Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach are the two water parks at Walt Disney World and when having to choose one over the other, lots of people have a hard time making a decision. Well, if it’ll help any, here’s my advice…
Typhoon Lagoon opened in 1989 but it’s not showing its age even one little bit. In fact, as of 2016, it was the second most visited water park worldwide, boasting an attendance of roughly 2.5 million visitors that year.
The theme of Typhoon Lagoon is the “Disney legend” (read: it didn’t really happen. Disney made it up) of a typhoon that wreaked havoc on a formerly pristine tropical paradise. Ships, fishing gear and surfboards are strewn about wherever the storm flung them. The park’s centerpiece is “Miss Tilly,” a shrimp boat impaled on a mountain named “Mount Mayday,” that erupts a 50-foot geyser of water every half hour. Typhoon Lagoon is chock full of palm trees and tropical plants and all the water for the attractions is heated to 75-80 degrees year-round.
Typhoon Lagoon’s attractions include:
- Typhoon Lagoon Surf Pool: Wave pool, which has 6 foot high waves every 90 seconds. *
- Castaway Creek: “Lazy river” that slowly circles the entire park, passing through gentle waterfalls, lush rain forests, mist screens, and Mount Mayday itself. Riders can float on their own or in inner tubes provided. **
- Ketchakiddee Creek: a play area for young children featuring small slides and fountains. There are water features that spray everywhere, and a small sandy beach is also provided. *
- Keelhaul Falls: A smooth, scenic and swift ride down Mount Mayday on a single-rider tube, which includes spiraling down a water fall and cave. ***, ++
- Mayday Falls: The park’s highest and longest single-rider tube slide. Rougher than Keelhaul Falls. ***, ++
- Gangplank Falls: Family raft ride featuring large four-person inner tubes. ***, ++
- Humunga Kowabunga: Three enclosed, dark “speed slide” flumes that send riders down a near-vertical five stories reaching speeds of 39 mph (Height Restriction: 48” or taller). ***, ++
- Storm Slides: Three body slides (Jib Jammer, Stern Burner, and Rudder Buster) that send riders from a height of three stories down twisting, winding channels to a splash pool at the bottom. ***, ++
- Bay Slides: Beginner slide designed to send younger and smaller swimmers (60″ and under) down gentle slopes that end in a secluded corner for the “Surf Pool”. ***
- Mountain Trail: Explore the lush trails at the base of Mount Mayday. ***, ++
- Miss Adventure Falls: An exciting family-raft attraction. **, ++
- Crush ‘n’ Gusher: Water coaster where one to two person rafts are propelled by water jets through hairpin turns and drop-offs. This attraction includes a choice of the water coaster slide “Banana Blaster,” “Coconut Crusher,” or “Pineapple Plunger.” (Height Restriction: 48” or taller). *, ++
When it was built, Blizzard Beach was WDW’s 3rd water park (the resort’s first water park, River Country, closed in 2001) and was ranked the third-most visited water park in the world in 2016.
According to Disney “legend,” a freak snowstorm in the area led to the development of Florida’s first ski resort. Naturally, the snow did not last long. This left behind a collection of waterlogged yet snow-less ski jumps and chair lifts. The operators were preparing to cut their losses and walk away. However, they were interrupted by an echoing “YAHHOOO!!!” coming from the mountain of melting snow. They looked up to see a blue alligator, wearing a red scarf and gold innertube, careening down the mountain at top speed. Ice Gator, the mascot, then landed in a pool of melted snow at the base of the mountain with a thunderous splash. The ski resort operators suddenly saw the park’s potential, and the mountain of snow became Blizzard Beach, “the most slushy, slippery, exhilarating water park anywhere!” (thank-you, Wikipedia).
The majority of Blizzard Beach’s major attractions at the park are hosted on Mount Gushmore, an artificial hill with an elevation of 90 feet. Mount Gushmore is split into three colored slopes to aid guests navigating around the park: Green, Red and Purple (see below for details of each area).
- Melt-Away Bay: is a 1-acre wave pool nestled against the base of Mount Gushmore. This attraction is constantly fed by “melting snow” waterfalls creating “bobbing” (short) waves. *
- Cross Country Creek: A “lazy river” attraction that travels around the perimeter of the water park. The attraction carries floating guests (in inner tubes) through a supposed ice cave. Once inside the mysterious cave, guests will be splashed with the “melting” ice from overhead. **
- Ski Patrol Training Camp: An area for pre-teens that includes: *
– Leisure Pool – The pool contain “icebergs” on which guests under 12 can walk across.
– Fahrenheit Drops – Commonly known as the “T-Bar”, this attraction is a rope drop that deposits guests that are under five feet tall into 8.5′ feet of water.
