Our teenage son is not a big fan of Disney (at the moment), so on our most recent trip we added a visit to Typhoon Lagoon to try to give him a fun day. Typhoon Lagoon is one of Disney’s two water parks in Orlando (Blizzard Beach is the other). This is not meant to be a comprehensive review because we didn’t do everything but it is a review of our day at Typhoon Lagoon last week. Here we go (warning, this is LONG with lots of pics, but you should expect that from me by now!):
When we went
We went in mid-June and choose to go on Friday rather than Saturday because as Floridians we know that locals tend to flock to water parks on the weekends in the summer months for some relief from the heat. I thought that Friday might be a little less crowded and I was happy to find that was the case. While the park wasn’t empty by a long shot, it never felt overly crowded.
We also made sure to get to the bus stop about 45 minutes before park opening so we had plenty of time to catch the bus, get to the park, buy our tickets and get in line before rope drop. This is really important in the summer because you really want to find a shady spot to put your stuff. There are thousands of lounge chairs but only about 10% are in a lovely shady spot. You want to grab one of those shady spots, trust me.
What we brought
We made sure to pack our own towels (they cost $2 each to rent at Typhoon Lagoon) and some drinks and snacks (you can bring in any food and drinks except for alcohol or glass containers). I didn’t want to lug a full sized cooler, but I saw plenty of people who did.
Flip flops or water shoes are a good choice too because the sand and sidewalks get pretty hot in the midday in the summer. Your feet can get fried if you walk around a lot in the afternoon with bare feet (yes I learned this first hand!).
We also packed sunscreen so we could reapply after a few hours. I brought a waterproof camera (which I sadly insisted on calling my waterproof phone much to my husband’s amusement…apparently I now call all picture taking devices phones.) so I could get some great pictures of the park and my kids. You definitely don’t want to take a non-waterproof picture taking device into the wave pool!
We made sure to leave most of our credit cards and other valuables in the hotel room safe because I didn’t want to have to rent a locker. One credit card that you can put in a pocket and your magic band or room key and maybe your ID really should be enough.
We wore our bathing suits to the park with coverups. If you’re planning to ride any of the water slides, your bathing suit choice is important. You can’t ride if the suit has any exposed metal on it. You probably should consider how “stable” your suit is if you’re going to be riding the bigger slides or even playing in the wave pool. Wardrobe malfunctions are common due to the force of the water, so a suit that barely covers you when you’re just standing around is sure to give the kids around you an eyeful as you reach the bottom of the Humunga Cowabunga or the Crushin’ Gusher. Because we were staying at a Disney hotel and just had a short bus ride back, we didn’t bother bringing dry clothes to change into. If we had driven down for the day, a set of dry clothes would have been important.
Because we’re annual passholders, we had three options. We could buy tickets at the gate (at a small discount) or upgrade our annual passes to the premium passes (which allows for entry to the water parks plus other perks that we really don’t need like golf, WWoS entry and DisneyQuest) or buy separate annual passes to the water parks. None of these are great values for us (we probably won’t go that often to the water parks) so we just went with the one day passes.
If you’re buying tickets to Disney, adding the “Water Parks and More” option to the tickets is a great value. If you buy a three day pass to Disney and add this option, you get three additional days entry into either of the water parks (or DisneyQuest, regular golf or miniature golf) in ADDITION to your three days in the main Disney parks. This option only costs $30 to add to a three-day pass, which is much cheaper than a one-day ticket to the water parks. If you’re buying multi-day passes anyways, this is a great add-on at a really good price.
Our shady spot
I did a little internet research in advance and found several spots that were recommended. The one that sounded best to me was in the far back spot on the right, near the shark reef, called Cascade Cove. So, that’s where we headed as soon as the park opened. We had lined up in the main entryway, but we should have headed to the right before the park opened as there was another “rope drop” area off to the right (closer to our desired area). It wasn’t too crazy though and we were the second family to reach that area and were able to find a great area with four chairs under the shade, right next to a pretty little waterfall. Perfection.
