Blizzard Beach is an incredibly busy water park at Walt Disney World that can have long lines for its slides and rides, but with the tips and FAQ here, you should be able to get the most out of your visit to Blizzard Beach, and see everything more efficiently. This guide will help you get an idea of what you should plan to do at Blizzard Beach, and what you should skip. Instead of spending 45 minutes of your day waiting in line for Summit Plummet, by following these tips you can do that with little wait, and then spend the rest of your day enjoying the lazy river and ambiance of the park.
Like our Typhoon Lagoon Guide, for those who have never been to Blizzard Beach and are apprehensive about spending a vacation day there, this should eliminate some of the mystery, and give you an idea of whether the Disney water parks are right for you.
Here are tips to get the most out of a trip to Blizzard Beach, presented in FAQ form.
What’s the cost, and is it worth it?
A single day ticket to Blizzard Beach costs over $50. Considering that you’re not likely to spend a full day at Blizzard Beach, that’s a lot of money. Fortunately, it’s very unlikely that you’ll pay that much to visit Blizzard Beach, since (if you plan wisely) you won’t have to buy a single day ticket. One of the reason we recommend buying Park Hoppers with the “Water Park Fun and More” option in our Walt Disney World Ticket Buying Tips article is because it’s a low cost add-on and makes visiting the water parks and other non-theme park locations really cheap (as low as $10/visit). Alternatively, locals or other frequent water park visitors can purchase Annual Passes that include the water parks, or separate water park annual passes that cost about as much as 2 single day water park tickets. So really, your only cost when contemplating a water park visit is your finite vacation time.
“Vacation time” is quite valuable to many guests, so whether Blizzard Beach is worth your time is an important question worth asking, even if the tickets are relatively cheap. I’ll answer that in the review section below.
How is Blizzard Beach themed?
Blizzard Beach is themed as a melted-away ski resort in Central Florida that has since become a water park. According to the park’s backstory, one balmy day, a freak winter storm developed over part of Walt Disney World Resort and blanketed the area with snow. Opportunistic individuals then quickly created Florida’s first ski resort in that spot, with ski and toboggan runs. Unfortunately, as construction was completed, Florida weather returned to normal, and the snow began melting. Around this time, Ice Gator (who came to be the park’s mascot) came flying down the Summit Plummet launch on skis, and crashed into the village. Wanting to make the most of their investment, the park was transformed into a water park, with most of the ski areas retrofitted into being areas for “water adventure.”
Blizzard Beach executes this backstory flawlessly, with the park really looking like a failed ski resort. Upon walking through the entrance, the park immediately looks like a quaint Swiss chalet ski village. As someone who grew up going to small ski towns (many of which also borrowed this architectural style), I’ll say that Disney nailed that theme with Blizzard Beach.
What attractions are there at Blizzard Beach?
As far as formal attractions go, Blizzard Beach has slides, raft rides, kiddie play areas, a giant bobbing wave pool, and a lazy river. Arguably, lounging around and enjoying the ambiance is an attraction (possibly the best one!), too.
Blizzard Beach is organized so that everything is oriented in terms of slopes, and each of the three slopes have colors with various attractions. Unlike an actual ski slope, the colors don’t really arrange attractions by intensity, just by location. Guests can use their feet to walk to the top of Mount Gushmore, where the Green Slope and Purple Slope are located, or use the (less efficient, but cooler) chairlift to get them from the top to the bottom.
The Green Slope contains Summit Plummet, Slush Gusher, and Teamboat Springs. Teamboat Springs is a family raft ride with a capacity of 6 riders per raft (groups of less than 4 will be combined). I’ve heard Disney tout it as the world’s longest family raft ride, and that wouldn’t surprise me one bit. It goes on and on, and is a ton of fun. Also, thanks to its high capacity and efficient loading system, we’ve noticed that it never has a long wait. Both Sarah and I rate this as our #1 attraction at either water park. (Just barely edging Crush ‘N’ Gusher for me.)
Slush Gusher is a body slide that’s fairly intense (somewhat comparable to Humunga Kowabunga in that regard), but not nearly as intense as Summit Plummet. It’s “hook” is that you have the sensation of “air time” due to it not being a straight-down shot. In reality, I think it’s just Summit Plummet-light: a fast water slide for those who consider Summit Plummet too intense.
Summit Plummet is Blizzard Beach’s most intense attraction, reaching speeds up to 55 MPH, and one of the fastest water slides in the world. When I first did this back in 1996, I was terrified, but I wanted to be tough (I was 11 at the time…cut me some slack), so I did it anyway. Afterward, I bought a shirt stating that I conquered Summit Plummet and wore it probably until I wore it out. To this date, Summit Plummet still scares me (the only attraction at Walt Disney World to have that distinction). This attraction is mostly a “say you’ve done it” novelty, I think. The wait times are long, it’s over quickly, and it’s painful. I’ve done it a few times in my life when wait times have been short (basically just to “prove” I can), but otherwise, it’s “been there, done that” for me.
