Disney Water Parks: Guide to Blizzard Beach vs. Typhoon Lagoon

Everything you need to know about Disney's two Orlando water parks.
Disney's Typhoon Lagoon water park in Orlando (Photo: Kent Phillips)
Disney's Typhoon Lagoon water park in Orlando (Photo: Kent Phillips)
  • There are two Disney water parks in Orlando: Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon.
  • The two Disney water parks currently operate on a rotating schedule, meaning when one is open, the other is closed.
  • If you’re planning an Orlando vacation that includes either of the Disney water parks, here’s everything you need to know about the differences between Blizzard Beach vs. Typhoon Lagoon, including which is more suited to younger children.

With so many roller coasters to ride, characters to hug, and Dole Whip to eat at the best Orlando theme parks, it’s no wonder that the water parks in Orlando often play second fiddle to their flashier counterparts. But you’re missing out if you don’t make time to visit one of the Disney water parks on your next Florida family vacation.

At Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon, you can cool off after a hot morning at the theme parks, enjoy a rest day between theme park visits, or even stop by in the morning before some nighttime fun at the Most Magical Place on Earth. And you won’t feel like you’re missing out on the theme park experience, either, because both Disney water parks are fully immersive experiences that lean into their unique themes.

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Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park (Photo: Amy Smith)
A ski resort-style chairlift carries you to the top of Mount Gushmore at Blizzard Beach (Photo: Amy Smith)

Disney Water Parks: What’s Different (and What’s the Same) Between Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon?

Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park and Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park have a lot in common: fun theming, attractions for all ages, and tasty food options, all of which I’ll go into more detail about later on in this guide. The two Disney water parks are also similar in size, have locker rentals, and boast large gift shops in case you forget your swimsuit or beach towels.

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They’re far from identical, though, and you may find that your family will prefer one over the other. However, in recent years Disney’s Orlando water parks have operated on a rotating schedule (when one is open, the other is closed), which means the timing of your visit will directly impact which of the two parks you’re able to experience.

Pro tip: You can check the park calendar to see which of the Disney water parks is currently open. You can also adjust the dates to see which will be open during your family vacation window. On my most recent check, there were some dates where both waterparks where closed, so if visiting one of them is a priority on your WDW vacation, definitely check operating dates before you book.

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Lazy river at the Typhoon Lagoon water park (Photo: Walt Disney World)
Typhoon Lagoon’s Castaway Creek lazy river has a serene rainforest vibe (Photo: Disney)

Walt Disney World Resort sells a one-day water park ticket for admission to either Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon water park or Disney’s Blizzard Beach water park. When you make your purchase, you don’t have to pick a specific date you want to visit, either. Your tickets will be valid for quite a long time (they’ll say when they expire) and they will grant you entry to whichever water park is open during your trip. Park reservations are also not required to visit either of the Disney water parks.

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You can also purchase water park access as an add-on to any standard Disney theme park ticket. The “Park Hopper Plus Option” include access to the Disney water parks along with your admission to Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios (home of Disney’s Star Wars land, Galaxy’s Edge). With Park Hopper Plus, you can visit multiple theme parks each day. It also grants admission to the following Disney experiences:

My Complete Guide to Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park

Disney water parks wave pool at Blizzard Beach (Photo: Kent Phillips)
The gentle Melt-Away Bay wave pool produces kid-friendly waves all day long (Photo: Kent Phillips)

Where is Blizzard Beach Located?

Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park is located close to Disney’s Animal Kingdom park. Most guests staying at the Disney World hotels in Orlando will need to take a bus to Animal Kingdom and then transfer to a Blizzard Beach bus (the only exceptions are guests staying at Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort and Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort). You can skip this extra step by driving or using a rideshare service, but you may also want to work a visit to Animal Kingdom into your Blizzard Beach day since you’ll be close by.

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Disney’s Winter Summerland Miniature Golf Course is located right next to Blizzard Beach and typically stays open much later than either of the Disney World water parks. Advance reservations are not required, so you can walk right up and play a round before you head home.

Theming at Blizzard Beach

What do you do when there’s a huge snowstorm in Florida? Build a ski resort, of course! And when the snow begins to melt, you get Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park, a unique water park theme that’s incorporated into every little detail around the park—from the ski resort signage and chair lift that carries you to the top of Mount Gushmore to the names of the water slides, snacks, and drinks. There’s even holiday music playing all year long!

