Enjoying the Water Parks
Barb and I have visited Typhoon Lagoon and River Country several times. We've never been to Blizzard Beach (but, as always, we hope to make it on our next trip). There are several things that we've learned that might make your water park visit a bit easier...
When To Go?
One great use of the water parks is as a morning event. We often go first thing and stay though lunch, but leave shortly thereafter. For those folks on a "Superpass" that permits unlimited use of the park during the first seven days of their first use of their passport, Typhoon Lagoon can be used as an alternative afternoon "break" or even as a separate full day at Walt Disney World. Personally, I don't think this park is a "break", it's every bit as intense as the major parks, but it certainly is a change of pace.
It's easy to spend a day at these parks (less so at River Country)...and you don't even realize how fast the time is going.
You might want to avoid the weekends, because those locals that want to visit will be much more likely to do so on the weekend...so crowds tend to be greater on Saturdays and Sundays.
Getting to the Parks:
Since the water parks are pretty much "off the beaten track", you need to consider how you're going to get there. Barb and I have found that driving over in our own (or a rental) car is much more convenient than the Disney buses. The reason is simple...the parking lots are relatively small, so walking to the car is not a great distance (and there's no TTC to deal with here). My suggestion: Drive over about forty-five minutes or so before the park opens (allow more time in the busier times of the year). You'll get a nice parking place within the first few rows by the park entrance...and you'll be able to make an easy get-away when you're waterlogged.
Driving to the water parks is certainly a lot more convenient than taking the Disney Transportation. The Disney buses run to the various water parks and usually have other stops included in the route (the Village Marketplace, for example). Since the route isn't direct, it's more time consuming. Besides, it's just nice to be able to get changed at the locker room and walk right to your own vehicle and not have to wait for a bus.
Bathing Suits, More or Less:
People will wear just about any kind of bathing suit at the parks. Guys are usually seen in larger, baggy trunks. You will see the occasional speedo, though, and it's not always a GQ kind-of-a-sight. Ladies should feel comfortable in whatever they'd wear to swim at the resorts. You'll see everything from drenched cover-ups (presumably with a bathing suit of some kind underneath) to the quite-revealing bikinis. I'm pleased to report that I've never seen a thong, but I won't say they're not worn at the parks.
Michele Timm (firstname.lastname@example.org) provided this information for the bikini-inclined:
Just a couple of bathing suit notes:
Michele (What's more embarrassing...losing your bikini top, or realizing that nobody noticed???)
A lot of folks wear sandals or water socks in the parks. The concrete walkways tend to be hard on the foot, and very hot at midday, so if you're a tenderfoot...take something to wear on them. The water socks are nice because you can wear them right on the slides and not worry about losing them or having them be wet all day. Wear whatever is comfortable for you, though.
Towels, Lockers, Life Vests, Tubes:
Towels, lockers, and life vests (for younger kids) are available for rent (the towels are about $2 each, and are not very large...keep that in mind). Inner tubes are available free of charge for those attractions that make use of them (the circumnavigating creeks, the tube slides, etc.).
Lockers cost $5.00 per day, $2.00 of which is a refundable deposit on the key. The great thing is, you can access your locker as many times as you wish during the day. Furthermore, if you go to a different park that same day, and show your receipt for the locker you rented here, you can simply put down another $2.00 deposit for a key to a locker at that park (which, again, is refundable upon return).
I'd really suggest you bring your own towels. Even if you bring some from your resort (we have some plush beach towels that we bring along), waiting for the rental of something as mundane as a towel seems to me to be the height of travesty.
I don't know if the policy has changed, but the last time we visited a water park, it was forbidden to bring in your own inflatable toys. Sand toys for the little kids is permitted, however.
Food / Drink:
We've always found it easier to buy lunch at the water park or leave the park at lunch time and eat elsewhere. Other folks enjoy bringing in a picnic lunch (the water parks are one of the few places on the property where picnics are permitted).