Disney Blizzard Beach Water Park
by Corey Martin
Not only did I work at Blizzard, but I’ve done just about everything there. I was the one at the top of Summit Plummet convincing you that it's not so bad if you scream, and the lifeguard at bottom laughing as you pulled the bathing suit out your butt. Yes, I was the one saving your child when he didn’t realize the water was 8 1/2 ft deep, and the one who searched for your family heirloom that you lost in the wave pool. I also had to make the dreaded announcement to close the park on the morning of September 11th, and stood at the exit afterwards handing out park vouchers like they were Mickey Mouse stickers. I’ve seen Blizzard Beach from every angle and it’s an awesome water park any way you look at it.
The Disney World pools stay busy all summer long and the water parks stay even busier. Of the two water parks, Blizzard Beach is usually the most crowded because it’s the newest and has better slides. Typhoon Lagoon has awesome theming, a great wave pool, and a shark reef, but Blizzard Beach has the real thrill slides, making it one of the top water parks in the country.
It is very common for Blizzard Beach to close due to capacity during the busy times of the year. I suggest you get there as close to opening time as you can, otherwise you might have to wait until 2:00 pm when it reopens.
From October through March, only one water park will be open at a time. Usually, one park will close for 3 months for rehab and reopen when the other one closes. Check our rehabs page to see which water park will be open.
New to Blizzard Beach? This will help you where many of the important items are at Blizzard Beach.
OPENED: April 1, 1995
Disney’s Blizzard Beach is a 66-acre themed water recreation attraction — inspired by the mythology of a snow ski resort that didn’t exactly find a suitable climate in Florida!
With great slides, come long lines. There are no Fast Passes at the Disney water parks, so a 60 minute wait means a 60 minute wait. It’s no secret that you should do the most popular slides first, but I am saying it again, do the popular slides first. The longest waits are Summit Plummet, Slush Gusher, Downhill Double Dipper and the Chair Lift.
Mt. Gushmore: The snow-capped, 90-foot-high peak that is the park’s visual centerpiece, on top of which sits the platform “launch pad” for the park’s most-talked-about attraction, Summit Plummet.
Summit Plummet is the big daddy and is one of the world's tallest and fastest free-falling slides. Standing 120 feet tall and 13 stories high, this is an adrenaline rush. I’ve done it numerous times and my heart still races every time I do it. Going 60 mph straight down a water slide is no joke. Children have to be 48” tall to ride.
A tip for ladies: Wear a one-piece bathing suit on this attraction or you may arrive at the bottom before the top of your bathing suit does.
DON'T TRY TO CARRY EVERYTHING YOU OWN ON A SPEED SLIDE! - The wait times for Summit Plummet and Slush Gusher really depend on how prepared the people are in front of you. Here’s a real scenario... picture someone hesitating at the top Summit Plummet because they’re scared of heights and just realized they’re eye level with the Tower of Terror. The wind is blowing and the slide is so steep they can’t even see it in front of them. They decide to go down 2 minutes later, after some heavy convincing from the ride-operator and the impatient guests waiting behind. When they get to the bottom of the slide, they spend another 2 minutes trying to find their sunglasses, chap stick, 4 one-dollar bills, 5 quarters, a wet Blizzard Beach map and the shoes they were holding. This goes on all day long. Be prepared and don't bring everything you brought to the park on this slide.
While not as intense as the nearby Summit Plummet, Slush Gusher is another great speed slide at Blizzard Beach, and the line is just as long. Children also have to be 48” tall to ride. Here, you go over two "moguls" reaching speeds of up to 50 mph, catching air on the second one. Your body will leave the slide a little bit on the second drop.
A tip for adrenaline junkies - To catch ultimate air on Slush Gusher, raise your crossed-legs just before you reach the second hump and keep straight.
