One of my absolute favorite parts of being a mom is breaking from routine and taking my daughter on new adventures. Whether it be a random evening swim, heading straight to the park after daycare, or exploring a new spot on the weekend – I love seeing her face light up when we take a break from the ordinary and do something fun. My parents would take us on random outings all the time when I was kid and those memories are some of my absolute favorite.
My husband and I have recently made a commitment to have some fun with our PTO. We both have some days we need to use up before the end of the year, so we’re trading off taking random days off during the week and taking Annalynn on new adventures. He took her to the aquarium the other month, and I thought it would be fun to take Annalynn to Typhoon Lagoon for the first time this month.
I practically grew up at Walt Disney World’s water parks. When the summer heat would become too unbearable for the regular parks, my parents would shift their focus to the water parks. We were there pretty much every other weekend, rotating between River Country, Blizzard Beach, and Typhoon Lagoon. We loved it and always had a great time. I had the chance to revisit Blizzard Beach a few years ago, but hadn’t been back to Typhoon Lagoon since high school.
Recently, my cousin – who used to go to the parks with us back in the day – purchased annual water park passes for her family. She’s there with her four kids pretty much every-other week and posts great photos on Facebook. I texted her the other week and asked if Annalynn and I could join in on the fun. We picked a park and a date. I originally selected Typhoon Lagoon, but hesitated after googling “Typhoon Lagoon with a toddler” and reading different parents’ experiences comparing Disney’s two water parks. A lot of the blog posts I read recommended Blizzard Beach for toddlers and I began to worry we’d made the wrong decision. I texted my cousin asking if we should switch parks, but she told me she actually thought Typhoon Lagoon was better for toddlers. She told me everything would be fine and to stop googling. So I took her advice and we stuck to our original plan. (p.s. I’m so glad I did! We had a blast!)
I left Tampa early Wednesday morning and met my cousin and her family in the parking lot. (FYI: both of Disney’s water parks have FREE parking!) Disney’s water parks open at 10:00am, but they’ll open the main gate early and start to usher people into the park ahead of time. The bridges into the main area are roped off and you’re just waiting in the park instead of by the gate. We arrived around 9:45am and waited inside. While we waited I was able to slather on our first layer of sunscreen of the day.
I really didn’t want to bring a stroller into the water park, so I had to be a little creative with packing all of my gear since I needed to have my arms free to carry Annalynn. I could have brought my Tula, but I honestly didn’t want to worry about leaving it at a chair and getting taken since I would really only need it for entering and leaving the park. Luckily my Ironman backpack holds a lot and I was able to fill it to the brim with diapers, towels, additional clothes, snacks, a sippy cup, sunscreen, etc. I also had a wet-dry bag I filled with Annalynn’s swim stuff and clipped to the back of the bag with her puddle jumper and my hat. I’m sure I looked hilarious, but it did the trick and I was so thankful not to have to deal with a stroller.
Once the park open we bee-lined it to stake claim to a set of shaded chairs for the day. We dropped our stuff off, set-up camp, and got ready to have some fun. There are lockers at the front of the park you can rent to house valuables, but it was also nice to have a dedicated meeting area for everyone with out non-valuables. Jess brought a couple of coolers full of snacks and lunch supplies that we could pick at through the day.
We headed to Ketchakiddee Creek first, which was really just a splash pad on steroids. The large area is open to kids under 48in and has a handful of little water slides that Annalynn loved, some splash puddles kids can wade in, a boat to climb on, a set of racing slides, and a kid’s mini tube slide. It took Annalynn a minute or two to understand what was happening, but as soon as she got it she was up and down the slides.
Some of the slides were pretty slick, but Annalynn seemed to be at a good age (she’s 21 months) to handle it. I saw a few kids that looked a little younger (closer to one than two) that were also having a great time. It was also great to have Jess’ girls there to help Annalynn. One would help her at the top, while the other waited at the bottom to catch her. They loved showing her around and telling her all the fun stuff to do.
Annalynn went down the racing slides once, but I think she was too young for it and they went a little too fast for her liking. She did LOVE the boat and walking circles around it.
We waited until Annalynn got her bearings before trying the tube slide. It’s a very mild tube slide that was the perfect size for Annalynn. I could see her the whole way down and we were able to catch her at the bottom.
I’m not quite sure she understood what was going on with the ride, as it was a totally new concept for her and she was sad I did go with her.
By the way, I brought Annalynn’s puddle jumper to wear in the park, but Typhoon Lagoon also provides complimentary life vests for anyone who isn’t a strong swimmer to wear in the park. It was a mix of younger kids either wearing the puddle jumper or the vest. She’s used to the puddle jumper, so I thought she would be more comfortable wearing it around the park.
We took a break after the kiddie park back at the chairs before heading to Gangplank Falls, Typhoon Lagoon’s milder family raft ride. The ride doesn’t have a height restriction, so as long as a kid can grab onto one of the handles, they’re able to ride.
This was our first big wait for a ride and Annalynn definitely got antsy waiting. Since we were all just standing there in our swimsuits I was missing my usual bag of tricks for line waiting. Luckily the girls made it their mission to keep Annalynn entertained and did a great job taking her under their wing.
We used the Gangplank Falls ride as our test for how much Annalynn could handle. If she did great on this ride, our next goal was to try Miss Adventures Falls, Typhoon Lagoon’s newest family raft ride that has a bit more twist and turns to it. However, after taking Annalynn on Gangplank Falls, I can say without a doubt that Gangplank Falls was all she could handle. She didn’t cry, but she didn’t smile either. The poor girl looked scared the entire ride. We didn’t try a second time, but I wonder if she would have done better the second time knowing what to expect. Again, this was all still new to her and maybe a tad overwhelming.
We took our first dip in the lazy river after Gangplank Falls and Annalynn’s face immediately lit up. She had found her bearings in the water and was happy as a dish. They had mini-tubes that were the perfect size for Annalynn, but she was having none of that. She wanted to swim, and that’s what she was going to do. She stayed in the water our entire ride around the lazy river and had a ball. She was singing, twirling, and being silly. I wish I had my camera in the water so I could have captured the fun!
We made our way back to the chairs and dug into the amazing spread Jess brought. She’s definitely an experienced water park mom because she had enough food to feed an army and was prepared with everything. She brought rolls, 3lbs (!) of lunch meat, cheese, tons of fresh fruit, Goldfish, cookies, and more. Annalynn LOVES to eat and proceeded to gobble everything up as Jess brought out all of the goodies.
I also brought a lot of water and made sure to keep Annalynn well hydrated throughout the day. I also lathered us up with another round of sunscreen during lunch.
We rested a bit and then jumped back in the lazy river to take us to Crush n Gusher. Crush n Gusher has an awesome wading pool that’s perfect for entertaining toddlers while the big kids ride the ride. Jess was kind enough to play with Annalynn in the pool, which Lexi and I went on the water-coaster.
Crush n Gusher is a fairly new ride to Typhoon Lagoon and so much fun. It’s a true water coaster with great dips, twists, and turns. We even lucked out by picking the slide with the PhotoPass photographer at the end and got some hilarious shots.
Lightning was spotted in the area as soon as we finished the ride. It was raining, but it was light and not crazy. We headed back to our chairs to wait it out and the rain stopped almost as soon as we reached the chairs. In fact, the sun came back out and the sky was bright and beautiful again. Unfortunately the clouds were still right next to the park and you could hear thunder in the distance. Disney has to wait a certain amount of time after thunder or lightning has been heard/seen in the area, so even though the sky was gorgeous we had to wait it out. The kids did a great time entertaining themselves on the beach with a bucket and shovel someone had dropped off for them. I also used the time to reapply more sunscreen on everyone.
While we were waiting for that storm to pass, another one rolled in. Fortunately this one didn’t bring any lightning and thunder, just some rain and dark clouds.
As soon as this one passed we had a bit of break and the rides began to reopen. Annalynn had pooped through her second swim diaper while we were waiting, so I had to run to the store to buy another one. FYI: I was able to purchase 2 swim diapers for $3. Not bad as far as Disney prices go.
We went back to kiddie area and Annalynn played some more.
Then jumped back in the lazy river for another trip around. I think we also played in the shallow end of the wave pool, but the water was just way too rough. Typhoon Lagoon’s wave pool is intense and not suited for anyone who isn’t a strong swimmer. I didn’t even feel comfortable playing in the shallow area with Annalynn at all.
We went back to Crush n Gusher and this time I flew down the coaster with Bella.
It was getting close to 4pm around this time and Annalynn was starting to meltdown due to her lack of a nap. Considering how late it was, I was impressed with how long she gone without any crazy freak outs. We hated to leave, but we still had a long drive home and another storm was heading in. We changes our clothes, grabbed our stuff, and said our good-byes.
Overall it was a great day and I’m already looking forward to returning one day. I’d still love to take her to Blizzard beach, but overall I’d 100% recommend Typhoon lagoon for a toddler, especially one that loves the water. There was a ton to keep her entertained and not grow bored.
Thank you, Jess for letting us tag along! Now we need to get the rest of the family to join!