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Beech Bend


Blizzard Beach


Getting There Rides Shows Other Activities

Blizzard Beach is one of Disney's two waterparks. The premise is that due to climate destabilization a blizzard suddenly blew south through Florida and left all this snow and ice. When it takes on the concept of water parks, Disney has a tough act to follow. Back home, most of the major amusement parks such as Holiday World and Kings Island have their own water parks, and others exist on their own, like The Beach (Cincinnati), Sandcastle (Pittsburgh) and Noah's Ark (The Dells). They have invested millions in state of the art water rides, including the incredible water coasters like the ones at Holiday World (Indiana) and Noah's Ark. To compete with this, Disney has had to bring its A game. As always, it has fallen back on incredible theming, as seen here by huge snowdrifts and ice sculptures. Disney has chosen not to buy the giant funnels, toilet bowls, and coasters. But it has taken the other elements and elevated them to new extremes. Its lazy rivers, giant slides, wave pools and rafting rides are bigger and faster. Only Disney can build a whole mountain to run its slides down and its rivers around. And only Disney can sneak in some of the sleight of hand that disorients riders so they seem to be experiencing more than what is actually there. As a whole experience, Holiday World's Splashin Safari in Indiana is still America's greatest water park. But Disney has specific rides which are the best anywhere, and Blizzard Beach beats most of its rivals across the country. There is one major caution here : Because of all the white snow reflecting the sun, it is essential you wear a good pair of sunglasses with a strap to hold them on.

Rides Magic Kingdom Hollywood Studios Animal Kingdom Epcot Typhoon Lagoon Universal Studios Islands of Adventure
Blizzard Beach's most heart stopping ride is the Summit Plummet, a water slide dropping straight down off the mountain. This is a hairy ride for the courageous, also pictured at top right. Only about half the people coming to Blizzard Beach can persuade themselves to ride the chairlift up to the mountain top, and some of those chicken out when they get up there. You're going to drop 120 feet, and our radar gun says you'll be travelling 60 mph. That's in your barefeet and swimsuit skimming nothing but a thin film of water. This is the highest and fastest water slide in the world and the greatest thrill ride at Disney. Coming through the tunnel is a disorienting experience and as you re-emerge into the sunlight it takes you several seconds to get refocused, by which time you're levelling out at the bottom. You're travelling so fast that you lift an inch or so off the water, the water slide equivalent to roller coaster "air time." Girls need to check their swimsuits carefully before pushing off, because it's not uncommon for riders to lose pieces on the way down. As you can imagine, this has made the Summit Plummet quite a spectator sport. Even though they'll let you ride this in cutoff jeans and t shirt, Do Not Do This. The ride is based on the assumption you're wearing a typical nylon swimsuit and will slide smoothly over a thin film of water. The heavy rough denim fabric "grabs" just slightly to the plastic, which is hot from the afternoon sun. Instead of skimming the surface, you're banging along the tube. Since you're moving so fast and your adrenalin is flowing, you won't feel the difference until you get to the bottom. Then you'll find you've got several bruises. Wearing a nylon swimsuit avoids the problem. The line for the Summit Plummet is usually an hour by afternoon, so getting to the park by opening is critical. Hand your hat, wallets, change and sunglasses to a friend. The mountain is littered with items people have lost on the way down.
Teamboat Springs is one of America's great rafting rides. Most of the big water parks have one of these, but Disney's is the world's longest at 1200 ft. (four football fields) and drops more steeply from the top of Mount Gushmore to the valley far below. Left and right S turns and a fairly tight U turn highlight your descent. These are big rafts, holding 4-6 people. The ride goes on and on, part of it through lush forest. If you can tear your eyes away from the next bend and look off in the distance, there are some great views. If you have less than four in your party, you'll be asked to ride with another small group to create a full raft.
Cross Creek is Blizzard Beach's version of the classic lazy river. This is the best lazy river in the country because it's the longest and the most scenic. It's a very relaxing float all the way around the base of the mountain, which takes about 30 minutes. The Disney imagineers have worked their magic on this, too. Watch carefully as you drift along and you'll notice you're going continually downhill. There is never a point where you go uphill. Except that 30 minutes later you come back to where you started. This is obviously impossible. You keep looking for a conveyor belt or even a set of stairs where you have to haul your inner tube back to that higher elevation. It never comes. Instead, you just keep going around the mountain. Many a parent and child have spent a few leisurely hours floating around this stream trying to solve this puzzle. We won't ruin it by publishing the answer here, but this has entertained families since the park opened.

If you can't quite bring yourself to go down the Summit Plummet, there's an alternative. You can ride Slush Gusher. It's still a thriller, but only drops 90 ft. in 250 ft. and you only go about 35 mph. So it's not straight down, but it's still fast enough for you to pick up a little air time on the dips. Those three dips are spectacular and will get your adrenalin flowing as you lift off the slide for a few seconds of "air time." Slush Gusher is famous for giving world class wedgies and strewing two piece tops across the mountainside. Girls are advised to wear one piece suits or check their tops very carefully before riding.

Double Dipper is a tubing run disguised as an Olympic slalom race. You even get a clock telling you how fast you were. The course is a two track race, 230 ft. long, dropping 50 ft. from start to splashdown. You'll be moving at about 25 mph. The first half of the ride is through a long, dark tunnel; then you sprint to the finish in bright sun. The run is very fast and very short. You spend more time getting across the upper pool before pushing off, and getting across the lower pool to take out, than actually on the ride. This is a straight ride. There are no turns at all.

Runoff Rapids is a set of three rafting runs down the side of the mountain. The center ride is for people on a solo inner tube. The outside two are for people in two person rafts. We don't like the solo run. You're in the dark the whole way, right to the takeout pool. What's the point of that? The other two, as shown here at right, you're in the daylight and have some pretty nice views. These are surprisingly long runs, especially considering you're moving really fast. There are lots of steeply banked twists and turns and you're spending too much time keeping your balance to enjoy the scenery. Several times you think surely the takeout pool is around the next bend, but the ride keeps going and going. This is one of the great waterslides in the country and lines can become rather long, so you might want to get to the park early and head here first.

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