LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — It’s summer in Florida. Daytime temperatures are regularly pushing into the 90s. What’s a vacationer to do to cool off?
At Walt Disney World Resort, guests can choose between a mountain ski retreat and a tropical getaway to take the proverbial plunge into water fun at two of the most popular water parks in North America:
- Like a surfside playground left behind by a “great storm” for modern-day Swiss Family Robinsons, Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon features breaking waves, saltwater snorkeling pool, water coaster thrill ride attraction with gushing water surges; and
- Disney’s Blizzard Beach offers all the spine-chilling thrills of a northern ski resort, whether it’s bobsledding down the “snowy” slopes of Mt. Gushmore or plunging straight down Summit Plummet at up to 55 mph.
During the spring, summer and fall vacation periods, both parks are open daily, offering a cool break from theme park fun. Admission tickets can be purchased at each park or folded into Disney’s Magic Your Way ticket with the Water Park Fun & More add-on option.
Located near Downtown Disney West Side, the 61-acre Typhoon Lagoon includes several major features, including Crush ‘n’ Gusher, the first-ever water coaster thrill ride attraction in Central Florida; a man-made watershed mountain with eight twisting-and-turning water slides and roaring streams; a two-and-one-half-acre wave-making lagoon with surfing-size waves, and a 362,000-gallon saltwater pool, Shark Reef, where snorkelers swim fin-to-fin with exotic marine life including butterfly fish, French angels, tangs, groupers and even bonnethead and leopard sharks.
The park also features a water playground for children, sunny beaches and lazy streams surrounding a 95-foot mountain, a shop that provides necessary underwater equipment for Shark Reef (including life jackets, masks and snorkels), changing areas, lockers, showers, a picnic area and two restaurants which serve up everything from specialty sandwiches and salads to cookies and ice cream in waffle cones.
Meantime, while the 66-acre Blizzard Beach has all the look of a northern ski resort, it is in fact strictly tropical — and the ice is limited to the soft drinks. The most eye-catching attractions can be found on the slopes of Mt. Gushmore, the 90-foot snow-capped mountain that is home to Downhill Double Dipper, the only side-by-side racing water slides that stand 50 feet high and 200 feet long. Guests will travel up to 25 mph, twisting and turning before shooting out through a curtain of water.
Mt. Gushmore also features slalom courses, toboggan and water sled runs and the awesome, 120-foot-high Summit Plummet — one of the nation’s tallest, fastest free-fall speed slides, visible from almost anywhere in the park. From Summit Plummet’s “ski jump” tower, it’s a breathtaking high-speed 55 mph plunge straight down to a splash landing at the base of the mountain.
Next to Summit Plummet is the tall but less steep Slush Gusher, a speed slide that drops guests through a snow-banked mountain gully. Mt. Gushmore’s other attractions include Teamboat Springs, the world’s longest family white-water raft ride takes six-passenger rafts down a twisting 1,200-foot series of rushing water falls; Toboggan Racer, an 8-lane water slide that sends guests racing over exhilarating dips as they descend the “snowy” slope, and more.
The sandy beach below Mt. Gushmore offers a large wave pool, a lazy river, two snack bars, a polar pub lodge, and a pre-teen and children’s play area.
The Village at the Blizzard Beach entrance houses guest services such as a complimentary life jacket pickup, locker rentals, first aid, merchandise and a restaurant.
Available at Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon for day-long rental, Beachcomber Shacks and Polar Patios are premium spaces that put a roof or a large umbrella over guests’ heads, provide upscale Adirondack seating for relaxation, put beverages to quench a whole days’ thirsts at guests’ fingertips, and give them a service attendant who does the leg work if they want to purchase food from the a la carte menu.
For more information about Disney’s Blizzard Beach and Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon water parks, guests may call 407/824-4321 or visit disneyworld.com.