– Freezin’ Pipe Springs – This attraction is a short body slide. It deposits guests in the same water area as Fahrenheit Drops, but has no height restriction.
– Cool Runners – a wide-open slide (inner tube) area created by rapidly melting snow mounds (moguls).
- Tike’s Peak: For those under 48″ tall, features gentle slides designed to resemble scaled down versions of attractions at Blizzard Beach. Also included is a snow-castle fountain play area with pop (water) jets. ****
- Summit Plummit: the flagship attraction at 120 feet tall, and speeds 60 miles per hour (97 km/h). It’s the third-tallest and fastest free fall slide in the world. There is a minimum height requirement of 48 in. ***, ++
- Slush Gusher: a 90-foot-tall, 250-foot-long snow-banked mountain gully body slide attraction that reaches speeds up to 35 miles per hour. It has two places where it almost levels off, only to drop back down again. As such, it is one of only a few water slides where “air time” is achieved. **, ++
- Teamboat Springs: the world’s longest “family white-water raft ride” at 1,400 feet long. This attraction sends guests down a twisting series of rushing waterfalls. No infants are allowed and other health restrictions are advised. **, ++
- Chairlift: is a “one-way” ride which carries up to 3 guests over the craggy face of Mount Gushmore, from its base at the beach, to its summit. This is the most recognized means of transport to the summit, where many of the rides are located (Guests can also climb a staircase to the top). There is a minimum height requirement of 32 in, or 48 in to ride alone. *, ****
- Toboggan Racers: an 8-lane, 250-foot water slide that sends guests racing over exhilarating dips as they descend the “snow” slope along the side of Mount Gushmore. Guests lie on their stomach on the toboggan style mat as they race to the finish line. **, ++
- Snow Stormers: a “mat slide” consisting of three flumes that are 350 feet long. The attraction descends from the top of the mountain and follows a switchback course through ski-type slalom gates. Guests lie on their stomach on the toboggan style mat as they ride down the flumes. **, ++
- Downhill Double Dipper: one of the world’s only side-by-side racing tube slides. This attraction’s slides are 50 feet high and are 230 feet long and guests travel up to speeds of 25 mph on these twin inner tube runs as they race past internationally recognized ski racing graphic elements and flags. This attraction has a minimum height requirement of 48 in. ***, ++
- Runoff Rapids: a 600-foot inner tube run featuring two open and one enclosed tube slides. This attraction careens guests down twisting, turning flumes, passing through corrugated steel pipes. **, ++
NOTES FOR BOTH PARKS:
* = Must transfer to standard wheelchair
** = Must transfer from wheelchair/ECV
*** = Must be ambulatory
+ = A gondola is also provided for disabled guests to access the top of Mount Gushmore.
++ = For safety you should be in good health and free from heart conditions, back or neck problems, or other conditions that could be aggravated by this adventure. Expectant mothers should not ride.
Both parks have their share of merchandise and counter service food and beverage (including alcohol) locations, as well as restrooms, towel rentals, companion restrooms, a First Aid station, AEDs, Guest Services, service animal relief areas, smoking locations, ATMs, lockers, etc.
WHICH WATER PARK SHOULD YOU PICK?
Both water parks have a wide variety of attractions for guests of all ages and abilities. If you’re looking at specifics, they really do keep most things relatively equal:
- Total number of attractions:
TL: 12, BB: 12
- Number of attractions that are limited to those 48″ and taller:
TL: 2 BB: 3 (BB also has one attraction that’s limited to guests that are 32″ and higher)
- Number of attractions where you need to be concerned about neck/back/cardiac/pregnancy issues:
TL: 7 BB: 7
- Typhoon Lagoon’s Miss Adventure Falls and Crush ‘n’ Gusher are both “newer” attractions (Miss Adventure Falls just opened in 2017) that use jet propulsion. Blizzard Beach’s Cross Country Creek is a 3,000 foot long slow-moving “lazy river” that can take 20 to 30 minutes to navigate.
- Blizzard Beach’s theme is snow, so there’s a lot more white everywhere, which means there’s more sun reflecting up on you and less trees. So there’s nothing protecting you from the sun and on a hot day, that can become uncomfortable. Typhoon Lagoon’s theme is more lush and tropical, with lots of palm trees, hibiscus, etc. Typhoon Lagoon has more shade.
- Blizzard Beach has more thrilling attractions in the form of big, fast slides. Typhoon Lagoon has a couple more slower and family-oriented attractions.
Honestly, you can’t go wrong with either. If you’re looking for more family oriented attractions, Typhoon Lagoon has the edge. If you’re looking for more excitement, Blizzard Beach might be more for you. And to have lots of shade or not to have lots of shade…that is the question. 😉
But either way, you’re going to have a GREAT day!
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