Thursday, July 29, 2010
Blizzard Beach vs Typhoon Lagoon Vs the long lost River Country
The battle of the Disney Water Parks.
I feel I am pretty qualified to answer this debate.
I first went to a Disney Water park in the seventies while I was a teen. I went to Florida with a lady I babysat for and her four year old son in a pop up camper. It was a 2 week camping trip from Michigan down to Florida and back to Michigan again.
I don't recall if we went into any of the 'Big Parks' while we were there, if there were more than one big park back then, it may have just been The Magic Kingdom.
I do know we were there for the grand opening week of their first Water Park ever at Disney which no longer exists - River Country, which is pictured above along with the park map.
See here for more photos about the long lost water park Disney abandoned about ten years ago with no explanation. The slides and pools remain, allowed to become encompassed by vegetation which happens quickly here in the Swampy state.
I fell immediately in love with water parks. I had always LOVED pools, but this was Extreme Pools! I don't think I ever did get back to a water park again until I was an adult.
So I am making up for my lost water park childhood now. I made sure to add the water park option onto our Disney passes, and will continue to do it as Jamie is a water baby as well.
We visited Typhoon Lagoon 3 times, the first time Jamie wasn't even 3 and wouldn't do anything but splash about. Last winter we went again as Blizzard Beach was closed for refurbishment; and this time Jamie experienced the mid level slides, but none of the bigger slides, even those that don't have a height requirement. She just wasn't ready.
This time she was ready, both for the Air Grover Roller Coaster at Busch Gardens and for some bigger slides at the waterparks . We went to Blizzard Beach both Saturday and Sunday. Although Jamie wouldn't go on any of the solitary slides that were designed for adults, she did go for the Teamboat ride which was a Large raft she could ride with us, and thus felt safe enough to attempt.
Now for my comparison between the two remaining Disney Water Parks.
Both parks had family raft rides but Teamboat rapids at Blizzard Beach was really long (Perhaps the longest?) and alot more fun. The raft held between four and six so my social child was in heaven sliding down with other folks. Typhoon Lagoons raft ride was smaller, and the raft was smaller as well so no room for any others, just ourselves. They also made you haul the raft up yourselves and had gushing waterfalls dumping water on your head throughout the ride. Not a fan of the gushing waterfalls on my head.
Blizzard Beach had more Shaded Tiki Huts and shaded areas period with all the trees they have. The back story is that Blizzard Beach was originally a ski resort, but when the temperatures got too hot they turned it into a them park. Thus more trees.
Also Blizzard Beach had a 'Ski Patrol Training area' for the preteens. It was centrally located in the park at the base of several of the larger slide rides and had several mid range slides and tube rides as well as 'Icebergs' with ropes strung over them for kids to climb over. This area of the park was designed only for preteens and their parents. Mike was delighted that the workers didn't allow the larger children on the small slides in this area.
Blizzard beach also had 2 Wedgie Inducing slides which didn't involve tubes. Those I find are not as pleasurable unless you like having your bathing suit shoved up into your bodily orifaces. One of them claims to be the longest freefall waterslide in the world with speeds of over 50 mph.
I prefer the slides/rides with rafts and the Tobbagon Ride was one with rafts and my favorite ride. It looked just like a regular tobaggon run, but with water. 8 people all went down at the same time, Mike and I traded off several times, but couldn't convince Jamie to try it.
Blizzard Beach also allowed us to use the Beverage stations for ice for our drinks. No charge no waiting.
So not only does Blizzard Beach have a huge amount of shade and available ice, their Lazy River was really long, and the park layout was great - you could see the rides easily. I also preferred their wave pool as it was a regular wave pool. The wave pool at Typhoon Lagoon has a Tidal wave that comes now and again, and I just don't like it. It shoves kids and older folks down and around.
Now for Typhoon Lagoon. Hmmm lets see, some may find that wave pool more enjoyable as it is not predictable and a bit more adventurous. The back story for Typhoon Lagoon is that a Huge Tidal wave came along and flooded out an area, so they turned it into a water park.
TL is more tropical looking, lots of palms and lots and lots of sand. Too much sand.
Yes I like sandy beaches, when there is an ocean or Large lake involved. Otherwise I can take it or leave it. It's messy and can be uncomfortable in your suit, clothes and food.
Almost all of the free Shaded huts in Typhoon Lagoon were in the sand. So another vote for Blizzard Beach. And you couldn't get the ice from the stations, like you could at BB. The Drink stations were activated by the bar code on the cup you would buy for $11, but apparently the technology was different as you couldn't get free ice without standing in lines at TL.
I made a bit of an ass of myself. A lady was getting her cup filled at the drink station. She had activated the ice and soda (I could see the green light over the ice spigot) and I ran up and filled a water pail with it. She said "Oh no these work with the special bar codes only, and I said, "Yup I knw, just needed some ice thanks!" Mike who is usually mortified when I pull something untoward as that, was thrilled, he really likes ice in his drinks!
If you are wealthy you can pay $250 for private shaded patios at either park. I'm not sure how I feel about that. Something smacks me wrong about the wealthy having better digs then the rest of us, just like I don't like the FastPasses the rich can purchase to be first in line at the rides in the big theme parks.
As we aren't wealthy we find the best way to experience the parks is to bring your own drinks and sandwiches in and did all three days. The first day we didn't bring food and had a $50 lunch, so that taught us to be more prepared the next few days. The second day we actually brought in our full sized cooler filled with sandwiches and plenty of cold drinks - even ice. BUt the third day we had checked out of the hotel so had the big cooler iced down holding our milk and staples, so no ice for us on that third day. Plus I had to hike back to the car to get the sandwiches at lunch time. Best advice i have is to bring a big cooler and load it up!
I think with the recession they are loosening the rules for coolers and drinks. Busch Gardens even had a sign saying no coolers, but we brought one every time. We found the stroller really came in handy to transport the cooler and the stuff.
But back to the Water Park Comparison:
We discovered the way to ensure a shady centrally located spot for the day was to get there first. So we did that both on Day 2 & 3, and plan on doing that every time we go from now on. It's just a good practice to do in any kind of park.
One good thing happened at Typhoon Lagoon on our third and last day in the Water parks. Jamie got brave and did rides where she was alone on a tube. And she loved them.
Now I can't wait to take her back to Blizzard Beach so she can do the Tobaggon ride with us!