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Old 26 Apr 15, 03:51 PM  
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scottishnellie's Reviews
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Here Now! first WDW family holiday - Day 14. Dolphin Swim at Discovery Cove

Up at 7am and into the car at 7:30 to head to Discovery Cove. We had booked this in May last year way last year and at the time it was cheaper to book direct with DC than with any of the ticket companies. See my post below from that time for details.

Then in March this year, I called and upgraded it to the Elite package when I got paid a bonus at work. I normally run all spending past Kevin first but he has always said any bonus earned at work is mine to do what I want with, so I chose to do this and keep it as a surprise. Now Kevin is a lot more careful with money than me, and this kind of thing he sees as unnecessary spending so his reaction really could have gone either way.

With the Elite package you get a private Cabana with a stocked fridge of drinks and snacks, a host to keep it that way, a photo package, a personalised Buoy delivered to someone in our party during the swim, a DVD of the dolphin swim, a CD with every photo taken, one photo blown up into a poster, a souvenir photo frame and a cuddly toy. Sounds the like generation game!

Arrived at 8am opening time to find there was already a fair queue but it moved quickly. When we got to the desk she said our Dolphin swim was already booked for 1.15pm as part of our private package. Kevin did not notice that being said and I mouthed to her it was a surprise so she very kindly adjusted the rest of her spiel. Basically saying to go for breakfast then head to guest services who would tell us where to go from there! I had hoped for an earlier swim as everyone had said this was better but in the end this worked just fine for us so I am not sure whether it would have been improved in any way by being earlier.

So we followed the path round and were met at the bottom by an attendant who walked us to breakfast explaining where everything was and got settled. Lots of choice at breakfast. Filled croissants, pastries, French Toast, Yoghurts, Fruit and drinks from a soda fountain. The tea and coffee were from a machine outside and also very nice. We finished breakfast at 9 and headed to guest services.

Laguna Grill food place

We walked over and the guy asked how he could help. I couldn't really say anything else but we had been told to come here to be shown to our cabana. I tried to say it quiet but immediately heard Kevin exclaim 'oh-ho! Brilliant!' Thankfully the kids had not picked it up. The attendant checked my neck tag and said to follow him. He led us up to the snorkel hut and sorted us out with the correct sized vests and snorkel sets. Then led us around to the grand reef to our cabana. As we walked in Hannah just kept looking at me, then she noticed the sign outside that said it was reserved for McNicol and started squealing! The attendant explained everything and said our host would be along later. June arrived 10 mins later, ran through which beer and wine was available, took our requests and stocked up the fridge.

We used the special animal friendly suncream they give you (you are not allowed to wear anything else). He warned us that a little goes a long way and to rub it right in or walk around all day looking like a mime artist, and we did see a few like this! Anytime you are in the water you must wear the DC vest. So we donned ours and off we went to explore. The park is split into 2 halves. The Dolphin Lagoon and Grand Reef with all the fish in it which are both cold seawater, then over the bridge to the other side are the Wind Away river and the pool around the otters and marmosets which are clearwater and the temperature of a tepid bath. The Aviary is also over this side. We headed to this side of the park first as we knew the birds to be more active in the morning when still keen to feed. The kids loved this and went round with little pots of food attracting birds to land of their hands and eat. One landed on my head and stomped about up there scratching me until Kevin lifted it away. I am not much of an animal person yet things always seem to land on me!

Out of here we had a float around in the wind away river. We are all swimmers and could have gone round this with no lifevests but because the attendant had said it was better using them we did. Big mistake, They were difficult to control your direction in and I ended up wearing mine whilst holding both the kids ones as they abandoned theirs halfway round. I must have looked like some paranoid non-swimmer wearing one life vest with another in each hand! I admit parts of this were very deep so non-swimmers would definitely need them. I lost my sunglasses half way round and thought there was no chance I would see them again due to the deep parts.

We left this side of the park as the kids were keen to get back and try the snorkelling with the fish. I settled in the cabana and they headed into the pool right in front of me. They LOVED this. Especially Hannah. She floated around in there touching all the fish and became really comfortable with the snorkel. Kevin got some good go-pro footage of her which he posted to facebook but I don't know how to add it on here. I joined them and the pool was not as cold as I expected it to be which was good, but I am not keen on breathing through my mouth with the snorkel so after a few encounters with the rays I was back out. We stayed here until just after 12 when we decided to head for lunch.

Lunch menu was good and everything tasted lovely. I had salmon, Kevin had salad, Kids had hotdogs and fries with sides of mac n cheese and potato salad. Two types of desert on offer, cheesecake and chocolate fudge cake, both delicious. Dianne and Andrew had kindly agreed to come up and drive the cars home so we had beer and wine with this.

After lunch we headed back to the cabana then a loo break before our dolphin swim. They explained they were running a little late today 'running on dolphin time' so we started about half an hour late.

