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   Water Parks:

There are 4 water parks in Orlando, and although they all offer broadly the same fun in the sun with water slides, they tend to appeal to slightly different markets. However, one thing which they all have in common is that if you don't take proper precautions you will get seriously sunburnt. Use a high factor waterproof sunscreen, and reapply it throughout the day.

 Typhoon Lagoon

This is one of two water parks operated by Disney, and as you'd expect they do it very well. Try and arrive as early as possible, as the park does fill up and can even shut once they have reached their quota of visitors. The sun beds are free and plentiful, and you can usually find one which offers both sun and occasional shade.

The car parks are free (unlike the other Disney parks), and you can hire towels and lockers which are well worth it as it means the whole family can go on the rides together without worrying about leaving valuables.

It's worth wearing "beach shoes" (which are on sale everywhere) as the ground gets scorchingly hot, and if you burn your feet it isn't going to be fun walking round the major theme parks.

At the entrance you'll see staff selling drinks cups for $10. These are definitely worth getting. You'll only need one per family and it gives you free drinks from the numerous vending machines dotted around the park for the whole day. All you do is wave the bar code on the cup in front of the machine and select your choice of drink which is delivered ice cold and fresh. You've even got the cup to take home as a souvenir!. On subsequent visits you can bring you cup and pay $5 for a sticker to put on the cup which will allow you free drinks all day. If you want to take in your own food, that's fine, but no alcohol or drinks in glass bottles.

The centre of the park is a huge lagoon with an awesome wave machine which will pick up up and throw you 20' so be careful if you aren't a strong swimmer, and do stand near unaccompanied children as they fly like bullets when the wave hits. In the background is a ship perched on top of a mountain (the Disney story is that it was swept there by a Typhoon). Tell the kids to watch the ship on the hour!

Another highlight is the snorkel area where you can take a trip across a bay filled with all types of fish, and sharks. Even young kids take to this and if you take one of those disposable waterproof cameras I guarantee you'll get some amazing pictures. If you really don't fancy it, you can go into the upturned shipwreck and look through the port holes at all the fish and the people floating past.

They have all the usual water slides, some on inner tubes, but probably two of the best are the family raft ride which seats about four and is a good fun ride for all the family to do together. The queues do get quite long, but as 4 people are going on each ride it moves fairly quickly.

The other "chill out" ride is the lazy river where you sit in an inner tube and gently float right arround the park.

If you don't fancy taking a picnic, food is fairly reasonably priced (about $8 for hot dog & chips) but firmly of the fast food variety. It's easy to spend a full day here, but if you have a park hopper ticket you could easily do one of the main parks in the morning, and come on here after lunch to relax when the water parks tend to quieten down a bit.

For details of opening times and special events, visit the theme park web site by clicking on the logo at the top of the page.

Blizzard Beach

Blizzard Beach is the other Disney themed water parks. This time the story is that it was built as a ski resort after a freak snow storm, but the Florida sun caused all the snow to melt. There is an alpine style chair lift which takes you to the top of Summet Plummet. If you plan to do this ride, do it early before the ques become horrendous and your nerve gives out. The ride is basically a vertical drop during which you reach speads in excess of 60 miles per hour. The ride its self is over so quickly that you need to do it twice just to remember it, and the hardest part is at the top where you have to step out over a hundered foot vertical drop.

If you've ever watched a butcher parting a pigs buttocks with a meat cleaver you're going to understand how that feels when you come off this ride. Your costume will have gone so far up you won't be sure you want it back!!!

It's worth wearing "beach shoes" (which are on sale everywhere) as the ground gets scorchingly hot, and if you burn your feet it isn't going to be fun walking round the major theme parks

At the entrance you'll see staff selling drinks cups for $10. These are definately worth getting. You'll only need one per family and it gives you free drinks from the numerous vending machines dotted around the park for the whole day. All you do is wave the bar code on the cup in front of the machine and select your choice of drink which is delivered ice cold and fresh. You've even got the cup to take home as a souvenear!. On subsequent visits you can bring you cup and pay $5 for a sticker to put on the cup which will allow you free drinks all day. If you want to take in your own food, that's fine, but no alcohol or drinks in glass bottles.

