreciating. I felt horribly about that.
My dad thought it was a great idea to take my daughter to Discovery Cove the first week of her summer break. His friend was taking her niece who was nearly the same age and thought they’d have a good time together. Plus, they couldn’t resist the option to swim with the dolphins! When he offered to take me and my two year old, as well, my husband said I should consider it since I’d never been. Against my better judgement, I decided I would tag along.
The park was beautiful and the all-inclusive theme was amazing, but in some ways, I wish I’d stayed home with the toddler. I’m on the fence about having taken young children to Discovery Cove. I’ll expand on my thoughts as we go along.
I’d love to know if you ever took young children, or if you’re saving Discovery Cove when kids are older!
Our Day at Discovery Cove with Younger Kids
Our trip included 4 adults and 3 kids age 6 and 2.5 years.
First things, first. Dad decided to spoil everyone with a private cabana. At reservation, they requested he arrive at the park before 8 am to get checked in. We did the best we could with 3 small kids 6 and under, but arrived after 8 a.m. Still, the staff was very accommodating and recommended we go enjoy breakfast before being taken to our cabana, as it would require a trek through the sand.
Breakfast was somewhat more of a treat than expected. There was a long buffet line where you were able to select everything from eggs, bacon, sausage, and all sorts of pastries and fruits. As a gluten free diner, I went to the end of the line to request a special plate of food to be made separate from the line. The chef was very knowledgeable about food allergies and was able to get me a full plate of safe food. While having a large breakfast is a real treat, in general, I was extremely disappointed in the quality of the eggs, which tasted like powdered, reconstituted eggs, so I had two bites and couldn’t stomach more.
Breakfast was also where trouble began with the kids. The 6 year olds were already moaning and groaning about having to wait to swim with the dolphins. Patience isn’t my daughter’s strong suit, but I was surprised at all the attitude we were receiving while trying to get them fed.
Once we were loaded up on as much food as we could handle, we headed over to check-in for our cabana, at which time I was convinced to swap out my own stroller for one of theirs. Their strollers were equipped with beach buggy style wheels, making the trek through the beach sand much more tolerable. I’m glad I did, because even the modified stroller was a little difficult to push at times.
On the way to our cabana, we were told where to meet for our dolphin swim, shown some of the facilities, and outfitted for our wet suits and vests.
Once escorted to our cabana, I was in awe! Having had one other cabana experience at another theme park, the Discovery Cove cabana was beyond impressive! Instead of tents lining the water practically on top of each other, we essentially had a tent with a really private yard and a gate. The bushes and trees surrounded our space, with a spectacular view of the dolphin swim area. I’m not sure whether or not that was simply luck, but it was beautiful! We were shown our private amenities, including a table, chairs, hammock, locker, stocked cooler, and a set of sand toys. My two year old immediately grabbed the toys and began digging away.
The rest of the day, we spent trying to explore the waters, doing our dolphin experience, and having lunch.
7 Reasons I Should Have Waited to Visit Discovery Cove When Kids Are Older
While I loved the idea of doing Discovery Cove with the kids, it ended up not being the best decision. If you’re wondering whether or not to take young children, let me tell you why it it may be smarter to wait to visit Discovery Cove when kids are older:
- My two year old gets a nasty diaper rash, so half-way through the day he was in pain and couldn’t go back in the water
- The toddler also is incapable of missing his nap and holding his stuff together, so he was miserable and begging to sleep
- My 6 year old daughter struggles with water in the face, so I never ended up being able to check out the lazy river
- As soon as she took off on the dolphin swim, the salt water got in her face and mouth. Then she cried and was terrified of the water the rest of the day.
- She refused to try the snorkel and wouldn’t allow anyone to take her out in the water to see the sharks.
- When I finally gave up and tried to get the toddler to nap, he was woken up by his sister crying about the lazy river
- Finally, I decided we’d walk around to check out the aviary toward the end of the day. But, the aviary entrance couldn’t accommodate the stroller wheels, so we didn’t end up getting to see it either
Related: What To Pack For Discovery Cove
I’ll Do Discovery Cove When Kids are Older
Overall, as beautiful as the area was and as friendly as the staff was at Discovery Cove, my kids weren’t ready or mature enough for it. We didn’t get to see as much as there was to see and I spent more time consoling and convincing than I did actually enjoying the park.
The vibe of the park is definitely much more relaxed, but my kids just weren’t ready to settle in and simply enjoy everything. And apparently my son’s butt is still too sensitive for all day water activities.
All in all, my overall thought is that Discovery Cove is probably more enjoyable with parents and teenagers. Teens can take care of themselves better and leave parents to enjoy the park at their own pace. And, just because the dolphin swim is available to 6 year olds, doesn’t mean they’re really ready.
Take your family dynamics, routines, and temperaments into account before deciding whether or not to experience Discovery Cove with kids. As for us, I’m saving Discovery Cove when kids are older when I can actually take advantage of the relaxed atmosphere!
I love your honest review of Discovery Cove, I can totally relate to what you’re sharing here. When my kids were younger, this wouldn’t have been a place I could take them. Now that they are older, being 9, 11 and 15 – it would be awesome for us to go. I am glad to know that this is a place we can go visit, I must add it to our travel bucket list!
I’ve never heard of Discovery Cove, but all of this makes sense! I think it’s always important to ask around and do some research before taking littles anywhere, so I know this will help some moms and dads out there!
Oh, I’d heard of it before but had never been. It’s BEAUTIFUL! It could very well be a wonderful day out and I sort of wish I could take an adult weekend and have a do-over LOL.
There are definitely activities that are better when your kids are older and able to enjoy and appreciate them more. Thanks for the honest advice. It’s nice to be able to think about your own kids and their ability to tolerate certain things before spending the money on what looks to be a beautiful experience.
I thought the beach sand and splashing in the water would have made the little guy happy. And the 6 year old always tells us she’s a “big girl” and stopped freaking out about water in the face … or so I thought. I should have listed to my gut feelings 😉 I had FOMO and romanticized the thought of the experience. Oh well, live and learn. Yes, definitely take a step back and really think before doing.
It sounds like so much fun for kids that are a bit older like mine! Everything is easier when the kids get a little older.
I hate to wish away the years, but I’m looking forward to them being a bit older and less needy!!!
It sounds very nice but I would have to agree with you. I have 6 kids ages 13 to 2 and I could see my little one’s being impatient to swim with the dolphins as well. That being said it does sound like a great experience!
It is beautiful and is definitely something for the family to consider doing again when the kids are a bit older. 🙂
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