The Grand Reef – SeaWorld’s Discovery Cove Expansion Coming this June


SeaWorld’s Discovery Cove promises a new level of immersion in an undersea environment.

If you’ve ever been to SeaWorld Orlando’s Discovery Cove boutique park, then you know what an incredible experience it is. Those who haven’t yet been, may not realize what a great value the all-inclusive retreat provides the Orlando visitor. That experience and value is soon to be expanded as the all-new area called “The Grand Reef” will be opening in June of 2011.


Most of the animals coming to the Grand Reef will be moved from the existing reef experience. That area will be closed to design a new experience.


The Grand Reef SeaVenture will get the SCUBA dive experience without all the training

The new 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.


Part of the SeaVenture will take guests into a canyon where exotic fish including dangerous Eels and Lionfish are swimming (although the dangerous fish will be behind glass walls).

“The Grand Reef takes Discovery Cove’s world-class animal encounters to an all new level — several, actually,” said Stewart Clark, the park’s vice president. “It’s what our guests expect from us, unforgettable connections with the sea and making memories that will last forever. This could only be created by Discovery Cove.”


For this preview event, they had the Grand Reef model out. It was interesting to see how the vision was realized and how close the final product actually is to the model.

Visitors just need to get their feet wet to enjoy The Grand Reef, or they can choose to go deep. They can step into tranquil, shallow waters to discover a below-the-surface world teeming with sea life, or they can snorkel in deeper waters as thousands of exotic fish and graceful rays swim around them.


Construction zone: The Grand Reef was just days away from its first time being filled with water. In the background you can see the ladders you’ll use to descend into the SeaVenture path. On the right is one of the glass areas where the dangerous fish will be kept. Those cement rectangles on the ground will be the anchor spots for the faux-reefs that will populate the reef.

Those looking for an even more exhilarating adventure can take part in The Grand Reef’s, SeaVenture, an underwater walking tour. Wearing dive helmets, guests find up-close excitement around every corner, each step yielding a new discovery. They’ll come across lionfish and sharks (safely behind panoramic windows), one-on-one touches with unique animals and schools of fish and gentle rays swimming by. SeaVenture is a once-in-a-lifetime, undersea experience available for a nominal fee.

Each session is expected to last about 1 hour. 30-40 minutes will be training and learning and 20-25 minutes will be spent underwater. The giant helmets weigh about 75 pounds when out of water. But thanks to special ballast will only feel like 15 pounds on your shoulders when in the water. Each helmet will receive its own supply of oxygen as you traverse the special pathway created for the SeaVenture experience.


Custom built reefs like this one will create homes and hiding spaces for the fish of the reef.

The Grand Reef is the perfect balance between adventure and relaxation, a fully immersive tropical escape, new to discover in Orlando this June.


Each reef section can be filled with air (see faucet above) and floated up to the surface for cleaning. This will solve one of the guests main complaints with the existing reef.


There was already a lot of great detail in the Grand Reef area. Details like this handrail disguised as a branch show that Discovery Cove is elevating their game to a new level. They even brought in the same company that built the marvelous Wizarding World of Harry Potter down the street to create these details.


Your intrepid author wearing a specially modified helmet. There is a surprisingly wide field of view in the helmet, but you are pretty much limited to looking straight ahead.

Thanks for joining me on this journey today. I should have more from Discovery Cove’s Grand Reef in the coming days.

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6 Responses to The Grand Reef – SeaWorld’s Discovery Cove Expansion Coming this June

  1. Grant says:

    Wow, this looks pretty cool! It’s been a while since we’ve been to Discovery Cove, this might mean we’ll have to return soon!

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  6. Gordon says:

    Discovery Cove, even while looking slightly worn, was still one of the best experiences we had in Orlando. We had a delightful, relaxing and thoroughly enjoyable experience of marine life. We told all our friends, and even our travel agent (who didn’t know anything about it!) decided to put together a group of her fellow agents to go down. We would go back in a minute. Highly recommended by the Dykstra family!

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