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Re: SeaWorld Orlando (SWO) Discussion Thread

Fri Jul 13, 2012 7:44 am

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:

Click to download video to your computer or iPod/iPhone

We were greeted by this view at the beginning of our visit. Welcome to the new Freshwater Oasis!
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Hey! Look who we found!!!

Adam tried doing a little networking with Renee... It didn't work.
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Discovery Cove brought out a ton of animal ambassadors for us to see...

And so our TPR Turtle Fancy was once again FULFILLED!
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One of Discovery Cove's newest residents, this marmoset was very friendly.
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And this one was very curious, going as far as to latch onto my camera lens seconds after this photo to see what my camera was all about.
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He likes my camera... I approve!
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Then there was this beauty!
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He also liked sniffing my camera!
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The Laughing Kookaburra couldn't help but laugh at my attempt to network with Renee.
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The park also had an Asian small-clawed otter out for guests to see.
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It wouldn't be a visit to Discovery Cove without lemon slushies!
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I even got Robb in on my addiction!
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Our first stop? Loungers!
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Who couldn't get used to this?
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Okay, enough lounging (for now)! Time to go explore the Freshwater Oasis!
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In through one of the many entrances, we wade towards Primate Island.
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Oooh! Looks so much like paradise!
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The inner island is Primate Island, home to the marmosets.
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Speaking of which...
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Y U Nooo bring me lemon slushie?
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I just saw marmosets, in the water, after lounging with a beer... MIND BLOWN!
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The making of a TPR photo report!
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Another entrance to the Freshwater Oasis ducks under a fallen tree.
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On the far right side of the Freshwater Oasis is a special nook...
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I gotta go Julia, we got otters.
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So awesome!
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A look at the submerged viewing area for the Asian small-clawed otters.
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Another window in the viewing area for the otters, in case they travel to this side of the habitat.
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What are we doing back at this entrance of the Freshwater Oasis you ask?
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Lounging with lemon slushies of course!
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After some more lounging, we ventured off to go explore the rest of the park. Here is a look at the huge complex for the Dolphin Encounter experience.
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I guess you can also encounter Renee here too.

You're welcome.
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Oh yeah! They serve Coke products here! We definitely approve!
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Robb hadn't yet visited The Grand Reef since its opening, so we did some exploring.
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It looks so empty from up here...
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But there's a ton of awesome sea life beneath the surface!
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Shark! Shark! Shark!

(Sadly, no Sharktopuses here.)
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Discovery Cove has sharks. TPR approves!
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The Grand Reef also has huge stingrays that swim in the same water as you. It's definitely a unique experience!
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This SeaVenture group was forevermore known as the Fellowship of the Ring. The middle one, Frodo, agreed to swim the One Ring to the mythical Mount Doom to free all of Middle Earth.

Or something like that. They might've just been touring the shark enclosure.
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More stingrays!
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One ray woke from its sandy slumber to lunge at my camera... I definitely freaked out.
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We moved into the park's Aviary and got close to some gorgeous looking birds!
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Wind-Away River, the park's lazy river is filled with tons of underwater photo ops.

Yes, it is this big.
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The Wind-Away River was definitely Robb's favorite part of the park!
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And being so close to the aviary (actually winding through it), it isn't uncommon to get very close to some of the avian residents while in the water.
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More underwater photo ops...
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Look who we ran into again! (I swear we weren't stalking her...really...we weren't!)
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Typical reaction from woman when Adam tries to touch them! =)

Renee: You're welcome?
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Robb and I really loved Discovery Cove and the new Freshwater Oasis!

Special thanks to Discovery Cove for inviting us to come check out this awesome park once again!

And many thanks to Matt Roseboom from Orlando Attractions Magazine for supplying that final awesome photo for us!
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Last edited by robbalvey on Fri Jul 13, 2012 8:16 am.

Re: SeaWorld Orlando (SWO) Discussion Thread

Fri Jul 13, 2012 8:47 am

Nice work, guys. I LOVE the new additions, and those loungers are pure awesome!

After Epcot, this is the second best park in Orlando, and easily the best value around.

Re: SeaWorld Orlando (SWO) Discussion Thread

Fri Jul 13, 2012 9:12 am

Wow. I really need to visit this park. Is a day enough to see everything including the dolphin encounter? Or the opposite question, is it a full day park?

Re: SeaWorld Orlando (SWO) Discussion Thread

Fri Jul 13, 2012 9:13 am

Awesome pics guys! This is such a beautiful park!

Re: SeaWorld Orlando (SWO) Discussion Thread

Fri Jul 13, 2012 9:16 am

^I'd say it's a 3/4 day park with the dolphin swim.

It depends how much you like just laying around on a beach.
Last edited by SharkTums on Fri Jul 13, 2012 9:17 am.

Re: SeaWorld Orlando (SWO) Discussion Thread

Fri Jul 13, 2012 9:27 am

^ 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.

Re: SeaWorld Orlando (SWO) Discussion Thread

Fri Jul 13, 2012 10:11 am

Wow, interesting park, I like its uniqueness. I'll have to check it out the next time I'm in Orlando.

Re: SeaWorld Orlando (SWO) Discussion Thread

Fri Jul 13, 2012 10:12 am

Superb pics!

Yeah it's not a whole day park, even if you relax and take your time (which you should do there anyway) but it's a real nice place. Also Kraken is a pretty sweet ride.
I miss the days of going to FL

Re: SeaWorld Orlando (SWO) Discussion Thread

Fri Jul 13, 2012 12:10 pm

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.
Last edited by Hilltopper39 on Fri Jul 13, 2012 12:15 pm.

Re: SeaWorld Orlando (SWO) Discussion Thread

Fri Jul 13, 2012 12:17 pm

AMAZING. This is so on my itinerary the next time I'm in Orlando. Those are some pretty damned adorable animals.
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