Typhoon Lagoon Wave Pool Tips
The Surf Pool at Typhoon Lagoon is one of the water park’s coolest features, and also one of its most dangerous (cue overly dramatic music). Actually, the pool is quite safe, it’s just that many guests don’t quite understand it or are not properly prepared for it. That might seem odd. After all, it’s just a wave pool. What’s there to know? You walk out into the Surf Pool, waves happen, you have fun for a while, and then leave. If that’s what you’re thinking, you might have a point…
Then again, this is the blog with a comprehensive Refillable Mug FAQ, so we’ve already demonstrated that we devote too much text to simple topics. Plus, we’ve finally dug out of winter in the Midwest, and I have summer fever so it seemed like a fun topic to cover today. Before we get into the tips, let’s get acquainted with the Typhoon Lagoon Surf Pool.
For those unfamiliar with it, Typhoon Lagoon’s Surf Pool is one of the largest inland wave pools in the world. It’s approximately 2.5 acres in size with 3 million gallons of water (80,000 gallons are used for each wave). The Typhoon Lagoon Surf Pool uses a machine to generate an approximately 6-foot tall wave every 90 seconds, with periods of calm between the waves.
When the wave is released, you can hear the collective shriek of guests in the Surf Pool up to 37 miles away (or on the other side of the park…we’re guestimating as our data here is insufficient). It’s so loud that you’d think Jaws had appeared in the pool, not just a large wave. The Surf Pool features 90 consecutive minutes of these 6-foot waves spaced 90 seconds apart, followed by 30 minutes of bobbing waves and calmer water. From the wave pool, you can see the Miss Tilly’s (the boat stuck atop Mount Mayday) smokestack “erupt” with water every half hour as its foghorn sounds.
In fairness to the shriekers, the Typhoon Lagoon Surf Pool’s waves are pretty intense. With many Disney-related things, you assume a certain tameness. That’s perhaps why people underestimate the Typhoon Lagoon Surf Pool. Because of this, we highly recommend securely attaching your sunglasses, underwater camera, and whatever other trinkets you take into the Surf Pool, or you’re likely to lose them.
The name Surf Pool is fitting, because you could actually surf on these waves. Quite literally, as prior to park hours opening on select mornings, Typhoon Lagoon offers Surf School lessons ($165 per person)! On other mornings, the water park can be rented out for private surfing, with 100 waves over the course of the morning. Disney has more details about these opportunities here.
In terms of tips, the big thing about Typhoon Lagoon is it’s floor. If you Google “Typhoon Lagoon Surf Pool Injuries,” you’ll find tons of results, and debate online as to whether the Surf Pool floor is damaged, defective, or just flat out a bad idea. This is because the surface of the pool bottom has a textured, almost abrasive surface. Since the waves are quite strong, many guests in shallower water who are standing on the pool floor are knocked over by the waves and scratched a little by the floor. Even if you’re not knocked over, the wave can push you around enough that the floor can scratch up your feet. The reason for this abrasive floor is so that guests don’t slip in the Surf Pool, and hit their heads causing worse injuries. Obviously, that would be worse than some light scratches, so the abrasive floor is a necessity–the lesser of two evils, in a way. It’s really not that bad, but it can be an issue for some guests.
We have a few tips that will help you combat or eliminate this problem. The first is recommended for strong swimmers, and that’s swimming out into the deepest water and trying to “swim” the wave as it approaches you. Out at this depth, you really have no contact with the floor, and in between waves, you’re just treading water. The other main benefit to this is that it mostly gets you away from other guests, about 75% of whom are concentrated in the shallowest 25% of the pool. After having my knees and feet scrapped up a few years ago, this became my new strategy, and I haven’t had any scrape-ups since. Treading water can be a hassle, but I’ll take it and no injuries. Not being shoulder to shoulder with throngs of other guests, some of whom might be treating it as Walt Disney World’s largest bath tub, is just an added bonus. 😉
For some odd reason, I decided to take video of being hit by the wave in the Typhoon Lagoon Surf Pool, so you can get an idea of how intense it is here (check out our Underwater Camera Buying Guide for tips on waterproof camera options for using at Typhoon Lagoon):
If that’s too deep of water for you, we highly recommend water shoes. It is very wise to bring quality water shoes. These are allowed at Typhoon Lagoon, and are helpful in a lot of ways. In terms of the Surf Pool, they prevent your feet from getting scratched up and give you better traction so you can stand tall against the waves. Outside of the wave pool, they protect your feet from the scorching pavement in the water parks and also from the dirty restroom floors. (Seriously, don’t go to the Disney water parks without water shoes.) Another option is standing in shallow water, and ducking under the water when the wave starts so you aren’t hit by the crest of the waves. This method is far from fool-proof, but if you aren’t a strong swimmer and don’t have water shoes, it’s the best bet short of not going into the Surf Pool for very long.
