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SeaWorld Orlando (SWO) Discussion Thread

P. 276: Penguin Trek construction update!

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Incredible TR, Adam. It almost looks like Aquatica is a catalogue park for ProSlide Canada in all their attractions.


Unfortunately for some of us, it would be impossible to enter. That close to SeaWorld would end up with me being picked up by animal rescue and thrown into the Killer Whale tank to be saved...



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Thanks for the report Adam!


I wonder why the park switched up the menu on the all you can eat buffet. Will there be less food waste with the pizza and pasta which can be left out under a heat lamp with minimal downgrade in taste compared with burgers?

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^^I think it's some sort of law that all Merlin parks must have a pizza-and-pasta buffet. If the roast chicken at the buffet is like what they serve at the Festhaus at BGW, I imagine it's pretty good.


I'd like to check out Aquatica the next time I'm in Orlando. I've heard mixed reviews of the place, and I'd like to decide for myself.

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Cute girls in Bikinis - check

Water Slide that shoots through animals swimming - check

Coke - check



Pretty much meets all my criteria, definitely gonna check this baby out sometime.

I've been there a couple times this year, the clientele is FAR from "cute girls in bikinis."


However, it's a beautiful water park and despite it being VERY crowded one of the days I went, waits usually aren't that bad. Lots of fun slides, too, although I wish they had a little more to do there. I can go there and do everything I want to do in an hour or two and be done (kinda like SWO).

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I can go there and do everything I want to do in an hour or two and be done (kinda like SWO).


That's kind of my problem with all of the water parks in Orlando except Wet n Wild, I feel like when it's not crowded I can do everything I want several times in just a few hours. Wet n Wild is probably the "worse" water park in Orlando all around but i think they have by far the best slide selection and better pricing so I end up there more often than any of the others.


Comparing Aquatica, Blizzard Beach, and Typhoon Lagoon my favorite tends to be whichever I visited most recently, they're all really good.

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I don't plan to visit Aquatica while I'm down here in Orlando because it looks like a slightly enhanced version of any old "Tropical" waterpark. Whereas I do plan to visit Wet-N-Wild because it has a whole host of badass slides! And they're even themed!

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Aw, I love the Sloth.



I've always been hesitant taking pictures/video of complete strangers at water parks. These pictures are very good (brochure quality), but I figure if I'm with friends/family it's acceptable. To me it's different than theme parks where I'm taking pictures/video of the rides and roller coasters and not so much the passengers. I guess I really believe in privacy.

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I visited Aquatica back in 2010, and I can not wait to go back someday (especially on a day that's not so crowded, like the Saturday in July we went). It is a very photogenic park with a few good water slides to be ridden.


Your photos are great, thanks for sharing. Looks like the event was pretty fun.

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Just got an email that the Freshwater Oasis is now opened at Discovery Cove. Looks pretty cool.


Sounds like another trip for Adam!!


Looking forward to my next visit to Discovery Cove....such a beautiful park.

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Discovery Cove has sent us a press release regarding the official opening of the Freshwater Oasis!


Now open at Discovery Cove in Orlando is Freshwater Oasis, an all-new attraction featuring wading adventures and face-to-face encounters with playful otters and curious marmosets.


Designed with a rainforest canopy above and sparkling-clear springs below, Freshwater Oasis is a natural fit within Discovery Cove’s tropical atmosphere. Guests can relax, explore and swim in the water-filled trails. No matter where they turn, guests will find endless discoveries.


Freshwater Oasis is included with admission to Discovery Cove, an all-inclusive tropical day resort where guests can swim with dolphins, snorkel with colorful fish and rays, hand-feed exotic birds and relax on pristine beaches, plus enjoy unlimited admission for 14 days to sister parks SeaWorld and Aquatica in Orlando.


Limited to approximately 1,000 guests per day, Discovery Cove requires advance reservations which can be made at DiscoveryCove.com or by calling 1-877-434-7268.


