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Disney's Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon vs. SeaWorld's Aquatica: Who has the better after-2 p.m. pass?

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As Orlando residents, my family and I have had various combinations of theme-park passes since our kids were toddlers. For several years, those included the popular water parks: either Disney's Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon or SeaWorld's Aquatica.

With school out for summer, now we are considering an option we haven't yet tried: The after-2 p.m. water-park pass that is available to Florida residents. For a reduced price, guests can purchase an annual pass that allows entry into the water parks only after 2 p.m. with no blackout dates.

The water parks offer this option, of course, because that's when the crowds start to thin out. Guests who have been in the water since 9 a.m. often are ready to head back to their hotels by mid-afternoon. Plus, in Florida, it's a given that many summer days include afternoon rain, which also clears a water park pretty quickly. Added to this is the fact that the afternoons often are the hottest parts of the days.

So, purchasing an after-2 p.m. pass is a gamble with the weather. But at about half the cost of a regular annual pass to the water parks, we think it just might be worth a try. The water parks stay open later in the summer, often until 8 p.m., so we potentially still could spend six hours on the slides and in the pools.

Now, the difficult decision: Which water park do we choose? Our family has happy memories at all three water parks. But on paper, Disney's Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon are the better deal.

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At Disney, the after-2 p.m. pass is $66.03 for adults and $53.25 for kids (including tax) ages 3 to 9. It allows the passholder entry into two separate Disney water parks for one year from the date of purchase. Plus, there is no charge for parking. In addition, Walt Disney World allows guests to bring coolers of all sizes, including large rolling ice chests, so it is possible to bring a meal and drinks for the day and save money. The only restrictions involve glass containers and alcohol.

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At SeaWorld's Aquatica, Florida residents can purchase an after-2 p.m. pass for $58.58 for adults and $53.25 for kids (including tax) ages 3 to 9. It is good only for the one park and only through the end of 2013. There is a $12 charge to park each time you visit. SeaWorld restricts coolers to a 16-quart size, and food is limited to snacks, bottled water, baby food and whatever is needed for those with dietary restrictions. Of course, alcohol and glass containers are not permitted. SeaWorld does have a small picnic area outside its gates and guests are allowed to use the tables for meals stored in their vehicles and then re-enter the water park.

But how do you measure value when your children prefer one water park over another? How would you decide? Please tell us in the comments.

The previous post in this blog was SeaWorld's new Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin - Mixed Reactions.

The next post in this blog is Disney Infinity debuts at E3 today and possibly at Downtown Disney later this month.

Comments (4)

Jenn:

Sounds like a wonderful problem to have :) love your blog! My family has been considering moving to central Fl for some time. Your family seems to be very happy there and when I read your blog I am offen reminded of how much there is to do with kids.

john:

Take this as an opportunity to teach the kids about the value of a dollar. To start, let's call the ticket prices even, despite the $8.00 difference between the adult prices at Disney vs. Aquatica. And the nearby picnic area at Aquatica allows you to pack a full meal just like at Disney.

The true differentiating factor is the $12.00 parking fee at Aquatica vs. Disney's free parking.

Let's say that between now and the end of 2013, your family averages one weekly visit to a water park. If you choose the Aquatica option, you'll rack up $360 in parking fees.
(even more costly if you go more often!)

What else can your family do with that money? A special meal or outing? Some great new video games, sneakers, etc? Maybe some ice cream or snack at the parks from time to time?

Is the experience at Aquatica that much better that they would forego these extra treats?

Amy:

why not consider Wet 'n' Wild? $55 there gets you the rest of the 2013 year, regardless of time of day. Coolers with food and drink allowed, too.

Actually - the cost for Disney is HALF the other parks (roughly) because you get admission to TWO different parks!

It's not often you can say the cost for Disney is half of someplace else. LOL

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on June 8, 2013 7:33 AM.

The previous post in this blog was SeaWorld's new Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin - Mixed Reactions.

The next post in this blog is Disney Infinity debuts at E3 today and possibly at Downtown Disney later this month.

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