Disney Water Parks ~ It’s summer and time for the pool, right? At Disney, swimming at two wonderfully themed water parks, Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon, can happen almost year-round. Of course, the water parks are fun for older children, but surprisingly, they have quite a lot for the younger set, too.
Blizzard Beach is newer and definitely my family’s favorite. You can tell Imagineers learned what worked at Typhoon Lagoon and expanded on it. The theme — of a winter ski resort turned water park — is clever and makes the park more appealing than just concrete and slides at other non-Disney water parks. There truly is something fun for every age group here.
Tikes Peak is an area dedicated to kids shorter than 48 inches, basically preschoolers and toddlers, and it features scaled-down versions of the bigger attractions. There are side-by-side slides, two longer slides (one with inner tubes and one without) that give the kids a chance to travel a fairly good distance, a wading area with a soft bottom with water-shooting features, and sandbox areas. Moms and Dads will find it fairly easy to keep track of the little ones if they wander throughout the area.
Family members can all enjoy the lazy river and the wave pool at Blizzard Beach. A trip floating around the park in an inner tube on Cross Country Creek takes about 25 minutes and it’s pretty relaxing, especially if you can get someone in your party to steer your tube clear of the icy water in the cave. Melt-Away Bay features waves for 45 minutes of every hour, which are pleasant, but be aware that the current is strong and keep a hand on the kids. Another attraction for all ages is the chairlift, which takes guests to the top of Mount Gushmore for many of the bigger slides. You can ride the chairlift, check out the view of other Disney parks, and walk down if you’re not up to the bigger rides.
More adventurous kids and adults can choose from two mat slides, the Toboggan Racers and the Snow Stormers; two steep body slides, Slush Gusher and Summit Plummet, which is the park’s centerpiece; and three tube slides, Downhill Double Dipper, Runoff Rapids and Teamboat Springs. School-age children will probably like the two mat slides; Runoff Rapids, which has tubes for two people to ride together; and Teamboat Springs, which is a family raft ride. The Downhill Double Dipper is pretty dark and fast to be considered for younger kids. For the Slush Gusher and Summit Plummet, riders must be 48 inches tall. Wedgie, anyone?
With your Typhoon Lagoon tickets, you can step into a lush, tropical paradise that also features a children’s area, a lazy river, a surf pool, body and tube slides, and saltwater snorkeling.
Ketchakiddee Creek, the children’s area, offers a 100-foot tube slide with little dips that are perfect for beginners; two slopes for kids to scoot down; a fun sandcastle ship and ports with water cannons for back-and-forth battles; a play area with shaking and squirting hoses, slides and bridges; and sandbox areas. Ketchakiddee Creek definitely is fun, but when my kids were toddlers, they found more to do at Blizzard Beach.
Only at Typhoon Lagoon can visitors snorkel in a simulated saltwater reef and see fish, passive rays, leopard and bonnethead sharks. Use of snorkeling gear is free, and you can stay in the water as long as you’d like. Those who don’t want to try it can get an underwater view from portholes in a sunken ship. A fun photo in this area is posing between the open jaws of a shark statue.
Also different at this park is the Crush ‘N’ Gusher, a water ride that gives you a roller coaster experience. Guests ride in two- or three-person tubes that are dropped by a conveyor belt into a flume before going up hills that may make you airborne.
Typhoon Lagoon’s wave pool has waves so large that visitors can actually surf there. The swells alternate between 2 feet and 6 feet every 90 seconds for body surfing. Surfing lessons — the kind with a board — are available on select mornings before the park opens for ages 8 and older. Call 407-WDW-SURF for schedule, prices and reservations. The wave pool also has play structures in shallow water and a couple of smaller slides for younger kids.
Both Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach have a decent number of choices for lunch, snacks, alcoholic drinks and souvenirs.
— Snag some chairs or a picnic table in the shade when you first arrive. There never seem to be enough, and you’ll be glad to have the cover later from sun or rain.
— Coolers are allowed, so you can bring your lunch, or just drinks for the day. Either way, a cooler is great for convenience and savings. Of course, no alcohol or glass containers are allowed to be brought in.
— Bring your own towels so you don’t have to rent them. Ditto for things you don’t want to pay Disney prices for: Rashguards, sand toys, goggles, swim diapers and sunscreen.
— Get a small locker to stash valuables. I’ve never had anything stolen at the water parks, but I think it’s a good idea to keep cash, credit cards and IDs in a safe place. The rest I don’t mind leaving on my chair.