One of the great things about Florida is that there are lots of different places that you can meet or swim with dolphins. You can even have a dolphin encounter in Orlando even though Orlando is not near the ocean. There are two places that you can meet dolphins and actually get in the water with them in Orlando, Disney World's Epcot theme park and Sea World's Discovery Cove theme park.

Dolphins at Epcot

Epcot has a very large aquarium and Disney World has various backstage tours that include getting into the aquarium to either dive, snorkel or meet their dolphins. The dolphin encounter program is called Dolphins in Depth and it only operates on weekdays.

It's a three hour program which gives you a backstage tour of the Aquarium, teaches you a lot about dolphins and then let's you into the water with them for a half hour of meeting dolphins up close and personal. You will get to teach them commands, and rub their bellies and even get to hold a dolphin while your picture is taken.

When I did the tour in January, it cost about $170 and I thought it was a good deal. We had a very small group on the tour (8 people maximum) so that was really nice. I didn't feel rushed or that I didn't have enough time. I definitely recommend the Epcot dolphin encounter.

Dolphins at Discovery Cove

Discovery Cove is Sea World's aquatic park. Discovery Cove allows a maximum of 1000 guests per day so you will need to make advance reservations.

As part of the day long experience, you get to spend some personal time with Discovery Cove's dolphins. Like at Disney World, the dolphin encounter is for 30 minutes and there is a maximum of 8 guests.

When you get to the park in the morning, the staff will give you your dolphin appointment time. During the rest of the day, you can hang out on the Discovery cove beach or snorkel with the fishes in their man-made coral reef. They also serve you lunch during the day and your drinks and snacks are included.

The day-long package at Discovery Cove costs $289. A bit more than the Disney World experience, but it is for a longer day and you get to do quite a bit more than just the dolphin experience. I'm going back to Orlando in September and I'm planning to book a day at Discovery Cove as part of my trip.

Disney World and Discovery Cove are your best bets for dolphin encounters in Orlando. If you don't have the budget or the time for either one of these though, you can meet the dolphins at Sea World and actually be able to touch them. You just can't get into the water with them. Sea World has a couple of dolphin feeding times throughout the day where you can feed the dolphins and give them a little pat. I thought it was lots of fun when I did it.