How to Plan a Disney Water Park Vacation
The fantastic part of Disney Vacation Club (DVC) membership is that you’ll spend countless days at your favorite theme parks or DVC Resorts. Over time, you’ll learn that you don’t need to spend all of your time at Magic Kingdom or Disneyland or wherever. Instead, you’ll want a break from the crowds. And one of the best ways to relax is by swimming and sun-tanning. Here are a few tips on spending the day at a Disney water park.
The Price of a Water Park Day
You’ll have your choice of two different water parks, Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach. The price is the same at each park. At the time of publication, the daily cost is $69 per adult or $63 for children aged 3-9. You may save an additional $5 by purchasing tickets that have blackout dates.
Alternately, you’ll receive water park access when you purchase a Park Hopper Plus theme park admission ticket. Similarly, the Disney Platinum Plus annual pass comes with unlimited water park admission.
Pick the Right Disney Water Park
Walt Disney World is home to two different water parks, both of which are exceptional. In fact, they’re the two most popular water parks in North America and two of the top three in the world.
The key to the popularity of each one is the theming. Typhoon Lagoon’s design presumes that a once-breathtaking tropical island got hit by a typhoon. Wreckage is everywhere, and the comical flotsam and jetsam lead to some terrific sight gags.
Blizzard Beach has an even sillier theme. The premise here is that a snowstorm somehow hit Central Florida and remained long enough for someone to build a ski resort. Then, the nature temperatures returned to this region, turning the snowy paraphernalia into water-logged sources of entertainment.
You really can’t go wrong with either water park and should aspire to visit both several times during the course of your DVC membership.
I’ll take a quick look at the advantages of each one in just a moment. For now, the only thing that I’ll say is that Typhoon Lagoon receives about 13 percent more traffic than Blizzard Beach. To many Disney fans, it’s the preferred destination.
However, this statement also creates an opportunity for you. Those of you who prefer smaller crowds should lean toward Blizzard Beach instead.
Pros of Blizzard Beach
Keeping in mind that it’s just one person’s opinion, I believe that the theming is much tighter and more immersive at Blizzard Beach. All of the white coloring from the fictional snow delights me. On some level, I’m aware that it’s the heart of Florida, but the ski resort scenery creates a unique juxtaposition.
Blizzard Beach also features a better-centralized area. The Mount Gushmore section of the park requires a ski lift to reach it. Once you’re at the top of the mountain, you’ll have a plethora of attractions within a short distance. I love this convenience, as I’m not a huge fan of excessive walking when I’m already swimming a lot.
The other point I’ll make is that fans of wave pools should understand the disparity between the two parks. Melt-Away Bay at Blizzard Beach is one of the calmest wave pools in which you’ll ever swim. The one at Typhoon Lagoon was once the largest wave pool in the world. And it’s substantially rougher.
Pros of Typhoon Lagoon
While the theming is somewhat better at Blizzard Beach, I believe that the attractions are better at Typhoon Lagoon. I’ll discuss the best ones in a moment, but the reality is that Disney has emphasized expansion more at Typhoon Lagoon.
A recently announced early refurbishment at Blizzard Beach means that the situation may change for 2020. Until then, Typhoon Lagoon becomes the only game in town on September 8th. So, those of you who are visiting after that date won’t have a choice anyway.
I also prefer the lazy river at Typhoon Lagoon, which wraps around a large part of the park. It combines a relaxed “swimming” experience with a tremendous view of many of the highlight attractions at the water park.
Best Attractions at Blizzard Beach
I’m not going to list an itinerary since everyone approaches water parks so differently. You may prefer riding all of the toboggan attractions the whole time you’re there, while I’m more the lazy river/wave pool type. Fans of water park thrill rides will adore Blizzard Beach, though.
The star attraction is Summit Plummet, a 12-story tall water slide ride that will force you to fear for your life for a brief moment. Since you’re going 60 miles per hour at the time, it’ll be over quick. And then you’ll ride it five more times just to establish dominion.
Toboggan Racers is the most fun ride as a group activity. It’s an eight-person race to the bottom of a 250-foot slide. Competitive water parkers should also try Downhill Double Dipper, which has side-by-side racing tubes. And then there’s Slush Gusher, one of the only water slides in the world that allows air-time.
Best Attractions at Typhoon Lagoon
Water coasters and raft rides are a bigger deal at Typhoon Lagoon. Two of the best attractions here fit into these categories.
Miss Adventure Falls is arguably the most famous Disney water park attraction at the moment. It features a state-of-the-art audio-animatronic parrot at the start that Imagineers brag is one of the best ever. Then, a perilous three-minute (extremely wet) ride follows one that will make you smile repeatedly.
The major water coaster here is Crush ‘n’ Gusher, and you’ll know that it’s great the instant that you see the white meshing in front of you. That’s a safety precaution to prevent you from flying into orbit. It’s one of the fastest water slides you’ll ever ride and is not to be missed during a visit.
To my mind, both parks have terrific rides. Typhoon Lagoon’s are more laid back while Blizzard Beach’s are more aggressive. You’ll know which one suits your vacation needs the best. But I strongly recommend both.
The Food Situation at Both Parks
When you spend a full day at a water park, you’ll need to eat and snack there as well. Fortunately, the food is the best what you’ll ever have at a water park, and I mean that sincerely.
At Typhoon Lagoon, six different restaurants, bars, and snack bars can satisfy your cravings. Also, the menus are much more diverse than you’d expect. Sure, burgers, hot dogs, and pizzas are available. However, you’ll find Jerk Chicken Rice Bowl, Smoked Fish Dip, and a Cuban Burger, too.
The drinks at Typhoon Lagoon are standard beverages and some alcoholic choices. You’ll find several thematic specialty drinks like Frozen Tito’s Tropical Hurricane Lemonade, Lou’s Wavy Mango Lime Slushy, and the famous Typhoon Tilly.
In my opinion, Blizzard Beach’s food is more limited, which means that it’s more of a standard water park experience. You’ll undoubtedly have a wealth of options, though.
This park hosts nine different restaurants, snack stands, and bars. All of them focus on a few items rather than an in-depth menu. While sandwiches and burgers are readily available, the mini-donut stand and ice cream are my favorite parts. So, I clearly favor Typhoon Lagoon for meals but Blizzard Beach for snacks.
PS: one final pro tip learned from hard-knock experience: remember to put on some footwear before you walk over to the restaurant. The ground can be scalding, and you’ll instantly regret walking on it with bare feet.
Items to Pack for Your Water Park Visit
Let’s start with the obvious ones. You’ll want sunscreen and some sort of footwear. Otherwise, you may burn all parts of your body. I recommend frequent applications of sunscreen just to be safe, as I once burned the crown of my head. A long swim had washed off most of the sunscreen, and I was in pain (well, mild irritation) for weeks afterward. Please be smarter than me.
I’d also suggest a smartphone or tablet or some kind of smart reader. I presume that you’ll want to catch up on your summer reading or at least exchange a few texts. Plus, My Disney Experience is an essential part of a Disney visit, even when you’re at a water park. You never know when that magical FastPass or Advanced Dining Reservation might come available.
You may want to think about a few of your own drinks and snacks, depending on your diet and budget. Healthy snacks aren’t as readily available at water park restaurants. And the cost of bottled water is a source of outrage for some DVC members (and Disney fans in general).
A beach towel isn’t needed per se while you’re at the water park, as you’ll have ample towels available there. However, you’ll want one on the bus ride to your next destination, whether that’s your hotel or a theme park. And you may want a change of clothes, depending on whether you’d prefer to pack light or plan ahead for the next thing.