Have you been to one of the Walt Disney World waterparks? Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon are both so much fun, but my family hadn’t so much has set foot in them until the past year or so. They’re both highly themed and have tons to offer, but which Disney waterpark is best for your family? We look at Typhoon Lagoon vs Blizzard Beach – and try to help you decide!
Walt Disney World Waterparks
Walt Disney World has so much more to do than you could ever do in one visit. Or in a hundred. There are four theme parks, the beautiful Disney Springs shopping area, the tucked-awayBoardwalk entertainment district, two mini golf courses (and multiple “real golf” courses), and dozens of resort hotels. Did you know that Walt Disney World also has two incredible water parks?! Each is unique, and each has raving fans of its own – for good reason.
Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Waterpark
Typhoon Lagoon opened in 1989 – the second Walt Disney World waterpark in existence. (For the curious, the first was a water park called River Country – but it has not been open since late 2001.) Typhoon Lagoon has eleven attractions – some of which contain multiple individual slides – and six dining options.
Typhoon Lagoon also has a lot of special offerings like H20 Glow Nights, but perhaps the most unique thing about the park is that you can take surfing lessons! (Surfing lessons are available outside of operation hours, to guests ages 8 and up at an additional cost; get details or book at 407-WDW-PLAY.)
The theming of Typhoon Lagoon is more like that of a traditional waterpark you may have visited. Tropical music, sandy beaches, lush palm trees, and relaxing beach settings make this park great if you’re looking for a true tropical getaway. My family felt like it was extremely reminiscent of Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay, which we’ve visited several times on Disney Cruises. That’s definitely in the waterpark’s favor; if you’ve been to Castaway Cay, you can imagine then that Typhoon Lagoon felt very tranquil and exotic.
Disney’s Blizzard Beach Waterpark
Blizzard Beach is the newer of the two water parks; it opened in 1995. If Typhoon Lagoon is your “typical” (albeit extremely well done) waterpark, Blizzard Beach is maybe the opposite.
This park has a more extensive backstory, lends the park to more unique theming. As the story goes, a freak snowstorm once happened in Central Florida. A shrewd entrepreneur decided to open a super fun ski resort… but it couldn’t last. The snow melted quickly in the Florida heat, leaving the resort totally defunct. Thankfully, the story continues, someone turned it into a water park!
This backstory leads to a very unique juxtaposition of snow and sand, Christmas music and tropical songs, snowmen and sand castles; I’ve never seen anything like it! Blizzard Beach has twelve attractions and nine dining options. Its central attraction, Summit Plummet, is the most extreme attraction at either of the Disney World water parks.
Tips for Visiting the Walt Disney World Waterparks
Both Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon have a location for towel and locker rentals. In our experience, Walt Disney World resort hotel guests can borrow towels for free (at this towel rental location). 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 (currently) $11.99. On subsequent days, guests can “reactivate” the mug for a small fee. These refillable mugs are good at both waterparks with each activation, but not at the resorts or in the theme parks.
The Disney Parks website asks the following of visitors to either of its waterparks:
- 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.
Premium Seating Options And Other Upgrades
Each waterpark offers premium seating options, for a fee. (Guests can call 407-WDW-PLAY in advance of their visit, or inquire about same-day rentals inside the park.)
At Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon, the “Beachcomber Shacks” accommodate 6 guests and include towels, comfortable seating, a locker, a refillable mug for each guest, and a cooler of ice and bottled water. At Disney’s Blizzard Beach, guests can reserve similar “Polar Patios.”
Additionally, both of these premium seating locations have a nearby attendant on hand to take food orders, etc (to be purchased at current menu prices).
If a cabana type upgrade is more than you’re looking for, waterpark 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.
Admission to Blizzard Beach and/or Typhoon Lagoon
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. Some of the annual pass options also include admission to the two Water Parks at no additional cost. Find the current ticket options and prices here.
Which Walt Disney World Water Park Should You Visit?
The most common question I think I’ve heard on this topic is simple: “Which Walt Disney World water park is best?” “Which Disney Waterpark should my family visit?”
Honestly, as with virtually any similar trip planning questions, the answer is a resounding (and seemingly unhelpful)… “It totally depends.”
Take a look at our list and see if your family falls into one or two of these “categories”. Hopefully it will help you decide which of the two Disney waterparks to visit. Or, to visit first.
- 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 corresponding Great Wolf Lodge waterpark attractions.
- 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. It’s a fun ride, but it also includes incredible nods from Disney Imagineering to other, long-standing Disney backstories. Typhoon Lagoon is also home to Crush ‘n’ Gusher, a really cool water coaster with three unique “tracks”. If you’ve ridden the Aqua Duck on a Disney Cruise, you may find this type of ride familiar.
- 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. I don’t want to brag, so I’ll just tell you that the oldest female in our family did quite well on one of these slides. We just won’t talk about who won some of the others. 🙂
- 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. This is perhaps the most important thing to note when planning a visit with elementary aged children. If a wave pool is an important part of your waterpark visit, be sure this one will meet your needs. It’s far from relaxing, that’s for sure!
- 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.
I Still Can’t Decide!
I’ll be honest. After visiting both Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach, 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 the time or budget 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 truly can’t decide, I think it’s totally fine to base your decision on the theming of each park. Does it sound more appealing to immerse yourself in a tropical paradise, or to find yourself in a completely 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.
Frequently Asked Questions about the WDW Water Parks
How long should we plan to spend at the Disney World water parks?
We’re admittedly early risers, so this general plan works for us with both theme parks and the water parks. We simply checked the water park operating hours, and made sure to get there 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 water park from approximately 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. That was plenty of time to try everything – and to repeat our favorites – without getting too terribly exhausted. We experienced many of the attractions in the morning of our visit, 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!
If you aren’t early risers (or want to combine a water park with another Walt Disney World park or attraction), consider visiting the water parks toward the end of the day. You’ll likely avoid larger crowds (because people like us have already left!).
Alternatively, try visiting 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 – even if it’s raining, pack plenty of sunscreen. Those overcast days can be sneaky!
How do we get to the water parks from the parks or resorts?
We’ve previously made the argument for renting a car at Walt Disney World; if your visit includes a trip to either or both of the water parks, it’s definitely an option you may want to consider. Using 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. Be sure to ask a cast member for the current route – but know it will almost certainly require a transfer.
If you don’t want a car but want a little more control over when you arrive at the park – or if you just don’t want to lug extra stuff on the busses – don’t forget it’s easy to call an Uber or Lyft, or use a Minnie Van anywhere on Disney property.
I truly believe that no matter which Walt Disney World water park you choose – Typhoon Lagoon or Blizzard Beach – you’ll have a great time. I also believe that if, like we had been, you’re holding onto the idea that it’s perhaps a waste of time to do a water park on your Disney vacation (especially if you have one nearby at home)… you should stop. I think you’ll be surprised at how well Disney has done water parks. Then again, considering their attractions and theming at Disney Parks around the world, maybe not so surprised. But you’ll certainly have a good time!
Planning a trip to Walt Disney World this summer or fall? Whether you’ve decided on a water park or not, check out our friends at EZ Dis by Instant Impressions – and use referral code DL19. Sandy and her team of Disney specialists have truly done it all at Walt Disney World; I know they have even more expertise on visiting Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon than I do after our one visit. It won’t cost you a dime for a quote OR to use their concierge planning services, and will almost certainly save you time and money.
More waterpark fun…