As far as when to use the Surf Pool, you’ll likely want to go in the middle of the day after doing the slides and other attractions you want to do. We recommend after lunch, which is the busiest time in the pool, but the Surf Pool can also accommodate a lot of people. You’ll definitely want to do the Surf Pool during one of the 90 minute cycles of 6-foot waves. The bobbing period is dull (and is better at Blizzard Beach where you can take inner tubes into the bobbing wave pool), anyway. It’s difficult to time when will be giant waves and when will be bobbing ones, but the first cycle is supposed to start at park opening, so–if all goes according to schedule–the second cycle of big waves starts at 11 am and the third cycle starts at 1 pm.
That’s about every tip we have for the Typhoon Lagoon Surf Pool! For more info about Typhoon Lagoon, make sure to read our Typhoon Lagoon FAQ, Tips & Review.
For Walt Disney World trip planning tips and comprehensive advice, make sure to read our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide and related articles.
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What do you think of the Surf Pool at Typhoon Lagoon? Ever been injured in it? Have any additional tips? Share your thoughts or questions below in the comments!
I think that Disney should prohibit any kind of cameras/cellphones in the wave pool. Afterall, aren’t they made out of hard metal and glass. It seemed like everybody had one!!! With those big waves throwing people all around it a wonder some little kid hasn’t got really bad. I saw one guy with a big go-pro camera on a stick. I guess Disney is going to wait until somebody gets killed before they do anything about it. Kinda like that thing with the alligators.
Is the surfing only in the lessons? Or can you go in during park hours and paddle out. Let me know, thanks
Is the water in the wave pool salt or fresh? What is the maximum depth at the wave maker end?
I Typhoon Lagoon and it is really a cool place for practice surfing without waiting for the wave.
I dislocated my finger there last week. The hotel reimbursed my cab fare to the hospital.
I LOVE the surf pool and spend the entire session treading water at the front, “surfing” the waves and then swimming back to the front. You do have to be a good swimmer though and if you leave mid session you need to time it right so your knees don’t get taken out when the next wave hits you from behind! Having said you need to be a good swimmer, I was at the front of the wave pool when I was 5 and my parents couldn’t keep me out, going back as an adult I was pretty impressed with my five year old self! The surf pool is also a good way to burn off some of those Disney calories!
In addition to the scraped knees and toes I was surprised by the force of the waves. I was way way back in the shallow end, siting watching my kids and the waves sent me in a backward somersault with water up my nose. It was a little frightening and the end of my surf experience!
I just have to laugh at this article. I mean it’s well written and necessary but people that enter a wave pool and don’t expect to get knocked over or are a weak swimmer really are pushing the limits of Darwinism.
I grew up in New Jersey and regularly went to Action Mountain and Action Park (later renamed Traction Mountain and Traction Park because of deaths and injuries).
It amazes me how many parents let their younger children into these pools thinking they aren’t that dangerous or the life guards can see everything. Yes Disney lifeguards are well trained but NOTHING is full proof.
Outside of Tom’s advice here I will say parents WATCH YOUR KIDS at these parks until they are older and stronger swimmers.
Well said. I think in this case, people just don’t give any thought to these things until they’re there. Once you’re there, it’s too late to bring the water shoes with.
Very true! Watch your kids, and also try to watch yourself! When I was younger, my father took me into the wave pool, and was slammed into by a very large man during a wave. My dad ended up with a fractured rib, and the rest of the trip wasn’t so pleasant for him (as an adult, I appreciate the dedication to still going on the rides with us!). I know sometimes it cannot be helped, but definitely keep an eye out around you- the waves can be much stronger than you think.
Love Typhoon Lagoons wave pool! We were surprised when we were there how much calmer it seemed the deeper we got. (Or maybe there was just less people to be knocked into, so we were lulled into a false sense of safety haha)
Typhoon Lagoon is just a well executed park on the whole and I love your posts on it. The wave pool, snorkeling, and incredible theming really help it stand out as an exemplary ‘Disney’ park. Blizzard has always felt a bit sterile to me.
I’d agree that it’s definitely less “thrashing” out in the deep water. The waves aren’t necessarily any calmer, but they can’t do as much to you out there.
Another option to the rough floor in the wave pool is to use the foam flooring they use in the kiddie area. Much softer and if you do slip, you don’t have to worry about hitting your head OR getting all scraped up!
I wonder why they didn’t go that route. Perhaps maintenance or initial installation cost a lot more? I know that material is more porous, maybe it’s tough to clean?
Great tip about the water shoes! Thanks!
I was about to ask your option on underwater cameras then saw your guide, always wanted to do this thanks!
No problem. Underwater cameras are a blast! 🙂