Cooling down at one of Orlando’s many unique water parks is a nice change of pace from the usual theme park routine of rides and shows. Even if you have scheduled multi-days of park fun on your itinerary, spending a day at a water park is a nice way to break it all up. Certainly, during the summer months, it’s almost essential. But luckily, in hot and sunny Florida, water parks are open year-round with several options to choose from. Here are our Favourite 5.
UNIVERSAL’S VOLCANO BAY™
Orlando’s new shining star, Universal’s Volcano Bay (as seen above), 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 centrepiece 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’re checked in and waiting for an attraction, then notice one with a shorter wait time you’d like to ride — or you’ve just changed your mind — the TapuTapu feature lets you swap one virtual line for any other you choose.
DISNEY’S TYPHOON LAGOON AND BLIZZARD BEACH
These sister water parks, both located at nearby Walt Disney World® Resort, are crowd favourites, delivering that signature “Disney Magic” year after year.
Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon stems from the legend of a powerful typhoon that brought chaos to a once peaceful tropical locale, resulting in a wild assortment of slides, raft rides, “hidden” walkways, and places to kick back and relax. The park’s centrepiece 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. Steamboat 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 favourite.
No stranger to building awesome experiences around water, SeaWorld has themed their 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 for 14 consecutive days around your Discovery Cove adventure.
Waterpark information via Vistana Signature Experiences