Yesterday Robb and I were invited back to Discovery Cove to check out the recently opened Freshwater Oasis, the latest in an expansion effort for SeaWorld Parks & Resorts Orlando. Replacing the park's original saltwater reef (which closed on the same day its replacement, The Grand Reef opened last year), the Freshwater Oasis is a very different offering that those found in the rest of the park.
Designed mostly for wading, the "sunken trails" of the Freshwater Oasis are numerous, each leading to another corner of the new environment while each still leads the guest to the centrally located Primate Island, home to the park's new resident marmosets. Another nook in the Freshwater Oasis leads to a partially submerged habitat for Asian small-clawed otters, where guests are separated only by plexiglass and can swim alongside these active creatures.
Freshwater Oasis also marks the addition of a very unique leisure pool complete with submerged loungers. While this wouldn't seem like a big deal on its own, the nearby snack bar and Discovery Cove's allowance for drinks to be brought into this pool makes this a perfect relaxation spot that I found myself coming back to several times throughout my visit.
As always, I was thoroughly impressed with Discovery Cove. The park has a certain intimacy that, despite its large size, continues to be maintained by the lack of crowds, the unlimited access to food and beverages, the extremely friendly team members who work there, and of course, the insanely immersive environments available throughout the park.
Wind-Away River, the park's lazy river of sorts is huge, and doesn't feature the normal flow that other parks' lazy rivers have. You really have to walk, wade and swim to get yourself through the river, so while it isn't so lazy, it feels much like an exploratory adventure (almost akin to "climbing" the Dunns River Falls in Jamaica actually). The river also runs through the park's expansive aviary, and allows you some very up close encounters with some beautiful birds (both on land and in the water).
The Grand Reef still amazes a year later and the park continues to perform very well from what we've been told. Discovery Cove is an insanely great value when you consider that (even if you don't do the Dolphin Encounter) you get unlimited food and beverages (non-alcoholic and alcoholic), access to The Grand Reef, the Aviary, the Wind-Away River, the Freshwater Oasis and the park's many nooks in which to relax. You're almost forced to stop and enjoy each aspect several times, but that is a good thing, as you'll notice at least one thing new each time you visit.
Video introduction of Freshwater Oasis at Discovery Cove:
^ Yeah, that's pretty much it. It's not a go go go kinda place. With such a small crowd each day, you're never rushed to do anything. Even with breakfast, lunch, and the dolphin swim, there's plenty of time to see everything AND relax on the beach for quite a while. The thing about DC is that if you're a beach person, you really won't wanna leave once you're there.
BeemerBoy wrote:After Epcot, this is the second best park in Orlando, and easily the best value around.
This. I'm surprised more people don't use Discovery Cover as their gateway ticket to all of the SeaWorld parks in central Florida. I think for like an additional $50 you can get unlimited admission to SeaWorld, Busch Gardens, and Aquatica for the length of your vacation which is a great deal.
These new additions look fantastic, I can't wait to get down here again sometime soon and check them out.
Edit: I Just verified pricing and it's only $20 additional to enjoy SeaWorld, Busch Gardens, and Aquatica for 14 days. So $300 for a dolphoin swim and full day at Discover Cove plus 14 days unlimited admission to SeaWorld, Busch Gardens, and Aquatica. Best deal in Orlando by far.