Disney World Travel Updates
- REOPENING DATE: March 7th 2021. Only one of the two water parks, Blizzard Beach, has reopened.
Disney parks reopening theme parks includes reduced capacity, pre-entry temperature screenings, physical distancing markings and face coverings. The mask rules at the Disney water parks are different than what’s enforced at the other WDW theme parks. These are the water park specific safety protocols:
- Face coverings are be required for each Guest age 2 and up during park entry and exit. In addition facial covering must be worn in all retail areas as well as food & beverage ordering areas.
- Face coverings may not be worn while in the water or on water slides.
- Guests may also remove masks while actively eating or drinking. However guests must be stationary and maintain appropriate social distancing rules.
- Anyone in the lazy river must be floating inside of an inner tube (not swimming). Social distancing rules remain.
Please note that some of the park attractions and features mentioned in this article may be changed or amended during the current travel climate. For additional details on Disney parks reopening as well as the thoughtful safety measures that the Disney resort hotels will be taking, read this post about taking kids to Disney parks after reopening.
Disney Water Parks Admission
If you have a Disney World Park Hopper with Water Park Fun and More option on your ticket, this allows entrance to Disney water parks. Think of the “More” option as a punch card. For as many days you have of park tickets, you have an equal number of punches allowed for either water parks or miniature golf.
This means you could golf at Winter Summerland and visit Blizzard Beach on the same day and two “punches” would be allotted. Have a four-day Park Hopper and More ticket? This allows you four days of “park hopping” and four additional of the “more” options (visiting Blizzard Beach, Typhoon Lagoon, Winter Summerland Mini Golf or Fantasia Gardens Golf for a total of four times).
What if you only want to spend a day at the water parks? Disney water park tickets are also available separately. I highly recommend purchasing your Disney vacation packages through my affiliate at Get Away Today. You’ll receive complimentary concierge service including price monitoring service, booking of Advance Dining Reservations and more!
Are Disney World Water Parks Always Open?
Orlando weather is almost always warm enough for swimming! So you might assume that both water parks in Florida are always open. However each of the water parks are not open year-round. Each park closes several months at a time for refurbishment. The good news is that they don’t both close at the same time! So there’s always going to be at least one of the water parks open during your visit.
If there is a thunder and/or a lightning storm or if the weather is very cold, expect the water parks to close for the day. Disney water park hours vary so check the times online. Summertime events, like Disney H20 Glow Nights at Typhoon Lagoon may affect times, as well. If your kids love to play on vacation be sure to read these additional Tips for Kids to Enjoy Walt Disney World Playgrounds.
Transportation to the Disney Waterparks
Getting to the Disney water parks with kids can be a bit of a lengthy process. Guests staying at Disney property can use the bus system however it does require a transfer. If you’re visiting Blizzard Beach you’ll take the bus to Animal Kingdom park then transfer to that water park’s bus. Going to Typhoon Lagoon? Take the bus to Disney Springs, then transfer.
If your time is limited or you just don’t want to mess with the longer bus system, consider an Uber, Lyft or “Minnie” van if you’re traveling to the Disney water parks kids who require a car seat (the Minnie vans have two car seats on board).
My family required vehicle transportation after our morning visit to Typhoon Lagoon. We had reservations for an early dinner for the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue located at Fort Wilderness. While we could have taken the bus back to Disney Springs and then boarded at bus to Fort Wilderness we didn’t want to chance it with the time restriction. It was quicker and less hassle to call for a van.
What to Bring with You to Disney Water Parks
- Guests may bring their own towels from home. If you are staying at a Disney resort, bring towels from the hotel. You can also “rent” a towel for $2 at the water parks. We actually did just fine without any towels at all. If it’s a hot day, you’ll dry off quickly!
- A Waterproof Tote Bag is handy. I had two; one to hold water shoes and the other to hold clothing (the water proof bag held our dry change of clothing on the way in and held our wet suits on the way out!)
- Sunscreen is a MUST. We lathered up on the bus ride. I’d recommend reapplying several times throughout the day. A sunscreen that can be applied to damp skin is ideal, like Neutrogena Wet Skin Kids Sunscreen Spray.
