Ultimate Water Park Showdown: Blizzard Beach vs. Typhoon Lagoon

by on April 14, 2015 10 Comments

Filed under: Attractions, Dining, Drinking, In the Parks, kids, Walt Disney World (FL)

The iconic Summit Plummet on Mount Gushmore with the sun rising on the horizon

© Disney

With summer just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to start planning for a trip to one of the Walt Disney World water parks. Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon are both awesome, but Disney fans still love to endlessly debate which is better. No matter where you fall in the debate, I think both parks have their strengths and weaknesses. If you’ve never been to either and want to know which water park is for you, you’re in the right place. I’ll break down the parks into categories and pick which park is better in each category to help you better determine where you should go. Maybe you like fast slides or maybe you just want to float in the lazy river all day. Either way, you’ll hopefully have a better idea of which park is for you after reading.

Theming

typhoonsign

For some reason, Disney really loves natural disasters when it comes to its water parks. Typhoon Lagoon has a tropical setting that’s been hit by a massive typhoon. This is immediately noticeable upon entering the park when you see “Miss Tilly,” a shrimp boat marooned on top of the park’s centerpiece, Mt. Mayday. Blizzard Beach, meanwhile, is actually “set” in Florida. The legend is that Florida was hit with a freak snow storm, and some geniuses thought they’d take advantage of this phenomenon by building a ski resort. When the snow melted, however, the ski resort was converted into a water park. Being from the northeast, I personally prefer Typhoon Lagoon’s theme because the last thing I want to think of while I’m on vacation is snow. Plus, Typhoon Lagoon really does make me feel like I’m in a tropical paradise mostly due to the presence of dense vegetation throughout the park. The “snow” formations at Blizzard Beach mean more white concrete and less tropical fauna. However, I still appreciate what Disney was able to accomplish with the melted ski lodge theme by taking the antecedent of water parks and turning it into something awesome. Identifying the slides with ski slope ratings and using a ski lift to get guests up the mountain are nice touches. The best way I like to think of the two parks theming is like judging a figure skating competition. Typhoon Lagoon may have landed their trick better but Blizzard Beach still gets points for attempting a more difficult one.

ADVANTAGE: Typhoon Lagoon

 

 

Slides

summitplummet

Up until a few years ago, I would’ve said this is a clear winner for Blizzard Beach. It just has more slides and they’re more exhilarating. Summit Plummet, specifically, is an experience that Typhoon Lagoon simply can’t match. As the centerpiece of Blizzard Beach, it features an almost straight drop and crazy high speeds. Some may argue that the wait is too long for a slide that lasts only a few seconds but I think it’s definitely a bucket list item at Disney. The rush that comes from sitting at the top of Mt. Gushmore before the lifeguard lets you go is something I’ll never forget.

The reason I mentioned that Blizzard Beach would’ve been a clear winner a few years ago is because Typhoon Lagoon has since then added Crush ‘n’ Grusher to its arsenal. Crush ‘n’ Gusher is a “water coaster” that not only sends park guests down slides but also propels them up with water as well. It’s a distinctive addition to the park that Blizzard Beach can’t match and best of all; the waits usually aren’t as bad as some of the other premier slides at both parks thanks to it being located away from all the other attractions.

Still, Blizzard Beach’s focus on racing slides designed to have you compete against your family and friends to see who can get down the mountain faster gives it the edge. For those seeking less intense slides, both parks feature a family raft ride with Blizzard Beach holding the trump card of “world’s longest family raft ride.”

ADVANTAGE: Blizzard Beach

 

 

Wave Pool

 

Photo by Ashley Simmons

Photo by Ashley Simmons

We have our first landslide victory! The Typhoon Lagoon Surf Pool is just hands down better than Melt-Away Bay at Blizzard Beach. The former has large six foot waves every ninety seconds while the latter is more of a wake pool. The Surf Pool is significantly bigger but definitely requires stronger swimming skills if you want to go deeper and get the full crash of the waves. If you have smaller children, Melt-Away Bay would be preferable but for me personally, the pure excitement that comes over the park when the horn goes off for a big wave at Typhoon Lagoon is just too good.

