Disney Water Parks 101

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I had been to the water parks once or twice, but only within the last year or two.  I was always one of those people who didn’t want to take time away from one of the four main parks to visit Typhoon Lagoon or Blizzard Beach.  I had enjoyed my previous times at the water parks, but I really fell in love with them on my last trip! After spending a few days exploring, I discovered the theming is classic Disney, they are a great alternative to the traditional park experience (especially when the temperatures are maxed out), and most of all they are a blast! With this in mind I’ve decided to dedicate my next several blog posts to Disney’s watery playgrounds!  I thought I’d start things off with topics which apply to both of the water parks and some things I thought you should know to prepare for a day slip slidin’ away.

One of the big issues that held me back from visiting Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard beach was that I was too cheap to spend the extra money on a ticket.  That all changed this year when I opted to upgrade my annual pass to a premium annual pass.  While my new pass costs costs more, I already made up the difference with my two days spent swimming. A single day ticket to one of the water parks will set you back $52.19 for adults and $43.67 for kids under 10.  Guests may also add the Water Park Fun & More option to your Magic Your Way Pass.  This option allows one admission per day of your pass to a variety of activities outside the four main parks.  It seems to me many guests would not use all of these admissions, and would most likely be better off buying one day’s admission to a water park.  However, I realize your situation may be different and you’ll have to make that decision for your family.

A Great View of Typoon Lagoon

Preparation for a day in the water parks starts before you even head out the door!  I recommend checking park hours for Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach online, just like the four main theme parks.  Also like the other parks, they have Extra Magic Hours for guests staying on Disney property.  This way you’ll know when to arrive for rope drop.  It should be mentioned that the water parks can be shut down for inclement weather.  If you are willing to wait out the storm you have a good chance at having the place to yourself once the squall has passed!  You should also not expect to get a refund for your ticket due to bad weather.  The park map clearly states admission is nonrefundable.

Guests may use Disney transportation from their resort to the water parks as they would any of the other parks.

Blizzard Beach!

Be aware that your bus to Blizzard Beach will probably also stop at Animal Kingdom.  It will be quicker (and probably more comfortable in your wet bathing suit) to go back and forth in your own car.  There is ample parking for guests and both Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach.

When you have a plan, it’s time to get your stuff together.  It may seem obvious that you’d wear a swim suit to a water park, but there is more to it than that.  Ladies, be sure your tops are as secure as they can be.  The slides (especially the big ones) can leave you searching for pieces of your suit if you aren’t careful.  There are also signs at the entrances to many of the slides prohibiting articles of clothing with metal or anything that could damage the slides.  Many people opt to wear water shoes  or flip flops around the water parks, but I’ve gone barefoot every time and managed just fine.  It should also be noted that you will be asked to remove shoes for certain attractions.  I also opted to keep my sunglasses with me throughout the day, but I had to hold on to them while enjoying many of the slides.

Reapply that sunscreen!

What should you bring with you to the water parks?  First and foremost, don’t forget that unless someone in your party would rather just lay in a lounge chair all day and keep and eye on your groups belongings, chances are you will leave some things unattended for a while.  I would opt to keep any valuables in a safe place like your room, your car, or a locker while you tour the water parks.  Chances are no one will snag your stuff near your chair, but always better to be cautious.  With that being said, one of the first items on your list should be sunscreen.   With running around in your bathing suit in the Florida sun you’ll want to protect your skin and reapply every few hours especially when getting wet.  You may want to bring your own beach towels, but they are also available to rent for $2.  Basically, bring whatever you feel you’d need to make you comfortable for that day, but try to keep it to a minimum.

You also may consider bringing some snacks or lunch.  Guests are permitted to carry in one cooler per group.  However, glass bottles and alcohol are prohibited.  There are plenty of food options if you get hungry and don’t supply your own munchies.  You’ll want to be sure to have a means to pay for them available either in your locker or stashed in your poolside items.  I’ll cover food choices more in depth in a later post, but I’ll say this now: leave room for donuts.

Once you have your ticket secured and you’re ready to slide, you should arrive at the main gate about 30-45 minutes before park opening.  Cast members will generally allow guests to enter the turnstiles a few minutes before official opening, but hold them at certain points to prevent access to the slides and attractions.  This is a great time to rent a locker or towel if you should need them.  Lockers cost #13 for a small and $15 for a large one (might as well spend the extra two bucks for the big one).  There are also changing rooms and other services near the lockers.  Parents may opt to nab life vests for their kids which are available free of charge before getting started for the day.

When you are admitted into the main area of the park I suggest nabbing a chair in the shade.  If you are intent on working on your tan, by all means grab one in the sun, but I like the relief of the shade.  This will be your groups home base for the rest of the day so be sure to mark your territory with towels, cover ups, or whatever else you might have on hand.  There are many seating areas scattered around both parks and if you are there early enough you should have your pick of them.  Reserved seating areas are available at an extra cost, but I’ll discuss them in a future post.

Touring Plan in hand and ready to go!

