In the left corner, the ski resort-themed Blizzard Beach, which opened in 1995.
In the right corner, the tropical Typhoon Lagoon, which opened in 1989.
Which one will triumph through eight rounds of scrutiny?
Round 1: Water Park Theming
Despite the waterslides and pools, Blizzard Beach maintains the appearance of a ski resort, complete with snow, boulders, evergreen trees, and a ski lift leading to the peak of the 90-foot-tall Mt. Gushmore. Holiday music adds to the ambiance.
Typhoon Lagoon resembles a more conventional water park with palm trees and beach themes, though unlike your average waterpark, in the center towers Mt. Mayday, a watershed mountain topped with a stranded shrimp boat.
Ding! Ding! Ding! Round 1 Scorecard:
This round was pretty even. The Blizzard Beach theme is definitely more unique, and also a bit more inclusive, but Typhoon Lagoon’s theme spurred our sense of adventure and summer fun. Let’s call this one a draw.
Round 2: Pools
Blizzard Beach’s Melt-Away Bay is 1 acre of gently undulating waves flowing from the waterfalls that trickle down from Mt. Gushmore. Tubes are available on a first-come-first-serve basis. It’s a great place for relaxing, though finding a chair by the pool is a challenge.
Typhoon Lagoon on the other hand, is home to one of the world’s largest wave pools. The intensity varies from gentle waves to 6-foot swells, so this isn’t the place to fall asleep floating on your back! Tubes are not permitted, but you can get surfing lessons here, which we think is way cooler.
Round 2 Scoreboard:
Typhoon Lagoon’s Surf Pool is truly a world-class attraction. This one is a unanimous decision in favor of Typhoon Lagoon.
Round 3: Classic Waterslides
Blizzard Beach is probably best known for Summit Plummet – one of the fastest and tallest free-falling waterslides in the world. Riders plunge 120 feet, reaching speeds of 55 mph before careening along the remainder of the 360-foot-long run. This one is intense, so make sure your bathing suit is tied tight!
If that’s a bit much for you and your crew, try Slush Gusher, a speed slide that propels riders to 50 mph. There is also Snow Stormers, a series of slides that offer a milder trip aboard toboggan mats. Similarly, Tobaggan Racers is a mild race between 8 contestants down a 250-foot-long shalom-style course.
The slides at Typhoon Lagoon do not require as much courage. Humunga Kowabunga is a series of three 214-foot slides that propel riders through caves and dark tunnels. Additionally, the three Storm Slides whisk riders through waterfalls and caves before dumping them in refreshing pools.
Round 3 Scorecard:
Blizzard beach dominates this round with Summit Plummet heavily contributing to the landslide.
Round 4: Inner Tube and Raft Waterslides
Downhill Double Dipper is another highlight of Blizzard Beach. These 2 side-by-side slides allow riders to race against a competitor and reach speeds up to 25 mph. Then there’s also Runoff Rapids, a series of 2 open slides and a single enclosed slide. Unfortunately, riders are required to carry their tubes up to the start of this ride, but the burden is definitely worth bearing.
At Typhoon Lagoon you can’t miss our personal favorite: Crush n’ Gusher water-coaster. This is the waterslide equivalent of a rollercoaster. Crush n’ Gusher’s water jets propel riders up hills as well as down steep drops.
There’s also Mayday Falls, which is the highest and longest ride at Typhoon Lagoon, but certainly not the most intense. Keelhaul Falls is another option, and this is definitely the most mild of all the tube slides.
Round 4 Scorecard:
Crush n’ Gusher blasts Typhoon lagoon to a clear win in this round.
Round 5: White-water Raft Rides
Teamboat Springs is another of Blizzard Beach’s world-class attractions. It is the world’s longest family white-water raft ride at 1,200 feet-long and accommodates up to 6 passengers at a time.
At Typhoon Lagoon the whole family can hop aboard Gangplank Falls where 4 riders tumble through water effects and rock formations for 300 feet.
Round 5 Scorecard:
There’s no denying it — Blizzard Beach is the obvious winner in this round.
Round 6: Lazy Rivers
At Blizzard Beach you’ll find Cross Country Creek which circles the park and carries riders into a very cool themed cave.
Castaway Creek in Typhoon Lagoon is 2,000 feet-long and a bit more serene than its counterpart at Blizzard Beach.
Round 6 Scorecard:
Both lazy rivers are great places to relax, but Typhoon Lagoon’s Castaway Creek had more of the mellow experience we love while floating around the park.
Round 7: Children’s Attractions
Ski Patrol Training Camp at Blizzard Beach is the prime spot for kids who aren’t ready for the more intense slides. It’s basically a super-cool water playground with a few tame slides and a pool. Also in this area is T-Bar, a zip line exclusively for children under 60 inches tall and an adjacent waterslide.
For even younger Blizzard Beach visitors, Tike’s Peak is a water play area for children smaller than 4 feet tall.
Typhoon Lagoon’s options are more limited. Ketchakiddee Creek is also for children under 4 feet tall and includes mild slides, music, fountains, waterfalls, a shallow pool, and play area.
Round 7 Scorecard:
Blizzard Beach takes this round by a hair. T-Bar is what really secured the win. We would love to see an adult version of this ride.
Round 8: Unique Features
There aren’t many waterparks out there with a chair lift. This one-way trip to Mt. Gushmore is definitely the most unique aspect of Blizzard Beach, but be aware that the line can get very long.
Typhoon Lagoon’s Shark Reef is a very cool experience that we highly recommend. If you’re an avid snorkeler or diver, this might not be up to your standards. However, if you don’t have a lot of experience exploring coral-reef environments, this is your opportunity to swim with live sharks and tropical fish. We thought it was a lot of fun, but the water was very cold!
Round 8 Scorecard:
Although the chair lift is a nice touch on the wintry theme of Blizzard Beach, we think that Shark Reef is a lot more impressive, and a lot more fun.
The Best Disney World Water Park Final Decision:
It was close. Really, really, REALLY close, but Typhoon Lagoon edged out Blizzard Beach in the final round.
Truthfully, both parks are fantastic. You and your family will have a great time at either park. At the end of vacation, it’s all about having fun and creating memories, and both parks will help you accomplish that mission.
TRIP TIP: If you’re planning to visit either of these water parks, we highly recommend entering the water park with a set gameplan. Which rides are you heading to first? The most popular ones are best to hit early, but the park will empty out later in the day. Keep in mind that Central Florida is prone to severe thunderstorms in the afternoon, especially during the summer. Prioritize the attractions that you are most interested in, and map your route ahead of time so that time isn’t wasted at the park. Here are some handy maps for reference:
Blizzard Beach Water Park
Typhoon Lagoon Water Park
Have you been to Blizzard Beach and/or Typhoon Lagoon? What do you think about our Splash Showdown? If there’s something you think we missed, or something you don’t quite agree with, let us know using the comments section below. We love to hear from readers!