ADVANTAGE: Typhoon Lagoon

 

 

Lazy River

bblazyriver

The lazy river is arguably one of the greatest inventions America has ever given the world. (DISCLAIMER: After a failed Google search, I don’t know who invented the lazy river but I’m taking it for the U.S.A. because I can) Both parks feature lazy rivers that encircle the property and feature water falls, caves and other attractions to keep it from just being a gently moving circle of water. You can’t go wrong with either.

ADVANTAGE: Tie

 

 

Food and Drinks

 

Both parks have very similar set ups when it comes to food and drink. Each features a main quick-service area with other stands scattered about the park. They also both feature a main bar near the wave pool if you’re looking to get your fruity drink-game on. If you’re on the Dining Plan, you can use it at the water parks as well. As far as menu selection, if you’ve had quick service at Disney before, you probably know what you’re getting here as well. Both offer the standard burgers, pizza, chicken breast nuggets combo that are staples at practically every Disney quick service location but you can find a few unique items as well. For example, you can get a Shrimp Roll at Lottawatta Lodge at Blizzard Beach or Black Bean and Plantain Burger at Leaning Palms at Typhoon Lagoon. Blizzard Beach also offers mini donuts, which might seem like a random thing to point out, but it’s surprisingly hard to find good donuts at Disney World so I figured I’d do all my fellow donut fans a solid by letting you know.

I mentioned that you can get your adult beverages at both parks but if you want a non-alcoholic beverage, Disney offers refillable mugs for the day at water parks. These are different from the resort mugs, which can’t be used at the water parks. The water park mugs cost a little less than the resort ones at $9.99 but they’re only good for that day. If you want to bring them back another day you need to buy a bar code sticker for $6. I suppose that’s worth it if you’re hitting both parks (a mug purchased at Blizzard Beach can be used at Typhoon Lagoon and vice versa) on your trip but if you’re not a huge soda drinker, just ask for a free cup of water when you get your food.

Like I said earlier, both parks are very similar as far as food offerings and if you like Disney quick service food, you’ll like the food here. Still, neither does anything special in this department to make it better than the other.

ADVANTAGE: Tie

 

 

Kid’s Area

 

Lots of Fun at Blizzard Beach

Both water parks feature areas specifically for children. If you’re kid isn’t quite ready for Summit Plummet, you’ll probably be spending most of the day at one of these children’s locations. Typhoon Lagoon has Ketchakiddee Creek while Blizzard Beach has Ski Patrol and Tike’s Peak. These areas have smaller versions of the regular slides and a bunch of water features for kids to have fun in. Basically they’re playgrounds but with water shooting everywhere. I’m giving the edge to Blizzard Beach though because while both parks offer something specifically for smaller children, Blizzard Beach also skews towards older pre-teens with Ski Patrol. Ski Patrol is a water obstacle course where kids can try to balance on “ice bergs” or ride down a zip line into a pool. If you have kids across a wider age range who all still want to stay in the kid’s area, I’d recommend Blizzard Beach.

ADVANTAGE: Blizzard Beach

 

 

Other Activities

tlsharkreef

Besides the regular water park offerings like slides, wave pools and lazy rivers, Disney’s water parks have some extra activities available to guests. Some of them require paying extra while others are included with your park admission. At Blizzard Beach, you can play mini-golf at Winter Summerland, which features two 18-hole courses themed after winter and summer. Playing costs money but since it’s not actually located within Blizzard Beach but right next to the entrance, you don’t have to pay for a water park ticket, which is nice. Unfortunately, that’s about it as far as extras at Blizzard Beach. Typhoon Lagoon is a completely different story though.

