Typhoon Lagoon

Typhoon Lagoon

Know Before You Go Essential Facts:

  • Typhoon Lagoon is just down the street from Disney Springs
  • The park is normally open January to October
  • Peak season hours are 9 am – 8 pm
  • A 1-day ticket is currently $58 (ages 10+) & $50 (Ages 3-9)
  • Parking is free at this park
  • Lockers rentals are available
  • Towel rentals are available
  • Personal coolers are allowed, no alcoholic beverages or glass bottles are permitted
  • The park opened on June 1, 1989.

Those are the facts, now time for the fun!

The story behind Typhoon Lagoon is a whale of tale!  As you drive into the theme park you are greeted by a grouping of signs with the following story:

“A furious storm once roared ‘cross the sea, catching ships in its path, helpless to flee. Instead of a certain and watery doom, the winds swept them here to Typhoon Lagoon.”

The legend of Typhoon Lagoon tells that before the furious storm roared ‘cross the sea, this peaceful little spot was known as Placid Palms.  Of course the community was turned upside down by the destructive storm.  In the aftermath, the local residents, ever vigilant, decided to stay in their home and press on.  They appropriately renamed their resort Leaning Palms and have kept their little slice of tropical paradise running despite the scattered marine debris, uprooted trees, and ships literally turned upside down.  Today the Leaning Palms resort is a part of what has become Typhoon Lagoon.

That is just a glimpse into the rich backstory that the Disney Imagineers created when this world class water park came to be in 1989.  Since that time, Typhoon Lagoon has blossomed into the 2nd most visited water park in the world.  What makes it so popular?  Well, today we will break down the individual rides, but also see there is a lot more to Typhoon Lagoon than just water slides.  This is a great place to beat the heat at Walt Disney World, because like everything else Disney, it offers a unique experience that goes far beyond your typical water park.  Before I get too far along that path though let’s look at all the rides located in T Typhoon Lagoon.

All of the rides covered today, with the exception of the kids area, come with the following warnings, requirements, and suggestions:

  • WARNING!  For safety, you should be in good health and free from heart conditions, back or neck problems, or other conditions that could be aggravated by this adventure.  Expectant mothers should not ride.  
  • Clothing with rivets, buckles, or exposed metal is not permitted.  
  • Glasses and loose jewelry should be removed.  
  • You should be a strong swimmer.

All right, those are the universal know before you go facts.  As we go along we will also cover the detailed facts for each ride and share the ride’s slogan.  I’m going to start today at the back of the park and work my way around.  I believe this order serves as a good touring plan for the park.  If you arrive at the park at opening you can follow this order and experience all the slides in just a couple of hours.  That leaves the afternoon for the Shark Reek, the Typhoon Lagoon Surf Pool, and Castaway Creek.  Before we relax though, let’s have some fun!

Keelhaul Falls

“Climb aboard a raft to ride down tropical rapids on an exciting twisting course.”

– Only 1 rider per tube

– There is no height requirement

  • Fright factor is 1 out of 5
  • Pool depth at the bottom of the slide is 3 ft. 6 in.

Keelhaul Falls is one of three tube rides located to the left of Miss Tilly, the park’s iconic ship located at the top of Mount Mayday.  Of the three tube rides, this is the least intense and serves as a great introductory ride.  I recommend starting at Keelhaul Falls because this ride is smooth, fun, and a good way to get wet to begin your day.

Mayday Falls

“Take an exciting raft ride traveling through caves and over waterfalls.”

–  Only 1 rider per tube

–  There is no height requirement

  • Fright factor is 1 out of 5
  • Pool depth at the bottom of the slide is 3 ft. 6 in.

Mayday Falls has a funny shaped single rider tube, with a raised area located behind the rider’s head.  As soon as you start sliding down Mayday Falls, you will understand why this tube has its funny shape.  This slide has built in bumps along the way to simulate the feel of going through rapids.  You will need to hold on tight as the bumps make the longest slide in Typhoon Lagoon more intense.  The sensation is a little weird, but winding through the caves and under the waterfalls of Mayday Falls makes for a fun ride.

Gang Plank Falls

“Take a family sized inner tube down a winding watery course with scenic views, caverns, and lots of twists and turns.”

  • This is a 4 person family sized inner tube
  • There is no height requirement
  • Fright factor is 0 out of 5

Gang Plank Falls is a good ride for a family or group to experience together.  Like the other two tube rides in this area, the journey takes you down the mountain.  While it is a very short ride, only 300 feet long, there is a good amount to see as you pass through the boulders of the mountain, under a waterfall, and by old wooden bridges.  The short ride won’t be as much fun if you have a long wait later in the day, so get this one in early.


Storm Slides

“Plunge down a winding waterway on one of three high-speed body slides that include curves, waterfalls, geysers and a three story drop.”

