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Explore underwater wonders at Grand Reef at Discovery Cove

Snorkel with rays, swim with schools of tropical fish or watch sharks from underwater at Discovery Cove's Grand Reef, opening in June. The reef area significantly expands the resortlike park, the first in Orlando that allowed visitors to swim alongside dolphins. The pool will have 7,000 fish, from colorful angelfish and tangs to groupers and sardines. Behind huge windows, swimmers will be able to view lionfish and nurse, white-tipped and black-tipped sharks. Fake resin coral — live coral would be too difficult to grow and maintain — will simulate a reef. The Grand Reef will contain 1.2 million gallons of water up to 13 feet deep and 5 million pounds of sand. Visitors who don't want to get wet can look at the sea life from elevated walkways over the pool or lounge on the beach. For an extra fee, SeaVenture guests can check out the lionfish and sharks from underwater using a dive helmet. The Grand Reef will replace the existing, smaller reef area, where guests can snorkel with fish and rays. That will be closed and turned into a yet-to-be-announced experience in 2012.

If you go: Discovery Cove's swim with dolphins day packages start at $199 for Florida residents and include parking, meals, drinks, some alcoholic beverages, snorkeling gear, wet suits and admission to SeaWorld, Aquatica or Busch Gardens for 14 days. SeaVenture at the Grand Reef costs an additional $59 per person. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily. The park caps attendance, so reservations are highly recommended by calling toll-free 1-877-557-7404. 6000 Discovery Cove Way, Orlando; discoverycove.com.

Explore underwater wonders at Grand Reef at Discovery Cove 05/25/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 25, 2011 6:03pm]
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