When it’s like “Florida hot” out there, the only thing people want to do is “plunge” into a ginormous pool of water. For Central Floridians or those visiting the Walt Disney World Resort and Parks, there is no better way to beat the heat than to visit one of the Disney Water Parks here on property. Thanks to Walt Disney World Resort and my dear friend, Angie from Disney Parents, the boys and I had the opportunity to escape to Blizzard Beach, one of Disney’s two themed water parks, and enjoyed sliding down ski slopes and catching some waves in the bay.
Warning: Confession time
I had never been to the Disney Water Parks until this invite came along. As a family, we have spent years going back and forth debating whether or not it was worth the trip or if it was even a safe place for Logan and his food allergies (contact component). Even as Platinum Plus Annual Passholders (thanks to the 2017 Disney Vacation Club perks), we had the opportunity to visit the water parks if we wanted…..but, for one reason or another, just never did.
Boy ~ I’ll tell you! We had NO idea all the fun we had been missing!! The Disney Water Parks are so creative, so fun, so unique and so very different from any other water park we had visited in the past! For one, you feel totally separated from the real world, leaving you with the ability to relax, enjoy, laugh and make memories. Second, you have food, bars, water slides, wave pools, kid areas, shopping and restrooms / dressing rooms all there at your finger tips. These are things you don’t normally see at a beach. Not to mention, it’s clean, the customer service is top notch and…well, let’s get real. It’s Disney!
The Story Behind Blizzard Beach
As is the Disney way, there is always a story that goes along with the creation of a park. For Blizzard Beach, the story goes that there was a freak snow storm that hit the Orlando area. This inspired “someone” to build the area’s very first ski resort. Well, as expected, the heat returned and the “accumulated snow” melted, creating a scene of snow-less ski jumps and chair lifts.
However, just as the “resort” was being prepared for shutdown, operators heard a strange echo coming from the the top of the mountain. As they looked up, they found a blue alligator wearing a red scarf and gold inner tube, blazing down the mountain at top speed. The “Ice Gator” ultimately plunged into a pool of melted snow at the base of the mountain with a huge splash. It was in that moment that the ski resort operators saw the potential the park had and the ski resort became what is now Blizzard Beach.
I know – it makes me chuckle, too!
So – let’s talk about our day at the park!
Because I had absolutely no clue what to expect, I made sure that the boys and I arrived early ~ like we’re talking before the park opened “early.” I honestly just didn’t know where I was going or where to check in, so it was important for me to get there in order to scout things out (#typeAproblems). I hate looking like the “newbie.”
The parking part was easy – no cost, no parking attendants waving you this way or that. We easily found a spot fairly close to the entrance and made our way into following the crowd.
Just before the entrance, I found the media check-in, picked up our physical tickets for the day and made our way towards the gate. Here, we simply matched our physical tickets to the “Mickey” and we were in! After that, we followed the crowds around the bend until we could not move anymore. There was still about ten minutes or so before the park officially opened.
The Opening Ritual
It was about five minutes or so after arriving to the “stand-by” area that a Cast Member called for everybody’s attention. Apparently when they open the park, they have a “ritual” of sorts, the instructions for which she was about to share.
When everything is in place, Guests hear a formal announcement and then a Cast Member starts a collective countdown with the Guests. At the completion of the countdown, Guests, in unison, then shout out “Go” to the Cast Member at the top of Summit Plummet, who then takes the very first “plunge” of the day!
Confession: They actually yell out something a little more substantial, but I cannot for the life of me remember what it was – something like, “Go, Team Captain, Go,” or maybe the person’s name. However, don’t quote me on that.
Finding Your Spot
The next thing on everyone’s agenda is to find their “spot.” What do I mean? I mean they simply find the place where they are going to drop all their stuff before heading to the desired attractions. When Guests walk in, the crowds disperse in various directions. Some go towards Tikes’ Peak with the littles, some towards the water at Melt-Away Bay, some head to purchase a locker (yes, they have those) and still others to various spots in farther, more reclusive areas.
If you are looking for a more private area for your family or group, Blizzard Beach does have private shaded deck areas ~ called “Polar Patios” ~ you can rent. (For more information on this, click here)
Not knowing our way around AT ALL, we found a spot at the base of Summit Plummet. It seemed out of the way of the crowds, shaded for a time and just felt right for the moment. We claimed our three chairs and then Aaryn began to bug me to release him to Summit Plummet. After making sure we were settled well enough, I decided to let him go (sigh).
Summit Plummet is the most talked about water attraction at that park. It stands 120 feet tall and 13 stories high. Guests free-fall down the water slide at about 60 mph.
