An Evening In Paradise

Discovery Cove® Tickets , Orlando , Seasonal Events , Expert View Column
An Evening In Paradise
By ATD’s Florida Experts, Susan and Simon Veness
Tiki torches flicker in the darkness, lighting the pathway through lush landscaping. A steel drum band plays in the distance, and the sound of gentle waves becomes evident as the wonderful aroma of Island-style food wafts by on the breeze. A tropical paradise? Almost. Welcome to Discovery Cove’s Paradise Nights!

The most relaxing park in Orlando is now open for an additional 2 hours for guests who book the new Paradise Nights evening event, with dinner, drinks, live music and, of course, those fabulous dolphins that make Discovery Cove such a special place. Visit during the day and you’ll know why people call it a “tropical paradise.” Visit in the evening and that luxurious vibe takes on a whole new feel.

If you’ve been to Discovery Cove as a day guest, you already know the luxury that’s in store for you, starting in the reception area. There are no turnstiles or finger scans here. Instead, guests check in at a concierge desk as they would at a quality resort, and receive a lanyard with their photo and their cabana number for the day programme’s dolphin swim or their table number for the evening programme.

During Paradise Nights, guests then enter the park via walkways lined with tropical landscaping, sparkling creeks, and soft lighting until they reach the Dolphin Lagoon beach, where the party takes place. Servers welcome their visitors with fruity cocktails, with or without alcohol, depending on your age (remember, the legal drinking age in the US is 21), and attendants show them to their table. A small bar is set up near hammocks strung between palm trees, and beer, wine and soft drinks are included with every reservation.



Many guests during our preview wore ‘resort casual’ attire (trousers or shorts and polo shirts for the gentlemen, sundresses for the ladies), but this is definitely a laid-back, comfortable occasion, so if flip-flops are your thing, well…you be you. You’re not here to be judged, you’re here to be pampered and indulged!

Dinner is also a “resort casual” set-up, featuring four serving stations where guests may help themselves to the cold items, such as salads and vegetables, and attendants dish up the hot offerings. The first station we encountered included pan seared salmon, tortellini in a creamy pesto sauce, and Caesar salad, with assistants serving guests as they passed along the table.

The next station had a delicious and refreshing chili lime chopped salad, Hawaiian chicken breast with mango salsa, yummy Green Rice, and crisp tortilla chips with fresh pico de gallo, and beyond that was a station featuring grilled vegetables, dinner rolls, cold couscous salad, steamed potato wedges and a superb hand-carved herbed roasted beef with au jus. We were especially impressed not only with the quality of the offerings, but with the fact there is an emphasis on the use of sustainable foods.


Discovery Cove Paradise Nights


There was also a Children’s Buffet of macaroni and cheese, hot dogs, chicken tenders and French fries, plus single-serving containers of apple sauce, but adults were equally welcome to indulge.

A beautiful dessert table finished the evening off right (after a fantastic dolphin show, which we’ll tell you about shortly), and included Make Your Own Strawberry Shortcake, a scrummy Key Lime Cheesecake, delicate Coconut Cake, carrot cake, cheesecake and a decadent chocolate cake, as well as an enticing selection of fresh fruits.


Discovery Cove Paradise Nights desserts


All the while a steel drum band provided suitable background music, creating an atmosphere that was lively and festive without being raucous in any way. This is definitely a family-friendly setting, even if beer and wine are readily available.


Discovery Cove paradise nights


A day at Discovery Cove includes little meet-and-greets with some of the park’s Animal Ambassadors, and these fun encounters occur during Paradise Nights, too. A photographer is on hand to capture the memory, though you’re also welcome to take your own photos. One tiny niggle during our preview evening was the difficulty in finding the animal ambassadors amid all the mingling and the queues for the food stations, but we suspect it may have been a little quirk—possibly due to the fact there were many groups of guests who knew each other during our evening and congregated in convivial conversation. We feel certain they’ll be easier to find during future events.


Paradise nigths Discovery Cove


That said, some of the park’s animals are unmissable. From the moment you reach the beach, you’ll see dolphins swimming languidly in the Dolphin Lagoon, checking out the guests and enjoying an experience outside their normal routine. Trainers are on hand before and during dinner, to answer questions and share information about their charges, and as the evening progresses a formal Dolphin presentation takes place. Some of the behaviours day-guests get to see as part of their dolphin swim also occur during the night-time encounter, but instead of entering the water, Paradise Nights guests view the interaction from the shore of the lagoon, without getting wet.



Discovery Cove Paradise nights


Our encounter featured 4 dolphins who showed off their communication skills, participated in interactions with their trainers, had a little spontaneous play-time, and, of course, treated us to those spectacular jumps that look like an expression of pure joy. All the while, a trainer described what they were doing, why they were doing it, and how some of the behaviours help keep them healthy and help promote awareness of our responsibility to environmental causes.  

Paradise Nights runs on select nights through the end of 2018, and requires advance booking on 407 513 4600. The cost is $65 per adult (apx £46) and $19 (apx £14) per child age 3 to 9, payable in US dollars. You do not have to book a daytime visit to Discovery Cove to attend this wonderful event, but you can include it as an add-on with a day-visit booking. Knowing you have two more hours in the park, with a great meal, fun ambiance, and more time with the dolphins is the perfect foil to avoid that, “I’m not ready to leave yet” feeling we all get when a day in the tropical paradise that is Discovery Cove comes to an end.

To see a video behind the scenes, click here:

Book your holiday break in the “island paradise” of Discovery Cove, and be sure to check out Paradise Nights. Then, join us on the Attraction Tickets Direct discussion forums and tell us about your evening!

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Discovery Cove® Tickets , Orlando , Seasonal Events , Expert View Column