Walt Disney World has two fantastic, family-friendly water parks: Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon.
Orlando has numerous water parks, and Disney’s two offerings – Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach – are some of the best, thanks to the excellent service and standards you come to expect from Disney. Obviously, being Disney, they are also very child-friendly, with specific areas in both parks being dedicated to younger children, and rides across the park with a range of height restrictions, from toddler through to more restricted thrill rides,
This is the older of Walt Disney World Resort’s water parks, located really close to Disney Springs. Its story is this; a freak typhoon swept through the area. What was formerly a tropical paradise became havoc as surfboards, ships and fishing gear all got thrown around, piercing roofs and landing in random places. Miss Tilly, the area’s shrimp boat was lifted way into the air and has ever since been perched perilously on Mount Mayday. Every half an hour, Miss Tilly’s alarm sounds, causing the 50-foot geyser to erupt and have water gush down.
Typhoon Lagoon offers something for everyone. If you’re there to relax you can grab a sun lounger and sit in the many alcoves that are designed to accommodate them. Or do the same on the white sand beach. The most relaxing ride is Castaway Creek – a very slow moving stream that circles the entire park. Grab one of the tyre shaped floats (they’re called ‘tubes’ over there) clamber on (that can be the most tiring part of this ride!) and sit back as you float around. You can get on or off at one of many entrances to the Creek – so use it as a ride that takes you all the way round and back to where you got on, or as a means of transport to the other side of the park.
For little ones there is Ketchadkiddee Creek which is a water playground for children under four foot tall. It features bubbling jets, mini rafts and slides. There is also Bay Slides, which are body slides for kids – you have to be under five foot.
Typhoon Lagoon surf pool is the main pool in the centre of the park. It alternates between 6-foot surfing waves (90 mins worth) and smaller ‘bobbing’ waves – (half an hour of these). Plus every half an hour Miss Tilly causes the geyser to erupt and a giant wave hits! There are some tubes available here too, so you can laze around or ride the waves as you choose. First thing in the mornings, before the park officially opens, you can also book to take surfing lessons in the surf pool.
The biggest ride here is the Crush ‘n’ Gusher water coaster, where two or three people go on a raft down the slide, with hairpin bends and streaming jets. There are also 4 other raft rides, including a family raft ride that seats four people. There are also body slides, which send to down to a splash pool at the bottom.
Shark reef is the other very popular water attraction. It enables you to snorkel through a salt water reef with stingrays, bonnethead sharks, leopard sharks and tropical fish. You can also pay extra to have a 30 minute snorkelling experience in the reef.
Blizzard Beach is in the Animal Kingdom area of Walt Disney World. Blizzard Beach’s story is that one day a freak snowstorm hit Florida enabling them to build Florida’s only ski resort. when the storm passed, the ice melted leaving slush and melted water. The resort was going to close when an alligator was spotted sliding down one of the former ski slopes, and instead, a water park was born! Ice Gator became the park’s mascot.
Mount Gushmore is the hill that the majority of Blizzard Beach’s rides run from. Like all ski resorts, the slopes are given a colour. The most intense rides are the green slopes. Its a long old trek to the top of Mount Gushmore but for the green slope, you can catch a ski lift up. Summit Plummit is the biggie – a 120-foot free falling body slide. Slush Gusher is another body slide and the final green slope ride is Teamboat Springs.
The purple slope slides all have multiple entrances so you can race down to the bottom. There are three of these rides; Toboggan Racers, Snow Stormers and Downhill Doubledipper.
The red slope only has the one ride; Runoff Rapids. This is more of a traditional flume style ride, although you sit on a tube to go down them and there are three options.
The main pool area is Melt Away Bay – which has a sandy beach to the front of it. The bay is a bobbing pool – gentle waves keep you boobing along if you grab one of the available tubes.
Cross Country Creek is Blizzard Beach’s equivalent to Typhoon Lagoon’s Castaway Creek and this circles the park. There are a number of entrances and you can get on or off at any of them. One of the parts you’ll float through is the Ice Cave, where melting ice drips down. This is the only water in the park that is not heated and it feels freezing!
For the little ones there are two areas. Tikes Peak is for those under 4 foot. It is a mini water park featuring small slides, bubbling jets and a shallow pool. Trainee Ski Patrol is for the pre-teens – aimed at those too big for the kid’s rides but still not quite tall enough for the big ones. It features slides and a zip line drop into the pool.
Hints and tips for visiting the waterparks at Walt Disney World
- You won’t be allowed on any of the attractions if your swimwear contains exposed metal, rivets or buckle
- Girls should consider wearing a one-piece or tankini as opposed to a bikini, if you’re planning on doing the rides. You really slide down them with some force and it ruins the fun slightly if you have to hold onto your top on the way down!
- You can rent a locker to keep your valuables in if you plan on being away from your stuff for the majority of the day.
- You can hire towels if you don’t fancy taking them with you. They’re not huge though.
- The ground gets really hot! It’s as smooth as possible, but occasionally you might also come across a rough patch. For that reason, water shoes are recommended.
- You are not able to go on body slides wearing wet suits
- Adults can borrow life vests if you need them, but need to leave ID. In the kids’ areas, these are hanging up and available to all, without ID.
- Both the parks are closed for a period of time every year to allow for refurbishments. This never happens concurrently, so you’ll always have at least one option. Disney will announce this in advance – but is usually Blizzard Beach in October to December/January and Typhoon Lagoon in January to March.