We set up our stuff, laid out our towels and set off to explore. When we came back to our spot about two hours later here’s what we found.
What the what?!?! You may note that our stuff was still back there. If you know me at all, you know I’m a rules follower. That rope and sign were NOT there when we put our things in that area and I was seriously unhappy that two hours later our spot was suddenly “reserved for a private event”. Erik’s take on the situation was “they can make us leave then” but Alex and I would have sat there worried the whole time that we were going to be evicted! So I put Eli on my back and set off to find guest relations. Which was harder than it should have been.
I headed towards the entrance, didn’t see anywhere that looked like a guest relations area, headed back and asked at the towel/locker rental place. The cast member working the booth told me that guest relations was at the front of the park. I specifically asked if I’d have to exit the park to get to guest relations (because my ticket was in my bag in the “forbidden area”). She assured me that no, I wouldn’t have to exit. So, with bare feet on hot cement and a three year old on my back, I headed back to the front of the park. I got to the entrance and asked where guest relations is. Guess what, it’s outside of the ticket gates and I’d have to exit the park. Here’s where I started to switch from nice and go with the flow to not so happy. I explained that I had been told by a cast member that I wouldn’t have to exit the park, that I had an issue I needed to speak to guest relations about and I did not have my ticket with me. The cast member quickly went to get someone for me to speak to.
I explained the situation and was told he’d go look into it. About five long minutes later (don’t forget Eli was on my back this whole time) he came back and told me that he’d confirmed that the ropes went up late this morning and that they are roping off that area and several other large, lovely shady spots for the South American tour groups all summer. While he did assure me that we could stay there and that no one would come evict us, I was a little taken aback by the fact that they have decided to reserve these prime areas ALL SUMMER for large tour groups. I’m not sure why they can’t just get there early to get a spot like everyone else. And we did observe during our day that the other larger area adjoining ours that was also reserved for the same groups was virtually empty. There were just a few people in it, so it was a wonderful, shady area with covered picnic tables that was mostly unused.
So, what you need to know if you’re going to Typhoon Lagoon this summer is that the lovely shady areas near the Shark Reef are not available, so you probably want to head towards some of the different shady zones. There are some near the Crushin’ Gusher which are nice, but unfortunately the smoking area is nearby too.
You can rent a Beachcomber Shack (there are four to choose from), which looks great but is pretty expensive (between $200-$300 depending on season). You can reserve them or get more details on the price and what is included by calling 407-WDW-PLAY (with our budget this isn’t something I’ll be reviewing anytime soon lol!). Sure looks nice though and eliminates the need to line up before rope drop to get a shady spot.
What we did with our preschooler
We had both our children with us on this trip, so we were balancing the wishes of a full grown adult man who loves water slides, a teenager who doesn’t really want to do much away from a keyboard at the moment and a three year old whose likes and dislikes change every fifteen minutes (his favorite color is rotating on a daily basis right now).
We sent my husband off to ride the water slides as soon as we got our things settled in our shady spot because the lines are so much shorter right after opening (just like all the other theme parks). The lines can get very long later in the day in the summer, but I was pleasantly surprised that on this particular June Friday, even around noon, these were still the waits:
Eli, Alex and I got in the lazy river. I think we might have been the only people in the lazy river (Castaway Creek) at that time, but the cast members were throwing all the inner tubes in, so it was kind of squishy being all surrounded by empty inner tubes. I kind of wish they’d put them in a little more gradually so the early swimmers could have a little more space.
The lazy river has entrances and exits all over the park and it goes in a big circle from the front of the park all the way behind the back of the wave pool. Each entrance and exit has its own name, so you can figure out the best place to exit depending on what you want to do next. It’s shallow enough that an adult can walk the entire river and Eli was able to walk in some sections, but it was too deep for him in others. The current is pretty gentle and there are several areas where water falls down on you from above which is refreshing.