Another big one is Downhill Double Dipper (DDD, Triple D), 2 side-by-side 50 feet high racing slides have you traveling at speeds up to 25 mph against your competitor aboard an inner tube. This line is also usually very long during the busy times. Children have to be 48” tall to ride, but make sure they can swim because the water at the bottom is 54” deep. The tube has an open bottom so small children sometimes fall through the hole when they hit the catch pool. Slide History - There was a time when this ride allowed double tubes to go down, but when people started soaring across the water at 20 mph smacking into the catch net, something had to change. Even if you sat in a single tube the right way, you could glide across the entire catch pool to the end. Due to some injuries, they raised the water level and now the ride ends once you hit the water. You'll also notice an inflatable pad at the end of the catch pool, just in case.
The Chair Lift is also very popular. While you might think that you’ll just walk on up and hop on, it’s not an expressway. This is a real Chair Lift that provides a one way trip to the top of the mountain, with access to some slides (Summit, Slush, Teamboat Springs). If you don’t want to ride one the slides at the top of the mountain, then you will have to walk back down. It’s very convenient for those that can’t climb stairs and others that don’t mind the wait, but there is usually long a line. Try the single express line if the wait is too long. Children have to be 32 ” tall to ride.
The lines for Runoff Rapids and Snow Stormers tend to move faster.
Runoff Rapids is a tube ride consisting of 3 different twisting and turning 600-foot slides to choose from. There are 2 open slides that allow double tubes, and a totally enclosed dark slide where you can take a single tube. The enclosed slide is like a water slide version of Space Mountain and is a must do. The single-tube line usually has the longest, b/c the enclosed slide is very popular and can only be ridden with a single tube. All the tubes are picked up at the bottom of the slide and then you carry them up the mountain. This is the only slide at Blizzard where you have to carry your tube up a flight of stairs. Although there is no height requirement for this slide, a child must be able to sit properly in a tube while holding both handles. Test it at the bottom before you haul the tube up to the top. The double tube allows the parent to sit behind the child. The water at the bottom is just under 4-feet (3 ft. 9in.), so get ready to grab your kid when you flip out your tube.
More things get lost on Runoff Rapids than all the other slides, so don’t forget to hold your stuff or get a locker.
Snow Stormers is one that I’ve seen children go on dozens of times in a row. Kids love this one! You lay on a toboggan mat face first while you go down one of three 350-feet long twisting and turning flumes that descend from the mountain. These mats do float and can support a small child, but it is not recommended to use it as that. This attraction is for guests of all ages, but I advise parents with small non-swimming children to go first and wait at the bottom for your small child. You can always ask the lifeguard at the top to send them after you, and advise the lifeguard at the bottom that you are waiting for your little one. The water in the catch pool is just under 4-feet (3 ft. 9in.).
The Toboggan Racers are an 8-lane course, where you go headfirst down 250 feet waterway with fun dips. This line moves pretty quick. Some children get discouraged when they lose or don’t slide as far as the parents, so let your little one have head start. This has a zero water depth.
To go faster on Snow Stormers and Toboggan Racers, pull up on the front of the mat.
Ski Patrol Training Camp is the pre-teen area of Blizzard Beach for those that can’t and won’t do the bigger slides. There are several attractions in a close proximity to one another, so parents are able to keep a close eye on their children. This area stays VERY active all day long. In the main pool area there are floating icebergs, iceberg walks with above nets that children cross, and 2 very tame slides. The water in the common pool area is 3 1/2 feet. Children 13 and over are not allowed on the iceberg walks. There is also Cool Runners in Ski Patrol, which is a smaller and slower version Runoff Rapids that consists of 2 wide-open inner tube slides.
Just above the main pool area in Ski Patrol there is a T-Bar that zips children down into 8 ½ feet deep water, and a short, steep, enclosed slide that shares the same catch pool. T-Bar is only for children under 60”, but there is no height restriction for the adjacent slide. Lifeguard rescues happen here several times a day because children and parents have no clue the water is so deep. I had to rescue an entire family here once. The son came down the T-Bar and couldn’t swim. Just as I jumped in to save him, the father and mother came down the adjacent slide one after another. They couldn’t swim either. If your child can't swim or is a weak swimmer, please please please get them a free life jacket at Snowless Joes.
