Last time we came to Disney World we only had time for one of the water parks (yeah, I know; how could we not have time when we were here for two weeks!) – Blizzard Beach. It was great fun for a family who loves the water but the kids were probably just that little bit too young for us to experience it properly.
This time I was determined to go on as many of the slides as I could and thankfully it turned out that the kids were keen too. Because we had missed out on it last time and because it was so close to where we were staying, this time around we chose to go to Typhoon Lagoon and, boy, was that a great decision.
Typhoon Lagoon is – like Blizzard Beach – dominated by a massive wave pool. However, unlike the other park, Typhoon Lagoon alternates between gentle swells that keep the water moving and regular 6 feet breaking waves every five minutes. These happen in blocks of an hour or two, with the gentle periods lasting about half the time. There’s nothing like standing in water up to your chest and then hearing a massive whoomph of underwater blades pushing up the water into a massive, moving liquid wall headed directly at you. Major fun (but not the biggest surprise).
We also did the restful inner tube float around the park. It takes about 20 minutes to do a full circuit and even though you’re sharing the water with plenty of other people, it’s very relaxing and all four of us appreciated just floating without a care in the world.
There were also a number of other slides, body slides, inner tube slides, family rides, that we did; and a kiddie area that Ashleigh enjoyed for a while. But the highlight was the Crush’n’Gusher, a slide described by Disney as a "watercoaster". Having been on all three of its routes now I can most happily agree with that description. It’s just like being on a rollercoaster but with a waterslide sensation blended in. You’re treated to a series of turns, semi and fully enclosed tunnels and, best of all, uphill sections which give you the up-and-down of a rollercoaster.
How good was it? Well, after the first day, we decided to skip Animal Kingdom this time and go to a water park again. The debate was hot between Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach, but the Crush’n’Gusher was just too good to miss out on another opportunity.
One other thing I should note here is that the Disney PhotoPass is now available in the water parks through the use of small dog tags on elasticised wristbands. This allowed us to get professional photos in the water – which we most certainly did. 🙂
After the water park we went back home, cleaned up and then headed back out, this time to Boardwalk Villas where we had a reservation at one of the restaurants there. Last time we came to Disney World we were a little nervous about how to get around and so pretty much restricted ourselves to the resort where we were staying, the theme parks and Downtown Disney, but this trip we decided to look around a bit more by dining at various restaurants at different resorts.
I’m glad we did, because otherwise we wouldn’t have discovered how cool the Boardwalk Villas are. The Villas wrap around a man-made lake and have a really cool turn-of-the-century feel. Across the lake you can see the Beach Club and Yacht Club Villas clearly. You can walk right around the whole lake, with bridges over the two waterways that lead off from it in opposite directions.
What makes it cool is that it only takes 5 very pleasant minutes to walk to Epcot, and about 10-15 minutes to get to Disney-MGM Studios. The Epcot walk takes you around the lakefront, over one of the bridges and then along a walkway that follows the waterway. Optionally you can jump on a ferry that will take you there, but seriously, it’s so close I don’t know if I would ever bother.
On top of that, having the other resorts within walking distance as well opens up your dining options and the entertainment on the Boardwalk is cheesy but enjoyable. For instance, after dinner and our walk around the lake we found street performers such as a magician and a juggler, a small outdoor arcade, churro and drinks stations and a pretty good vantage point of the Epcot fireworks display. Yep – staying here would allow you to have a nightly fireworks display. Well, two if you want to walk around the corner of the building and see part of the Disney-MGM one as well, but most of that is out of sight.
The below satellite image shows the layout. Boardwalk Villas surround the lower-right half of the lake, while the Yacht and Beach Club Villas with their awesome swimming pool are bordering the upper-left half of the lake. The water headed off the right hand side of the screenshot takes you to Epcot (in fact, you can see a small snippet of the edge of it – that’s how close it is) while the bottom-left shows parts of the Dolphin and Swan hotels.
The Beach Club and Yacht Club Villas share one of the most amazing pools I’ve ever seen. It weaves in and out and around various structures and has a variety of sections with varying depths and styles including a whirlpool, multiple spas, toddler beach area and so on. Just take a look at it: