Grand Reef concept art

SeaWorld Orlando's Discovery Cove water park has opened its new Grand Reef area, enabling guests to get a close-up view of a range of exotic marine creatures.

The Grand Reef spans 2.5 acres, much of which is dominated by a 1.2 million gallon saltwater aquarium. This is home to 125 species of fish, rays, and sharks, with over 7,000 fish living in the tank in total. The tropically-themed area also includes white sandy beaches, an island lined with palm trees and hidden underwater grottoes.

Two videos showing off the Grand Reef on its opening day are embedded below, courtesy of Inside the Magic and Orlando Attractions Magazine.

Guests can swim freely in Grand Reef's aquarium with angelfish, sardines, tangs and groupers. The area also features a separate tank filled housing reef sharks and venomous lionfish. Only a sheet of glass separates the two tanks, enabling guests to experience swimming alongside the more dangerous fish without coming into contact with them.

While entry to the Grand Reef is included with the price of admission to Discovery Cove, the park has also introduced the premium SeaVenture underwater walking tour. This sees guests donning dive helmets and following a submerged path 10 feet below the surface, taking in close-up views of the Grand Reef's inhabitants. As with the park's other paid-for extras, the experience is available to limited numbers of guests and costs $59 on top of Discovery Cove's standard admission price. Groups of up to 6 people can take part, with the tour lasting approximately an hour.

The Grand Reef project marks the first expansion of Discovery Cove since it opened in 2000. The park, which limits attendance to around 1,000 guests per day, aims to offer more intimate experiences than neighboring SeaWorld, such as the ability to swim with dolphins. It hopes the expansion will help it secure repeat visits in the future.

You can keep up to date with the latest confirmed and rumored opening dates for new attractions through Theme Park Tourist's "New Attraction Watch" section, and by signing up for our weekly newsletter.

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