As for tips for your actual touring, of course we recommend a Touring Plan. We offer plans for adults and kids for both Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach.  I tackled Touring Plans for both parks, and I’ll write more about them in an upcoming post.  While these plans recommend arriving at park opening, I’ve also heard the water parks are like a ghost town in their last couple hours of operation.  I don’t have a lot of experience with this notion, but when we left Blizzard Beach at about 6:15 pm, it was still fairly crowded.  However, it had busy all day long so this could have been a fluke.  I promise to visit the water parks later in the day to research this idea in the future.

It can be easy to feel turned around in Blizzard Beach or Typhoon Lagoon since

Typhoon Lagoon wait times

they are so different from a traditional theme park.  I felt a bit out of it a few times simply because I know Epcot or Magic Kingdom like the back of my hand, but I don’t have as much experience at the water parks.  There are maps nestled in among the slides and directional signs to help guide guests to their destinations.  Best of all, each point of entry along the lazy rivers has information posted as to which attractions are nearby.  There are also wait times posted in various locations to help you plan your next step.

Blizzard Beach directional signs

Have I convinced you to try a Disney water park yet?  I hope so!  They really are a lot of fun and can be a nice change of pace from the usual park touring.  Have you got any other tips for our water park going readers?  If you do I’d love to see them in the comments!

In my next post I’ll take a more in depth look at Typhoon Lagoon so stay tuned!

A special thanks goes out to Neil Citro for being my official photographer during my water parks research!

 

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Posted on July 27, 2011

14 Responses to “Disney Water Parks 101”

  • Also typhoon lagoon busses sometime share with downtown disney.

  • by Laurel Stewart on July 27, 2011, at 11:19 am EDT

    Love the water parks! But beware the shallow end of the wave pool at Typhoon Lagoon – I have gotten really scraped up on the bottom of the pool on more than one occasion when a wave has knocked me down.

  • We visited the water parks for the first time back in May (we added the Water Park Fun & More option to our tickets). I shared the sentiment about not wanting to waste valuable Disney time at a water park, but quickly realized what a mistake that line of thinking was – we will be adding a visit to the water parks to our WDW vacation from now on! We actually enjoyed Blizzard Beach over Typhoon Lagoon (but loved them both). We were surprised at how many slides, etc. our 2.5 year-old son could do. The lifeguards were great, too. Our son fell and hurt his mouth and within moments, a lifegaurd had come over to check on us, radioed to get us an ice pack, etc. We found it best to get there before the water park opened, which allowed us to leave shortly after lunchtime and still do a Disney Park in the late afternoon/evening after a nap.

    • Thanks, Ben! I’m glad your family had such a good time in May! I’ll get into specifics on both parks in the future, but I think Blizzard Beach edges out Typhoon Lagoon for me too. It’s also great to know that your little guy had such a good time. Since I don’t have kids it’s hard for me to take a look at those issues.

  • We have visited the waterparks every wdw vacation, and can’t imagine a trip without them. I would caution that the ‘lazy river’ attraction at both parks are an unexpectedly easy place to lose things. We seen folks lose glasses (both sunglasses and prescription glasses), goggles, jewelry, money, roomcards, etc. The speed of the water is deceptive, and most people don’t recover their items that day, if at all.
    I also agree with the advice to wait out a storm, or visit right after a storm. Most people will leave and not come back, making the park almost your private paradise!

    • Thanks for the tip, Vicki! We lucked out and had good weather both days we spent in the parks so we didn’t get to try out the storm theory, but it seems like a great strategy to me.

  • We have the basic annual park passes. Instead of upgrading them we bought the annual water park passes separately. We weren’t interested in Disney Quest, so getting the two separate annual passes was cheaper for us. My favorite water park is Typhoon Lagoon. My 7 year old son prefers Blizzard Beach because of the obstacle course type area.

    • Cool, thanks for that idea about tickets! Both kid’s areas look like a lot of fun for the younger set. I like both parks, but I think Blizzard Beach gets the nod from me. Thanks for the comment!

  • There are so many water parks to choose from in Orlando now. I’m going in October to Discovery Cove and Aquatica. Can’t wait.

  • Question for you: We are going in August and put aside a Wed as a waterpark day (probably more like 1/2 days since we will have a 2 year old with us). We have a character breakfast early that morning. With that said, one of the water parks has extra morning hours that day, but we won’t be able to get there for the early opening so my thinking was do the other waterpark because it will probably be less crowded. Do you think this is a good strategy?

  • Finally after numerous trips to WDW, we took our 3 teens to the water parks last summer and it was our favorite part. BB has the best slides in our opinion (Summit Plummit and the family raft slide) but my teens are competitive swimmers and LOVED the Typhoon Lagoon wave pool. However, if you’re not a very strong swimmer or have younger kids don’t go to TL just for this. It was extremely tiring to swim all the way to the back in the very deep water to ride in, and catching of the wave could be frustrating.
    Also, at both parks everyone plunks down their stuff at the front of the park. Walk way to the back of park to set up your homebase so you won’t be shoulder to shoulder with other guest.

  • “It seems to me many guests would not use all of these admissions, and would most likely be better off buying one day’s admission to a water park.”

    Maybe the rate goes up and down, but when I made my reservation a few months ago it was only about $55 per person to add the water parks and more option, so while I couldn’t imagine going more than once, I couldn’t see any reason not to add the option as long as we go at least once.