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Typhoon Lagoon Better than a Day at the Beach
Friday, August 10, 2001
That is the story behind the theme of the second water park Disney built in Orlando (the first being River Country). In typical Disney style, this theming is evident everywhere you look. From the shrimp boat Miss Tilly perched precariously atop the mountain, to buildings designed to look like they had barely survived a typhoon, the theming is both complete and attractive.
Typhoon Lagoon is located across the street from the West Side portion of Downtown Disney. Coming from a Disney resort, the buses make the three Downtown Disney stops (Marketplace, Pleasure Island, West Side) before entering Typhoon Lagoon. If you have a car, use it to get to the park, as it would be the quickest and easiest way to visit. Unlike other Disney parking lots, this one has many trees and your car can be somewhat shaded for at least part of the day.
Admission is $29.95 plus tax for guests aged 10 and older, and $24.00 plus tax for children aged 3 through 9. Admission is included in the Premium Annual Pass and the Unlimited Magic Pass. You can use the "plus" options if you have a Park Hopper Plus Pass. Check for any other discounts at the ticket window, since it is not uncommon for special deals to be running for Florida residents or other groups of people.
Towels are provided for a fee. To avoid standing in line to rent a towel, bring one from home, or grab pool towels from your resort -- be sure to return them to your resort at the end of the day. Do not bother bringing all your personal flotation stuff from home, since you can only use Typhoon Lagoon- issued flotation devices. Make sure your swimsuit does not have any metal pieces such as buckles, belts or rivets, or you will not be allowed on the attractions.
Children have a section of the park set aside especially for them, called Ketchakiddee Creek.
To use this area you must be under five feet tall, although most people I saw there were much shorter than that! Ketchakiddee Creek contains small slides, raft rides, bubbling jets, squirting water, and lots of other water fun. Parents must accompany children in this area and provide supervision. This area is somewhat separated from the rest of the park, although it is not inconvenient to the other attractions. To reach Ketchakiddee Creek, bear left after crossing the bridge into the park.
Shark Reef is on the opposite side of the park, also somewhat separated from most of the attractions.
Here guests don snorkel gear and swim across the top of very chilly salt water to view sharks that mostly stay on the bottom. These are not aggressive sharks, and guests are not permitted to snorkel down near the fish. There is no extra charge for the snorkel experience. Guests not wanting to get in the cold water can view the sharks from an underwater walkway.
Thrill seekers (particularly teens) will have many water slides to choose from. Generally these slides are all so long and well-themed it is difficult to see what the slides look like from the outside. Rather than taking an empty spot and erecting slides, Disney built them into the vegetation and into the mountain itself. The spot where riders get dumped into the water is visible, but it does not give any indication of what the slide is like. There are five different slides, all accessible after climbing up the stairs in the mountain.
Keelhaul Falls and Mayday Falls are individual raft rides, where a single rider sits in a tube and is very quickly transported down the slide into a shallow pool of water. Gang Plank Falls starts from the same area, but is a family raft ride where up to six people can share the same raft.
The Storm Slides are body slides, where guests ride without a raft. The biggest slides are the triple set of Humunga Kowabunga speed slides - not for the faint of heart! Disney recommends against women riding this in a two-piece bikini because of the risk of losing the top half. Each slide is 214 feet long, with a 51-foot drop, and guests typically reach speeds of 30 miles per hour.
For those seeking fewer thrills and more relaxation, Castaway Creek is the place to be.
This 2,100-foot lazy river encircles the park and has five spots to enter or exit. Tubes are stacked up at each entrance early in the day, but by mid-morning they are usually in the Creek - simply wait for an empty one to come by and grab it! Floating with the current, it takes about half an hour to complete a lap, unless it is so crowded that traffic jams occur. On a busy day, the Creek becomes completely filled with guests on tubes. Along the way there is a small cave guests pass through, entering under a waterfall just in case they were not already wet enough! There are a also few other places where you must pass under dripping or spraying water.
The most popular attraction at Typhoon Lagoon has to be the giant wave pool, the focal point of the park. Filled with 2.75 million gallons of (heated) water over 2.5 acres, it is great fun for people who love waves! The first 90 minutes of every two-hour period is set aside for the big waves - every 90 seconds a wave at least four-feet tall moves across the lagoon and crashes to shore, to the screams of the crowd. These are powerful waves, and even standing in water only up to my knees the force was enough to push me backwards. Small children need to be watched carefully, because they will likely get knocked down and scraped up on the floor, which is purposely kept rough to prevent slippage. For the last 30 minutes of each two-hour period, the pool provides smaller waves, for bobbing.
No flotation devices are allowed in the wave pool (except Typhoon Lagoon-issued life jackets). Guests who are not interested in the slides can still easily enjoy a day spent in the wave pool or on Castaway Creek.
Lounge chairs and short beach chairs are plentiful, yet it is amazing how quickly the park fills up during the summer. The lounge chairs recline only - they do not sit up. The beach chairs can be taken to the edge of the water in the wave pool, but only in certain areas. Check with a cast member before getting too comfortable.
Coolers are permitted, but glass containers and alcoholic beverages are prohibited. Alcohol can be purchased at Let's Go Slurpin' to the right of the entrance once over the bridge. There are many spots to get food, with the largest being Leaning Palms for burgers, dogs, beer, sandwiches, pizza and salad. Surf Doggies serves hot dogs and turkey legs, while Typhoon Tilly's serves sandwiches and salads. There are also stands selling ice cream, funnel cake, and other delicious junk food scattered around the park.
Never one to miss an opportunity to allow guests to buy souvenirs, Disney has Singapore Sal's - for beachwear, sundries and other gift items. There are also dressing rooms (with showers and lockers) nearby.
During busy seasons, Typhoon Lagoon opens at 9 a.m., and may close (to newly arriving guests) around noon when they are filled to capacity. During the rest of the year a 10 a.m. opening is the norm. The park is wonderfully un-crowded for the first hour or so, and I would recommend getting there early to avoid the long lines for the slides. Whether you go for the day, or go for a few hours, Typhoon Lagoon is fun for all ages and is a great break from the theme parks.
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Sue has been hooked on Walt Disney World since her first visit in 1972 with her parents and younger brother. She kept returning more frequently until she moved to Florida in 1986.
After joining the Disney Vacation Club (DVC) in 1997, she now visits almost monthly. She also spends time at the DVC's non-WDW locations, and is experienced with the Disney cruise ships.
She takes many of these trips on her own, but she's also toured WDW with large groups of people, including families, the elderly, and people with disabilities.
She works as the Administrative Services Division Head for a large residential facility administered by the Florida Department of Children and Families. She currently resides in Southwest Florida with her teenage son.
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