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Disney's Water Parks Archives

January 3, 2014

Tips for visiting Walt Disney World and SeaWorld when it's cold outside

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Florida might be a subtropical paradise, but it does get cold here at times, as this week's front proves. And, though "Frozen" might be a big winter hit in the theaters right now, you don't have to spend your days in the Orlando theme parks experiencing the same.

How will the cold affect your visit to Orlando theme parks such as Walt Disney World and Seaworld? When the mercury dips below 50, some things change even if others remain the same. Here are a few things of which to be to be aware:

** Water parks will close. Disney's Typhoon Lagoon already is not open to guests because of scheduled maintenance, and Disney's Blizzard Beach also will be closed today. Same goes for SeaWorld's Aquatica. Guests who had planned to visit the Disney water park still can enjoy the adjacent Winter Summerland miniature golf course, though.

** Some animals will stay indoors, but others will not be deterred by the cold. At Disney's Animal Kingdom, a three-hour process brings all animals indoors each night to climate-controlled areas. In the morning, they are given a choice whether to venture out or stay warm and cozy. When Florida has a cold snap, such as this one, extra precautions also are taken in the outdoor habitat, such as adding heating elements, for example. So, riding Kilimanjaro Safaris will not be a bust, but you're unlikely to see the Komodo dragon from the walkway along its outdoor habitat because it is sensitive to the cold. Same goes for some other animals, too.

At SeaWorld Orlando, many of the marine animals already thrive in cooler waters, such as the orca whales, sea lions and dolphins, so these temperatures don't affect their performances. The shows will go on! And although the penguins in the new Antarctica attraction reside in a climate-controlled area, guests just might feel like they've stepped onto the South Pole, too, no matter how chilly it might be outside.

** Steer clear of water rides, such as Splash Mountain or Journey to Atlantis, or the Splash Zone at the Shamu show. These places may be open but do you really want to spend the rest of your day shivering from wet, soggy clothes?

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** Seize the opportunity to drink plenty of hot chocolate or warm coffee in the theme parks. SeaWorld has the best deal for hot chocolate, with its refillable souvenir mug. It works the same way as its drink cups -- after a one-time purchase of the cup, all refills are 99 cents. At Disney World, coffee lovers can get their Starbucks fix at new locations on Main Street, U.S.A., in the Magic Kingdom and near the Fountain of Nations in Epcot. Additional stores are planned!

** When vacationers arrive at the theme parks, it's easy to get caught up in the excitement and the anticipation of their favorite attractions. But when it's cold, adjust your schedule accordingly. Plan to visit indoor attractions in the morning or evening, when temperatures are coolest. As the day warms up, spend more time outdoors for a more pleasurable experience.

** If you're staying in the Disney resorts, don't forget that some, like the Fort Wilderness Resort or the BoardWalk Inn, offer enticing fireplace settings in their main lobbies. Others, such as the Polynesian Resort or the Beach Club, also offer nightly beachside fire pits complete with s'mores that also can be fun family escapes from the rare Florida cool-downs. The cozy evening gatherings around the fire can be the perfect way to wind down after a long day in the parks, too. Who knows, if you're outside at a fire pit, you might even catch a glimpse of a fireworks show, as well.



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July 18, 2013

What makes Disney World's Typhoon Lagoon water park unique

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With its almost year-round warm weather, Central Florida is a natural location for an abundance of water parks. However, even though many places charge similar admission prices -- about $50 per day -- not all water parks deliver the same experience.

Walt Disney World's Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach certainly are among the best-themed with the creative back stories Imagineers are known for and the rich details embedded in the slides and landscapes. We have been going to both water parks since my children were babies and have thoroughly enjoyed each park in its unique way. And it's important for first-time visitors to understand that, though both Disney water parks offer fun ways to cool off in the Florida sun, each is different in ways that go beyond their themes. (See tips for families in my previous article.)

Recently, my family and I spent a day at Typhoon Lagoon. From the family raft rides to the lazy river, from the play areas for toddlers to the downhill tube slides, many of the park attractions there were similar to what you might find at Blizzard Beach. Yet others were not.

Here are some of the unique aspects of Typhoon Lagoon that are different from Blizzard Beach.

