Family Vacations: Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon Water Parks

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Legend has it that when an unexpected (and, of course, completely fictional) winter storm dumped a mountain of snow on Orlando, the folks at Disney decided to create Florida’s very first winter resort, complete with chairlifts, slalom runs, and sleds. When temperatures returned to normal, the snow began to melt, turning the slalom course, bobsled, and toboggan runs into waterslides. And so the winter resort was turned into Blizzard Beach.

The park’s centerpiece for thrill-seekers is Mount Gushmore, where visitors ride a chairlift to the top and choose from a number of hair-raising routes back down: The Downhill Double Dipper is a side-by-side racing slide that can hit a top speed of 25 miles per hour; Summit Plummet, at 120 feet, is the fastest, tallest free-fall flume ride in the world; and Tike’s Peak is meant just for toddlers and features kiddie slides and a snow castle fountain play area.

Nearby is another Disney water park, Typhoon Lagoon, which was supposedly “created” when a huge storm struck and a ship was stranded high on a mountain by a giant wave. Left in the typhoon’s wake are twisting slides, roaring rapids, and a 2.5-acre wave pool, as well as tamer water fun.

Address: Blizzard Beach at W. Buena Vista Dr. and Blizzard Beach Entrance, Orlando, FL

Telephone: 407/939-7812

Hours of Operation: 10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.

Admission: Adults, $39; children $33

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:Laura Sutherland is a widely acknowledged authority on family travel and has published several books on the topic, including Best Family Ski Vacations In North America and Tropical Family Vacations.

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