So, you’ve hit the middle of your vacation and are looking for something a little tamer than the theme parks but aren’t quite ready to spend the day lazing around your hotel.  Why not consider spending a day at one of Walt Disney World’s two water parks?  Wondering which one is the best fit for your family?  This week we’ll take a day to chill out at Blizzard Beach, then next week we’ll blow on over to Typhoon Lagoon, so put your flippers on, and let’s take a dip!

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Let me just start out this little two-parter by saying “I’m not a water park person.”  I saw a band-aid floating in the wave pool at my local water park when I was 10, and that was it. I never visited another water park again until we took advantage of Disney’s Water Park Fun and More option as part of the Salute to the Armed Forces offer one year.  Yes, I know it’s ridiculous, but it’s just how I roll.  And if you have stories about floating bandages at the Disney water parks, don’t tell me!!  So, as a non-water park person, I have to admit, I love the Walt Disney World offerings!  True to form, there are great details, fun theming and a general magical feeling at the parks, so don’t let preconceived ideas about water parks keep you from experiencing all Walt Disney World has to offer!

Family Friendly

Blizzard Beach is probably my pick for the more family friendly park.  Of course there are the big slides (more on that later), but Blizzard Beach is my pick because of their kids’ areas.  Tike’s Peak caters specifically to those water warriors 48 inches and under.  It’s a kid-sized water park with slides, pools, spraygrounds and more.  Although great, the kids area isn’t very unique.  We were most impressed (and spent lots of time) at Ski Patrol Training Camp.  Aimed at tweens, Ski Patrol offers a great place for those who aren’t quite daring enough for the big boys but are far too cool to play in the kiddie area.  With slides, a zip line, icebergs to traverse and more, this area is a hit for our family.  And if you can talk the kiddos into a trip up Mt. Gushmore, the whole family can hop into a raft and slide down Teamboat Springs, the longest family flume ride at 1200 feet of splashy fun!

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Get Park Wise: Life jackets are available at no charge (a refundable deposit or collateral may be required) at Blizzard Beach.  Stop at Snowless Joe’s for more info!  Towel rentals are also available here, but if you remember to pack a few from the room, you won’t be out two bucks a pop.

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Plummeting Slides

For those ready to ascend Mt. Gushmore, there’s no shortage of great slides to w(h)et your appetite for cool thrills!  Seven slides start atop Mt. Gushmore and plummet, splash and float down its sides.  The piece de resistance of Blizzard Beach is Summit Plummet, a 120′ slide that sends you down to the bottom of the mountain at speeds of up to 60 miles per hour!  A close second is the Slush Gusher sending its riders down 90 feet of raging water.  Hold onto your bathing suits!  You’ll also find racing slides, as well as a few tamer options around the mountain.

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Get Park Wise:  While the chair lift up Mt. Gushmore is fun and offers great views of the park, if you’re in a hurry, take the stairs. The lines here can get long.

Noshes, Lockers and More

Blizzard Beach offers lots of snack options and three locations serving meal food.  You are looking at counter service options at the water parks, but chances are if you’re swimming you’re not trying to load up at lunch.  Coolers are allowed, but be aware that glass containers and alcohol are not.

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Get Park Wise: The water parks offer refillable mugs good for one day.  If you’d like to go more than one day, a discounted bar code sticker can be purchased for additional trip to the water parks.  Refills are unlimited in quantity.

Lockers are available for rent to store your gear if everyone in your party is planning to hit the slides.  We’ve both rented a locker and left our bags under a chair or near foliage without issue, however, I recommend a locker if you have valuables, as your items could easily walk out the front gate while you’re enjoying your day.  Lockers available near the entrance and a few are located further in, as well.

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Be sure to check with your hotel concierge upon arrival or the official site prior to your vacation, as the hours of operation can fluctuate with the season.  Additionally, Blizzard Beach tends to close for its annual refurbishment during the winter months (which I always thought was slightly ironic, but I guess those escaping the snow don’t want to swim in it).

How do you (or would you) spend your day at Blizzard Beach?