Remember how I said Typhoon Lagoon’s wave pool has huge waves? Well, they’re for more than just swimming in. If you want, you can pay extra to get a surf lesson before the park opens or after it closes for $165. You can also pay to just go surf with a bigger group of friends if you’re more experienced but that costs significantly more. If you’re already on a budget, you probably want something that’s included in your ticket price. Typhoon Lagoon has you covered.

The real draw for me at Typhoon Lagoon is Shark Reef. Shark Reef is a giant salt water habitat filled with sharks, stingrays and other tropical fish in which guests can snorkel. The best part? It’s included in your park admission. If you choose Typhoon Lagoon over Blizzard Beach, I would say that this is the biggest “must do.” If you’re not the snorkeling type but still want to see all the sea life, you can still enjoy the attraction by walking down into the submarine located within the reef and looking through one of the port holes to see everything. If you do end up snorkeling though, I hope you like cold water!

ADVANTAGE: Typhoon Lagoon

 

With that, I think you should have more than enough information to make an informed decision on which water park is right for you. While I personally prefer Typhoon Lagoon, which also came away with more category wins, I still love Blizzard Beach for its awesome slides and appreciate its unique theme. I’ve been to both several times and I usually don’t make a decision on which park to go to until that day. Which park do you prefer? Are there certain things you look for in a water park like I do? Let me know in the comments below and thanks for reading.

Posted on April 14, 2015

10 Responses to “Ultimate Water Park Showdown: Blizzard Beach vs. Typhoon Lagoon”

  • Great comparison T.J.! We are planning our next trip in October and including water parks at the request of our DS9 and DD7. We’re planning on an afternoon at each and one full day of their choosing. I prefer Typhoon Lagoon for it’s tropical feel, so if there’s a tie breaker, I win! :o)

  • I prefer Typhoon Lagoon myself because it seems with the extra tropical environment, you get more shade.

  • Great comparison! One thing I would add: Blizzard Beach has conveyors that transport tubes/mats to the top of some (not all) of the slides so you don’t need to carry one all the way up the stairs with you. If you have a smallish child, you may end up carrying both their tube and yours, so this can make a difference. It is especially helpful for the family raft ride — those rafts are large and rather unwieldy. At Typhoon Lagoon, it usually takes a couple of people to roll the raft all the way up the stairs. Much more relaxing at Blizzard Beach where the family raft is waiting for you at the top!

  • Great article. I love both but for small children, 4 and under, I think Blizzard Beach is best. I like being able to stand in one place and watch my daughter go down multiple slides. I also like how the kids play area is close to the front gate so I don’t have to haul everything across the park. Even going to a water park takes a lot of extra supplies. Can’t wait for the day when all I have to worry about bringing is a towel!

  • Is it ok to go to the water parks late Nov early dec?

    • by T.J. Van Fechtmann on April 15, 2015, at 11:01 pm EDT

      Of course but know that the weather can be unpredictable temperature-wise around that time of year. It doesn’t hurt to pack a bathing suit just in case. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to choose between the parks as Typhoon Lagoon will be closed during that time. Both parks go through an annual winter refurbishment with Typhoon from Oct-Jan and Blizzard from Jan-March.

      • Oh ya, forgot about that when I was doing my planning. It was my dream to do go to both parks. Guess doing 1 will have to be enough. Is that always the refurb schedule? Typhoon then BB?

  • Thanks for the article. I am using your crowd calendars to plan a trip from September 15-24 and would appreciate advise on which day/days to try to fit the waterparks in.

    • by Laurel Stewart on April 16, 2015, at 2:59 pm EDT

      Water parks are generally busier on weekends and hot afternoons. Mid to late September shouldn’t be anything to worry about so schedule around which other parks are best.

  • Just thought I would mention that the mini donuts are also found at Typhoon Lagoon. A perfect afternoon sugary snack to boost those waning energy levels! But seriously, they are pretty amazing little treats.