Blizzard Beach is one of two water parks located at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. Traditionally during the winter months, one of the parks closes for maintenance while the other remains open for guests, during our visit my favourite park Typhoon Lagoon was unfortunately closed, so we headed over to Blizzard Beach instead!
Fiona and I were visiting in January, apparently during unusually cold weather that was hitting Florida with a nighttime temperature occasionally dropping below freezing! We got quite a few odd looks from people when we went swimming in the hotel pool at 10 o’clock at night on our second day Disney. Thankfully the water parks are heated – slightly – however Disney does still close their water parks if the water temperature drops too much.
We were able to visit Blizzard Beach twice during our stay in Florida, the first time we headed over in the morning arriving a little after 11 am to a pretty empty park. The water temperature, while nothing compared to summer, was pleasant enough and there were absolutely no queues for anything. We visited a second time in the afternoon a few days later and the park was much the same, one of the cast members told us there were less than 200 guests inside.
We took full advantage of the lack of queues going on everything from the gentle meandering lazy river which snakes its way for just under one kilometre around the outskirts of the park to the various water slides.
So here’s a quick summary of what we thought of each of the slides;
Toboggan Racers – Great fun, while probably more fun if there’s more than two of you on it! You lie flat on your stomach on a foam toboggan mat and race your (up to 8) fellow riders downhill. With it being empty the lifeguards were giving us some top tips to go faster, including lifting the front of the mat up slightly as you go down to increase your speed. Fiona beat me down on most of the occasions, except one where I stormed into the lead but came to a halt well before the finish line! I’m sure the cast member felt sorry for me with all the tips he was giving me to win!
Also worth mentioning, it’s really hard to get started at the top as your foam mat sticks quite well to the antislip material at the top of the slides.
Snow Stormers – Not quite as fun as the Toboggan Racers but similar idea, you slide down these twisting water slides on a foam mat. You can still race your friends as there are 3 different slides all of similar length. As with the Toboggan Racers, it’s quite hard to get started as your mat sticks to the floor at the top of the slides so be careful you don’t rip the skin off your legs or arms on the antislip material at the top and bottom as Fiona managed to do!
Run Off Rapids – There are apparently 3 different slides here although we only saw two (must have had our eyes closed) – one is enclosed and the other two are open top. Sitting on an inflatable ring you glide down these twisting and fast dropping slides ending in a pool at the bottom of Mount Gushmore. Great fun and the enclosed slide was very warm, if dark, on the chilly day we visited!
This is the only slide where you have to carry your tube to the top of the slide yourself – all the other ones your mat/tube is collected at the top before you go on the slide.
Downhill Double Dipper – Two fast double dropping slides which you race down against a friend on an inflatable tube – great fun although if you manage to lift off of the slide at the second drop it hurts when you come back down!
Slush Gusher – A 90 ft double dropping, steep water slide next to Summit Plummet – great fun and if you’re light you will lift off the slide as you go over the second drop!
Summit Plummet – We didn’t go on this but for those brave enough you can go on one of Americas steepest and fastest water slides – it’s 360 ft long and starts with a 12 story near vertical drop!
Cross Country Creek – A 3,000 ft (just over half a mile) long gentle meandering river that circles the park. You float along in an inflatable tube, or you can swim if you like as the river slowly pushes you round the park. Ideal to use as a means of travelling to different areas or to just lie back and soak up the sun. As it was cold they appeared to have some of the waterfalls switched off but expect to get a little wet as you lazily drift through the caves under Mount Gushmore.
Team Boat Springs – I’d call these family rafts – you need at least 4 persons per raft so we teamed up with another couple who was at the top waiting to ride it and set off downhill. It’s great fun, fast and with plenty of drops – make sure you hold on as you get flung around quite a bit!
The Chair Lift – If you don’t feel like walking up Mount Gushmore to reach Team Boat Springs, Summit Plummet or Slush Gusher you can always take the handy chairlift to the top.
We visited in winter where clearly the colder weather put most off attending the water parks – most of the other guests we spoke too were from the United Kingdom or Canada so maybe we’re the only ones who didn’t find it cold! On both occasions, we visited the park was noticeably empty – we managed to drift the full way around the park on Cross Country Creek without seeing any other guests! Having been to both water parks previously in the summer, where you can hardly move – winter is definitely the better time to go! The water is after all heated and as there are no queues for anything you don’t get a chance to get cold since you’re only ever out of the water for as long as it takes to walk up the steps!
Pool Towels – if you’re staying at a Disney Resort pick up some towels from the pool at your hotel before you head to the water parks.