Last week I took an in depth look at Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon water park. This week I’m back to give Blizzard Beach the same treatment! At Blizzard Beach the story goes that there was a freak snow storm in Central Florida. As with any tourist area, it didn’t take long until someone tried to make a buck off of this peculiar weather event and Florida’s first ski resort was born! Well things got back to normal and the snow started to melt. What to do? Turn the resort into a water park of course! Bobsled courses and slaloms were turned into water slides and the rest was history!
The ski resort/beach resort hybrid thrives at Blizzard Beach! Ski lodges and snowy scenes combined with palm trees and inner tubes make for a lot of fun at this water park! The over the top theme is evident as soon as guests enter the turnstiles with wintery props every where you turn and the Beach Haus store where guests can purchase any essential items they may have forgotten as well as renting towels and lockers. Nearby, lockers and a changing room (marked with “sleigh belles” for women and snowmen for the mens’ room) are available for guest convenience. After getting situated with a locker and/or visiting the changing rooms, grab yourself a group of chairs for your party before hitting the slopes.
Once you cross over a bridge into the main park where folks can find plenty of lounge chairs and seating areas you won’t be able to miss the focal point of Blizzard Beach: Mount Gushmore. The Alpine ski chalet atop of the mountain is home to the park’s most thrilling attraction called Summit Plummet as well as the other “Green Slope” slides. You see, all of the slides have been grouped together by color to make navigating the park a bit easier. To get to the top of Mount Gushmore I highly recommend using the chair lift.
The chair lift lift can’t be missed as it takes guests to the highest point in the park. The brightly colored seats accommodate three riders and the use of a single rider queue means you will may likely be seated with strangers. The chair lift gives access to the Green Slopes which include Summit Plummet, Slush Gusher, and Teamboat Springs as well as an observation deck. If you do not wish to slide on any of these, your only option is to take the stairs back to ground level so keep that in mind before you hop on board. There is a height requirement of 32 inches to ride this fun mode of transportation. Don’t dismay though, there are stairs which give access to the attractions at the top as well.
First up among the Green Slopes is easily the most popular attraction at Blizzard Beach, Summit Plummet. It can’t be missed as the centerpiece of the park. At 120 feet high, this is one of the world’s tallest and fastest free-fall body slide! I wasn’t brave enough to climb this mountain, but some friends took the plunge and lived to tell the tail. They all said it was fun, but they certainly wouldn’t need to do it every time they visited Blizzard Beach. Riders must be 48 inches tall to scream their way down at approximately 60 miles per hour. I think our Touring Plan says it all when it says “Ride Summit Plummet. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.”
Located, next door to Summit Plummet, Slush Gusher offers a tamer speed slide experience. I was too chicken to try Summit Plummet, but I felt comfortable giving Slush Gusher a go. It has two drops which are a lot of fun! Riders need to be at least 48 inches to slide for this one. You should also be aware that you will need to (how to say this politely) adjust your bathing suit after you ride since it will undoubtedly make its way into a rather uncomfortable place. Waits can be long for this attraction, so I advise trying to drop in on this one early.
Teamboat Springs rounds out the Green Slopes and it’s my favorite attraction in either of Disney’s water parks. It sends groups of four to six sloshing down the slopes in a large raft. Not only is the slide really well designed and fun, it’s a blast to share the experience with your friends and family. I think my friends and I laughed the whole way down every time we did it. Just remember the more people you load into the raft, the faster you’ll go!
The purple slopes are made up of mat slides as well as an inner tube attraction. Guests can ride the Snow Stormers where they slip down the mountain head first on a mat. The group of three slides reminds me of the slalom courses in the Olymics with plenty of tight turns sure to thrill any rider. Be sure to keep your elbows on the mat so they don’t get banged up during your trip down the mountain.
The Toboggan Racer features eight identical slides side by side allowing groups to literally race to the bottom.Folks line up with their mats eager to compete against friends and family to see who can take their place as king or queen of the mountain. On the day of my visit there were seven of us in our party so we had the attraction to ourselves on our way down. We trash talked at the top and laughed our way down til we found out who won! No, it wasn’t me.
The last of the purple slopes are a set of tube slides called the Downhill Double Dipper. This attraction consists of two short slides side by side built for speed. Guests board inner tubes before launching themselves down the shoot to see who can reach the pool the fastest! It is meant to resemble an Olympic ski slope complete with start and finish lines. Young kids may be weary of this one since it is quite fast and partially in the dark. Wait times for the Double Dipper reached about 60 minutes during my recent visit. 60 minutes for a five second ride is just too much for my taste although I really enjoyed the ride.
There is just one attraction associated with the red slopes; the Runoff Rapids are a set of three tube slides which send guests slipping down slides full of twists and turns. Folks may ride this alone in a single tube or double up to enjoy these. Each slide is different with the middle one being entirely enclosed. They are a bit off the beaten path so the wait times usually aren’t too bad. We had a blast on this one! We had an even number so we split up into groups of two and each team reported a thrilling experience! I really thought we were going to come out of tube a few times.
In addition to all of the slide fun, there are several other options around the park. For example, there are two water play areas at Blizzard Beach: Tike’s Peak and Ski Patrol Training Camp. Tike’s Peak is reserved for kids under 48 inches tall where they can they can ride a kid sized slide and have other adventures too! This section of the park has plenty of activities to keep pre-school aged kids busy. Ski Patrol Training Camp is aimed at kids who are too big for Tike’s Peak, but may not be able to tackle all of the slides just yet. This area includes a few slides, obstacle areas, and even a zip line!
Melt-Away Bay is Blizzard Beach’s main pool which produces bobbing waves. Some inner tubes are scattered around the area for guests to use in the pool, or you can just swim for it (which is a little tough in the deeper water). There are also water falls (melting ice) at the edges of the pool for you and/or your kids to play in. If the pool is crowded you’ll have to be careful of other folks floating in tubes in the lapping waves. I definitely got bopped in the head several times during my swim.
The lazy river at Blizzard Beach is called Cross Country Creek and is a great way to relax between slides. The river circles around the entire park and provides seven places to enter an exit. Grab an inner tube and float with the current to be truly lazy or use the creek as a mode of transportation from one area to another. Each entrance/exit has signs marking the nearby attractions so you can get your bearings when you’ve had enough river fun.
The day we visited Blizzard Beach seemed fairly crowded so it took us longer than expected to experience all of the attractions even with following a Touring Plan. I would plan to spend most of your day here if you visit. My friends and I stayed until about 6 p.m. before heading back to our resort to shower and quickly get ready to head to Epcot for the evening. I hope this post encouraged you to give Blizzard Beach a try with all of its ski lodge fun!
Hours of operation at Blizzard Beach change seasonally so be sure to double check them before you head out. The water parks also offer Extra Magic Hours for Disney resort guests on select days. Blizzard Beach will be closed for its annual refurbishment from October 30 til December 3, 2011 so plan accordingly.
How about you? Have you experienced Blizzard Beach? Let me know all about your time at this Alpine-themed water park!
Next week I’ll continue my series on the water parks with a Typhoon Lagoon vs. Blizzard Beach show down.
A special thanks to Neil Citro for providing the photos for this post.