Blizzard Beach’s Rides and Slides

Blizzard Beach is home to one of the fastest and tallest water slides in the world. Summit Plummet sends you down a 12-story near-vertical drop at speeds of up to 65 miles per hour. A walking path leads to the top, or you can take the scenic route on the ski resort-themed chair lift (32-inch height requirement). Those who don’t meet the Summit Plummet’s 48-inch height requirement can watch riders come down from the ground-level observation deck. 

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Other heart-pounding water slides and attractions at Blizzard Beach include the Downhill Double Dipper (48-inch height requirement), Runoff Rapids (no height requirement), and the Toboggan Racers (no height requirement). All three of these have multiple slides so you can race your friends or family members to the bottom.

The Cross Country Creek lazy river is one of the longest in the country and you can spend close to 30 minutes floating around. Melt-Away Bay is Blizzard Beach’s wave pool. This large wave pool sits at the base of the snow-covered Mount Gushmore and produces kid-friendly bobbing waves all day long. 

Tike's Peak is themed to incorporate characters from Frozen (Photo: Amy Smith)
At Blizzard Beach, Tike’s Peak is themed to incorporate characters from Frozen (Photo: Amy Smith)

Kids’ Play Areas at Blizzard Beach

Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park has two separate play areas for kids. The areas are relatively close to each other so you can bounce back and forth if you have kids of varying ages. Tike’s Peak is geared toward younger kids with pint-sized slides and a splash area with squirting ice sculptures; it was recently re-themed to incorporate characters from Frozen. At Ski Patrol Training Camp, tweens and teens can walk across ice floes, zip line over a pool, and take on slides that are a bit longer than those in Tike’s Peak.

Food at Blizzard Beach

There are no indoor dining restaurants at Blizzard Beach, but there are to-go food options and plenty of picnic tables around the park. Most of the picnic tables are located outside of Lottawatta Lodge (designed to look like a ski chalet), which is the main quick service restaurant. Lottawatta Lodge serves family-friendly burgers, flatbreads, and milkshakes, including a Salted Caramel Shake that adults can get spiked with bourbon. 

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There are a variety of walk-up food stands and other dining options around the park that serve everything from hot dogs and pretzels to ice cream and cotton candy. Standout snacks include the hot and fresh Mini Donuts at Joffrey’s Coffee, the huge Sand Pail ice cream sundae (yes, it’s served in a real beach bucket and you eat it with a shovel) at I.C. Expeditions, and the adults-only frozen cocktails at the Polar Pub. Some locations offer mobile ordering where you can skip the line.

Blizzard Beach Add-Ons

Towel and locker rentals are available at the Beach Haus at the front of the water park and Disney hotel guests can receive complimentary towels for each person in their party. There are lounge chairs stationed all over Blizzard Beach, but if you’re willing to pay a little extra, you can get a reserved spot for the day along with a few other perks.

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The Lodge Umbrellas are in a gated section of the park and come with two loungers, two beach chairs, an umbrella, and four towels. The Polar Patios are more expensive, but get you considerably more space, cushioned chairs, a locker, refillable drink mugs, free ice water, and a Disney Cast Member to take your food and drink orders. I highly recommend making an advance reservation if this is something you’re interested in.

Complete Guide to Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park

Food at Disney's Typhoon Lagoon water park in Orlando (Photo: Kent Phillips).jpg
Kids love the sweet treats at Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon water park in Orlando (Photo: Kent Phillips).jpg

Where is Typhoon Lagoon Located?

Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park is located close to Disney World’s shopping and dining district, Disney Springs. Direct transportation is available between Typhoon Lagoon and all Walt Disney World Resort hotels, as well as Disney Springs.

Theming at Typhoon Lagoon

Like Blizzard Beach, Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park has its own fictional backstory. As the story goes, a typhoon wreaked havoc on a seaside tropical paradise, leaving devastating wreckage in its wake. The lush greenery and turquoise blue water give the whole water park a relaxing, laid-back feel, but the washed-up cargo, deep sea relics, and large shrimp boat (called Miss Tilly) that’s impaled on top of Mount Mayday add to the rogue storm legend.

