Thursday, April 15, 2010

WDW's Most Underrated Park: Typhoon Lagoon

Our family loves the water parks at The Mouse. Typhoon Lagoon just has something Blizzard Beach doesn't (Charm? Great theming?). I'm not sure what it is, really. But this isn't necessarily an article that's meant to compare the two, it's more a love letter to Typhoon Lagoon - a truly underrated Disney Park, in my opinion.

It's Katie and Chance's spring break this week, so we decided to use one of the days at Typhoon since the weather is absolutely gorgeous and is just hot enough to justify a day at the water parks. They both now openly admit the water parks are their favorite parks in Walt Disney World - they love them that much. Hope and I? Like them better than Magic Kingdom, Epcot, The Studios or Animal Kingdom? We won't go that far. Not even close.

Beautiful theming is a hallmark of Typhoon Lagoon, as this
line for one of the downhill raft rides illustrates.

That being said though, Typhoon Lagoon is indeed wonderful. It truly is a worthy Disney theme park. The fact that it's a "water park" is almost a footnote - the theming is that good here. You can tell that when it opened in 1989, WDI was aiming VERY high with this project. It has the spirit of imagination that the other four main theme parks have, and the attention to detail is amazing. It very much reminds me of Animal Kingdom in how far they went to make sure every single corner was attended to when it came to design and theme. Contrast this with Blizzard Beach's theming (OK, so maybe we compare them a little bit) - seemingly thrown together at the last minute in order to help alleviate the crowds at Typhoon Lagoon due to its popularity. I've always thought Blizzard Beach reminded me of Dino-Rama over at Animal Kingdom. It looks as if WDI rented some outside cookie-cutter amusement park comparny to take care of most of the design and theme work. This is no offense to anyone at Disney who might have helped design this park - it isn't bad, by any means. But compared to Typhoon Lagoon, Blizzard falls far short when it comes to selling the idea of a great theme for guests to become totally immersed within.

Katie in awe of the wave pool from a distance.

Nothing gives you a sense of what Typhoon Lagoon is more than the elevated telescope area at the front of the park that overlooks the wave pool. Talk about a sense of awe. If you're standing out there looking at the pool when one of its massive waves start, your jaw drops. I love the guaranteed mass scream that takes place as soon as that wave snaps into motion. It happens every single time, without fail. And to see and hear that from the platform can be an intimidating thing for people who've never been to the park before - especially for kids - just ask ours!

An underrated "weenie."

Typhoon Lagoon also has a "weenie" - just like Walt wanted all his parks to have. That weenie is the Miss Tilly...the boat that sits atop Mt. May Day behind and above the wave pool. Combined with the wave pool itself, these give Typhoon a central focal point for everyone to fixate upon. Once again, the theming of this mountain and boat is second to none.

Chance overlooking the wave pool at our campsite for the day.

One of the things that I come away from Typhoon Lagoon is that it's like spending a day at the beach, but within a much more controlled environment. You can find a spot, camp there for the day, bring your own cooler with food/snacks, and wander a little enjoying the sites and swimming. Except there's no sharks or jellyfish.

Typhoon combines the amenities of the best water park in the world
with the perks of the beach.

One this day, we got there fairly early (10:15 a.m. - park opening was 10:00 p.m.) and we got a GREAT spot: a series of 4 chairs sitting up above and along side the wave pool. Great view. And when the big waves went crashing, a light spritz of water hit us as we lay on the beach chairs - it actually felt really, really good considering it was in the low-mid 80's that day with the sun beating down. It was also right around the corner from a restroom, picnic tables, the raft rides, and not far from anything. Having a great camp site like this is invaluable for a place like Typhoon Lagoon. This goes to show that getting there early can really benefit you, no matter which park you go to.

The intimidating, but incredibly fun wave pool in action.

Of course, the wave pool was a huge hit. The giant 6-foot wave is an event every time it occurs. The kids live for it - and it is really, really thrilling. Just as thrilling as any roller coaster, in my opinion, and it happens every 90 seconds. It's awesome.

High above the very relaxing lazy river.

Everyone loved the nearby downhill tube rides (Gangplank Falls, Keel Haul Falls, Mayday Falls), and it was worth being right around the corner from those as well. Katie and I tried Humunga Kowabunga - the 214-foot long triple water slide. Let me tell you, you go 30 MPH down those slides, and feels a HECK of a lot faster than that. But it was FUN. We also went on Crush N Gusher, the tube water slide on the other side of the park that goes much faster than any of the Falls rides mentioned above. Because of height restrictions, Chance couldn't ride either Kowabunga or Gusher, so he and Hope went off and enjoyed the lazy river while Katie and I took care of our thrill fixes.

Mmmm...tuna sandwiches! Actually, they were pretty good.

We did bring our own cooler with lunch, snacks and water. Tuna and whole wheat sandwiches, grapes, bananas and a few other light options were the order of the day. At the front gate, they were very good about letting us through without any hassle. And we did rent a locker for $6; I didn't want to worry about my wallet, cell phone or keys all day, so that was worth it. Upon return of the locker key, you get $5 of the $6 back, so little harm done there.

One lesson we did learn was to keep re-applying the sun block lotion - but after the fact, and after the sun burns were already present. So make sure you remember to keep slathering it on!

As the warm months approach (and won't leave for a LONG time), the water parks become a very attractive option at The Mouse. And no matter what we said about Blizzard Beach above, it's still a great park - just not at the level of Typhoon Lagoon. So when you're at The Mouse and want to spend the day getting wet and relaxing in the lazy river, I'd pick Typhoon first. It's a worthy and important part of the most popular vacation kingdom on the planet. Give it a try.

1 comment:

  1. We have never been to either of the water parks. Part of this is because we don't usually travel to Disney at very warm times (with the exception of last July. The other part is that my younger son, age 3, would be a handful at a water park! The boy has no fear and is already a thrill seeker! Maybe when he's a bit older...