  • These are body slides
  • There is no height requirement
  • Fright factor is 1 out of 5
  • Pool depth at bottom of slides is 4 ft.

Now that you are nice and wet and have the adrenaline pumping from the 3 pack of tube rides, it is time to move onto the body slides!  The Storm Slides feature a group of 3 body slides appropriately named Jib Jammer, Stern Burner, and Rudder Buster.  All 3 wind you down 3 stories of mountain at the same speed.  This scenic journey includes some fun twists and turns before dumping you into the pool below.  I really enjoy seeing the detail of the park as you walk up the mountain.  Be sure and check out the “Just Married” boat which has been ship wrecked about half way up.  It seems this couple didn’t have the fortune of starting their new lives together on calm waters!  Fortunately for you, the Storm Slides offer pretty smooth sailing and a medium thrill level as you ramp up your day at Typhoon Lagoon.

Humunga Kowabunga

“Take a five story plunge down one of three enclosed high-speed body slides beginning at the top of Mount Mayday and ending in a splash!”

  • This is a body slide
  • You must be 48” tall to ride
  • Fright factor is 3 out of 5

If you had fun on the Storm Slides and are craving more thrills, then you are ready to tackle Humunga Kowabuna!  This set of 3 slides shoots riders down that 5 story drop at a 60 degree angle.  Water sprays over you as you race through the dark enclosed slide.  The high thrill plummet is over in a matter of seconds and will definitely get your heart racing!  If you are riding with a group, there is the added thrill of competition.  The 3 single slides are side by side, making it fun to find out who the fastest rider is in your family.

When the park opened this high thrill drop was the signature ride.  Since then it has been eclipsed in scale by Summit Plummet over at Blizzard Beach.  However, I still prefer Humunga Kowabunga.  This slide is fast and fun without being too rough.  Still, as my wife found out the hard way, it is a rip roarin’ good time.  By the time she hit the bottom of the slide, Humunga Kowabunga had ripped the side of the shorts she was wearing.  Fortunately her swimsuit underneath was just fine.  Girls wearing a two piece swimsuit will want to hold onto tight to those tops.  Oh, and boys and girls alike will get to experience why they call this a wedgie slide!

Crush ’n’ Gusher

“Crush ’n’ Gusher is a thrilling high-speed ‘water coaster’ slide down a wash flume that includes sharp turns and sudden drops.”

  • This is a tube ride
  • You must be 48” tall to ride
  • Fright factor is 2 out of 5
  • Pool depth at bottom of slide is 3 ft. 6 in.

After taking on the tube rides and body slides at the back of the park you will want to head to what has become the main attraction of rides at Typhoon Lagoon!  This ride was added to the park in 2005, bringing the latest in water park technology to Walt Disney World.

Crush ’n’ Gusher is a water coaster that utilizes powerful jets of water to propel you uphill, only to let you plummet down dips and drops.  The fast paced thrill of shooting your tube uphill, catching a little air, and speeding through twists and turns really is like a roller coaster on water.  If you have ever been on the AquaDuck aboard the Disney Cruise Line you will be familiar with this type of ride.  While the AquaDuck is a lot of fun, Crush ’n’ Gusher takes the thrill to a whole new level with a variety of open spaces and dark enclosed tubing along the 400 feet of slide.

You can choose between 3 slides at the old abandoned Tropi Calamity fruit-processing plant.  In honor of the building’s history the “fruit chutes” are named Pineapple Plunger, Coconut Crusher, and Banana Blaster.  If you happen to be going solo you will have to take your two-seat tube down Coconut Crusher.  Pineapple Plunger and Banana Blaster can handle 2-3 people in the two seat tubes, and feel a little faster than Coconut Crusher.  All three chutes will empty you into Hideaway Bay down below.

Speaking of Hideaway Bay, there is a great swim area adjoining the pool at the bottom of Crush ’n’ Gusher.  If you have little ones that don’t reach the qualifying 48” mark, they can swim in the pool with someone while others in your party take turns exploring the 3 slides above.

One final tip here while we are visiting Crush ’n’ Gusher.  I tried out all 3 “fruit chutes” and found that every time, without fail, the line was longer for Banana Blaster.  My piece of advice is this: if you have a party of two or three always veer to the far left for Pineapple Plunger.  Human nature sends more riders to the far right, almost guaranteeing you will have a shorter wait if you opt to go left.  Plus, Pineapple Plunger is just as much fun as the other two chutes so there is no downside.

Well, that wraps up the water slide portion of exploration today, but wait there’s more!  Now that we have covered all the rides for the “big kids” in your group, let’s head over to Ketchakiddee Creek.

Ketchakiddee Creek

“Ketchakiddee Creek is for the enjoyment of children 48 inches and under.  A children’s water play area with pool, water slides and interactive adventures.  For safety, diaper age children must wear plastic pants or swim diapers.”