- I highly recommend having Water Shoes for every family member. While the Disney waterparks do a good job of keeping the concrete wet in most areas, there are some sections that are directly in the sun. The ground gets extremely hot. Water shoes are a safe way to keep your feet protected. You can also wear the water shoes on most of the slides and in the pools. My younger two wore their favorite pedipeds!
- Drinking water is another must-have, to stay hydrated under the hot sun. You can bring in your own full bottles (or request ice water at the quick service dining locations).
- Protective gear for cells phones like the Submariner Waterproof Phone Pouch.
What NOT to Bring with You
- Swim clothing that has metal zippers or rivets. No alcohol or glass.
- If you’re going to be purchasing souvenirs or snacks/meals at the water parks, rely on using a credit card that’s linked to your Magic Band. This will eliminate the need for you to bring your credit cards or cash into the water parks.
- Remove your kid’s Magic Bands once you enter the Parks and put them in a locker. My eldest son lost his Magic Band in the wave pool. Fortunately it was on the final day of our trip and he didn’t need it again, but it would have been a process to have to get him a new one.
- I brought sun hats with us but didn’t end up using them. If you plan on staying with toddlers in the splash pad area, a hat does come in handy because shade is minimal. But if you’re only doing the slides and wave pool, skip the hats.
- Take off your valuable jewelry and leave them in the hotel safe.
Disney Water Parks with Babies & Toddlers
You might wonder what there is to do at the Disney waterparks with babies or toddlers. Both Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach have splash pad areas with short slides, bubbling water and small sprays for young children. These areas have a maximum height of 48″.
Of the two parks, my 2-year old daughter preferred Tikes Peak at Blizzard Beach. There was a shallow wading pool, small waterfall, “Ice Gator” statues and short slides. Typhoon Lagoon has a water play area as well (Ketchakiddee Creek) but my toddler was too nervous around the very loud waterfall feature to go down the slides.
There are life jackets located all around the Disney waterparks, for complimentary use while visiting. You can also bring in your own “floaties” if you prefer (though it’s nice not to have one more thing to carry). Swim diapers are a must-have. Bring plenty and change your child only inside the restrooms (and not on a beach chair!). If you forget the diapers, they are available for purchase at the parks.
Some of the rides are “family style” but not for lap-held infants. Depending upon your toddler or youngster, you might want to skip. Even the family rides can be intense with overhead waterfalls and strong splashes of water. My toddler was not pleased with the downpours but she toughed it out!
The lazy rivers at both parks are perfect for little ones too. Float along next to your baby on Cross Country Creek at Blizzard Beach and Castaway Creek at Typhoon Lagoon. The tubes vary, including some that offer a seat rather than a hole in the middle (perfect for the youngest kids). Be aware that there are overhead waterfalls that can be avoided (my toddler hated when her older brother pushed her float under the falls!) Bring a hat for baby as shade is limited.
If you’re heading into the parks with little ones, be sure to read my Walt Disney World Guide for Toddlers at Magic Kingdom.
Can’t Miss at Typhoon Lagoon Water Park
Typhoon Lagoon resembles a tropical paradise, albeit one that has just been through a typhoon! There’s lots of tropical landscaping, sandy beaches and several ship wrecks. We only spent a few afternoon hours here so we didn’t get to experience everything but these are our highlights.
My older kids were absolutely blown away by the wave pool at Typhoon Lagoon. Even my teenagers, who are strong swimmers, had a challenge with the rough waves. If you have kids with you who may have issues with the waves, consider wearing a life jacket.
Miss Adventure Falls was a great family-style ride. Some rides (like Crush ‘n’ Gusher) require you to carry your tube to the top, while others have conveyor belts that bring the tubes back up. There are some attractions with VERY long flights of stairs. If you have a youngster that has trouble with handling both the stairs and their tube, be aware you may be carrying both your tube and theirs!
Can’t Miss at Blizzard Beach Waterpark
My family spent over 6 hours exploring Blizzard Beach and were able to see and do almost attraction. Blizzard Beach is styled to look like a snow storm with the water features reflective of the melted snow on a hot day in Florida! It seemed that there were more available lounge chairs in this water park and we had no issues finding seating together.