Next are the Purple Slope attractions, all of which are the “racing” slides. First here is Downhill Double Dipper, which is a twin tube racing slide with multiple heats and release gates. Next is Snow Stormers, which has guests lie on mats as they race down a long slalom style course. Finally, is Toboggan Racers, which allows up to 8 guests to race side by side one another, also on mats. Snow Stormers and Toboggan Racers are located right next to one another, and share a mat retrieval system.
The last slope is the Red Slope, which is not located right next to the other slopes at the top of Mount Gushmore, but is still close. Here there’s only one attraction: Runoff Rapids. This is a inner tube ride, and it’s sort of like Crush ‘N’ Gusher, except without the propulsion. Here, there are also three options, and two of those options also allow for multiple riders.
On the ground, there’s Melt Away Bay, Blizzard Beach’s large main pool that features bobbing waves; Cross Country Creek, the lazy river; Ski Patrol, a pre-teen play area; and, Tike’s Peak, a children’s play area. There’s also the chairlift, which is as much an attraction as it is transportation from point A to B. It’s the closest thing Walt Disney World still has tot he Skyway, too!
I am not a big fan of Melt Away Bay. Bobbing waves aren’t as fun as rolling ones, and this pool is too small for the crowds Blizzard Beach draws (there are never enough inner tubes to go around). Cross Country Creek is very similar to Typhoon Lagoon’s lazy river (Castaway Creek), and I might even give the slight edge to Blizzard Beach, as its lazy river has more theming and a cool cave.
The play areas for kids are undoubtedly better at Blizzard Beach. Whereas Typhoon Lagoon has one play area targeting small kids, Blizzard Beach has a couple areas each targeting a range of ages. While I personally feel that the bigger kids would just as soon enjoy the actual attractions in the park (by the time Blizzard Beach opened, I was too old for even the older kids play area–and I was only 11 at the time), this mix is nice. I think the practical reality is that both areas are probably going to appeal to small kids, it just depends upon whether those kids (and their parents) are adventurous or not. The actual target demographic for Ski Patrol is going to want to do the “adult” attractions. Kids are stubborn like that about wanting to be more adult.
What should my strategy be for Blizzard Beach?
As was the case for Typhoon Lagoon, you want to arrive slightly BEFORE Blizzard Beach opens. Once it opens, top priority should be grabbing lounge chairs in the shade–I would recommend not wasting any time having to search and instead immediately going to the area by The Warming Hut. This area is slower to fill up because it’s a bit deeper in the park and guests are lazy and go to spots that they see as soon as they enter the park. There are three distinct advantages to this area: 1) it’s heavily shaded; 2) The Warming Hut is the best restaurant at Blizzard Beach, making the walk short for carrying your food to your chairs at lunch; and, 3) this area is centrally located to the main pool and the stairs to the top of Mount Gushmore. The first advantage is the most important.
Since there was some confusion about this in the Typhoon Lagoon post, I recommend “claiming” your spots by leaving some of your junk on lounge chairs and then leaving the chairs unoccupied. Don’t be stupid and leave a half dozen iPads in plain view, but leaving your sandals, t-shirt, towels, and sunscreen should not be a problem. I am sure that theft has occurred at Blizzard Beach, but we always leave our stuff unintended, and it has never been an issue for us. Of course, we rent a locker for our cameras and phones and only leave things that no one would really want to steal on our lounge chairs (although I think thieves would probably steal my rad tie-dyed Humunga Kowabunga Goofy shirt and River Country towel if they had any sense of style). Follow this advice at your own risk.
Top priority at Blizzard Beach after that should be Summit Plummet. In fact, since not everyone in your party will want to do this, Summit Plummet should be done simultaneous to grabbing lounge chairs. Send someone who doesn’t want to do Summit Plummet to grab chairs, and whoever wants to do Summit Plummet should do that. Summit Plummet forms lines quickly, and it’s low capacity. On our most recent wait, we saw its wait time hit 45 minutes by 10 a.m., and peak at 60 minutes later in the day. It’s not worth that.
After Summit Plummet, hit Slush Gusher. From there, head to the Purple Slope and do Downhill Double Dipper, followed by Toboggan Racers and Snow Stormers. Toboggan Racers technically has higher capacity than Snow Stormers, but for whatever reason, we’ve noticed Toboggan Racers’ line move slower. Adjust your plan on the fly if this is not the case. Round out your first hour at Blizzard Beach by doing Runoff Rapids and Teamboat Springs. The first three attractions are really the ones that matter here, and those are definitely Summit Plummet, Slush Gusher, and Downhill Double Dipper.