Typhoon Lagoon’s Rides and Slides

While the two Disney water parks share many features, Typhoon Lagoon does not have a sky-high body slide like Summit Plummet. It does, however, have a few things Blizzard Beach does not. Miss Adventure Falls (no height requirement) takes you on a rip-roaring and very wet inner tube raft adventure; Mayday Falls (no height requirement) is the highest and longest water slide at Typhoon Lagoon; and Crush ‘n’ Gusher (48-inch height requirement) is Disney World’s only water coaster.

The Humunga Kowabunga (48-inch height requirement) water slide sends you down a five-story drop in the dark, while the Storm Slides twist and turn through the park’s picturesque tropical setting before splashing down into a cool pool. The Castaway Creek lazy river, while shorter than Cross Country Creek at Blizzard Beach, has a more serene rainforest vibe.

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One of the biggest differences between the two Disney water parks comes down to the wave pools. While the wave pool at Blizzard Beach is consistently gentle, the Typhoon Lagoon Surf Pool pushes out six-feet-tall surf waves in addition to the its small bobbing waves. And yes, you really can surf them (more on that later).

Kids’ Play Areas at Typhoon Lagoon

Unlike Blizzard Beach, which has two play areas, Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park has only one area for kids. But there’s still lots to keep little oceaneers busy in that one area, called Ketchakiddee Creek. There are water slides, a small beach area, a cave and waterfall to explore, and a leaky tugboat called the S.S. Squirt. There are also plenty of lounge chairs in this area where parents can lounge while their kids play.

Food at Typhoon Lagoon

Sweet treats at Disney's Typhoon Lagoon water park in Orlando (Photo: @mufaassa via Twenty20)
There’s no shortage of cold treats at Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon (Photo: @mufaassa via Twenty20)

You won’t find any sit-down restaurants at Typhoon Lagoon, but the water park does have a variety of dining options to suit your needs. Typhoon Tilly’s serves island-inspired fare like fried shrimp and fish tacos, while Leaning Palms satisfies less-adventurous eaters with a menu of pizza, hot dogs, and the like. 

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If you’re looking for something sweet, Happy Landings Ice Cream and the Snack Shack serve the Disney water parks’ famous Sand Pail ice cream sundae. Adults can kick back with an alcoholic beverage from Let’s Go Slurpin’, including a frozen blue concoction called the Typhoon Tilly.

Add-Ons

There are private shaded areas at each Disney waterpark. Typhoon Lagoon’s Beachcomber Shacks come with cushioned chairs, towels, a locker, refillable drink mugs, complimentary ice water, and an attendant to take your food and drink orders during your visit. Each shack accommodates up to six guests.

For shade and privacy at a lower price point, the Getaway Glen Umbrellas offer two loungers, two beach chairs, an umbrella, a small table, and towels.  Advance reservations are highly recommended. 

In addition to these, Typhoon Lagoon offers two different surfing programs. Skilled surfers can hang ten in a three-hour surf session (up to 25 guests total) with 100 surf-ready waves. If you haven’t yet mastered the art of surfing, you can book a private surf lesson, taught by surf pros who’ll get you going in no time. Dining packages and photo sessions are also available.

Walt Disney World Hotels with Water Park Perks

Disney Springs (Photo: Photo: VIAVAL/Shutterstock)
Disney Springs (Photo: Photo: VIAVAL/Shutterstock)

A half dozen hotels near the Disney water parks have pools, slides, and lazy rivers that will satisfy your need for slipping, sliding, and splashing even if you don’t buy a pass to Blizzard Beach or Typhoon Lagoon. These hotels include:

And it’s not just the Disney hotels that go all-in with water play areas. If you don’t mind staying a little farther from the parks, here’s a list of other Orlando hotels with pools, lazy rivers, and on-site water parks worth considering as well.

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Tarah Chieffi
Tarah Chieffi is a theme park and family travel journalist who discovered her words were best used to help travelers plan fun-filled family vacations. When she isn't eating theme park food and riding roller coasters, she can be found cycling wherever her bike will take her, tucked under the covers with a good book, or planning her next adventure with her husband and three sons.