Summit Plummet is the dramatic highlight of Blizzard Beach. It’s designed to look like a ski jump but instead the riders glide down a 120-foot water plume! My big kids tried this one several times while their 6-year old brother stuck to the shorter Slush Gusher with a 90-foot drop. You’ll ride a ski-like chair lift to access these rides, as well as a few others.
Teamboat Springs is touted as one of the longest waterpark coasters. It also had one of the longest waits for us as well, at just over an hour. We found out later that one of the conveyor belts that brings the tubes back to the top of the ride had broken down so they were running at 50%. It’s a great family raft ride though, that holds up to 6.
We also had a blast on the Toboggan Racers and Snow Stormers. Melt-Away Bay, the wave pool at Blizzard Beach is less rough than at Typhoon Lagoon. However life jackets are still recommended for less than strong swimmers.
Skip It: My son and waited a loooong time to ride the Downhill Double Dipper. While fun, the ride lasted less than 7 seconds (I know, because there’s a timer keeping track of who “wins” the dual race!) Not worth the nearly hour long queue.
What to Eat at Disney Water Parks with Kids
Disney water parks only offer quick service dining and snack carts (no full service restaurants). Fare includes the usual burgers and hot dogs along with other items like BBQ brisket sandwiches, a loaded baked potato and wrap sandwiches. We chose not to eat any meals at the water parks, but did enjoy dessert!
We ordered the Sand Pail, a combination of soft serve ice cream, whipped cream, sauces and sprinkles. It was cheaper than purchasing individual cones for each person and we had a souvenir bucket afterwards for the toddler to play with in the splash area.
Other dining highlights include mini donuts at Blizzard Beach that are served with raspberry, chocolate or white chocolate sauce for dipping. Like the Disney World parks, alcoholic drinks are also available.
Taking Pictures at the Disney Water Parks
if you’re planning your first Disney World vacation, taking photos and saving those pictures is going to be incredibly important! Since most guests will keep their phones and cameras safely out of the water, you may lament not capturing the memories. Fortunately there are many locations that offer PhotoPass services inside the Disney water parks.
Goofy was greeting guests at Blizzard Beach and we saw Lilo at Typhoon Lagoon. There were also PhotoPass photographers stationed around the parks to snap photos. I found a photographer at the Ski Patrol Training Camp and requested that she take a shot of my son on the Fahrenheit Drop. She obliged and then scanned my Magic Band, just like inside the parks.
Some of the Disney park water slides even have on-ride cameras. You’ll be given a small card with a rubber band attached. Wear the band around your wrist until you can scan the card into the My Disney Experience app to access the images. If you have purchased Memory Maker all photo downloads are included with the cost, even Disney waterpark photos. I’ve noted in the caption of each photo in this post on whether it was taken by a PhotoPass photographer.
Changing Rooms vs. Restrooms
To save time, I recommend that families wear their bathing suits and a swim cover-up directly to the water parks. There are lockers where you can store bags with dry clothing until you need them.
Once you’re ready to change at the end of the day, note that there are some restrooms that only have bathroom facilities and others that have changing room spaces. Having the bench inside the changing room with additional hooks on the walls is easier than changing inside of the toilet stall. There are also blow dryers inside the changing rooms if you want to dry hair.
Other Things to Know About Disney Water Parks with Kids
- Arrive early in the day or alternately, later in the evening if you want to secure a lounge chair. These Disney waterparks definitely get crowded, especially in the warmer months.
- Didn’t bring a swimsuit, towel or sunscreen? You can purchase everything you need for the day at the water parks. Shops are located at the front entrance of each water park.
- If you’re planning on spending all day at the Disney water parks, consider renting a cabana. This is an additional cost that may be worth it to your family if you want guaranteed seating for the day. It’s also particularly helpful if you have a baby or toddler who needs to nap in the shade. You can rent the cabana for a full or half day and the cost includes a service attendant to help bring purchased food.
- If the cabana price tag is too steep you can also purchase a designated lounge area under the shade. This rental spot includes an umbrella, chairs, loungers, table and towels.
- Want more water fun? Consider splurging at Disney on surf lessons or a private surf session at Typhoon Lagoon.