Seasonal rates for Discovery Cove’s Dolphin Swim Day Resort Package start at $229 (rates for Day Resort Package without dolphin swim experience and guests ages 3-5 start at $149).


To learn more about Freshwater Oasis, visit DiscoveryCove.com.


Now open at Discovery Cove in Orlando is Freshwater Oasis, an all-new attraction featuring wading adventures and face-to-face encounters with playful otters and curious marmosets.


Just across the street from SeaWorld Orlando is Discovery Cove, a limited-admission tropical day resort where guests swim with dolphins, hand-feed exotic birds in a free-flight aviary, snorkel among thousands of colorful fish and rays and relax on pristine beaches.


Freshwater Oasis

  • Designed with a rainforest canopy above and sparkling-clear springs below, Freshwater Oasis is a natural fit within Discovery Cove’s tropical vibe. Guests can relax and explore. They’ll wade, wander, swim and float in the water-filled trails and discover marmoset monkeys and playful Asian otters. No matter where they turn, they’ll find endless discoveries.
  • Unique waterways … With most of the water at waist-deep level or shallower, Freshwater Oasis invites families to explore all of its nooks and crannies.
  • In-Water Relaxation Station … The warm water is perfect for relaxing and soaking up the Orlando sunshine or to enjoy an ice-cold drink from the brightly colored sunken chairs that are built into the area.
  • More features … There are multiple entries into the water, and many pathways to discover something new at every turn.


The animals


Asian small-clawed otters

  • The smallest of all otters, the Asian-small clawed otter weighs between two and eleven pounds. Native to Southeast Asia - in areas from Indonesia, to China, to India – these playful animals can be found in the most scenic of surroundings in Freshwater Oasis.
  • Wade past rocks and trees to encounter the thriving, lush habitat of the Asian small-clawed otter. Watch as these active mammals romp and play their way through their naturalistic environment, and swim figure-eight’s around tree stumps. Experience the lively energy of the otter in an up-close-and-personal way, without ever having to leave the refreshing water.



  • Marmoset monkeys are native to the rainforest and upper canopies of South America. If they can’t be spotted up in the tip-top of the trees, these highly-active animals can be heard communicating through a variety of unique sounds including whistles, squeaks, clicks, and trills. Only weighing a pound when fully grown, marmosets are unique animals to take in.
  • Swim through waist-deep water to the center of Freshwater Oasis, or view from a scenic pathway, an island abundant with life. There will be no glass separating guests from the marmoset monkeys that call the idyllic island home. Look and listen as these agile animals leap from tree to tree, and watch in wonder as they run upside-down on the branches. Experience a whole new world, right in front of your eyes.

More about Discovery Cove

  • Discovery Cove is a paradise of rocky lagoons surrounded by lush landscaping, tropical reefs, winding rivers, a resort-style pool complete with waterfalls, and white-sand beaches.
  • The Grand Reef features multiple levels of exploration, from shallow waters to deeper swimming adventures, from white sandy beaches and hammocks swaying in the breeze, to snorkeling among canyons inspired by reefs from around the world.
  • SeaVenture is an underwater walking tour where guests, wearing dive helmets, find up-close encounters with sharks (safely behind massive panoramic windows), one-on-one touches with unique animals and schools of fish and gentle rays.
  • Freshwater Oasis is included with admission to Discovery Cove, which is an all-inclusive, full-day experience featuring the best animal experiences, all-day dining, and first-class amenities plus unlimited admission for 14 days to sister parks SeaWorld and Aquatica in Orlando.


Limited to approximately 1,000 guests per day, Discovery Cove requires advance reservations which can be made at DiscoveryCove.com or by calling 1-877-434-7268.


Seasonal rates for Discovery Cove’s Dolphin Swim Day Resort Package start at $229 (rates for Day Resort Package without dolphin swim experience and guests ages 3-5 start at $149). Prices vary seasonally.




