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Disney Parks 101: Typhoon Lagoon
What You Need To Know
There are currently two water parks located at the Walt Disney World Property: Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon. There used to be a third water park that was themed after rivers but its location, on the shore of Bay Lake, made it prone to flooding and in turn unsafe swimming water. This park, Disney's River Country, closed in 2001 and has since been demolished. River Country was the first water park to open at Walt Disney World and Disney learned from its mistakes when they created their seconded water park: Typhoon Lagoon. Typhoon Lagoon is the smaller of the two water parks currently at Disney World and opened in 1989.
Typhoon Lagoon is perhaps one of the most unique water parks in the world, in 2012 it recored over two million visitors making it the most visited water park in the world. Typhoon Lagoon does has not received this honor for nothing. Like all thing associated with Disney this water park has a theme. The story behind the park is that a tropical island paradise that had a surprise typhoon land. The storm flung fishing gear, boats, and other debris throughout the island, as well as stranded a shrimp boat on the top of the mountain. The storm is also said to have created a permanent body of water on the island; this is the world's largest outdoor wave pool.
Typhoon Lagoon is more than just a water park. The wave pool is so large that you can actually surf the waves. This is one of the few places you can snorkel with sharks right at the water park. This is also one of the only two Disney parks that allows you to bring a cooler in, they only items they will not allow in are glass containers and alcoholic beverages.
The park itself is divided into six different sections: Mount Mayday, Shark Reef, the Typhoon Lagoon, Hideaway Bay, Castaway Creek, and Ketchakidee Creek.
This is the area of the the park directly around Mount Mayday. This is where you will find the majority of the water slides. Gangplank Falls is a family tube ride that is a perfect way to introduce young ones to the joys of water slides. If you are looking for a rougher ride then give Mayday Falls a try. If body slides are more your speed then give Storm Slides a chance to thrill you.
For an extra cost you can enter the park two and a half hours early and take surfing lessons in the giant wave pool. If you have ever wanted to learn to surf this is your chance. It is a safe environment and the best part is you are guaranteed to get waves. That is something that you might not necessarily get in the ocean.
The Typhoon Lagoon
This area of the park is the giant wave pool and the areas around it. During the day every 90 minutes the machine produces 6 foot waves for body surfing, and every 30 minutes it produces smaller waves.
In addition to the giant wave pool there are several zero entry areas that are lined with sand. These areas are perfect for small children to play in the shallow water. The entire area around the wave pool is surrounded by white sand. There are beach chairs as far as the eye can see. Absolutely perfect to drying off for the day, taking a quick cat nap, or working on that Florida sun kissed tan.
Would you swim with the sharks?
In my opinion this is the best part of the park, though I am a little biased a a professional aquarist with a passion for sharks. This is one of the few places in the world where you are guaranteed to see sharks while you are snorkeling. Guests can rent snorkel equipment, a mask and snorkel, for free. Don't worry, all of the equipment is thoroughly cleaned between each guest. The first time I did this my eyes burned a little from the chemicals they used to disinfect the masks. There are warning signs every few yards along the waiting area. These signs serve two purposes: the first is to let you know what you are doing, swimming with sharks in rather cold water, and the second is to cover Disney's butt just in case something does happen.
This attraction is for anyone that is brave enough to get into the water. If younger explorers can't swim on their own or are not quite comfortable swimming in deep water but still want to experience the thrill of swimming with sharks they can wear a life vest and float along the surface. If your child, or you for that matter, decide at the last minute to stay on dry land that's ok. There is an opt out bridge you can take to return your gear, the dive shack attendants would be more than happy to direct you to a viewing porthole where you can still see the sharks without getting wet.
The first thing you need to do is read the signs. You need to know that the water, unlike the rest of the park, is unheated, this means it can be cold. 70 degrees might not sound too bad but when it is almost 90 outside it can be a bit of a shock. I've done it first thing in the morning and I can assure it will wake you up. You also need to know that it is saltwater, for some reason some people don't like swimming in saltwater and they can't seem to make the connection that sharks and reef fish means saltwater. The last thing you need to know is that it is rather deep, nearly twelve feet.
After you have read the signs and grabbed your gear its time to get ready to get in. There are showers, also unheated, all along the waiting area. My advice is to take a quick shower, it will make the shock of the exhibit water a little less. The lifeguards will explain how to use your gear and make sure that you have it on properly. They will then let you know how to best get across the pool, remember not to kick the people around you. Then it is time to take the plunge and go! I recommend taking your time, but don't delay too long as the lifeguards will yell at you. If want to take pictures I would enjoy the first trip across and then take pictures on the second, that way you are able to enjoy the experience the first time and not worry about trying to get a good shot so all your friends back home will believe you when you say that you swam with sharks.
Update 8/26/17: Typhoon Lagoon has had a renovation and, unfortunatly, Shark Reef was removed. While I am not sure as to why since it was a very popular attraction every time I went I would imagine it had something to do with the system itself (maybe the filtration or plumbing) or the health of the animals. Maybe there was too much sunscreen in the water. Or maybe people would not listen to the cast member and touch the animals. I am sad it is gone, it was one of my favorite things to do at this park.
Castaway Creek is a lazy river. It wanders around the perimeter of the park and is shaded by dense trees and flowers. Unlike many other water parks you are allowed to choose if you want an inner tube or if you want to float along on your own. The river flows by waterfalls and misting stations. It is also a nice way to see the entire park without having to walk around.
This part of the park is aptly named as it is the most hidden part of the park. It is located behind the dressing rooms. Hideaway Bay is home to the most thrilling water slides at Disney: Crush 'N Gusher. This attraction is actually three water coasters: banana, coconut, and pineapple. What exactly is a water coaster? It is a water slide that uses water to propelling uphill as well as down the slide. You can go down in one or two person inner tubes. Often there are Disney Photopass photographers at the bottom waiting to capture the moment you get to the bottom. This is my favorite water slide of all time. I lost count of how many times my brother and I went down.
Like much of the park the area surrounding Crush 'N Gusher is covered in white sand and beach chairs.
This is the perfect place for young children to play. There are plenty of small water slides and fountains for kids to run through. There are also a variety of boats and sea life that spray water throughout the entire play area. Again, like much of the rest of the park there is a sandy beach area.
Things to Keep in Mind
- This is a water park, make sure that you have appropriate clothing for you and all young ones.
- This park does serve alcohol. Keep in mind that water rides and alcohol don't always make the best combination. Please drink responsibly.
- There are lockers available for your convenience if you are not comfortable leaving your belonging out in public view.
- There are towels available to rent, but you are permitted to bring your own
- This park closes for three months every year to have renovations
- This park is located in central Florida so sunscreen is a must