We were put in a party of 9 with 2 couples and a girl on her own joining us. They went through all the safety stuff and they led us to the lagoon. We stood in line and the trainer introduced us to Jenny, our dolphin. She was lovely and so much bigger up close than I imagined. We got plenty of time to pet her and she showed off pulling shapes and making noises. It was all at a nice slow pace as the trainer explained that these dolphins are really experienced and enjoy interacting with humans but if they choose to swim off and do something else then that's just how it is, and you all just have to wait. I liked this! When Jenny would swim off they would call the other dolphins to see if any of them fancied joining us so in the end we interacted with a few.

We all got a swim and an individual hug and dolphin kiss. As I have said before I am not much of an animal person, and when booking I only took a dolphin swim as with the ages of the kids we needed 2 adults in there. But I was surprised at how much I loved this. It was such a quiet, pleasant experience. And not smelly, which I had thought it would be! The kids were just in their element. Especially Hannah. She is a complete animal lover and today was 'one of the best days of her life'

Next the trainer said she was going to let Jenny play with one of her favourite toys. I knew this was when the Buoy would be delivered but the kids had no idea. She said Jenny would bring a toy to someone and who wanted to volunteer. Of course, Kieran bounced up with his hand in the air so off he went. Jenny raced around the lagoon with the buoy in her mouth then right up to Kieran who took it out of her mouth. He turned it round all wide eyed when he realised it said McNicol Family Vacation on it. And when the trainer said the buoy was his to take home he shouted 'that's going in my room!'. The Americans pronounce this as boo-ey which confused the kids no end.

We left the lagoon and were led to a cabana to choose which of the 8 photos we wanted printed and which one we wanted used for the poster. Kieran and Kevin left for our cabana while Hannah and I chose the photos. Hannah and I negotiated and settled that Hannah would keep the fancy photo frame and poster of her photo choice, and Kieran would keep the Buoy and the cuddly dolphin. So meet dipper.

Back at the cabana I settled on the lounger with a cocktail from the bar and the kids were right back in the reef snorkelling for the rest of the day. Hannah would have been in there all week if she had the choice, and wanted to know if we could come back again another day this week. Had to explain this wasn't like the other park tickets and this was a complete one off.

Kevin alternated between sitting in the cabana having a beer and out snorkelling with the kids. The location of the cabana could not have been more perfect for us, with the kids right in front of us in their favourite part of the park. At one point the kids went off for a float in the river, returning triumphant with my sunglasses! Clever kids. Kevin and I also popped back into the Laguna Grill again and had another bite to eat.

This was so relaxing. There was soft steel drum type music playing but not loud, the sun was just right, the place was like being on a Caribbean island. Kevin kept saying how much he loved it and thanking me for the cabana. He then said. I don't care how much it cost, its been brilliant. Now any of my family and friends reading this who know Kevin personally will know how shocking that is. Result!

Probably safe to say if we are back next year we will do this again. Maybe a non-swim and probably without the elite package, but we will visit DC.

We left at 5.30 as the park closed, picked up our photos on the way out and our fab friends arrived to ferry us home.

Home, showered, washings on, and had a family meeting about amending plans for next day. I then spent 3 hours writing up the TR for the first HRH day, sorting photos from the last 3 days and uploading the report. The other 2 days would have to wait until morning!

So came to a close the most special day of our holiday. Bliss.

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Old 26 Apr 15, 04:04 PM  
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New Photo Added by scottishnellie - 26 Apr 15 4:04 PM.
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Old 26 Apr 15, 04:31 PM  
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Wow, what an absolutely perfect day! One you'll all remember for a long time
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All over for another year...
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Old 26 Apr 15, 05:20 PM  
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Amazing what a fantastic day you all had and extra brownie points for the treat of the upgrade that looked fantastic xx
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Old 26 Apr 15, 05:27 PM  
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We loved DC but didnt do the package you have. Kevins chicken salad looks yummy. OH has one of those toy dolphins, does yours make a noise like a dolphin? OH's still does many years on
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Old 26 Apr 15, 05:33 PM  
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I just want to say thank you for the trip reports! We are lucky enough to have just returned from our 8th family vacation to Florida - we got back two weeks ago and have felt a bit down as we haven't yet booked the next one. Last week we found out that DH is on the at-risk for redundancy list and so planning the next holiday has been postponed. I've spent a few evenings reading your reports and catching up on your vacation and it's bringing back so many lovely memories for me. Seeing the photos that we usually don't take when we are there (as photos are usually more staged) and seeing more of the backgrounds and scenery as well as your fabulous holiday snaps. You look like you are having a wonderful time and I think I'll be sad when you have to come home too lol! Enjoy the rest of your holiday and keep the trip reports coming. Hopefully by the end of May, I'll be able to start my planning again too.
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Old 26 Apr 15, 05:33 PM  
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What a great day you had. We have a day booked and will be there in just 5 weeks so this report makes me look forward even more.
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Old 26 Apr 15, 06:59 PM  
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Just caught up on the last three days, what a fab time you are having! We loved Discovery cove, definitely one of our best family experiences.

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Old 26 Apr 15, 07:10 PM  
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Sounds amazing! Thanks for sharing z
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Old 26 Apr 15, 07:15 PM  
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Glad you all had a fantastic day, we all love Discovery Cove, its an amazing place
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