Dolphin Smooching and Other Cool Things

Posted by on June 28, 2011

I’ve lived in Florida my entire life. I’m a native. I practically grew up in the Florida Keys, spending innumerable weekends down there at my grandparent’s house and later at my parent’s place. But even being that lucky…there is one thing I’ve never, ever done—swim with a dolphin.



Two weekends ago, I finally got to do both at Discovery Cove and let me tell you, it was both amazingtastical AND surreal. While holding onto her fins and having her pull me through the water, all I could think was I CANNOT BELIEVE I AM SWIMMING WITH A FREAKING DOLPHIN—A 25 YEAR OLD DOLPHIN!!!

Also? I got to kiss her!!!

Swimming with ginormous manta rays, hugging a giraffe, petting the cutest penguin I’ve ever seen (even when he projectile-pooped) and getting to pet and babytalk to an adorable two-toed sloth, my all-time favorite animal EVER—those things were all pretty off-the-charts awesome, too.

And seeing the One Ocean show with the most majestic and unbelievably huge killer whales? It brought tears to my eyes because it was so ridiculously beautiful.


Living in Florida, you can sometimes take theme parks for granted and if you’re me, you don’t feel so bad for not doing every single thing and seeing every single thing because you know you can come back again if you so desire.

But having been on this recent trip to Seaworld Orlando, Discovery Cove and Busch Gardens Tampa (on a press junket sponsored by Seaworld) without my kids, I got to do a lot of the things that get skipped when I have my kids with me because let’s face it…the kids usually want rides first and looking-at-stuff later. I realized that this? Is a huge mistake. There is so much more to these parks than just rides.

My new philosophy is this: Budget in the extra money for the safari rides or the dolphin swimming or the special tours if you can because it’s a completely different experience.

But even if you don’t do those extra things, take time to hang out in the aviary and feed birds that are so tame they will sit on your head and watch the lions get fed up close and personal and see the Cheetahs run. See the all the shows, go to all the exhibits and for the love of God, if you can pet an animal…DO IT! These experiences are made to be enjoyed. Don’t miss them!

I promise your kids WILL remember the awesomeness of a giraffe bending down to their eye level for a piece of lettuce and they WILL remember seeing two rhinos squaring off on the veldt and they they WILL remember seeing freakishly large alligators sunning themselves on a sandy bank and if they get to see an adorable baby manatee, they will probably want to take it home and keep it in the bathtub because it’s THAT CUTE.

The next time I go to Busch Gardens or Seaworld with my kids, we’ll still ride all the rides and get popcorn and rainbow slushies like we always do but I’m taking the advice I just gave you and we’re stepping off the beaten path—I’ll be planning and mapping out the whole trip in advance so they can see and do all the unbelievably wonderful things I got to do without them!

L to R: Catherine Connors, Alli Worthington, IzzyMom (photo by Catherine Connors)

Also, you must have your photo taken while wearing a silly flamingo hat. Your trip will not be complete otherwise :)




You can see all the photos from my trip here and if you’d like to read more about Seaworld Parks’ animal care and training practices, read a review of my trip here. It was a highly educational experience—I learned a lot and it’s all covered in that post.



  • Anissa says:

    Hey! I saw that dolphin putting on lipstick!

    It looked like a great time, how could it not be with that company?

  • Those hats. Those magnificent beautiful hats. I must have one.

    We went to Sea World (Sandusky OH) when I was 4. It was the last family vacation we took until I was 15. When we got there I threw a major tantrum when we left to get a hotel so we could come back the next day. My dad was like, “Screw it, we’re driving all the way home tonight!” We did. I kept screaming to stay. Then I passed out. Then dad got pulled over for speeding. It was never spoken of again.

    Looks like a good time was had by all even the dolphins.

  • Apryl's Antics says:

    So cool. I want to pet a sloth! *jealous face*

  • Barbara Patterson says:

    I hope you realize how lucky you are. Unfortunately swimming and me just don’t get on. It must be an amazing experience to swim with dolphins and they seem to be enjoying it just as much as you.

  • DUDE. How freaking amazing. I would love to be up close & personal with a sloth. I totally want to go & see ALL of this.

    And I desperately need one of those hats.

  • roo says:

    That looks like so much fun!

    BTW– your hair looks fabulous!

  • Living in Los Angeles provides similar feelings and attitudes. I have never had a chance to swim with the dolphins but I want to. It looks/sounds incredible.

  • Liz says:

    Okay, now that IS just all sorts of cool!!!

  • mikemikaelel says:

    You’re very lucky. You can do what you want to do and what you enjoy. I also love to do this. I wanna swim with the dolphins just like in the movie “Flipper”. I want to ride on his tail and swim together—one of my dreams as a kid.

  • Rose Marie says:

    Nice pictures, I wish I could touch a dolphin too. Thanks for sharing these wonderful pictures.

  • Wow!! Not sure about the dolphin, I have a water phobia, but getting to pet a sloth would be so cool! Love that last picture, too!

    • IzzyMom says:

      A water phobia might make dolphin swimming difficult but we were in pretty shallow water, if that helps at all. Also, the sloth…OMG SO CUTE!

  • Jared Karol says:

    thanks for this perspective. I grew up in San Diego, and as of this writing, even though I haven’t lived there for over ten years, don’t want to see the sight of Sea World, The Zoo, Disneyland, LegoLand, or any other -land, but you’re right! I need to stop being jaded, and go appreciate the non-commercial consumerist side of it all. I think I might do that soon! Also? My grandma lived on a houseboat in Key Largo for about ten years when I was a wee kid. Loved it down there!

    • IzzyMom says:

      My grandma lived in Key Largo, too. How freaking weird is that? Did you ever go to the Dairy Queen on US-1? Or John Pennekamp Park? Or The Leaning Tower of Pizza?

  • Abishaabsalom says:

    Wow I love dolphins! I have yet to try swimming with them. I so want it!

  • topaciojulia says:

    That must be an awesome experience. sure would love to take my kids to place like that in the near future

  • sabine says:

    Living in Los Angeles provides similar feelings and attitudes. I have never had a chance to swim with the dolphins but I want to. It looks/sounds incredible

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