At this point, your first hour should be about over. Repeat any attractions you want to do again, as lines will get longer later in the day. Follow this up with maximum relaxation in the lazy river and eating.
When should we visit Blizzard Beach?
This is the same for both water parks. Best times of year are when it’s colder out, but not cold enough to close the park. We also like doing water parks on rainy days. Since you probably aren’t going to plan your entire vacation around a visit to Blizzard Beach (although avoiding summer months, if possible, is a good general strategy for visiting Walt Disney World), the best time to go to Blizzard Beach is right when it opens–or slightly before that.
This is because you’ll want to grab beach chairs in shady locations (that will STAY shady as the sun moves) and hit Summit Plummet, Slush Gusher, and the “racers” attractions before lines form. Spots in the shade are claimed right away, and if you haven’t gotten your chairs within the first 30 minutes of the park being open, you have little chance at a good spot.
Additionally, lines at Blizzard Beach for the slides and racers “rides” can be long, and there is very little shade in these lines. With the exception of random umbrellas here and there and a portion of Summit Plummet’s queue that is covered, the lines at Blizzard Beach can be real scorchers.
“End of the day” is a popular recommendation for when to visit Blizzard Beach, but we don’t agree with this. It was decent advice when Blizzard Beach had evening Extra Magic Hours, but those days have long passed. Even when it’s open until 8 p.m. in the summer months, Blizzard Beach still regularly has long lines well into the late afternoon. The only way this “go late” strategy works is if you show up around 2 hours before closing, and in that case, you’re there from around 6-8 p.m., meaning (for most guests) that you’re doing something else early in the day AND something else in the evening. Three stops in a single day just doesn’t seem that efficient. We prefer rolling out of bed early, going to the water parks, going back to the hotel in the early afternoon to get ready, and heading out for an evening in the parks.
If shade is so important, is it worth it to rent a cabana at Blizzard Beach?
Polar Patios (cabanas) or an umbrella with a lounge chair are your rental options at Blizzard Beach. Unlike the cabanas at Typhoon Lagoon, Polar Patios don’t have roofs, but they are heavily shaded and have umbrellas. This may not seem important, but it will be if it rains. The cabanas include towels, a cooler stocked with ice and bottled water, your own locker, refillable mugs (for each guest–up to 6), and an attendant who will bring you food, drinks, etc. These start out in the high-$200 range and increase to the mid-$300 range depending upon season. Chairs with umbrellas are available for rental at around $50 each and include only towels.
We have not tried other of these options, so our review is based solely upon observation. Because shade is fairly easy to find at Blizzard Beach without spending any money, the $50 umbrella chair doesn’t seem like it would ever be worth it to anyone. If you’re value-conscious, arrive early and snag a beach chair in a shaded area for free. If value doesn’t matter, go all out and get the much nicer Polar Patio.
As for the Polar Patio, it doesn’t appeal to us, but I could see a party of around 6 (making it around $50/person) with money to blow enjoying it. The big benefit would be the attendant and the nice seating, and it would mean not having to scramble for chairs first thing. Personally, we would rather splurge on something like a nice meal, but if money is no issue, I could definitely see this being a nice luxury.
What about restaurants at Blizzard?
Dining at Blizzard Beach is all counter service, and unfortunately, it’s all pretty standard stuff. Don’t expect an exotic dining experience a la the World Showcase when you head to Blizzard Beach.
That said, there are a few standout options, along with a couple of excellent desserts. For the carnivores in your group, we highly recommend The Warming Hut, which is the secondary dining option to Lottawatta Lodge.
For more information, check out our detailed Blizzard Beach Dining page.
What else is worth knowing before visiting Blizzard Beach?
Bring a camera! Few people take cameras to the water parks, which we think this is a huge mistake (you’ll notice they still sell underwater disposable cameras at the water parks), as there’s a lot to photograph at Blizzard Beach. There are a few PhotoPass photographers scattered around, but taking your own camera is so much better of an option for getting photos in more than just 2-3 locations. Check out our Underwater Camera Buying Guide for tips on waterproof camera solutions, ranging from $15 to $1,500.
As far as other things to bring, towels cost $2 to rent, so bring your own. Don’t bring anything awesome, just grab one out of your hotel room. We also highly recommend is quality water shoes. We forgot to take our water shoes, and as I sit here writing this, my feet are still throbbing from walking around barefoot on that hot pavement. You can wear water shoes on the attractions, and your feet don’t get burnt. Win-win! Oh, and the floors of the restrooms at Typhoon Lagoon are spectacularly gross, so you’ll definitely want water shoes for those.
Rather than bringing a refillable mug to the water parks (as we saw many people do), buy one at the water parks. Your hotel refillable mugs won’t work at the water parks anyway, and although you can purchase the reader-sticker to put on your resort mug and use at Blizzard Beach, that method is only a few dollars cheaper than purchasing the (larger-sized) water park mug outright. Plus, the water park mug is a neat-looking souvenir!
