One of two water parks at Walt Disney World (the other is Typhoon Lagoon), Blizzard Beach is among the best of its kind in the world. It offers a great mix of attractions and an engaging and whimsical theme. It provides something of a respite from the hubbub at the Magic Kingdom and the resort’s other theme parks and can offer cool relief, especially when the Florida weather turns hot and sticky (which it often does).
There are plenty of things to do for visitors of all ages, and guests could easily spend an entire day enjoying the slides and other rides, tooling around the lazy river, body surfing in the wave pool, and relaxing on the lounge chairs. Unlike The Mouse’s theme parks, which aren’t known for face-melting coasters or other Six Flags-level thrills, Blizzard Beach boasts the most terrifying ride experience at Disney World and one of water parkdom’s most thrilling slides, Summit Plummet.
While Disney World’s four theme parks reopened in July 2020 after closing in a few months earlier in March due to the pandemic, the resort’s two water parks remained shuttered. Disney World has announced that it will be reopening Blizzard Beach on March 7, 2021. (The other water park, Typhoon Lagoon, will remain closed, however.)
The resort is selling Park Hopper Plus and Water Park & Sports add-ons to its theme park passes, which include admission to Blizzard Beach. It is not selling 1-day water park tickets at the time this is being written. For guests who have purchased water park tickets or pass add-ons that include admission to the water parks, Disney World is offering options to extend, modify, or cancel the tickets while the water parks remain closed.
When Blizzard Beach reopens, it will likely impose safety and health guidelines and restrictions in recognition of the pandemic. You can read more about visiting Walt Disney World during the pandemic.
Getting to and Getting Into Blizzard Beach
If you are staying at one of Disney World’s on-property hotels (or if you are off-property, but would be traveling from another park or elsewhere within the resort), you could use Disney’s transportation system to get to Blizzard Beach. Buses are the only mode of complimentary transportation that services the park. You could determine how to get from your point of origin to Blizzard Beach (and vice versa) by using the My Disney Experience mobile app.
You could also use your own car and park in the lot. Unlike the theme parks, parking is free for all guests at Blizzard Beach. Another way to get there from within Disney World would be to use the Minnie Van service, a personal ride service that works with the Lyft app.
You’ll need a separate pass to get into Blizzard Beach. In 2019, a 1-day ticket for guests age 10+ costs $69 or $64 depending on whether you purchase a ticket with blockout dates (it's $63 or $58 for children ages 3 to 9). You could also add Blizzard Beach admission to your theme park ticket package by opting for the add-on, Park Hopper Plus. Be careful, however. The option may not make sense if you would be only be going to the water park once during your visit.
A Ski Resort in Florida?
There is a high-concept backstory that the Imagineers developed for Blizzard Beach. Years ago it seems, a freak snowstorm engulfed Central Florida. Enterprising businesspeople capitalized on the situation and built—very quickly, one would assume—the state’s only ski resort. It was complete with a chairlift to the top of Mount Gushmore. (If you believe that one, we’ve got some prime Florida swampland we’d like to sell you.)
Of course, the snow melted, and the whole place turned into watery mush. As savvy entrepreneurs, the developers switched gears and turned the place into a water park. The alpine theme, however, remained. The buildings, with their peaked roofs (you know, so that the snow will run off of them) look like wintry lodges that belong more in Colorado than Florida—although some of them have the bright pastel colors of the Sunshine State. Pine trees sub for palm trees. Curiously, “icicles” and patches of “snow” still abound.
There are sight gags embedded throughout the park that denote Blizzard Beach’s hasty retreat from ski resort to water park. There is a used sled lot, for example, with handmade signs promising "Low, low miles.” A former ski rental shack has been repurposed into a towel and locker rental concession.
Blizzard Beach Rides
The featured attraction is Summit Plummet, one of the tallest and fastest speed slides at any water park. It is perched atop Mt. Gushmore and is accessible via the chairlift. Because the wait to board the lift is often quite long, it is generally much quicker to walk up the path to the ride. The slide is designed to look like a ski jump. Instead of catapulting off the end of the jump to what would likely be a landing gone horribly wrong, it appears to spectators as if guests slide down and disappear into thin air. It is a neat Imagineering magic trick.
Actually, guests who brave Summit Plummet soar 120 feet down a nearly sheer drop and reach speeds of about 60 mph. It is so precarious, at some points during the ride guests experience airtime and briefly hover above the slide. As crazy as it may seem, Volcano Bay at Universal Orlando actually surpasses Summit Plummet with three water slides that are even taller, faster, and more intense.
Other Blizzard Beach rides that get adrenaline pumping (but aren’t nearly as thrilling as Summit Plummet) include Toboggan Racers, an eight-passenger, mat-racing slide; Teamboat Springs, an especially long family raft ride with six-passenger circular rafts; Snow Stormers, a three-slide course that guests race down using toboggan-like mats; Downhill Double Dipper, twin side-by-side covered slides that guests race down aboard tubes; Runoff Rapids, three twisty water slides; and Slush Gusher, a speed slide (that is considerably smaller than Summit Plummet).
If thrills aren't your thing, the park offers Cross Country Creek, a nicely themed lazy river. Melt-Away Bay is Blizzard Beach’s wave pool. Younger visitors will find slides and attractions tailor-made for them at Tike’s Peak, and kids can test their balance on the Thin Ice Training Course and enjoy other activities at the Ski Patrol Training Camp.
Food & Drinks
There are a number of quick-service eateries and snack stands throughout the park. The largest place to grab a bite, and the one with the most options is Lottawatta Lodge. Dishes include rice bowls, flatbreads, salads, and burgers. Avalunch (you gotta love the names) specializes in hot dogs, and the Warming Hut has wraps and other sandwiches on its menu.
Other stands offer treats such as mini donuts, ice cream, and popcorn. There are a couple of spots to get beer, frozen drinks, and other adult beverages. Note that you could bring your own food into the park, but Disney does not allow guests to bring alcoholic beverages or any glass containers.
Tips and Tricks
Don’t bring your credit cards or cash. You could rent lockers to secure valuables, but why do that when you could bring your MagicBand instead? The wearable bracelets, which are complimentary for all on-property hotel guests, can be used as admission passes to get into the park and, if you have activated the feature, can be used as virtual cash to make purchases in the park as well. And yes, MagicBands are waterproof.
Two parks for the price of one. Did you know that all Disney World water park tickets allow guests to visit Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon on the same day? If the two parks are open, you could use the same pass to try the rides at both places. Since parking is free at both parks, you wouldn't have to worry about paying two parking fees either.
Consider visiting during the off season. Blizzard Beach can get quite busy during the peak summer months. But if you visit during slower times, such as September or early November, you'll find less crowds and shorter wait times for rides. If you are the hearty type, you might want to go on a day when the weather is less than hospitable. When it's overcast, threatening rain, or a bit nippy (by Florida standards) crowds tend to stay away. Often, the weather clears as the day goes on, but the park remains relatively empty.
Save some time for mini golf. Right next door, Disney's Winter Summerland (which requires a separate admission fee) offers two delightfully themed 18-hole courses. The game play isn’t too challenging and can be enjoyed by younger children.
You don't have to bring life jackets. The park offers complimentary ones.