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Opening Magic Kingdom

Opening Magic Kingdom

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Typhoon Lagoon

The Walt Disney World Resort is populated with numerous pools, but only two water parks. We have had the good fortune to visit Typhoon Lagoon, one of the water parks on two different occasions.

Disney theming is alive and well at Typhoon Lagoon. The story goes that this area was once a resort that was hit by a huge storm that left water everywhere--waterfalls and rivers-- and a boat on top of Mt. Mayday. In addition to the marvelous theming, Typhoon Lagoon is a lush tropical paradise that includes sand!
The park is designed around the 2 1/2 acre wave pool with Ketchakiddee Creek, the children's area, on one side and Crush 'N' Gusher on the other side. In between are the slides and Shark Reef. Castaway Creek, a lazy river, encircles the park.

We typically scout out chairs at Ketchakidde Creek and this becomes our "base." Lockers are available for rent and now there are deluxe cabanas that can be reserved in advance. The last time we were there, the boy was tall enough and brave enough to ride Keelhaul Falls and Gang Plank Falls, both tube/raft slides. Gang Plank Falls is a raft ride for 3 -5 people. The husband has ridden Crush 'N' Gusher and loved it! And, of course, we float away in Castaway Creek several times each visit.

We have also snorkeled in Shark Reef, which is in the back of the park. Shark Reef is a salt water lagoon where you can obtain snorkel equipment (free) and a brief lesson before heading out into the lagoon. The water temperature is a bit cooler here for the animals which include sharks, rays, and tropical fish--just be aware. Life jackets are also available as are showers when you're done. There is an extra fee for scuba-assisted snorkeling.
In the middle of Shark Reef there is a sunken submarine that can be explored and the windows of the sunken submarine can be used to view the marine life in Shark Reef. You can also use the giant shark teeth to take a photo and tell your friends the shark was "this big."

The highlight of the park is the Typhoon Lagoon Surf Pool which boasts 6 foot waves. One of the favorite activities of the Williams Family boys is to hurl themselves into a 6 foot wave and see how far they travel (a.k.a. body surfing). Even as I type this I am shaking my head! The wave pool alternates between these giant crashing waves and lovely lulling waves. A whistle from the boat on top of Mt. Mayday will signal a change in wave activity. When the giant crashers are coming intermittently, a signal is given that the wave is coming so that you can prepare. There are also some water slides just to the left of the wave pool that exit into the "surf."
Speaking of surfing, you can get lessons/practice at Typhoon Lagoon before the park opens by calling 407-WDW-PLAY.

Meandering Castaway Creek is actually a great way to get to know Typhoon Lagoon. There are 5 entrance/exit points to the lazy river where you can pick up free tubes. There are three different kinds of tubes--single rider, double rider, and single rider without a hole in the tube (the boy prefers this kind--see photo below). The Creek is well marked with signs pointing to each portion of the park. And, on a hot day, this may be the best way to get from one part of the water park to another rather than traversing the hot sidewalks.

Hints and Tips for making the most of your day at Typhoon Lagoon:
  • Get there early. Water parks open at 10:00 am, so you can even sleep in a bit and get there early. We have also taken advantage of the later, in comparison to the theme parks, opening to schedule a character meal such as Chef Mickey's, 'OHANA's, or 1900 Park Fair. The buses run from those resorts to the water parks, too.
  • Pick a spot/chair quickly. It is amazing how quickly those fill up and people wander to find a spot.
  • Go to the back of the park first. We take in the slides at the back of the park after depositing our stuff. The lines are very short then! We work our way to the front of the park as the crowd is going the opposite direction.
  • Be ready to smile! Don't be surprised to find a Photopass Photographer in, and I do mean in, Castaway Creek, at the bottom of Gang Plank Falls, or in Ketchakiddee Creek. If you do get your photos taken, accept the small Photopass Card on the springy bracelet from the photographer. You can combine those photos to your other Photopass Account either on line or at a Photopass location in any park. Click here to read more about Disney's Photopass Service.
  • Water shoes may be helpful. It's Florida and the sun can heat up the sidewalks. If it takes 20 minutes to circle the park in Castaway Creek, imagine how many minutes it might take to walk from one location to another.
  • Sunscreen. Water. Snacks.
  • Leave water toys at home, but bring a life jacket if you want. You can also get a Life Jacket with a refundable deposit.
  • Grab towels from your resort's pool area. You know, the white ones with the big blue stripe. Bring those with you to the water park, then leave the towels there at a towel drop. All Disney, same towels. This way you are not toting wet towels back to your resort.
  • Read the Resort bus stop signs as you exit for your Resort and the number of the bus stop. The Resort bus stops at Typhoon Lagoon are on both sides of the exit. It can mean lots of extra steps if you go the wrong way and realize your Resort bus stop is on the other side. Trust me, I know this!
  • Know that the Disney bus taking you either to/from Typhoon Lagoon from your resort may stop at another location. For example, the Typhoon Lagoon and Downtown Disney bus may be one in the same as they are in such close proximity.
  • The water parks are open year round except when being refurbished. While storms may close the parks, know that the water is heated. Some Disney guests have reported that their best day at the water parks has been Christmas Day.
  • Be safe and have fun!

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