In sunny Florida, water park season isn’t reserved for just the summertime — it’s a year-round thing. And Orlando boasts some of the best water parks found anywhere. Here are our Fave 5.
DISNEY’S TYPHOON LAGOON AND BLIZZARD BEACH
These sister water parks, both located at Walt Disney World Resort, are crowd pleasers. Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon (as shown) stems from the legend of a powerful typhoon that brought chaos to a once peaceful tropical island, resulting in a wild assortment of slides, raft rides, hidden walkways, and places to kick back and relax. The park’s centerpiece is a shrimp boat named Miss Tilly, impaled upon Mount Mayday, a peak erupting in a towering geyser of water every half hour.
Disney’s Blizzard Beach is themed as a melting ski resort, leading to all kinds of whimsical attractions on every “slope.” Adventurous guests can experience the high-octane freefall thrills of Summit Plummet, one of the tallest and fastest slides of its kind in the world. Teamboat Springs is a family raft adventure, sending riders along (and under) a twisting series of rushing waterfalls. Add to the thrill rides plenty of take-it-easy options like a lazy river and wave pool fed by “melting snow” waterfalls, and you can see why Blizzard Beach calls itself “the most slushy, slippery, exhilarating water park anywhere.”
Even though each Disney water park closes temporarily for a few weeks in the winter for refurbishment, don’t fear. The other park is always kept open. Double-check each park’s schedule if you have a favorite.
UNIVERSAL’S VOLCANO BAY
Orlando’s new shining star, Universal’s Volcano Bay, is a South Pacific-themed island paradise brimming with state-of-the-art rides and imaginative attractions throughout the park. Try the Krakatau Aqua Coaster, sliding in a four-person canoe along a thrilling trek through the park’s massive volcano centerpiece before emerging to be drenched under a brilliant waterfall. Or glide along together with the family on the Honu ika Moana or Maku Puihi, multi-person raft rides thrilling enough for the adventurer, but easygoing enough for nearly anyone.
But the real innovation is Volcano Bay’s unique TapuTapu system. This waterproof wearable band eliminates the need for standing in line or carrying rafts around the park — just check in at the attraction of your choice, then go enjoy other parts of the park. This Virtual Line feature will let you know when it’s your turn to ride. After that, all you have to do is show up and walk right on.
Make the most of your time. If you are already checked in and are waiting for an attraction, then notice one with a shorter wait time that you’d like to ride — or you’ve simply changed your mind — the TapuTapu feature lets you swap one virtual line for any other you choose.
No stranger to building awesome experiences around water, SeaWorld has themed its Aquatica water park following inspiration from the South Pacific. With a wide variety of slides, raft rides, wave pools, a white sand beach and more, Aquatica has the unique distinction of some of their rides and attractions actually passing through animal habitats. (Imagine water sliding through a pool that’s home to a pod of black-and-white Commerson’s dolphins!)
Get there early. Often, the park’s most popular rides aren’t nearly as crowded in the morning. Arriving at 9 a.m. instead of 10 a.m. can make a real difference in minimizing wait times.
For a completely different kind of experience, Discovery Cove puts the focus on up-close animal encounters and experiences. Think of it as an all-inclusive day resort where the family can swim and interact with dolphins (the park’s signature experience), feed tropical birds, explore a saltwater reef, get face-to-face with playful otters and marmosets, and just relax and unwind in a lush tropical world — all in one day.
Be sure to book well in advance, as the limited number of spots for some experiences tends to fill up quickly. Also, think about maximizing your visit by booking a package offering unlimited admission to Aquatica Orlando and SeaWorld Orlando.
ISLAND H2O LIVE!
Very different from most Orlando water parks, Island H20 Live! is a next-level tech-driven, social media-inspired water park with 20 different attractions spread over 12 acres.
With a cutting-edge theme, streaming and posting are highly encouraged here. And, thanks to the state-of-the-art wristband system, riders can customize their ride experiences with their favorite music, lighting schemes, and colors to make this waterpark adventure completely personalized and interactive. Plus, there are lounge chairs and cabanas for relaxation.
This waterpark is located in Kissimmee as part of the complex belonging to Margaritaville Resort Orlando, approximately 35 minutes southwest of downtown Orlando. There is also an onsite food court and alcohol for adults.
Lead – Kopiko Wai Winding River at Volcano Bay – Wikimedia by Jedi94– License Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International
Typhoon Lagoon – Wikimedia by Chad Sparkes – License – Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
Volcano Bay – Wikimedia by – Jedi94 – License Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International
Aquatica – Wikimedia by Brian Marshall – License Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
Discovery Cove – Wikimedia by Michael Lowin – License Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Germany
Island H2O Live! – Island H20 Live!
Source: Vistana Vacations