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Food and travel captivate Janet Podolak, who chronicles both for The News-Herald. Get the back story of her three decades of stories here. Guest bloggers and fellow News-Herald staffers also periodically share details of their trips.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Day Three: Orlando

Theresa Neuhoff Audia, a sportswriter at The News-Herald, will be blogging while on her trip to Orlando, Florida from Jan. 21-28.

One of my favorite shows growing up was Fantasy Island.
Guests would arrive at the island in a relaxed setting and set out on an adventure of a lifetime.
That is kind of what going to Discovery Cove is like.
It's an adventure you won't soon forget.
Dan and I arrived at the quiet, beautiful place around 10:30 a.m. We were greeted by knowledgeable staff who knew every answer to our questions.
Where was the Sea Venture?
How long would it take?
What else is included in the price of our admission?
The staff answered every question and made us feel right at home.
We walked along a beautiful path full of lush, tropical plants to Sea Venture, which was our first stop. Sea Venture is located in Discovery Cove. There is a separate charge (around $60 apiece) to do the side trip, but it is worth the price.
The experience starts with a large astronaut-like helmet that is carefully placed on your head as you ascend underwater. It's almost like diving without having to do all of the extensive training. Anyone can do it. We were told if we could breathe and walk, we could do it. They were right.
We were lucky because it was just my husband and I on a guided tour with three guides who pointed out everything from sharks to sea urchin and starfish. They were a first-class crew who obviously knew what they were doing.
I would give the experience an A+. When you come back up on the surface after being underwater for about 45 minutes, you feel refreshed. You have just experienced a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that few people are able to enjoy.
It's like walking in an aquarium packed with the greatest, most colorful fish you've ever seen.
Since Discovery Cove is an all-inclusive resort, breakfast and lunch was included in the price of admission (which is over $100). The lunch was cafeteria style and the food was delicious. Drinks (including beer, mango margaritas and pina coladas) were also included.
After a wonderful lunch, my husband and I went snorkeling in the same spot where we did the Sea Venture. Sting rays were swimming right under us along with schools of fish and more. It was an awesome experience to be so close to the fish.
To end our perfect day, we went took the lazy river which took us through the bird sanctuary. Along the way, we saw a pink flamingo napping on one leg. It made you feel as if you were somewhere in the Caribbean instead of simply in Florida.
Before leaving Discovery Cove, we showered, enjoyed a cold drink and soaked in the atmosphere one last time.
If a Fantasy Island remake is ever going to be made, it could be filmed at Discovery Cove.
It is that beautiful.

-Theresa Neuhoff Audia



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