Ummm – yeah.
There are TWO ways to reach the top of Mt. Gushmore to ride Summit Plummet. You can either walk it – great exercise!!! OR you can take the chair lift. Seeing as the ground was already hotter than Hades, Aaryn made the conscious (and brilliant) decision to take the chair lift.
While he was up there, I had a blast just snapping photos of the surrounding area.
Okay, okay….to be honest, I was desperately eager to try to snap a picture of him just before he took the “plunge. “
AAANNNDDD ~ I GOT IT!!!
Aaryn returned soaking wet, picking his swimsuit out of his back-end and with a HUGE smile on his face. He loved it ~ said he was a little nervous and they did have someone bow out just before him, but he said it was completely worth it and up to the hype.
Now that this had been checked off the bucket list, both boys wanted to go investigate Slush Gusher (90 feet tall, 250 feet long ~ Logan said he went “airborne” on it)….then Melt-Away Bay (one acre wave pool ` fun for the whole family). Being the fun mom that I am, I let them have their time together while I stayed behind to snap photos and keep up with social media. I wasn’t ready to get in the water quite yet, to be honest. There was too much to explore and learn.
Momma’s Turn To Roam
Once the boys returned waterlogged and ready for a short break, I took opportunity to walk around, get myself better acquainted with the park and snap some more photos. Yes – I am all about the pictures, people. It was during my walk that I realized there was a lot more than the little cove we had chosen. I found more seating areas, the main restaurant, another food option and the designated spot I was supposed to meet up with our wonderful hosts from Disney Parks.
I also realized that the park was a complete circle . Well, not geometrically precise, but it did bring me right back to where the boys were sitting. That was nice! We decided to move ourselves a little closer to the water, so we picked up and transplanted everything closer to Melt-Away Bay. Here, we all spent some time in the wave pool before deciding that it was time to grab a bite to eat.
PS – the water was fabulous. I could have stayed in there all ~ day ~ long!
At one point, I had asked the Cast Members at The Warming Hut (a quick service option located towards one end of Melt-Away Bay and the Downhill Double Dipper) if they were capable of managing food allergies at their particular location. Sadly, they were not, but they did direct me to the main restaurant, Lottawatta Lodge, where they had food allergy menus and a chef who would prepare the meal.
So, we picked up our stuff yet again (can you tell that we’re newbies at this??) and made our way over for lunch.
Dining with Food allergies
When we arrived, we checked the regular menu and mentioned to Sully, the Cast Member at the register, that we needed to speak with a manager regarding food allergies. He called for Briana, who did not take long to meet up with us (so sad I did not grab a picture with her!). We discussed our particular situation – egg, peanut and tree nut allergies, cross contamination and disclaimers ~ and she went through her ingredient book and the already prepared food allergy menu.
I have to say ~ they have a LOT of options for those with dietary restrictions or even strict dietary choices. I was actually quite impressed with the vegan options, to be honest (we’re not vegan, but I was still impressed)!
Fortunately, Logan was able to find something different and desirable for someone in his situation. It wasn’t allergy-friendly chicken tenders either! Nope – he was able to have the beef short-rib rice bowl. We are talking tender shredded meat in a bowl with a good-sized portion of both rice and veggies.
As a mom – how could I argue with that? He wanted his veggies!
Aaryn and I selected the chicken tender meal and the Blizzard Cheddar Burger, respectively ~ both with fries and the burger came with coleslaw, as well. To help with cost, we purchased one of the refillable mugs and switched off. The refillable mug had an initial cost of $11.99 with the option to purchase another day for $8.50.
All in all, it was a decent meal for the price. We walked away satisfied, but not painfully full (that would be bad on a hot, humid day like it was), and we all liked the options we chose.
The Rest of our Day
During lunch, we bumped into some friends and ended up spending the rest of our time there with them. While I attended a very informational session about the summer food offerings as part of the media event, the boys had a chance to have some fun with the other families.
Quick Rundown of the Interview
The interview portion consisted of speaking with a few Cast Members about Blizzard Beach itself and about the summer food offerings unique to their park. While Cast Member Mark shared with us the benefits of visiting a Disney Water Park, Chef James detailed the wide variety of fun flavors and healthy choices that were available to Guests. It was so fitting for me to hear them review the options and process for those who have food allergies or dietary restrictions (whether by choice or sensitivity).
Finally some girl time!
Once the interviews were complete, I had the chance to just hang out with my own friends and enjoy the atmosphere. In fact, by meeting up with the girls at lunch, I finally took opportunity to unwind, relax and let go a little.
