Love water parks? Walt Disney World has a treat for you. Located on the same resort as the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom, there are not one, but two water-based theme parks, and they’re packed full of ways to enjoy the wet stuff during your Orlando vacation.
Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon and Disney’s Blizzard Beach water parks are two of the most visited water parks in the world. One boasts one of the world’s largest wave pool; the other has one of the world’s fastest water slides. Both of them are located a short drive or bus ride away from the resort hotels and theme parks of Walt Disney World.
Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon is a tropical oasis, albeit one that’s been rocked by a hurricane. The official Disney backstory is that Placid Palms Resort, a sleepy backwater beneath towering Mount Mayday, was wrecked by a hurricane that left buildings leaning, surfboards flung through tree trunks, a tiny harbor cut off from the sea and trapping vibrant tropical fish into a new lagoon, and tossing a shrimp-boat, the Miss Tilly, atop Mt. Mayday.
Now, visitors are welcomed to Leaning Palms, where once an hour, Miss Tilly’s smokestack releases a geyser of water from the mountain onto guests waiting for slides on the slopes below.
The story is fun, and the theming throughout the water park – the buildings are leaning from the strong winds, there really are surfboards impaling palm trees – turns the typical island theme into something much more quirky and entertaining. Mt. Mayday, the 100-foot-tall mountain that looms above the giant wave pool, is home to a variety of water flumes, including speed slides and family-raft rides.
Castaway Creek, the lazy river, winds around the entire park and offers a fun way to get from the Shark Reef (where guests can rent snorkel equipment and swim with the fishes) to Ketchakiddie Creek, where everything is scaled for kid-sized fun. There are also white-sand beaches for relaxing, a quiet pool area, and the Crush’n’Gusher, a one-of-a-kind water roller coaster. And the giant wave pool alternates between bobbing swells and crashing surf. You can also find surf lessons there on select mornings before the official park opening.
Disney’s Blizzard Beach is Florida’s one and only ski resort. But these slopes aren’t for slalom. Disney’s backstory tells us that a freak snowstorm hit Orlando, and enterprising Floridians quickly built a ski resort. Once the snow melted, the ski resort was transformed into a water park. Blizzard Beach’s thoroughly original idea means that on the hottest summer days, guests are surrounded by ski chalets and can ride a chair lift to the top of the mountain… to get on the speed slides.
Blizzard Beach is famous for Summit Plummet, the 120′ tall speed slide which sends daredevil guests at speeds up to nearly sixty miles an hour from a near-vertical drop. You’ll also find white-water rapids masquerading as family slides, twisting and turning inner-tube slides, a one-acre bobbing-wave pool (fed by the melting snow from Mt. Gushmore, of course) and a lazy river that features a frigid waterfall, just to make sure you’re cool and comfortable on those hot Florida days!
Children get their own slide and splash area at Tike’s Peak, which is a scaled-down version of Blizzard Beach for little ones to experience the thrills of water slides, play in fountains, or splash in the water.
Blizzard Beach is also the home of one of Walt Disney World’s two miniature golf courses, Winter Summerland (separate admission is required). Two fun courses, one with a traditional white Christmas look, one with a more Florida Christmas look (think ornaments on palm trees) challenge guests to sink a hole in one (or four or five).
Both Disney water parks offer wet fun, a chance to beat the heat, and fantastic theming that you won’t find at anywhere else. And at both, you’ll find there are plenty of places to grab a bite to eat, get something to drink in the shade, and even score the awesome sundae in a sand-pail. Get a couple of extra spoons for that one!
If you’re using a Water Parks Fun and More option on your Disney Parks ticket (see this article for more information on park tickets) you can already visit Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach. Otherwise, standard admission to the water parks at time of publication was $45 for ages 3-9, and $52 ages 10 and up, plus tax.
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