Video by John Frost. Used with permission.
Editor’s Note: Please welcome Kristen, a new contributor to ModernMami.com, who will be sharing occasional book reviews/giveaways, as well as local Orlando events and attractions.
A wonderful new experience just opened at Discovery Cove – SeaVenture! It’s an add-on to the Grand Reef area which opened in June. SeaVenture is a light version of scuba diving, and easier than snorkeling! Guests participate in an underwater reef walk without all the heavy equipment. It is one of the most fun, memorable experiences EVER!!!!!
When I arrived, I was greeted by a concierge in a beautiful lobby! A small group of us were escorted to the Grand Reef area where the SeaVenture experience takes place. The walk to get to this area is serene, loaded with flowers and surprisingly enough, not a lot of people! A private cabana awaits the group filled with soft drinks, water, and snacks. We were fitted with wetsuits (not my favorite part, since you can’t hide much in them) and then we went through a short orientation and safety presentation which was informative, and would help an apprehensive person feel at ease. That would not be me; I could not wait to get in the water!
Normally, four people at a time experience the “walk” together. However, for our trip, there were only two of us. It would be perfect for a family of four, though. Here’s the cool part: you climb down a ladder until everything is submerged but your head. The water temperature is 72 degrees, which is the reason for the tight-fitting wet suit. You then wait for a white helmet to be placed on your head (it feels very underwater-astronaut-like). There is an endless supply of oxygen provided and the weight of the helmet is what keeps you on the sandy bottom. Three divers are with you at all times and we were taught hand signals so we could communicate. A doodle board was also around so we could write underwater and share species’ names. Kids will love this part!
Finally, we were underwater – it was so clear and easy to see everything around us. Immediately, a huge spotted ray swam over my head followed by schools of yellow and blue fish. The guide showed us various beautiful marine animals; I even got to hold a Cowrie which looks and feels like a huge slimy snail. My boys loved hearing about that part! We also saw sharks and a lion fish separated only by underwater glass. Our guide, Steve, brought fish food with him and he fed fish so we could see all the different varieties.
The whole time I was underwater, I wanted my kids to be part of the fun, as well. As a parent, I would be perfectly comfortable allowing my kids the chance to experience the up-close undersea wonders that are offered with SeaVenture. Guests must be at least 10 years old to participate, which seems like the perfect age to get the most out of the experience, since the helmet might be too heavy for smaller children. My daughter is eight, an excellent swimmer and would love the experience, but the helmet on her might be overwhelming. If you have children that are younger than ten, they can experience the Grand Reef which is connected to the SeaVenture lagoon. There are also viewing bridges and very shallow tidal pools where you can see some of the action.
I recommend booking the experience in advance or immediately upon entering Discovery Cove. SeaVenture is being limited to only 100 people a day. Once word gets out about how special this add-on is, I’m sure it will completely book every day.
The experience lasts about 20-25 minutes. Truthfully, I didn’t want the experience to end. I can’t wait to go back and take my family. Discovery Cove is great for couples, families and anyone who wants up-close encounters with sea life. Unlimited food and drinks are provided with each admission. The SeaVenture experience is one I won’t ever forget. I plan for my next trip to also include a swim with dolphins!
Disclosure: Kristen was provided a complimentary visit to Discovery Cove to experience SeaVenture. No compensation received.
Photos by Kristen