Tike's Peak is the area reserved just for the little ones. This kid-sized play are features scaled-down elements of Mt. Gushmore and includes a snow-castle fountain play area. The water in this entire area is very shallow and children must be under 4 feet tall to play. There is limited seating here, so save a spot early if you think this is where you'll be.
For the whole family, there's Teamboat Springs which sends you down a series of twisting and cascading waterfalls. This 1200 foot whitewater raft ride is the world's longest family white-water raft ride. The raft holds a minimum of 4 passengers and a maximum of 6. If you have 3 or less in your party, you will be traveling with another family.
Cross Country Creek - This is one of the most relaxing things you can do at Blizzard Beach. Hop into a complimentary inner tube and enjoy leisurely floating along the 3,000-foot creek that encircles Blizzard Beach. It'll take you about 30 minutes to go completely around, but that is only if you stay in your tube and let the current take you. You do not need a tube to enjoy this attraction and you are free to walk, swim, or float. Be prepared for dripping ice water when you pass through the ice cave, and a few other surprising water features. There are total of 7 entry/exit spots to the creek.
When you're ready to get out of the creek, ask the lifeguard which exit will put near the next attraction you want to do. Why walk when you can float?
Melt-Away Bay - This one-acre pool nestled against the base of Mt. Gushmore is constantly fed by "melting snow" waterfalls. There's gentle wave action, but don't expect to body surf. This does not produce the big wave that Typhoon Lagoon does. Tubes are allowed in the wave pool, but the number is limited and is on a first come first serve basis.
Before you ride anything, someone needs to save a spot. Just because you are in the park does not mean there’s a set of four chairs waiting for you at the wave pool. Chairs are prime real-estate and the good locations go fast and probably won’t become available again until later in the day, or until after it rains. I remember witnessing the sea of guests speed-walking through the park throwing their stuff on the first chairs they saw. I would suggest that you have an idea of where you want to sit before you claim territory on a busy path. Blizzard Beach map
Unlike the Theme Parks, you need somewhere to call home base for the day, a convenient spot that you can remember, and a place to lay your stuff down. There are grassy picnic areas, sandy beach areas, covered shelters (in and out the sand), and chairs near overlook spots and slide exits. The wave pool has plenty of seating, but these can go fast. I personally like the area to the far left of the wave pool (near Warming Hut). You're at the wave pool, close to food and restrooms, near the Polar Pub Bar (for the adults), and by a creek entrance. For the tots, setup camp at Tikes Peak. The Ski Patrol area for preteens is crazy, but if you must sit here, you can find a quieter spot in the upper area (close to the main walkway). Except for main walkways and pools, you can move chairs where ever you want. There are always vacant chairs in the picnic area on the backside of the mountain. Be courteous and only take the chairs you need.
Bleach and Bathing Suits Don't Mix - It’s not funny, but one morning the lifeguards were bleaching all of the chairs on the main beach near the wave pool and were supposed to rinse them off before the park opened. Apparently, a section of chairs escaped the rinsing process and made a group of guests very unhappy. Disney had to replace whatever they were wearing b/c they all had white bleach stripes all over their clothes. Hey, at least you know the chairs are clean.
Premium Seating - Polar Patios
4 Premium spaces are available for rental daily. This includes an attendant, private lockers, all day drink mugs, cooler with bottled water, comfortable lounge furniture, tables and rental towels. The Premium spaces accommodate up to 6 guests. Cost is $319.25 (tax included) for the full day (plus park admission). You will need to go to the Shade Shack location to inquire about the availability of the Polar Patios. Advance reservations are currently not available but are expected to be offered through 407-WDW-PLAY in late summer. My advice is to get to the park early and find a good spot for free!!
Premium Beach Chair Space - Lodge Picnic Umbrellas
This includes 2 lounge chairs, umbrella, cocktail table and 2 towels. Limit is up to four people; if more, a second reservation is needed. Reserve in advance by calling 407-WDW-PLAY. Cancellation without penalty must be no later than 9:00 am the day prior to reservation. These are available on a same day basis if there are any locations left (check at Shade Shack). Cost is $40 plus tax and must be paid at time of reservation.