All the other rides have a similar Alpine theme. There are rides on inner tube, and rides in flumes, but something a bit different is Toboggan Racer, an 8 lane water slide on a mat. By lining up with your friends you can race each other to the bottom.

Teamboat Springs – is a raft ride which can seat up to 5, so the whole family can ride together. It's a bit more fierce than the one at Typhoon Lagoon, but all but the most timid will enjoy it.

The kids play area has an obsticle course and zip wire, and smaller slides to keep young children happy for hours. There are dedicated lifeguards in the area, and it's close enough to the sun beds to allow mum and dad to relax while the kids play.

Finally there is Cross Country Creek – another of the lazy river rides rignt arround the park. Watch for the part wher you go through the mountain, it isn't too dark or scary, but you do have to pass through a curtain of ice cold water as you carry on round back towards the entrance when the river split keep to the left or you might get sneezed on

If you don't fancy taking a picnic, food is fairly reasonably priced (about $8 for hot dog & chips) but firmly of the fast food variety. It's easy to spend a full day here, but if you have a park hopper ticket you could easily do one of the main parks in the morning, and come on here after lunch to relax when the water parks tend to quieten down a bit.

For details of opening times and special event's, visit the theme park web site by clicking on the logo at the top of the page.

Wet n Wild

Wet N Wild is famous for its thrilling water rides, so it appeals to teanagers and thrill seekers looking for an adrenalin rush. The names they give to these rides often don't do them justice, and you really need to see the ride and watch the people coming off   it before you can decide if it's really for you. Expect to spend a full day here, and in peak season it's worth doing the major rides early in the day as when the park fills up the queues can become long and it's no fun queueing in the Florida sun.

Hydra Fighter - We've never seen anything like this before. You sit back-to-back with another rider and each control the pressure of a water cannon. The greater the pressure, the further you'll swing.

Der Stuka - A fast vertical drop which gradually levels out into a 100 foot water slide which will bring you to a screaming stop.

Blue Niagara - is a high dive which twists and turns from a height way above the park, ending in a huge plumge pool.

Mach 5 - Three different flumes, The one on the left is fastest, but the one on the right has more turns so is probably more fun.

The Bomb Bay - very scary if you can imagine being dropped 70 feet from a bomb bay (the floor opens up on you), you'll understand this ride. Everyone should try it once (but only once)

The Storm - This is described as a swirling body coaster, and if you've ever watched a leaf being flushed down a drain, that's pretty much what happens to you.

Bubba Tub - A 4 seater raft ride down a water slide. Although there are a couple of quick drops, this one shouldn't scare too many people, a grear family ride.

The Black Hole - A twisting, turning water slide which is enclosed so you get to do it all in the dark Although the ride only takes 30 seconds, this probably isn't one for claustrophobics

The Wave Pool - The waves in this pool are bigger and stronger than you might be used to from your local swimming baths. Take care with children as even adults can be lifted off their feet by the current.

Lazy River - Grab a tyre and enjoy a great relaxing ride down a mile long winding river. If you do the full course you'll be on for a while so top up the sunblock first.

There is also Kid's Park - The rides here are similar to the ones in the main park (after all there is only so many things you can do with a tube and some water ) but they are scaled down and less scary for younger children.

For details of opening times and special event's, visit the theme park web site by clicking on the logo at the top of the page.

Water Mania

This is the smallest of the water parks, and it generally appeals to familys. Privately owned, they haven't gone to the adrenalin rides of the other parks, so consequently the visiors tend to be more families with young children. It's easy enough to spend a quiet full day here, and there is a nice picnic area for you to enjoy a leisurely lunch, but note that no glass bottles are allowed in the park. This park closes only operates from March to October, but the prices are reasonable, and you can often find discount tickets printed in the coupon books which are available free from every shop and resteraunt.

For details of opening times and special event's, visit the theme park web site by clicking on the logo at the top of the page.


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