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Blizzard Beach vs. Typhoon Lagoon: If You Have to Choose

31 Jul

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?

Best theme: Melting Ski Resort, Blizzard Beach  

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.

Whichever you choose, arrive early, hit the big-draw attractions first, and make sure to leave some time to float around on the lazy rivers at each park.

It may be Walt Disney World, but you deserve a little downtime to float and relax at the happiest place on earth.


Favorite Vacation Spots to Go for a Jog

8 Jun

Vacation is for relaxing, sleeping in, maybe overindulging in good food and fancy drinks.

So why would anyone want to put all that on hold to lace up their sneakers and go for a jog?

I’m not a hardcore runner. I do a few 5Ks a year and I’ll occasionally challenge myself with longer race. But when I’m packing my suitcase, no matter the destination, I always make room for my running clothes and sneakers. I like to explore my new surroundings on foot and get a little endorphin-boosting exercise in while I’m at it. A jog always cheers me up and helps me to appreciate the atmosphere of my location.

Five of my favorite spots to go for a run:    

1. The Las Vegas Strip

If you are up and out early enough, the bleary-eyed all-nighters still stumbling down the strip make for great entertainment. Plus, the many overpasses that criss-cross the boulevard make it a great workout. (Hello, stair climbs.) Add bright lights, the Bellagio fountains, and a (mini) Eiffel Tower, and you barely recognize you’ve worked up a sweat.

2. The Reservoir in Central Park  

There are so many wonderful places to explore in Central Park, and this is one of my favorites. The 1.5 mile loop is one of the best spots in the city to feel like a local. It’s free of pets and strollers, and you can enter and exit the dirt pathway at different points. Obey  the rules, enjoy the sun off the water, and take a minute to remind yourself you are in NYC.

3. The Desert in Arizona

I’m from the East Coast, so the idea that I could go for a 4-mile run and not be dripping in sweat is bizarre, and awesome. Welcome to the desert. I was in AZ in January, so the temps were cool when my friend Beth and I started out. We wove through cacti and other desert plants on our jog, and I think the  signs warning of rattlesnakes helped boost our pace a bit.

4. Port Orleans Resort-French Quarter in Walt Disney World

The Florida climate is not ideal for running, granted, but with 9 days of Disney madness ahead of me, I knew I needed it. Luckily, the French Quarter at the Port Orleans Resort had a great running trail that took me through its sister resort, Riverside. Just me and the birds out by the river, a moment of peace in the happiest place on earth.

5. Royal Caribbean Majesty of the Seas

The promenade deck of a cruise ship can get pretty crowded with s-l-o-w walkers, so I waited for the morning we were scheduled to disembark to try it out for a run. While others were haggling over their “sea pass” bills, I was happily circling the ship. All the while I was breathing in salty air and thinking, “How cool is this? I’m running laps in the middle of the ocean.”