Have you ever wondered how ‘Blizzard Beach’ got its name? Well, this most popular water park was, according to legend, created when a freak winter storm dropped snow over the western side of Walt Disney World. Plans were immediately made to build Florida’s first snow ski-resort.
But unfortunately, Florida weather soon improved, and as temperatures climbed the snow and ice began to swiftly melt. Just as the ski-resort operators were about to close the park they spotted a mischievous alligator sliding down one of the ski slopes which had become liquid. They quickly realised that the melting snow had produced some of the tallest, fastest and most thrilling water filled toboggan and ski slopes in the world. And it was thus that ‘Blizzard Beach’ was born, and that playful alligator became the mascot of the park, being named ‘Ice Gator’ (an amusing pun on ice skater!).
Ski slalom courses and bobsled and sledding runs became downhill water slides, and even the chairlifts were re-used to transport swimmers to the top of the slides. As for the ski jump, well that became the tallest and fastest water slide. When the snow melted it revealed a fantastic beach area, with lots of activities.
‘Blizzard Beach’ covers 66 acres, and opened on April 1st, 1995 – maybe the joke of it being April Fools Day was not lost on the organisers. It was the third of the water parks to open at Walt Disney World, following the success of ‘Typhoon Lagoon’ and ‘River Country,’ which closed in 2001. With nearly 1.9 million guests visiting the park in 2008, it ranks as the second most visited water park in the world, behind ‘Typhoon Lagoon.’
Central to the park is ‘Mount Gushmore’ (Mount Rushmore!) which is an artificial mountain 90 ft tall. It is one of the highest points in a rather flat Florida, and is split into three coloured sloped – Red, Green and Purple. Most people don’t realise that the mountain serves another purpose – that of hiding all the parks numerous pipes. The water in this park is heated to approximately 80 degrees Fahrenheit, apart from the ice cave of ‘Cross County Creek.’
There is plenty for the whole family to do – if you want a thrill ride then try ‘Summit Plummet,’ which has you plunging down a sheer 120 ft slope at 60 mph – not for the faint hearted – but make sure you wear a one-piece swimsuit if you don’t want to lose your modesty! It was the world’s tallest and fastest free fall slide in the world until ‘Insano’ was built in Brazil. ‘Teamboat Springs’ is a great ride for the whole family. As the world’s longest family white water raft ride it takes between three and five people down a twisting 1,200 ft series of rushing waterfalls.
Another great ride is ‘Snow Stormers,’ where three flumes descend from top of the mountain and you zip down the switchback course on a toboggan. Smaller children are not forgotten either, with ‘Tike’s Peak,’ a child-sized version of ‘Mount Gushmore,’ with a snow castle, a squirting ice pond, a fountain play area, rideable creatures, and short water slides. I really enjoy the ‘Ski Lift,’ which has wooden bench chairs with overhead umbrellas and snow skis, which carry you to the summit of ‘Mount Gushmore. ‘ Single riders can join a quicker queue. ‘Downhill Double Dipper’ stands 50 ft high and is 200 ft long, and is the only side-by-side racing water slide. Guests travel at speeds of up to 25 mph before shooting out through a curtain of water.
The naming of the various attractions and even the food outlets is quite amusing – take’ Avalunch,’ for example, which is the name of a snack bar. You can either bring your own towels or hire them, and lockers are available for hire, as are life vests for children. Only ‘Blizzard Beach’s’ own flotation devices are allowed to be used, but they are provided free of charge on payment of a refundable deposit. Be careful not to wear swimming costumes which have buckles, exposed metal or rivets as these are not allowed for safety reasons, and for many of the rides a one-piece costume for the ladies will protect their modesty.
For your own safety, and the safety of the staff who work at ‘Blizzard Beach,’ the park closes during inclement weather. Particularly in the summer, when tropical storms may occur in the late afternoon, the park will suspend activity during thunderstorms. If the storm is of short duration the park may re-open, but if the storm is going to last then unfortunately the attractions are closed and guests are requested to leave promptly.
north of Disney’s All Stars Resort, this fun filled water park is a great way to spend a hot day in Orlando. Article submitted by 'ellie' Q4B9V8NHHH9J