Of Disney’s two water parks, Blizzard Beach is the more thrilling, possibly because it opened 6 years after Typhoon Lagoon and had the benefit of improving on what didn’t work there. It also has a wittier backstory that is perfect for a hot day: A freak snowstorm hit Mount Gushmore, and Disney was slapping up a ski resort when the snow began to melt, creating waterslides. So now, a lift chair brings bathers most of the way up the 90-foot peak, and flumes are festooned with ski-run flags and piled with white “snowdrifts.” Best of all, at this park, you usually don't have to tote your rafts uphill—there are conveyors to do it for you.

Surely the most exhilarating 8 seconds in all of Walt Disney World, Summit Plummet is the immensely steep, 12-story-tall slide that commands attention at the peak of the mountain, which incidentally, offers one of the best panoramas of the Walt Disney World resort. A slide down this one is for the truly fearless. The first few seconds make you feel weightless, as if you’re about to fall forward; by the end, the water is jabbing you so hard that it’s not unusual to come away with a light bruise, and it turns the toughest bathing suit into dental floss. This is a fun one to watch; just ask the young men who are glued to it for the aforementioned reason. Slush Gusher, next to it among the Green Slope rides and slightly lower, is a double-hump that gives the rider the sensation of air time—not a reassuring feeling when you’re flying down an open chute.

The enormous chute winding off the mountain’s right side is Steamboat Springs, a group ride in a circular raft; just about everyone gets a chance to enjoy the top of a banked turn, and after the inevitable splashdown, another minute is spent in a comedown floating on a river. It’s highly re-rideable, but if you go alone, you’ll be paired with strangers for some slippery awkwardness.

Snow Stormers (Purple Slope) is a trio of standard raft waterslides. The twin Downhill Double Dipper is a simple slope of two identical slides with a good embellishment: It times runs so you can race a companion down. Toboggan Racers multiplies the fun to where eight people can race at once down an evenly scalloped run. At the base of these is Melt Away Bay, a 1-acre wave pool in which waves create a gentle bobbing sensation. It could stand to be larger since it gets very crowded.

At the back of the mountain (the Red Slope; reach it by walking around the left or via the lazy river), the three Runoff Rapids flumes comprise two open-air slides and a totally enclosed one—you only see the occasional light flashing by. (These are the only ones for which you must haul your own raft up the hill.)

The park is circled by the superlative lazy river (for the newbie, that’s a slow-flowing channel where you float along in an inner tube) called Cross Country Creek, which is probably the best of its kind, passing a cave dripping with refrigerated water and a slouching shack that, every few seconds, gushes as you hear the sound of Goofy sneezing. Tip: It’s easier to find an inner tube at a ramp far from the park entrance; try the one at the base of Downhill Double Dipper or the one to the left past Lottawatta Lodge, the main food building.

There are two kiddie areas: for grade-schoolers, Ski Patrol (short slides, a walk across the water on floating “icebergs”), and for littler kids, Tike’s Peak (even smaller slides, fountains, and jets). The latter is a good place to look if you can’t find seating.

Tip: The miniature golf course Winter Summerland shares a parking lot with Blizzard Beach, so it’s easy to combine a visit.

LOCKERS—For $10–$15, you can rent a lock, typically about 2 feet deep with an opening about the size of a magazine. You can open and close it multiple times, using a key code you choose.

PREPARATION—Thoughtfully, parking is free. There are bulletin boards past the park entrance that tells you what the sunburn risk is and what the wait times are for the slides, as well as
what times the parades run at Disney parks that day. If there are any activities (scavenger hunts are common), they’ll be posted here. 

FOOD—There are only counter-service choices. Eat promptly at 11am when kitchens open because lines get crazy quickly. Don’t plan on eating dinner here, because the kiosks tend to shut down well before closing.

TIMING—If you’re coming to Florida between November and mid-March, the park may be closed for its annual hose-down. The other Disney water park will remain open. Most water features are heated, but remember that you eventually must get out.

www.disneyworld.com. One-day tickets $64–$69 adults, $58–$63 kids 3–9; can also be added to theme park tickets using Water Park and Sports options. Free parking. Hours vary, from 10am–5pm up to 9am–8pm in peak season.




Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.