USA TODAY US Edition
Water park fun doesn’t slip away with summer
Fla. attractions keep warm welcome
The kids are back in school. Pumpkin spice everything is back in stores. Summer is fast becoming a distant memory, even if it doesn’t officially end for a few days. ● But travelers can extend summer vibes for months to come at Central Florida’s water parks, where average highs were around 80 degrees last November and 72 degrees last December, according to Weather Underground. ● Every major theme park in the area has at least one water park, which many guests visit on rest days between theme parks.
“That’s the beautiful thing: You don’t have to plan for the water parks,” Mark Dukes told USA TODAY when he served as general manager of Disney Water Parks and Mini Golf, before moving on to a new role at Animal Kingdom. “You could just roll out of bed and go out on the balcony and say, ‘Oh my gosh, it’s a beautiful day. Let’s go to the water parks today.’ ”
The water parks also can be destinations unto themselves.
How many Disney water parks are there?
Walt Disney World has two water parks, Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon.
“We’re so immersive that if somebody blindfolded you and dropped you off here, you would think you were on an island in the Pacific,” Dukes said of Typhoon Lagoon, home of the largest surfable wave pool in North America.
“We can throw waves up to 6 feet for surfers, but we tone it down for the day guests,” he said. “It’s like being at the beach, but every wave is perfect.”
Blizzard Beach, meanwhile, boasts the longest family raft ride in the U.S., Teamboat Springs, and Tike’s Peak, a “Frozen”-themed area for its youngest guests.
At least one park is open daily yearround, but they are subject to seasonal, weather, refurbishment and capacity closures, according to Disney.
Disney water park tickets start at $58 for guests ages 3 to 9 and $64 for guests ages 10 and up.
Which is better, Adventure Island or Busch Gardens?
Comparing Adventure Island to its sister park Busch Gardens-Tampa Bay is like comparing apples to oranges. They’re very different parks, but they both offer thrills.
Adventure Island features “America’s first dual tailspin waterslide,” Solar Vortex, which sends “sliders on a swirling journey through two open tailspin features,” according to the
Younger guests can get a kick out of the park’s new splash and play area, Shaka-Laka Shores.
Adventure Island is open on weekends and select weekdays through Nov. 12.
Ticket prices start at $34.99 online for guests over age 3.
Are LEGOLAND and LEGOLAND Water Park the same?
No, but LEGOLAND Water Park is located within LEGOLAND Florida, so guests need tickets to both to enter the water park in Winter Haven, Florida.
Several of the water park’s unique and very on-brand experiences include building your own LEGO rafts for its lazy river and playing with larger-than-life DUPLO figures in DUPLO Splash Safari.
One-day LEGOLAND Florida + Water Park tickets start at $84 for guests ages 3 and up. Single-day tickets to just LEGOLAND Florida start at $74.
LEGOLAND Water Park is open through the rest of the year, except on Tuesdays and Thursdays. It is, however, open every day during the weeks of Thanksgiving and Christmas.
How many hours should I spend at Volcano Bay?
You could easily spend a full day at Universal’s Volcano Bay. The water park is an oasis in the middle of Orlando with lush tropical trees and rows of lounge chairs for relaxing in the sun or shade. Of course, there’s a lazy river, but there’s also a not-so-lazy river. Floating along TeAwa the Fearless River feels more like riding rapids, and life jackets are required.
Another unique feature of Volcano Bay is that every guest gets a TapuTapu wearable, which allows them to join virtual lines for water slides, instead of standing and waiting like they would at other parks. Guests can join one virtual line at a time or instantly ride attractions that say “ride now.”
Volcano Bay is open daily through Oct. 30, then on select dates after that. Guests can find the latest calendars on Universal Orlando Resort’s website and free mobile app.
Tickets start at $65 online for guests ages 3 to 9 and $70 for guests 10 and up.
How do Discovery Cove and SeaWorld Aquatica differ?
While both are sister parks to SeaWorld Orlando, Aquatica Orlando is a water park featuring pools and water slides. Its “all-new, one-of-a-kind” Reef Plunge zips guests “past a dynamic new underwater habitat that’s home to a vibrant array of marine life, including Commerson’s dolphins, leopard sharks, sardines, and other cold-water fish,” according to the park’s website.
Discovery Cove describes itself as an “all-inclusive day resort.” Its guests can dine on unlimited food and drinks, swim in tropical lagoons and encounter various birds and marine life, such as dolphins and rays.
Aquatica is open daily through year’s end. Tickets start at $47.99 online for guests ages 3 and up.
Discovery Cove is open daily through October, then on weekends and select weekday days through year’s end. It’s open every day the week of Christmas and the week before.