Visiting Discovery Cove with Special Needs
Imagine a lush tropical world, where everything from the fish to the flowers is brightly colored and breathtakingly beautiful. Picture white sand beaches, warm sun, and delicious tropical drinks. Imagine all you can eat gourmet foods there for your consumption whenever you want them. Picture yourself swimming and snorkeling with an unimaginable variety of sea life, including dolphins. Now imagine that you have this tropical paradise virtually to yourself.
For those struggling with special needs, this world may seem unreachable. Whether your challenges are with mobility, vision, hearing, or psychological disorders, you may feel that you are unable to participate in such an experience.
In reality, this world can be yours at SeaWorld’s Discovery Cove. Enjoy a truly all-inclusive experience, complete with dolphin swim, snorkeling with stingrays and brilliantly colored fish, and hand-feeding dozens of exotic birds. Even your dining is taken care of, with a continental breakfast, gourmet lunch, and unlimited snacks and nonalcoholic beverages included in your price.
Your special needs will not prevent you from participating fully in the experience, as long as you are able to get around on your own or with the help of a caregiver. Discovery Cove personnel are not authorized to provide assistance into or out of a wheelchair or touch you in any way.
Discovery Cove for Wheelchair Users
Special wheelchairs with oversized tires are available for rent with an advanced reservation at SeaWorld Orlando. These specially designed wheelchairs are rugged and more than capable of handling the sand and other uneven terrains throughout the park.
The pools and lagoons are “zero-entry,” meaning that the wheelchair can be rolled straight into the water. You will be able to simply slip out of the chair into the water, rather than having to negotiate steps or pool edges.
In order to participate in the dolphin swim, you must be able to securely grasp the dolphin’s fin and body with your hands. This is to ensure your safety.
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Other Special Needs
If you wear contacts, you may leave them underneath your swim mask. Prescription masks are also available, in a limited supply and they may be reserved at the park.
Those who suffer from disorders such as neuropathy should be especially cautious to wear swim shoes. The sand becomes quite hot, especially during the summer. Equally problematic is the coral, particularly in the stingray lagoon. Protect your feet with swim shoes, and be sure to wash them carefully at the end of the day.
If you have a disability parking permit, you will be able to valet park your car free of charge. This will eliminate the sometimes-long walk from the regular parking lot and if you stay at one of our SeaWorld hotels, you won’t be very far from the park. So, your trips to and from the park should be pretty quick if traffic permits.
Discovery Cove For Guests With Autism
If your child suffers from autism, you may wonder whether Discovery Cove is an appropriate environment. Many parents find that Discovery Cove is a terrific place for their children with autism visiting Seaworld. The reason for this is the lack of crowds. Attendance is capped at only 1000 guests per day. In a theme park market where the average attendance is often 30-40,000, this makes for a much more private and exclusive experience. Many children with autism have difficulty dealing with crowds and may become overwhelmed at some of the other area parks. At Discovery Cove, a quiet rest spot is never more than a few steps away. Additionally, some research shows that animals are sensitive to children’s needs, and some work has been done using animals to stimulate children with autism. While there are never any guarantees, it is always possible that a dolphin encounter may be just what the doctor ordered.
For Guests With Other Disorders
Guests with weakened immune systems may wonder whether animal encounters are safe for them, due to bacteria that may be harbored by any animal. Please be aware that all animals at Discovery Cove receive top-quality medical treatment, including regular checkups. Any animal with a transmittable disease will not be on display in a public area. Nevertheless, it is certainly advised that you discuss your concerns with your doctor prior to visiting Discovery Cove or any other animal park. Also follow all safety and hygiene guidelines, including a thorough shower immediately following your experience. Large clean showers are available throughout the park, with body wash and shampoo provided.
Guests with allergies will be pleased to find that perfumes and strongly scented shampoos and lotions are not permitted in Discovery Cove. Although this rule is for animal safety, those who have experienced an allergic reaction to the perfume of another will find the rule helpful for themselves. Only the products provided by the park are permitted to be used.
Guests with disabilities should not hesitate to make a reservation for Discovery Cove. Be sure to discuss your particular disability and any accommodations you will require with reservation staff when you book. Also, reserve a specially designed outdoor wheelchair if you have difficulty with mobility. You must be able to maneuver on your own or with the help of a caregiver, but otherwise, no real disability restrictions will apply. At Discovery Cove, regardless of your disability status, you too will be able to enjoy a day in a tropical paradise.
If you are planning on visiting SeaWorld in Orlando, we have SeaWorld Orlando tickets and SeaWorld Vacation Packages available at discounted rates for you and your family. Many vacationers who come to SeaWorld also visit Walt Disney World too. Be sure to check out our Disney Vacation Packages for the best deal on a Disney vacation.