You can choose to use an inner tube or just walk/swim the whole way. There are stacks of inner tubes at the entrances and free floating inner tubes in the river so you can take one in with you or just grab one in the river. They come in two different sizes, large for adults to use and small blue ones that have bottoms in them for smaller kids to float in. All are free to use and you don’t have to check them out, just grab one.
The park also offers free life vests for kids in multiple locations that you can just take as needed.
After having a lot of fun in the lazy river (Eli declined the use of both the life vest and the inner tube) with Eli practicing his swimming and trying to walk when it was shallow enough, we got out and headed to the giant wave pool.
Since this wasn’t my first trip to Typhoon Lagoon, I knew that this wave pool was STRONG. You can actually take surf lessons after hours in the wave pool, these aren’t little waves, they are pretty darn powerful. So we started in the very shallow area so Eli could get used to them. He is pretty water-crazy so he wants to go as deep as possible, but he quickly realized that wasn’t a good idea with these waves. A wave came every 90 seconds, so after the wave, we’d head out to be about neck deep on him, then we’d turn back and go back to waist deep on him to wait for the next wave. I made sure to stand right behind him as the wave came so he wouldn’t get knocked b
It’s hard to get a good picture of how big these waves are! Here’s a video from the top. Here’s a video from the top of the Wave Pool. And here’s a picture from the entrance to the pool. Neither really give you the true idea of how freaking BIG those waves are.
I wouldn’t recommend anyone who’s not a strong swimmer go out very far into this pool without a vest on. If you are a good swimmer, it can be a lot of fun to go out to where the waves break and ride them in. There are some nice adjacent areas to this pool on the side where the waves break in a much gentler fashion and there are a couple of smaller water slides for smaller kids.
Eli thought about those slides for a bit and he would have been fine on them but he changed his mind. You can see the wave pool in the background. We kept on exploring and found a great kids area that I didn’t remember from our visits when Alex was little. Ketchakiddee Creek has little slides, a mini-lazy river sort of thing that kids go down on inner tubes, and nice little water fall type things that kids can climb up and down.
Eli had a lot of fun running around and trying the little water slides. You may notice that there are very few pictures of Eli so far. That’s because he is a wild child and I couldn’t hold a camera and keep him from certain doom at the same time!
This might not be your first thought when you’re looking for a place to go with your little ones, but the zero entry pool is nice and uncrowded and is a perfect place to take the preschool set to play in the water without waves or crowds. Eli had a great time.
And it was fun to watch the water slide riders shoot out of the slide at the end on the other side of the pool!
We did not choose to eat at Typhoon Lagoon (we brought our own snacks and had PB&J for lunch) just because we were trying to save some money, but they do have several quick service options, including the option to get a refillable mug.
Here are the options from Typhoon Tilly’s for example.
While Eli and I didn’t go on any of the slides, Typhoon Lagoon does have lots of slide options for the more adventurous at heart. You can go down the Humunga Kowabunga which have three slides that are very fast! Erik bruised his tail going down, but that seems to happen to him on other water slides too! They also have less intense slides including some that use inner tubes which are a lot of fun.
Erik also swam with the sharks in the Shark Reef. He insists these sharks do not bite people, but I’m just not comfortable in the water with sharks, even at Disney. This water is very cold and leaves a kind of weird taste in your mouth. They provide you with a snorkel and mask to use as you swim across the reef area. There is an underground viewing area, but they need to clean the windows or replace them because they are really hard to see through.
Typhoon Lagoon is a really well-themed, well-kept water park. While we didn’t get the Premium Annual Passes this year, I suspect we will eventually upgrade to them, especially when Eli gets a little older because we all had a great time. It’s a fun break on a hot day from the other theme parks and is definitely a way to get your kids to be active and run off some energy.
Have you been to either of the Disney water parks? Do you prefer one over the other? Have you swum with the sharks?