Get a locker! You wouldn’t believe how much money ends up at the bottom of the pools every day. If you are a going to carry money around in your bathing suit, then you need to keep it in a water wallet or in a ziplock bag, something that will float. There is no way to claim a single 5 dollar bill at Guest Relations. When I was coordinating, we had to swim the catch pools (the pools at the bottom of the slides) whenever someone would lose something. Do you know how hard it is to a find a single prescription glass lens in the catch pool of Runoff Rapids, or a diamond earring in the wave pool? Things will fall off and things will fall out of your pocket, so put what you want in a locker. A small locker is $13 and a large is $15, but you get $5 back when you return the key, if you don't loose that too.
It is Disney, but crimes do happen. If you leave your bag in your spot while you go slide or swim, then try to tie it to one of your chairs, or bring a lock and lock it to a chair. It is a lot harder to steal a bag if there is a chair attached to it.
While you’re renting a locker, take a look at your beautiful children and decide whether or not you feel comfortable throwing them in 8 feet of water. If your answer is no, then please ask the cast member to give you a life jacket. Life jackets are provided free of charge at Snowless Joes with a personal ID and a $25 refundable deposit. The deepest body of water in the park is 8 1/2 feet deep at the T-Bar in Ski Patrol, and is only for children 60” and under. The water isn't only over your child’s head, but it’s over your head too.
If you don't bring your own towel you can rent one for $2.
Bring a real bathing suit, not a pair of jeans you cut into shorts. Some rides such as Summit Plummet and Slush Gusher have bathing suit restrictions. You will not be allowed to go down these slides if you have jean shorts or shorts that have metal buttons on them. These buttons can harm the slide making it very dangerous for other guests.
The ground can get extremely hot and very slippery, so wear water shoes or flip-flops. Certain areas of the park are cleaned with bleach every morning, so they can be very slick.
Sunscreen and goggles will cost twice as much at Blizzard Beach than what you will pay at your local store, so bring it with you.
Florida is HOT!
Unless you take the chair lift every single time you ride a ride, you will be climbing stairs, another good reason to wear shoes. Unlike Typhoon Lagoon, Blizzard is very bright with little shade.
Most of the heat exhaustion cases that I had to deal with were at the top of the mountain, mostly a combination of overexertion and lack of water. Don’t be so overanxious that you forget to drink water and eat food. Drink water even if you are not thirsty!! Cross County Creek and the Wave Pool are perfect for relaxing and cooling off. Instead of walking from ride to ride, try using the creek as a shortcut.
The Blizzard Beach Story
You see, once upon a time, there was a freak snow storm in Disney World. Wanting to take advantage of the snow, Disney built the first ski resort in Florida. Sadly, the temperatures rose and it looked as if their new venture was melting away. An adventurous alligator decided to slide down the slippery slope into the pool that formed below. Realizing that the ski runs could be put to use, Blizzard Beach was born, or so the story goes. That is also why the Blizzard Beach character is called Ice Gator.
The Best Time of the Day to Visit
I would suggest going later in the day if you want fewer people in the park. The guests that get their first thing in the morning usually end up leaving hours before the park closes.If you do decide to go later in the day, then you have to keep an eye on the weather. Orlando is known for afternoon lightning storms and they will close the park if lightning is in the area. These closings are usually only temporary, but if it continues the park will close for good. If you can stick it out during a temporary rain closing, there will be even fewer people in the park.
Blizzard Beach Useful Information and Facts
- Blizzard Beach opened April 1, 1995.
- The water at Blizzard is heated year-round between 75 to 80 degrees, with the exception of the melting snow in the ice cave of Cross Country Creek.
- Guests may bring food baskets.
- Coolers of a size that may be safely carried are permitted.
- No glass containers or alcoholic beverages allowed.
- No boogie boards, surf boards or personal flotation devices.
- Water toys (beach balls, air mattresses, tubes, kick boards, etc.), that do not attach to the body, are not permitted
- Free life jackets available at Snowless Joes. Refundable deposit required.
- Guests may not bring in their own fins, masks or snorkels.