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1. Crush 'n' Gusher: Disney's first water coaster opened in 2005. This thrill ride propels visitors up and down hills on three separate flumes before plunging tube riders into a pool. (The same technology later was used on Disney Cruise Line's Disney Dream and the Disney Fantasy to create the AquaDuck.) Riders can choose to go solo or partner with up to two others at a time on Crush 'n' Gusher. A cast member told me that the triple-rider rafts go the fastest, which makes sense because of the additional weight. There is a minimum height requirement of 48 inches.

Those who can't -- or won't -- ride the water coaster can hang out near Hideaway Bay, which is the pool Crush 'n' Gusher empties into. One half is open to swimmers. It's a zero-entry pool that's perfect for little ones to splash in without the crowds or waves of the big surf pool.

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2. Surf pool: Speaking of the surf pool, the centerpiece at Typhoon Lagoon is a 2.5-acre pool with varying wave patterns. The gentlest waves roll in, letting swimmers bob up and down, while the 6-foot waves are forces to be reckoned with. Both are fun experiences, but be sure to keep young children well-supervised in the surf pool.

Though Blizzard Beach also has its own wave pool, the surf pool at Typhoon Lagoon is much larger, the waves are more natural and the central location of the pool in the middle of the park offers a much better overall setting from which to enjoy the attraction and plan your day's activities.

On Monday, Tuesday and Friday mornings before Typhoon Lagoon opens, surf lesson are conducted in the pool. The lessons include a half-hour of land instruction and 2.5 hours in the water. The class is limited to 13 students and two instructors. The cost is $150 per person, which does not include admission to Typhoon Lagoon after the surfing lesson. Other family members, however, are allowed to enter the water park to watch the surf lessons. Surfers must be at least 8 years old to participate.

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3. Shark Reef.
Swim with leopard and bonnethead sharks, stingrays and schools of blue tang fish (like Dory from "Finding Nemo") in this man-made reef. Guests are provided with snorkels, masks and life jackets at no extra charge for a short swim across the saltwater pool. This is a great introduction to snorkeling, and my whole family has enjoyed it. Guests must be able to float across the 10-foot-deep pool themselves, and lifeguards do not allow swimmers to turn around once they have started. The sharks are nothing to fear, though, because they are passive and stay at the bottom of the reef. The water is kept at 68 degrees, so it is a little chilly, but it's not uncomfortable once you are moving.

Snorkelers who want to explore Shark Reef further can rent a SAS (Supplied-Air Snorkeling) system at Hammer Head Fred's Dive Shop and be admitted to the other side of the pool. No certification is required to participate. The cost is $20 per 30 minutes.

A third option is available to those who want to see the marine life without getting wet: The reef is divided by an overturned sunken tanker with viewing portholes.

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4. Teen Beach Movie: Beach Party:
Through Sept. 2, guests at Typhoon Lagoon can join a beach party four times a day -- usually at 11 a.m. and 12:30, 2 and 3:30 p.m. -- near the surf pool. To promote Disney Channel's "Teen Beach Movie," the water park has planned the gatherings that feature a high-energy DJ spinning remixes of retro tunes and activities such as hula hooping, tossing water balloons, sand races and limbo challenges. Costumed bikers and surfers (mimicking those in the movie) will interact with participants. My 8-year-old daughter is always drawn to these types of parties and was excited about this Limited Time Magic event at Typhoon Lagoon.

Last month, I was invited to experience the kick-off of the Teen Beach Movie: Beach Party when actors Garrett Clayton, Kent Boyd and Chrissie Fit visited Typhoon Lagoon. Hopefully, you'll feel like you were there, too, when you watch the AllEars.Net video of the Teen Beach Movie stars here.

These differences, of course, don't mean that you'll have more fun at one park over the other. Both are enjoyable in their own unique way, and Blizzard Beach has its own one-of-a-kind attractions, as well. What both Disney water parks share is a chance to beat the heat, make some waves and have a blast - before the summer afternoon thunderstorms strike.

Disclaimer: I was a guest of Walt Disney World for my most recent experience at Typhoon Lagoon. My opinions are my own, and this did not influence my story.

June 8, 2013

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.

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About Disney's Water Parks

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to A Mom and The Magic in the Disney's Water Parks category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Disney World merchandise mail order is the previous category.

DisneyQuest is the next category.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.