Get this ~ I actually found myself willing to leave our stuff on the chair and go into the water at the same time as the boys.
I know ~ crazy, right?? (#firsttimer)
Time to call it a day
After hours in the bay and numerous trips down water slides, we decided to head home around 3 PM. To be honest, it was primarily because we felt the sunburn begin to seep into our skin (yes, we used sunscreen – TWICE!). Mind you, we really wanted to stay and hang out, but it just felt it was the right time to skedaddle.
And boy were we glad we did!! We got home and the storm hit within five minutes! My goodness!
Well – I mean, it is Florida in August.
So – why would you want to visit Blizzard Beach?
Speaking (writing) as someone who doesn’t frequent water parks all that often, I can only assume the reasons I love it would be the reasons anyone would love it. In a nutshell, I loved Blizzard Beach because:
- I felt like I had been transported to a secluded island far away from the world and all its cares.
- Everything I needed was there and it felt like a comfortable place to be. Comfort is key for me at a water park.
- There is literally something for everyone at this water park. There are kid’s play zones, moderate slides for those starting to grow up, the wave pool and then Summit Plummet for the more adventurous Guests.
For those a little more curious about the attractions, here is the list:
- Melt-Away Bay ~ (wave pool) no height requirement. (LOVED IT)
- Cross Country Creek ~ (lazy river) no height requirement (takes about 20-25 minutes to go around the whole thing)
- Ski Patrol Camp ~ activity area aimed to entertain pre-teens
- Tikes’ Peak ~ activity area for 48″ and UNDER
- Summit Plummet ~ water slide for 48″ and TALLER (Aaryn had a BLAST!)
- Slush Gusher ~ water slide for 48″ and TALLER (Both boys enjoyed this together)
- Teamboat Springs ~ (group water ride) no height requirement
- Toboggan Racers ~ water slide with no height requirement
- Snow Stormers ~ water slolem with no height requirement.
- Downhill Double Dipper ~ water slide for 48″ and TALLER
- Runoff Rapids ~ water slide with no height requirement.
**NOTE: Though there may be some water slides without a height requirement, one of the Cast Members available during the interview portion did state that the Guest should be able to “sit up and hold on.”
Let’s say you’re hungry ~ where can food be found?
- Lottawatta Lodge ~ burgers, flatbreads, salads, kids’ picks and sand pails
- Cooling Hut ~ sandiwches, pretzels, popcorn and ice cream novelties.
- Frostbite Freddy’s ~ snacks and beverages
- Arctic Expedition ~ sandiwches and salads
- Avalunch ~ hot dogs, snadwiches, salads and kids’ picks
- I.C. Expeditions ~ soft serve, ice cream novelties and sand pails
- Warming Hut ~ rice bowls and salads
- Polar Pub ~ adult beverages
Need a souvenir (or realized you forgot something)? Here’s where you can up merchandise:
- Beach Haus
- Snowless Joe’s
- Sand Breakers
FAQs ~ A few answers to questions you may just have in the back of your head.
Are there towels and/or lockers for Guests?
- Many Guests bring their own towels (even from the hotel), but there are towels, as well as lockers, available for rent at Beach Haus and Snowless Joe’s.
Can they accommodate food allergies?
- As you saw from our story, yes. They can accommodate food allergies at Lottawatta Lodge. Simply mention it to the Cast Member at the register (or before the register) and they will get the Chef or the manager on duty. From there, they will review the safest options and have the Chef in back prepare that meal separately and personally. The meal will be delivered separately, as well.
Is the park open year round or does it close for a season?
- The park is open year round, but does close for a short period of time during the colder weeks (or days) we actually do have here in Florida. Obviously, there are days that are much more suitable for visiting a water park, but the answer to the question would be yes ~ it is open year round.
Does the water park have a dress code:
- Well, yes. Swim attire must be appropriate for a family environment (no buckles, rivets, zipper or exposed metal). Inappropriate swim attire, swim attire with buckles, rivets, zippers or exposed metal, and other sharp objects are not allowed on any of the attractions.
- Jeans (denim) and wetsuits (neoprene) are not permitted on Slush Gusher and Summit Plummet.
- For safety reasons, diaper-age children must wear plastic pants or swim diapers in the pool areas.
Well, hopefully that got you a little more excited about visiting a Disney Water Park during your next visit to Wald Disney World. I have a feeling our family is going to be visiting them more often as time goes by ~ that was a lot of fun and there are so many more attractions we need to experience! I MUST conquer my fear of Summit Plummet!
Never too early to think about Christmas presents for next summer!!
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