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I never saw the original area that Freshwater Oasis replaced, but they did an excellent job with it. The otters are about 7 months old and are freakin adorable. There's a small viewing area for them if you don't want to get in the water, and then a tunnel-like viewing area in the water, almost similar to the way you view the sharks behind glass in the Grand Reef. The marmosets aren't easy to spot just yet, maybe still getting used to things there. A popular new area is a small pool across from the snack bar where you're able to bring your drinks in and relax with the built-in chairs. They have been bringing other small mammals out for guests to interact with around the oasis, like the tortoise and anteater. It's not a huge area but definitely a nice addition to the park!

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Dine With Shamu, the SeaWorld Orlando animal-interaction experience, returned to the theme park’s lineup Monday. It was the first time for guests since the death of whale trainer Dawn Brancheau at the attraction in February 2010.


Since then, SeaWorld has been retrofitting the area, including the installation of a floor that can raised in case of emergency.


Brancheau was dragged into the water by the 6-ton whale Tilikum after a Dine With Shamu session. Since then, SeaWorld workers have not been allowed to have “in-water” training or performances with its killer whales.


Prior to the incident, Dine With Shamu was considered a behind-the-scenes extra. Guests paid for a buffet and sat at tables next to a lagoon while a SeaWorld employee gave a tutorial. Trainers then put the whale through a series of flips and dives.

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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:




We were greeted by this view at the beginning of our visit. Welcome to the new Freshwater Oasis!


Hey! Look who we found!!!


Adam tried doing a little networking with Renee... It didn't work.


Discovery Cove brought out a ton of animal ambassadors for us to see...


And so our TPR Turtle Fancy was once again FULFILLED!


One of Discovery Cove's newest residents, this marmoset was very friendly.


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.


He likes my camera... I approve!


Then there was this beauty!


He also liked sniffing my camera!


The Laughing Kookaburra couldn't help but laugh at my attempt to network with Renee.


The park also had an Asian small-clawed otter out for guests to see.


It wouldn't be a visit to Discovery Cove without lemon slushies!


I even got Robb in on my addiction!


Our first stop? Loungers!


Who couldn't get used to this?


Okay, enough lounging (for now)! Time to go explore the Freshwater Oasis!


In through one of the many entrances, we wade towards Primate Island.


Oooh! Looks so much like paradise!


The inner island is Primate Island, home to the marmosets.


Speaking of which...


Y U Nooo bring me lemon slushie?


I just saw marmosets, in the water, after lounging with a beer... MIND BLOWN!


The making of a TPR photo report!


Another entrance to the Freshwater Oasis ducks under a fallen tree.


On the far right side of the Freshwater Oasis is a special nook...


I gotta go Julia, we got otters.



So awesome!


A look at the submerged viewing area for the Asian small-clawed otters.


Another window in the viewing area for the otters, in case they travel to this side of the habitat.


What are we doing back at this entrance of the Freshwater Oasis you ask?


Lounging with lemon slushies of course!


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.


I guess you can also encounter Renee here too.


You're welcome.


Oh yeah! They serve Coke products here! We definitely approve!


Robb hadn't yet visited The Grand Reef since its opening, so we did some exploring.


It looks so empty from up here...


But there's a ton of awesome sea life beneath the surface!


Shark! Shark! Shark!


(Sadly, no Sharktopuses here.)


Discovery Cove has sharks. TPR approves!


The Grand Reef also has huge stingrays that swim in the same water as you. It's definitely a unique experience!


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.


More stingrays!


One ray woke from its sandy slumber to lunge at my camera... I definitely freaked out.


We moved into the park's Aviary and got close to some gorgeous looking birds!


Wind-Away River, the park's lazy river is filled with tons of underwater photo ops.


Yes, it is this big.


The Wind-Away River was definitely Robb's favorite part of the park!


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.


More underwater photo ops...



Look who we ran into again! (I swear we weren't stalking her...really...we weren't!)


Typical reaction from woman when Adam tries to touch them! =)


Renee: You're welcome?


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!

Edited by robbalvey
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^ 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.

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