Since I far exceed the 48” limit of this play area I can’t speak to the actual experience, but I will say it looks really cool!  There are a couple of small body slides, a cave to explore, a splash pad, water canons, and even a teeny tiny tube ride.  The tremendous theming of Typhoon Lagoon continues on in this play area.  The splash pads are full of life-like sand castle structures.  My favorite is the giant sand castle ship named the S.S. Squirt.  Here kids can climb into the ship and spray water canons onto friends down below.  There is more than enough here to keep kids having fun while others take in the nearby Keelhaul, Mayday, and Gang Plank Falls.

Bay Slides

The other neat area for kids is a secluded corner of the Surf Pool which contains two gentle mini body slides.  Riders must be under the 60” height limit to enjoy the Bay Slides.  Parents or adults can wait at the bottom of the slides for their little riders to splash down.  This is a great spot to take the little ones when the big kids of the group are out enjoying the Surf Pool.

With all those slides and rides for kids big and small you would think that we have come to the end of our Typhoon Lagoon exploration.  Well, you would be wrong.  I have saved the best for last.  It has been hard to contain my excitement for these unique and amazing experiences.  Without further ado, let’s talk about the Shark Reef and the Typhoon Lagoon Surf Pool!

Shark Reef

–  Normally open 12:00 pm – 5:00 pm

  • There is no height requirement
  • Guest must be able to float on their own or with a lifejacket
  • Children under 10 years of age must be accompanied by an adult
  • Pool depth is 10 ft. 6 in.

“Shark Reef is a saltwater snorkeling experience.  You will be sharing this water with free swimming sharks, stingrays, and tropical fish.  The water in the lagoon is COLD.”

If you have ever wanted to try your hand at snorkeling but haven’t had the chance, the Typhoon Lagoon Shark Reef is for you!  Disney really went all out when they created a man made coral reef holding 362,000 gallons of salt water.  The reef is home to over a dozen different marine species.

One of the best things about the Shark Reek is that it is FREE!  Yes, this is included in your park admission.  If the line isn’t long you can go through the reef over and over again, making the experience last as long as you like.  If some in your group would prefer to sit out they can, there are several great viewing spots.  You can enter the ship and look underwater through the port holes.  Or, you can take the steps up to the observation deck above and look straight down into the water as the swimmers pass by underneath.

If you choose to swim, you begin this adventure by picking up a snorkel and mask.  Next, there is an outdoor shower to rinse clean before you enter the cold 68 degree salt water.  When you come to the end of the path a Disney Cast member will be waiting to give you instructions.  Here they will show you how to put on your mask and snorkel and answer any questions you may have.  Before you start swimming you can sit down at the reef’s edge and let your legs get used to the water.  There are a host of lifeguards, one of which will give you final instructions and rules.  Here is what they will cover:

  • Relax and breathe through your mouth: do not hold your breath.
  • Swim gently forward using only your arms.
  • Remain on the surface.
  • Diving is NOT permitted.
  • Do NOT climb on the sunken ship or center island.
  • Enjoy your close encounter with the marine life, but please for your safety and theirs, do not touch them.

When you are comfortable you can put your face into the water, get a feel for your snorkel, and then step off the ledge and begin exploring.

I have had the pleasure of swimming the Shark Reef a couple of times.  The first came many years ago as a teenager.  During this trip my dad was with me and I brought an under water camera along.  While it was my first time to snorkel, I have always been a good swimmer and I had no problems snorkeling.  I fell in love with this whole new underwater world and snapped as many pictures as possible with my underwater camera.  When I reached the end of the pool I lifted my head and turned back to see how my dad was doing.  Well, my poor dad, God bless him, is not what you would call naturally athletic.  In fact, he isn’t even very coordinated.  While I was having the time of my life, he was struggling to save his.  When I saw him he was in the middle of the reef spitting up salt water and had about three lifeguards coming to his aid.  Needless to say, he couldn’t get his feet on dry land quick enough.  Sadly, he had gotten some water down his snorkel at the very beginning and never saw any of the incredible underwater life that I had been soaking in.  After it was all over we had a very good laugh.  Flash forward to today and this is still one of my most cherished memories.  Seeing my clumsy dad in the middle of that Disney magic is something I will remember the rest of my life.  Love you dad!

Now, before you get scared off, thinking you too may swallow a galloon or two of saltwater, let me say this.  I just returned from a day at Typhoon Lagoon where I did the Shark Reef again and very few swimmers struggle the way my dad did all those years ago.  You do need to be a good swimmer, but the key to enjoying this experience is to just relax.  The saltwater makes it easy for your body to just float along the surface while you watch the fish swim below.  In the unlikely event of a Shark Reef flop, there are a half dozen lifeguards in and around the water ready to come to your aid.

