I haven’t been shy about my love for Walt Disney World’s water parks on the blog, and in our full Guide to Typhoon Lagoon I make the case for why people should visit, in addition to offering other tips. In this post, we’ll cover why Typhoon Lagoon is worth your time even if you’re not into water parks. (Updated May 23, 2020.)
That’s 100% serious. It’s a shame that so many Walt Disney World fans have never experienced Typhoon Lagoon. I’d go as far as to say it’s some of Imagineering’s best work, and well-worth your vacation time. If you’re a fan of themed design, fun details, backstory, and just beautiful environments, Typhoon Lagoon is for you!
Seriously, it’s entirely possible to spend a morning or afternoon just walking around, soaking up the atmosphere and exploring Typhoon Lagoon. We always make time for the lazy river, but there have been plenty of visits to Typhoon Lagoon where we don’t do a single slide or ride. Here’s what we love so much about the water park…
The good news is that this year might be the Summer of Typhoon Lagoon. If Universal Orlando’s official reopening policies are a sign of what’s to come for Walt Disney World (and we think that’s highly likely), then water parks are the one place where face masks will be recommended rather than required.
As you can read in Universal’s FAQ, social distancing is being emphasized at Volcano Bay, which is due to masks being unsafe and impractical in the water. Assuming Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach reopen this summer, we would anticipate similar policies at those water parks.
We want to emphasize that nothing is official yet–Walt Disney World has made zero announcements one way or the other. However, if they follow Universal’s lead, this could make a lot of people who previously overlooked the water parks give more serious consideration to Typhoon Lagoon. With that in mind, here’s why we think Typhoon Lagoon is Walt Disney World’s best water park…
10. The Reveal – I rarely hear this talked up, but it’s one of the things I really appreciate about Typhoon Lagoon’s design. Approaching Typhoon Lagoon, the park is rather unassuming. The main entrance is small, compact, and immediately behind that, it appears lush. Based upon that first impression, you’re sort of expecting a hole-in-the-wall type place that will be lush, but probably not expansive.
Then, you wind around a narrow path that has details foreshadowing the park’s backstory, and then suddenly, the wide lagoon and surf pool come into view. It’s not quite the same as taking the ferry into Magic Kingdom or monorail into Epcot, but it’s thoughtfully done and cool, nonetheless.
9. Background Music – The background music loop at Typhoon Lagoon is one of the rare ones that has songs with lyrics. Heavy on The Beach Boys, it also features Jimmy Buffett and The Surfaris. It’s a great (long) loop that really gets you in the mood to…lounge around and do nothing.
8. Mountain Trail – This walking path starts near the queue entrance for Humunga Kowabunga, and meanders around the base of Mount Mayday, with the highlight being an elevated foot bridge high above Castaway Creek and up-close views of the Miss Tilly.
Later in the day, there’s seldom anyone up here (and it’s mostly confused guests who thought they were getting in line for a slide–I routinely see people double-back once realizing that’s not the case), but it’s a great way to get a bird’s eye view of the park, and take in some of its exquisite theming.
7. The “Rides” – I don’t mean the water slides. To be honest, I’m not a huge fan of water slides, and most of my love of Typhoon Lagoon is derived from its brilliant theme, the subtle details, and relaxing ambiance.
6. Unique Food – One of the biggest misconceptions about the Walt Disney World water parks is that their food is boring. To be sure, the main restaurants are heavy on standard theme park fare, and a lot of people end up getting sandwiches and hot dogs.
However, there’s so much more. Most notably, the delicious mini donuts and ice cream pails (even if you want to play it safe, the Island Burger is a pretty solid option). We have a whole article on what to eat at Typhoon Lagoon, but think it’s worth reiterating that there are some great food options at Typhoon Lagoon.
5. Miss Tilly – As far as park icons go, Miss Tilly, a wrecked shrimp boat, that is precariously perched atop Mount Mayday, is pretty tough to beat.
Not only is this boat wrecked on top of a mountain due to the huge storm…but the mountain’s geyser still erupts through the impaled Miss Tilly every half hour. It’s cool to wander the park checking out the ship from various angles (it’s visible pretty much everywhere), and also fun to get up close to it.
4. Lagoona Gator – As the kids would say, “Lagoona Gator is everything.” When Blizzard Beach opened, its Ice Gator mascot was a huge hit. Accordingly, Walt Disney World made enhancements to Typhoon Lagoon to give it a mascot: Lagoona Gator. When I said he’s everything above, I meant it.
Not only is he the mascot and resident surf ace of Typhoon Lagoon, but he’s also a movie star, rock star, artist, and (probably) more. He even used to be a meet & greet character in the park, but was long ago retired. The nods to him throughout the park are cool and well done, and he ranks a rung below Figment & Dreamfinder (right up there with Sonny Eclipse) as my favorite theme park character.
My adrenaline rushes every time I hear the giant wave start up, and it’s a blast to find new ways to “survive” the big wave. I know, it sounds dorky.
2. Castaway Creek – “Look at all the lazy people in the lazy river.” Sorry, I cannot mention the Typhoon Lagoon lazy river without that famous Stacey quote from the Top 7 coming to mind. On any given day at Typhoon Lagoon, half of my time is spent in the lazy river.
I love to float around, looking straight up at the foliage, sun, and blue sky above. It’s such a relaxing, serene experience (when we did the Disney Vacation Club Beach Bash, I actually fell asleep doing this while gazing up at the stars–don’t tell Sarah!). The only part I don’t like is the various points that spray you with water (get off my lawn!), but perhaps that’s to wake up the sleepers like me. 😉
1. Theme – On the surface, Typhoon Lagoon seems like a pretty “safe” concept for a water park: something tropical and laid back that is conducive to sitting on the beach, swimming, and other water activities. And, that’s true. This is part of the appeal; Blizzard Beach is also incredibly well-themed, but the juxtaposition of winter and swimming just doesn’t feel right. But, there’s more to it than that…
Once you get beyond the beach vibe, there is rich theming throughout Typhoon Lagoon, and the Imagineered tropical environment has the added elements of a tropical resort and the huge storm that decimated it layered on top. This is all easily conveyed through the park’s details, and it coalesces really well. As a result, Typhoon Lagoon has a great sense of place, and it’s great to just be there.
In the end, this is far and away the biggest reason why I think Typhoon Lagoon is a must-do for Walt Disney World fans. Don’t let the fact that it’s a water park discourage you–even if you don’t care about water slides or anything else, it’s a great place to waste a morning.
In terms of where else you should go at Walt Disney World, what else you should do, or other comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!
Have you been to Typhoon Lagoon? Do you agree or disagree with my take on Typhoon Lagoon and its theme? What’s your favorite thing to do at this Walt Disney World water park? Any favorite slides, snacks or other things worth mentioning–or that should make the top 10? Share any questions, tips, or additional thoughts you have in the comments!