Last year, my family was lucky enough to enjoy an extended stay at Walt Disney World Resort, allowing enough time to visit Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon, the two waterparks on Disney property in Orlando.
Both were great and provided a nice break from the major parks, but each had some distinct advantages:
Best thrill ride: Summit Plummet at Blizzard Beach
I tried to beg off this ride, claiming picture-taking duties, but my kids (ages 9 and 12) wouldn’t hear it. So down I went on this very high (120 feet), very fast (60 mph), and super-wedgie inducing free-fall body slide. It was awesome.
Best pool: The Surf Pool at Typhoon Lagoon
This giant pool alternates between bobbing waves and a giant 6-foot kowabunga wave that is announced by a conch-shell whistle (followed by excited shrieks from the swimmers). The kids played for hours in the pool while we enjoyed a few Coronas on the “beach.” What’s better than that?
Disney is all about theming, and Blizzard Beach is one of its best concoctions. The premise is that a ski resort was built up during a freak Florida blizzard and is now melting away. Mount Gushmore, a Chair Lift , Toboggan Racers, and a “Warming Hut” all play off the theme. It’s a nice chilly mind-play in the hot southern sun.
Best attraction: The Shark Reef at Typhoon Lagoon
The sharks may be small, but the cool factor is big. After quick instructions, visitors snorkel across a frosty, salt-water pool while getting a peek at tropical fish, sting rays, and, yes, leopard sharks. It’s great for major bragging rights when you return home.
Best for little ones: Blizzard Beach
Tike’s Peak (under 48 in) and Ski Patrol Training Camp (under 60 in) allow kids to splash, play, slide, and even zip line under the very watchful eyes of the Disney lifeguards. For the little ones, Blizzard Beach’s low-key wave pool (Melt-Away Bay) is also far better than its roiling counterpart at Typhoon Lagoon.
Shorter lines: Typhoon Lagoon
Blizzard Beach is newer, has a killer theme, and, with Summit Plummet as a huge draw, tends to have longer lines. Disney tries to keep you cool as you wait, but it’s Florida, and it’s hot, and crankiness can rear its ugly head after waiting 30 minutes for a 30 second slide. The lines at Typhoon Lagoon are shorter, in my experience, and the vibe is a little more laid back.
If you have to choose: Typhoon Lagoon
Both parks are amazing, but in my opinion the wave pool, snorkeling with sharks, a new Crush ‘n Gusher water coaster, and an overall more relaxed atmosphere has Typhoon Lagoon winning out.
It may be Walt Disney World, but you deserve a little downtime to float and relax at the happiest place on earth.