To make sure you have a good time here are a few of my own tips.  If you are a little apprehensive about the Shark Reek stay to the far left, near the overturned ship.  This will give you the shortest distance to swim from beginning to end should you have any trouble at all.  On the contrary, if you want to make your time in the water last, swim to the far right where the reef opens up and gives you a longer arc to swim.  You will be instructed not to kick your legs so swimming slowly is pretty easy.  I like to go as slow as possible so I tuck my arms underneath me and do a very gentle doggy stroke, just enough to propel me forward.  Finally, the chemical they use to sanitize the masks can have a bad reaction with some sunscreens.  I discovered this the hard way on my second swim when I got a new mask that had just been cleaned.  Be sure and rinse your mask off well in the provided shower before you begin your swim.  Your face will thank you!

If you fall in love with the Shark Reef and can’t get enough, there is one more option to let you know about.  For $20 you can participate in a 30 minute program called the S.A.S Adventure, which stands for Surface Air Snorkeling.  If you want more details just visit the kiosk outside the entrance to the Shark Reef.

Typhoon Lagoon Surf Pool

At 2.5 acres, the Typhoon Lagoon Surf Pool is the largest wave pool in North America!  Every half hour the 3 million gallon pool is turned into a wave pool unlike any you may have seen before.  If you have experienced wave pools at other water parks in the U.S., forget what you think you know about wave pools.  Typhoon Lagoon is THE big kahauna of waves.  We are talking a whopping 80,000 gallons of water cresting in 6 foot high walls of water.  Waves so tall they look double that height when you are in the water.  These waves are so big you have to experience them for yourself to truly understand how powerful they are.

With that said, the Typhoon Lagoon Surf Pool is not a place to take lightly.  Even if you are in the shallow standing water near the entrance of the pool the waves can be strong enough to knock you down.  Parents should keep a close eye on their kids, and a tight grip on any that aren’t strong swimmers.

If you respect the danger present in this pool and take the necessary precautions you can have a whole lot of fun!  Every half hour the Miss Tilly’s foghorn sounds and a geyser of water shoots from her smoke stack high into the sky.  Most of the day this signals the excitement that is about to overtake the Typhoon Lagoon Surf Pool.  Soon after the plume of water has gone off, a loud deep whoosh can be heard at the far end of the pool, and a huge wall of water rises out of nowhere.  This will be immediately followed by a chorus of unified screams as everyone in the pool braces for the tidal wave about to befall them.  The cycle of whoosh, scream, wave repeats every 90 seconds as long as the cycle of waves last.  It is so much fun I can’t help but smile every single time I hear the hundreds of excited screams.

Now, the actual time and frequency of the large waves does vary.  Disney changes the formula of tidal waves and gentle waves.  Sometimes it can be as long as 90 minutes of tidal waves followed by 30 minutes of gentle waves.  I was at the park two weeks ago and I never saw a series of tidal waves last this long.  The best thing to do is check the chalk board near the edge of the beach on the day of your visit.  There will be a schedule posted here and you can plan accordingly.  If that sounds like too much work for a relaxing day at the water park, just wait to hear the loud screams coming from the heart of Typhoon Lagoon and you will know the time has arrived!

One last thing before we leave the Surf Pool.  It is called a Surf Pool, not only because it has waves large enough to surf, but because you can actually take surfing classes here.  There is an additional cost to these classes, and space is limited so they go fast.  If you are interested you can get more information here.

Well, after some time in the Surf Pool, chances are you need a break.  That’s why I have saved the lazy river at Typhoon Lagoon until the very end.  Let’s go a quick float around the park.

Castaway Creek

  • Single tubes are provided
  • There is no height requirement
  • Fright factor is 0 out of 5

Typhoon Lagoon’s lazy river takes riders on a very peaceful float around the park.  Castaway Creek is 2,100 feet long, has five entrances/exits, and takes 20 minutes to complete.  This is a no frills, no thrills lazy river that allows you to sit back in your tube, relax, and watch the palm trees drift by.  Whether you skip the rides all together, need a break after lunch, or want to wind down at the end of the day, Castaway Creek is the spot to let your cares drift away.

Whew, we have covered a lot of information today!  If you are still listening, thanks for sticking with me.  I am hopeful you now have a little porthole view into the fascinating theme park that is Typhoon Lagoon.  As water parks go, this is not the most thrilling or fast paced.  However, it is a wonderfully themed oasis that is well worth your precious Disney time.   This can be a great half-day or full-day experience depending on how much you want to see and do.  There is a lot more to the back story of Typhoon Lagoon than what we have covered today and I haven’t even mentioned the food.  If you are still wanting more info let me recommend Episode #405 of the WDW Radio Podcast.

For now we are going to hang our wet swimsuits up to dry and say goodbye to Typhoon Lagoon.  This will wrap up our exploration of best ways to beat the heat, for now.  Thank you so much for joining me today!

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