In our Typhoon Lagoon FAQ, Tips & Review, I mentioned that I thought that Typhoon Lagoon was as close to perfection as any of the Walt Disney World parks came. From this, it should be easy to surmise that I prefer Typhoon Lagoon to Blizzard Beach. This is true, but that shouldn’t be enough for you to opt for Typhoon Lagoon and skip Blizzard Beach. Blizzard Beach just doesn’t appeal as much to me personally. That said, I think it’s also closer to perfection than the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, or Disney’s Animal Kingdom. It’s just not as close as Typhoon Lagoon.
Much like Typhoon Lagoon, Blizzard Beach nails its theme. Unfortunately, and this is probably mostly a personal thing, but the theme just doesn’t resonate as well as Typhoon Lagoon’s for me. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love Christmas and snow, but these are just not things that typically come to mind when thinking about water parks. The alpine village at Blizzard Beach is very well done and rife with Easter Eggs that are fun to find, but it is the complete antithesis of a water park. Conceptually, this stark contrast is why Blizzard Beach’s theme is so brilliant. Never would you expect to find a water park with this theme, but here it is. Ski bums are those most likely to love Blizzard Beach, as the theme (especially the entrance area) nails the look of a quaint ski resort.
On paper, Blizzard Beach’s theme seems like a great, clever idea. When actually walking through it, it just doesn’t do a ton for me. I don’t feel the same emotional connection for Blizzard Beach as I do for Typhoon Lagoon. It’s impossible to articulate why, but let’s call it the x-factor. I think Typhoon Lagoon has that, and Blizzard Beach doesn’t. A lot of Blizzard Beach fans would strongly disagree with me on this, so you may very well feel differently about Blizzard Beach. It’s still a great park that is really neat. I don’t intend for this to sound like I don’t enjoy Blizzard Beach, because I do. But if I could only visit one water park on a trip, that park would be Typhoon Lagoon.
Where Blizzard Beach excels more than Typhoon Lagoon is in its slide and raft ride lineup. Blizzard Beach inarguably has better slides and raft rides than Typhoon Lagoon. Its lineup is much more diverse, with slides ranging from family friendly racers to the intense (and scary even for adults like me!) Summit Plummet. It’s raft rides are just flat out better (in terms of both duration and fun factor) and more efficient. In terms of “rides,” about the only place Typhoon Lagoon has it beat is with Crush ‘N’ Gusher, and I suspect Crush ‘N’ Gusher was added to Typhoon Lagoon to make the attraction lineup a little less lopsided.
I suspect that the incongruity in the slide and raft ride lineup is probably due to two factors: first, Typhoon Lagoon opened about 6 years before Blizzard Beach, and in those 6 years, water park technology advanced, and Disney had time to evaluate what it needed to improve upon. Second, Typhoon Lagoon is aimed at a more relaxed experience, so slides and raft rides simply aren’t its focus.
This difference of focus is partly why Blizzard Beach doesn’t fare as well in this review. While Typhoon Lagoon has Shark Reef, the amazing Surf Pool, and other things to do outside of its slides, the slides and raft rides are the big draw at Blizzard Beach. If you don’t enjoy those, your big draw is the lazy river, as Blizzard Beach’s main pool, Melt Away Bay, leaves a lot to be desired.
Melt Away Bay has some light bobbing waves, but they aren’t anything that will hold your attention. I can spend over an hour in Typhoon Lagoon’s Surf Pool without getting bored, but I lose interest in Melt Away Bay after about 15 minutes, and that’s assuming I don’t first become agitated by not being able to grab one of the elusive inner tubes in Melt Away Bay. Since all of the slides at Blizzard Beach will only take you an hour or so if you arrive first thing in the morning (and don’t repeat any of them), it’s a bit troubling to me that the ways to spend the bulk of your day aren’t as entertaining at Blizzard Beach.
The lingering question is whether Blizzard Beach is worth the time. I think that depends. If you’ve made up your mind that you’re only going to do one water park, I’d recommend Typhoon Lagoon. I think it is more well-rounded (except possibly for small children) and more likely to appeal to the whole family. However, if you’re going on a week-long plus vacation to Walt Disney World and have time to do both water parks, do them both. When looking at “outside the theme park” activities, I’d rank Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach #1 and #2, ahead of things like DisneyQuest and shopping. While I can’t spend as long at Blizzard Beach as I can Typhoon Lagoon, it’s still a great half-day activity with lots of fun attractions. Plus, Blizzard Beach is an excellent place to explore, and fans of the “Disney Details” will have a lot of fun there even if they don’t enjoy swimming or water slides.
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What do you think of Blizzard Beach? Do you like its theme better than Typhoon Lagoon’s? What about its attractions? Share your thoughts–including any other tips we missed–in the comments!