Sunday, December 18, 2011

(Extracurricular Activities: Water Park Fun & More)

B & MOM, May 2007.
When planning your Disney vacation, you have the glorious opportunity to add the Water Park Fun & More option to your base park ticket. I suggest you take that opportunity. For ages 10+, a 7-day Park Hopper ticket will run you $322 (current Dec 2011 prices). With the aforementioned option, the price increases to $377. That's merely a $55 difference that you have to pay to experience a whole other world of Disney. 

The Water Park Fun & More ticket option allows to to experience two water parks, DisneyQuest and admission to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. It also used to include admission to Pleasure Island (le sigh). That's a whole lot of extra for 55 bucks. If you're planning on staying 7 nights in Disney (or 8 or 10, which is always recommended), it's suitable to say that time will allow you to explore a bit outside of the 4 main theme parks. My suggestion, coming from someone who isn't super crazy about water parks, is to start with DisneyQuest.

With friends, March 2006.
DisneyQuest, billed as an indoor, interactive theme park, is fantastically fun for all ages. We have always enjoyed going at night to coincide with a trip to Pleasure Island, but DisneyQuest opens at 11:30am daily. The fun starts right when you enter - this is probably one of the coolest elevator rides I have ever taken (not counting the Tower of Terror, obviously). No spoilers here - I trust that you will take the opportunity to try it for yourself! 

DisneyQuest's Virtual Jungle Cruise
The most popular attractions here are without a doubt CyberSpace Mountain and Pirates of the Caribbean - Battle for Buccaneer Gold. I will never try CyberSpace Mountain simply because my body just can't take an overload of motion simulators, but the line is always pretty long for this one. Guests get to build their own rollercoaster (make it as scary as you want - they insist!) and then proceed to "ride" their design. I have heard pretty good things about it, but like I way will I ever do this. Pirates of the Caribbean is a different story - this attraction is phenomenal! In a photo above, J and I are wearing some crazy looking goggles - be prepared to do the same when you participate in Pirates. Your team must decide who does what - someone steers the ship, another mans the cannon, and yet another must ward off evil pirates! What I love about DisneyQuest is that this really is a place for families to play together. Working as a team is a big theme here and I really appreciate the underlying values that DisneyQuest promotes (whether intentionally or not). 

Wonderland Cafe, 2007.

Be sure not to miss my two favorite DisneyQuest attractions; Virtual Jungle Cruise and Buzz Lightyear's Astro Blasters. Remember, if lines appear long, they move just as fast. I've never really had an issue with queue times. If you're looking for something a bit more low-key, DisneyQuest has an entire floor dedicated to some good old-fashioned Arcade Games, including my personal favorite, AIR HOCKEY! If you've played yourself silly until the point of starvation, fear not - Wonderland Cafe and Food Quest are two fantastic dining options that DisneyQuest has for you. OK, enough with the information overload. I could really go on about this place for a very long time. JUST GO! For more information on DisneyQuest and to add the option to your park ticket, visit here.

Blizzard Beach
The next stop on your glorious adventure beyond the Disney theme parks is a just-as-fabulous water park. You have two options: Blizzard Beach or Typhoon Lagoon - or both. When I was 7, on my very first trip to Disney World, I was bowled over by a giant wave at Typhoon Lagoon. I required a trip to the park's first aid center, and while I may have been a very dramatic seven-year-old, the park has since been ruined forever. So...that leaves Blizzard Beach for me! How could you not love this place - snow in Florida? In the summer?! Fantastic. The legend of Blizzard Beach is as follows:

      "It was a meteorological phenomenon of the strangest order. One balmy day, a freak winter storm developed 
       over the western end of Walt Disney World Resort and covered the area with a thick blanket of powdery 
       white snow. Before you could say "hot cocoa," plans were underway for Florida's first ski resort.

      Ski lifts were put up, toboggan runs were laid down and an entire resort area blossomed around the mountain 
      of snow. Yet before the first skier could strap on a pair of boots and stick his poles into the snow, the 
     temperatures returned to their normal Florida levels, and the powdery snow quickly turned into slippery 
     slush. The ski resort operators saw their dream melting down the hillside. Yet that's not all they saw.

     As the slush began cascading down and pools of water began to form, an echoing "yahoo" was heard from 
     the summit of the mountain. Everyone looked up to see a playful alligator careening down the melting hillside.
     He slid to the base of the mountain and landed in a pool of water with a thunderous splash. They knew at 
     once that they were back in business.

     Slalom courses, bobsled and toboggan runs became downhill waterslides. The creek of melted snow that 
     formed at the base of the mountain became a relaxing tube ride. The chairlift carried swimmers instead of 
     skiers. The ski jump became the tallest and fastest water slide in the world. The ski resort became known as 
     Disney's Blizzard Beach, the most slushy, slippery, exhilarating water park anywhere!" (All Ears)

And what a delight it is. As water parks go, Blizzard Beach is the cream of the crop. With attractions like Summit Plummet (a living nightmare of a waterslide), Downhill Double Dipper and my personal favorite, Teamboat Springs, you have a whole day's worth of fun. I mean, how many other water parks have chair lifts? There is also a good variety of food options here - nachos (what else?) at the Cooling Hut, a Blizzard Dog at Avalunch, a Grand Margarita from Polar Pub and some mini donuts from a place called..Mini Donuts, the possibilities are endless. All you need is your bathing suit, some sunblock and a waterproof camera for those memories, and you've got yourself a great family day and some fun in the sun.

J says" Spend a day at Blizzard Beach!"
Adult admission for a day at DisneyQuest is $43.67. A day at Blizzard Beach will cost you $52.19. So, you do the math...the solution is clear that it's worth your money to add the Water Park Fun & More option to your ticket. Even if you don't use all of the options, or you don't spend the entire day at one of the water parks, it just makes good sense. Some people don't realize that Disney has so much more to offer than just the four main theme parks. There are even some people who think that the Magic Kingdom IS Disney World. Yikes. We know better than that, don't we? :)

What is your favorite extracurricular activity at Walt Disney World? Your favorite DisneyQuest attraction? Send me your comments!

Happy Exploring!

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