In addition to its four theme parks, Disney Springs shopping area, Boardwalk entertainment district, two mini golf courses (and multiple “real golf” courses), and dozens of resort hotels, Walt Disney World also has two incredible water parks. Each is different, and each has raving fans of its own.
Planning a trip to one (or both!) of the Walt Disney World water parks? If you’re headed to Blizzard Beach or Typhoon Lagoon and need all the quick tips, Wayfinding TravelingMom Jennifer Kaufman has you covered, after visiting both with her family of five. Find out which is best for your family, tips for navigating them with kids, and more!
We have spent hundreds of nights on Disney properties and have visited Disney Parks around the world, and yet somehow we had never set foot in either of the Disney World water parks until this year! Our current annual passes included water park admission, so we made it a point earlier this year to try them out. We took a trip down with the sole purpose of spending time in both Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon. Call it research, I guess… someone has to do it!
The Disney World Water Parks Lineup
Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park
Typhoon Lagoon is the older of the two current Disney World water parks, open in 1989. (For the curious, there was a water park called River Country prior to these two, but it has not been open since late 2001.) It has eleven attractions – some of which contain multiple individual slides – and six dining options.
Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park
Planning Your Walt Disney World Water Parks Trip
Tips for Visiting Either Park
Take note of this Disney World water parks’ dress code, from the Walt Disney World website:
- Swim attire must be appropriate for a family environment and without buckles, rivets, zippers or exposed metal. Inappropriate swim attire, swim attire with buckles, rivets, zippers or exposed metal, and other sharp objects are not allowed on any of the attractions.
- Jeans and neoprene wetsuits are not permitted on certain attractions.
- For safety, diaper-age children must wear plastic pants or swim diapers in pool areas.
Each park has a location for towel and locker rentals. In our experience, Walt Disney World resort hotel guests can borrow towels for free. Guests staying off-property or locals driving in for a visit may want to bring their own towels or rent them from the water park for a few dollars each.
Both waterparks offer a refillable mug program, similar to that available at the resort hotels. The initial cost of a mug is $11.99 (at the time of publication). Each day there after, you can “reactivate” the mug for a small fee. Mugs are good at both parks with each activation.
Premium Seating Options And More
Each waterpark also offers premium seating options. Guests can call 407-WDW-PLAY in advance of their visit, or inquire about same-day rentals at the park. At Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon, Beachcomber Shacks accommodate 6 guests and include towels, seating, a locker, refillable mugs, and a cooler of ice and bottled water. At Disney’s Blizzard Beach, guests can reserve similar “Polar Patios.” Additionally, these two premium seating options come with a nearby attendant to take food orders, etc. (to be purchased at current menu prices).
Guests can also rent Getaway Glen Umbrellas at Typhoon Lagoon and Lodge Umbrellas at Blizzard Beach. These include two beach chairs, an umbrella, and towels for up to 4 guests.
Guests must have water park tickets for admission to either of the Disney World water parks. Guests can purchase a single day Water Park admission ticket, a Water Parks Annual Pass, or the Park Hopper Plus option – which offers admission to the four theme parks plus admission to the water parks, Disney’s Wide World of Sports, and/or Disney’s miniature golf courses. Find the current ticket options and prices here.
Which Disney World Water Park is best for my family?
The most common question I think I’ve heard on this topic is simple: “Which Disney World water park is best?” Honestly, as with virtually any similar questions, the answer is a resounding, “It totally depends.”
- Thrill-Seekers who love water slides will probably prefer Blizzard Beach. Each park has a similar number of attractions accessible with the same variety of height restrictions; Blizzard Beach’s Slush Gusher and Summit Plummet are somewhat more intense than Typhoon Lagoon’s largest, Humunga Kowabunga.
- That said, there’s reason for families with kids of all ages to prefer Blizzard Beach. There are a number of attractions available at both water parks for kids under 48 inches, but the Tikes Peak and Ski Patrol Training Camp areas at Blizzard Beach are far and away the best play areas for kids. If you’ve spent time at Great Wolf Lodge, many of these attractions might seem familiar; at Ski Patrol you’ll find a zip line, smaller slides, and a super fun water ropes/obstacle course. My kids stayed here for hours, and marveled at how much fun they had – repeatedly comparing it to Great Wolf.
- Groups looking for family raft rides will find them at both Disney World water parks – but we prefer the newest water park attraction, Miss Adventure Falls, at Typhoon Lagoon. Typhoon Lagoon is also home to Crush ‘n’ Gusher, a really cool water coaster with three unique “tracks”.
- Travelers with a competitive streak will absolutely enjoy the challenge of winning a variety of races and tube races at Blizzard Beach. Toboggan Racers, Snow Stormers, and Downhill Double Dipper all pit guests against one another and were among some of our favorites at the park.
- Surfers and strong swimmers will be super impressed with the wave pool at Typhoon Lagoon. I had read several things about the Typhoon Lagoon Surf Pool, and still felt unprepared for how intense it is. Every 90 seconds, guests will experience continuous waves of up to 6 feet.
- Beach combers who prefer to relax will likely prefer Melt-Away Bay, the wave pool at Blizzard Beach. Waves are gentle enough that even inner tubes and flotation devices are allowed.
The Bottom Line
Ultimately, after visiting both, we’re convinced that you’ll have a good time no matter which Disney water park you visit. That said, looking at some of the differences may help sway you one way or another if you’ll only have time for one. For most groups, I would suggest starting with Blizzard Beach – unless the Surf Pool at Typhoon Lagoon just seems like it cannot be missed.
If you can’t decide, I’d suggest thinking about the theming. Does it sound more appealing to immerse yourself in a tropical paradise, or to find yourself in a whimsical Winter vs. Summer story? I have met people for whom the Blizzard Beach theming totally seals the deal, and others for whom it is a deal-breaker. I think it’s like comparing apples to oranges. We thoroughly enjoyed both, but it’s worth considering; after all, you won’t escape the theming of either, no matter what attractions you end up experiencing.
How long should we plan to spend at the Disney World water parks?
We made sure to get to each water park at the start of the day. This allowed us to have our pick of great seating, and to get on almost all of the “big rides” within the first hour or two of our day. We stayed at each from approximately 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. That was plenty of time to try everything – and repeat favorites – without getting too terribly exhausted. We experienced many of the attractions each morning, stopped for lunch, and then spent time in the wave pool or the lazy river. It was a great balance for the kids – and the grownups!
Another great time to visit the water parks and avoid crowds is toward the end of the day (when people like us have already left!) or on a rainy day. Attractions will close for lightning, but will otherwise remain open. If it’s warm enough, that may end up being the perfect time to visit. Don’t forget to pack sunscreen. Those overcast days can be sneaky!
How do we get to the water parks from the parks or resorts?
We almost always rent a car at Walt Disney World, and visiting the water parks is one excellent reason to do so. That said, the Walt Disney World transportation system does get you to the water parks – it just takes a bit longer than going from a resort to a theme park.
In order to take a Disney bus to one of the water parks, you must first transfer at Disney Springs. At certain times of year, it may also be possible to transfer at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Ask a cast member for the current route – but know it will almost certainly require a transfer.
Alternatively, you can take a Minnie Van or request a ride via Uber or Lyft.