Please tell me about Discovery Cove Orlando

I’m thinking about taking my 7-year-old son to Discovery Cove in Orlando. Have any of you been there and done the “swim with the dolphin” thing?

Please, no criticism about the mistreatment of animals and forcing them to perform against their will - that’s not what this is about. It’s very expensive (about $225-$250 per person, but that’s for an entire day at the park, plus passes to SeaWorld or Busch Gardens), so I’m wondering if it’s worthwhile. Can anyone give me first-hand opinions and/or advice?

I really enjoyed it, although I didn’t swim with the dolphins; I just did the snorkeling. I would call it an excellent imitation of “real” snorkeling (i.e, in the actual ocean), without having to worry about waves, sharp coral, and other things that could be hard for a young kid to deal with. It’s best if you’re not worried about swimming in water that’s over your head (IIRC, you don’t have to swim in the deep part, but it’s the coolest). And it would probably be a good idea if everyone has at least tried using a mask and snorkel, just to make sure you’re not freaked out by breathing with your head underwater… it can take a little while to get used to it.

Also, at least when I went, it was rain or shine. There was a tremendous downpour on the way over, but fortunately, no more rain after that. (It may sound silly to worry about rain when you’re going to be in the water, but I like to be able to dry off when I get out. Also, I’m sure they would make you get out of the water if there were lightning… not sure if they refund your money if that turns the day into a flop.)

Keeping strictly to the OP-

I did it with my kids when they were that little, and it wasn’t a great idea. They were too young. Dolphins and pilot whales are HUGE to little kids, and kind of scary. We did it in Hawai’i but most parks follow the same basic patterns.

If I was still of a mind to ever do it again (I no longer am), I would do it when they are 10-13 years old, at a minimum.