SeaWorld Orlando has sent us a press packet including photos and video from the grand opening of Discovery Cove's The Grand Reef.
Discovery Cove - the ultimate, all-inclusive tropical retreat where guests swim with dolphins - has taken immersion to new depths with the opening of The Grand Reef.
The new reef – an all-new area of Discovery Cove – features multiple levels of exploration, from shallow waters to deeper swimming adventures and white sandy beaches, to snorkeling among canyons inspired by reefs from around the world.
“The Grand Reef takes Discovery Cove’s world-class animal encounters to an all new level -- several, actually,” said Stewart Clark, the park’s vice president. “It’s what our guests expect from us, unforgettable connections with the sea and making memories that will last forever. This could only be created by Discovery Cove.”
Visitors just need to get their feet wet to enjoy The Grand Reef, or they can choose to go deep. They can step into tranquil, shallow waters to discover a below-the-surface world teeming with sea life, or they can snorkel in deeper waters as thousands of exotic fish and graceful rays swim around them.
Surprises abound. Families can seek discoveries along the water’s edge or cross a bridge to see sharks swimming below. They’ll play hide-and-seek with thousands of beautiful fish, from small colorful wrasses to large spotted eagle rays. Further out in the reef, stunning habitats create the feeling of swimming right alongside venomous lionfish and sharp-toothed reef sharks, each safely behind glass. Guests can take paths and bridges to the reef’s islands and hidden grottos as they delve into the reef from above, around and below.
Those looking for an even more exhilarating adventure can take part in The Grand Reef’s innovative experience, SeaVenture, an underwater walking tour. Wearing dive helmets, guests find up-close excitement around every corner, each step yielding a new discovery. They’ll come across lionfish and sharks (safely behind massive panoramic windows), one-on-one touches with unique animals and schools of fish and gentle rays swimming by. SeaVenture is a once-in-a-lifetime, undersea experience available for a nominal fee.
The Grand Reef is the perfect balance between adventure and relaxation, a fully immersive tropical escape, new to discover in Orlando this summer and beyond.
Discovery Cove is a full-day experience where guests can swim with dolphins, hand-feed exotic birds, snorkel through beautiful fresh and salt water lagoons and relax on pristine, white-sand beaches. In addition to the park’s one-of-a-kind animal interactions and lush natural beauty, Discovery Cove delivers superlative, personalized service, and unlimited access to an unparalleled array of first-class amenities.
Discovery Cove amenities include meals, snacks and beverages throughout the day’s adventures, towels, wet suits and swim gear, plus a pass for unlimited admission* to either SeaWorld or Aquatica in Orlando or Busch Gardens in Tampa to be used surrounding a Discovery Cove visit. Guests can upgrade to the Ultimate package which includes admission to all three sister parks for an additional fee. Advanced reservations are required.
Seasonal rates for Discovery Cove’s Dolphin Swim Day Resort Package start at $199 (rates for Day Resort Package without dolphin swim experience and guests ages 3-5 start at $129). Prices vary seasonally. For reservations or more information, visit DiscoveryCove.com or call 1-877-434-7268.
The all-new Grand Reef at Discovery Cove in Orlando features multiple levels of exploration, from shallow waters to deeper swimming adventures and white sandy beaches, to snorkeling among canyons inspired by reefs from around the world.
The Grand Reef footprint: 2.5 acre area, with close to a million gallons of water
Water temperature: A comfortable 77 degrees
Animals: Approximately 10,000 animals, representing 125 different species of fish, rays and sharks
Thousands of tropical fish dart through crystal-clear waters, creating a whirlpool of color inside the reef’s grottos and crevices. Discovery Cove’s experts chose only colorful species whose natural populations are healthy and sustained. The fish include angelfish, butterflyfish, wrasses and tangs as well as larger, unusual-looking hogfish and filefish.
A showcase moment happens when snorkelers get up-close to venomous lionfish – all safely behind panoramic windows. Thousands and thousands of schooling sardines, shining in the sun, will swim freely throughout the main reef. Combined, the animals in The Grand Reef eat almost 150 lbs of food each day.
Dozens of rays, gliding through the water, are a beautiful sight. Four species of rays will fly among swimmers, including spotted eagle, cownose, southern, and bluntnose rays.
Spotted eagle rays are found in Caribbean and Pacific waters. Unique animals with white spots and greater than 5-foot wingspans, eagle rays are a protected species. Discovery Cove has one of the few – and most successful – eagle ray breeding programs in the world.
Long and slinky, a variety of exotic eels swim among The Grand Reef’s canyons. Good news – they’re safely behind glass. Other interesting species -- grouper and triggerfish -- make their home with the eels.
Eels are really just elongated fishes, ranging in length from two inches up to 12 feet for the giant moray. There are approximately 800 species of eels, a predatory, toothy fish.
Exciting new views of sharks allow non-swimmers to gaze down from above while snorkelers and SeaVenture participants can gaze through 10-foot-tall panoramic windows into a habitat filled with zebra, nurse and blacktip and whitetip reef sharks.
A species new to Discovery Cove, zebra sharks are found in Southeast Asia, Southern Africa and Western and Northern Australia. Cream-colored with spots, they’re born with stripes – suggesting a sharky zebra. They’re also known as Australian leopard sharks.
The Grand Reef’s innovative experience, SeaVenture, is an underwater walking tour where guests -- wearing dive helmets -- will feel right at home under the sea. Easily climbing down a ladder and setting foot on the reef floor, guests immediately come eye-to-eye with sharks through a full, 8-foot-tall, 21-foot long panoramic window. During their journey, guests encounter velvety rays, exotic-looking lionfish hiding under a dock – and even touch a star fish or sea urchins found along the way. The adventure ends with schools of fish feeding around the divers with the massive open reef as the backdrop.
Some say it’s like walking on the moon – but surrounded by fish. SCUBA certification is not required. The program is about an hour long for groups of up to six people per excursion. The cost is $59 per participant.
Discovery Cove is using a unique technology to ensure The Grand Reef’s man-made coral maintains its vibrant colors. Each piece of coral – most weighing a ton – is inflatable. When filled with air, the coral sections float to the surface for easy maintenance and cleaning. Overall, The Grand Reef will have 90 pieces of the colorful coral in four different sizes.
It takes about 140 tons of salt to make The Grand Reef’s crystal clear water. The recipe is a closely guarded secret.
Discovery Cove has found the perfect beach sand for The Grand Reef and it’s used throughout all of the resort. Mined at nearby Davenport, Fla., the sand is from Florida’s ancient beach dunes. More than 5 million pounds will be used at The Grand Reef, and every pound is sifted and grated. This makes the sand just right – not too coarse and not too fine.
Eight new cabanas will be found at The Grand Reef. These private, shaded areas are available for rental at an additional fee and are located at the water’s edge. Complete with table and chairs, chaise lounges and rolled towels, the cabanas provide a special place for guests to relax when they’re not in the water, swimming among thousands of tropical fish.