Orlando and theme parks are practically synonymous. But for families looking for a more upscale version of the classic Florida family vacation, Discovery Cove, an all-inclusive day resort open to just 1,300 guests a day, offers two new experiences that raise the level of exclusivity for a select number of guests.
The Ray Feeding experience, available every Wednesday through Sunday morning to 10 guests, begins at 7 a.m. at the Grand Reef, before any other guests arrive. Under the supervision of an experienced guide, guests kneel in the water along the shoreline to learn about the rays’ feeding habits, after which they don special gloves and walk into deeper water to hand-feed the park’s collection of rays. Highlights include learning the names of each ray, many of which display unique personalities, followed by a guided snorkel tour of the reef. The program is open to guests ages 6 and older and comes with an additional fee of $50 per participant.
Families who want to ramp up the face-your-fear factor can sign up for the Shark Swim, which gives participants an up-close-and-personal look at these marine predators in a safe setting. The way it works is two groups of six can swim and snorkel freely among five species: Pacific blacktip, reef white tip, nurse, zebra and spotted wobbegong. Interactions are scheduled for 11:15 and 11:45 a.m., and the two groups alternately participate in a shark training session and then get in the action by entering the habitat.
Wearing a full wetsuit, special booties, mask, snorkel and life vest to maintain buoyancy and limit splashing, families can swim right above the sharks and, in some cases, face-to-face with them. Then the groups switch positions and enjoy the other half of the experience. Aquarists are on hand at all times to talk about the sharks’ anatomy, dispel misconceptions about the animals and explain about the dangers of shark finning and overfishing. The goal of the program is to erase fears while instilling a healthy respect and appreciation for all types of sharks.
The Shark Swim experience is available to guests ages 10 and older, and is priced at $85 per person. For every package purchased, Discovery Cove donates 5 percent of the proceeds to the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, which supports shark conservation and research.
Meanwhile, other activities at Discovery Cove include dolphin encounters, hand feeding tropical birds, snorkeling and helmet diving in the lagoons and reefs.
A day’s admission includes breakfast and lunch, unlimited beverages and snacks, lockers, animal-safe sunscreen, snorkel gear and parking.
In addition, guests receive unlimited admission to SeaWorld and Aquatica for 14 consecutive days around their Discovery Cove reservation. In 2018, the starting rate for a one-day resort pass to Discovery Cove is $170.
Huntsville, Alabama, is one of those destinations helping define the family-friendly vacation. Home to NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, the city is lovingly nicknamed Rocket City thanks to its history of always reaching for the stars. This is where you’ll find Space Camp, where kids and families can take part in various programs at the world’s largest space museum, U.S. Space and Rocket Center.
Filled with hidden treasures waiting to be discovered, Seoul invites travelers to unearth its many gems, and Seoul Tourism Organization is here to help travelers do just that. Through thoughtfully created initiatives like the Theme Tourism County Competition, Seoul Tourism Organization works closely with local districts to identify and showcase what makes each district unique and charming in all seasons.
Through Dec. 31, family travelers can enjoy the most unexpected thing in Florida: a white Christmas. The Now Snowing in Celebration festival in Kissimmee, Florida, embraces winter traditions for both locals and visitors. Free to visit, families will love heading to the town built by Disney.
Let family travels take you to one of these stunning aquariums around the United States. Recently, Aquarium Store Depot analyzed TripAdvisor reviews containing words such as beautiful, breathtaking and picturesque for 175 public aquariums across America. Each aquarium ranked based on the percentage of reviews to determine the most eye-catching aquariums.
As the only major U.S. airline to own a flight school, United Airlines already hit a major milestone, and now the carrier celebrates another important — and historic — step as the inaugural class of United Aviate Academy pilots graduates, leading the next generation of aviators. The 51 students in the graduating class were majority, at 80 percent, women and people of color — another stride toward United’s goal of training 5,000 new pilots by 2030 with half women or POC.
All aboard! A holiday afternoon tea on a vintage train winding its way through lush wine country? If that sounds a lovely to you as it does to us, the Napa Valley Wine Train is on track to offer you a great seasonal experience perfect for sharing with family or loved ones. Tea is served in a holiday-decked vintage Pullman rail car with historic features like Honduran mahogany paneling, etched glass partitions, sumptuous armchairs and gleaming brass accents.