Last week, SVV and I went on an actual vacation, meaning I wasn’t there for a story, we weren’t reviewing a hotel—rather, we were just down in Florida making use of my parents’ timeshare in the Orlando area. (This doesn’t mean I went a week without working; on the contrary, I spent a couple days holed up in the condo putting out fires. That said, if I have to be indoors working at least I was indoors working in Florida!)
Southwest has several direct flights between Nashville and Orlando, so we took the latest on a Sunday night, which got us in a little after 9 and to the condo an hour after that. Monday morning we weren’t feeling like logging a whole day at the parks, so on a whim, we decided to venture down the road to Blizzard Beach, one of Disney World’s two water parks.
You may have noticed but I’m super Type A with my planning (I like to think of it as “efficient”). I’m the kind of park-goer who wants to prioritize her rides and hit the ones that will have the longest line by midday the first thing in the day. As such, I spent the morning doing a little digging around online before trying to figure out the best of the two water parks to visit as an adult. I couldn’t find any helpful resources online, so we decided to go with our gut and do Blizzard Beach, which we both enjoyed a whole lot the last time we were there in 2009 with my family.
But when we got there this time, we were in for a surprise.
Disney now offers admission to both water parks on the same ticket. Huzzah!
You’ll have to drive five miles down the road to Typhoon Lagoon when you’re ready to switch parks, but paying $58 a head, I definitely felt like we got more bang for our buck being able to visit a second park when we tired of Blizzard Beach.
I also don’t think there was enough to do at Blizzard or Typhoon singularly to justify a whole day at just one spot. Still, if you’re trying to figure out how to best delegate your time, here are my two cents.
Premise: a freak snowstorm hits Florida; the result is lingering ice, snow, ski slopes, lift chairs, the whole nine yards.
Best thrill: Summit Plummet
No surprise that the biggest, baddest water slide of all with a 120-foot slope and a 12-story drop was my favorite. Get there when the park opens (or as close as possible) and make straight for Summit Plummet to avoid 60-minute waits out under the blazing sun.
Fun for the whole family: Teamboat Springs
These six-seat rafts are surprisingly swift and fun; SVV and I took one with a father and his two sons, and we all laughed our way down the fairly lengthy slide.
Go head first: Snow Stormers
Large groups may have fun competing against one another on the Toboggan Racers, but I preferred Snow Stormers, which was also a head-first kind of rind on a mat—but with far more twists and turns.
Sit back and relax: Cross Country Creek
Both parks have fast-flowing lazy rivers that ring the perimeter, but I think Blizzard Beach has the upper hand on the better one. It didn’t seem nearly as crowded as at Typhoon.
Kiddie delight: Ski Patrol Training Camp
For the mid-sized kids and tweens, Ski Patrol Training Camp with its slides, floating iceberg course and even a zip line is a riot. I’m not going to lie: There were several times I thought about sneaking away and attempting it myself!
Skip if there’s a line: Runoff Rapids
This was fun, don’t get me wrong—especially because SVV and I got to ride together in a two-seater—but had there been a line of any substantial length, I would have been annoyed by how short the slide was.
Premise: a typhoon wreaks havoc on a tropical island.
Hours of amusement: Surf Pool
This six-foot wave unfurls itself on the massive pool of park-goers every 90 seconds and at times feels as powerful as an actual typhoon (or what I imagine it to feel like, at least). Inner tubes aren’t allowed so smaller kids should stay in the shallow end.
Unexpected thrill: Crush ‘n’ Gusher
In true roller coaster fashion, this slide goes up and down, side to side, and you can ride by yourself or with a partner.
Get your heart pumping: Shark Reef
As the name suggests, Shark Reef is indeed an open reef with docile nurse sharks milling about and the ability to snorkel atop the waters of the tank. I very vividly remember this terrifying me as a kid, but observing from the deck this time, I can’t believe I ever was scared (OK, given my crippling fear of sharks, that’s a lie). We opted not to do it simply because we’re divers and the idea didn’t really excite us, but I do think this is a fun attraction for non-divers who have never had the thrill of being face to face with a shark.
Cool down: Castaway Creek
If you’re starting to feel overheated, grab a raft and catch the current. I could spend all day in any lazy river, but I do really enjoy both Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon’s iterations.
So, which is better?
Honestly, if I were going just for the high-thrill rides, I’d probably stick to Blizzard Beach. That said, the Typhoon Lagoon wave pool is pretty awesome—and there seems to be a lot to do at that park if you have kids in tow.
In summary? Plan to do both. I mean, you’re paying for both parks—why not?
What it costs
- $58 per adult ticket
- $20 for lunch for two (a chicken wrap and a bruschetta flatbread)
- $8 for a locker rental (+ a $5 deposit that you get back when you return your key and you only have to pay at one park)
Grand total for two adults: $144
Money-saving tip: You can take snacks and coolers into the park, as long as they aren’t in glass bottles. This was super helpful for us as we loaded up my bag with bottled water rather than have to buy it inside the park. There’s also beer, wine and liquor throughout the park if you feel like drinking, but at that early in the day—and on a Monday at that—we decided to go without booze (for a change).
All in all, not the worst deal in the world considering we could have stayed there from 9am till 8pm if we wanted. (We didn’t. We lasted more like 11am to 3pm.) It was also nice not having to pay for parking like you do at the other Disney parks.