Laurie gives us advice and tips for visiting the water parks – at Disney and beyond.
You are in charge of this trip. Explain to your group what is allowed, what can’t be done, rules, itinerary, and what to bring. You don’t want Uncle Harry grumbling because the slides don’t allow rivets on clothes. Don’t dash the hopes of kids who are too short at the park. Talk about limits, as I did 2 laps too many recently.
Rules can be government mandated, insurance mandated, or be made by staff. Some rules are firm while others are not enforced. It is up to you to make sure that your family knows the rules and the park rules are obeyed.
Casts, amputees, medical devices, and weight are covered at many parks. All parks will remove a rider who can’t use their feet to balance, can’t hold on, or can’t sit up. Whether written or unwritten, most Water Parks prohibit horseplay, diving, and interfering with the safety of others. Water Country bans hookahs. Smokers at Disney parks have designated areas.
Aquatica prohibits cotton board shorts. Baby swim diapers are required. Do not wear jewelry, scarves, or anything that could be caught on slides and rides. No plastic or metal rivets, buckles, studs, or decorated clothes that could harm slides. Appropriate attire is required.
•Food and Beverages
WDW is very lenient about bringing in coolers stocked with food. Most parks prohibit glass and food that needs heating. Most, if not all parks, prohibit bringing in alcoholic beverages. Florida weather makes picnics risky due to the heat. It is best to save up shelf stable packets of mayonnaise and salad dressing. You can bring unopened small jars of mayonnaise and salad dressing then trash them when done. Spam, cashew butter, tuna, bread, and canned corned beef are some shelf items you might want to bring. You can buy food from your hotel to bring, but again, remember that Florida is hot and food spoils easily. Plan on having a designated person to watch your stuff if you camp out. The lockers are not big enough for a family picnic.
WDW water parks have one main kitchen that does allergies. TOUGH! That is the attitude I received when I tried to get something gluten and soy free. Another issue is getting from where you are camped out to food. Last time I packed in ice, soda pop, salad, cooked hot dogs, buns, and snacks. Read the menus as some folks will find it hard to find something they like.
Most amusement and water parks will close outdoor activities when lightning is nearby. I recently visited Blizzard Beach. I drove my van while wearing wet clothes. At the parking garage’s bathroom I changed clothes. 10 minutes in the rain and I was wetter than at the water park. Chills can set in when the high winds kick in. Air conditioned buses will feel like a deep freezer. When Disney closes the lazy rivers they don’t let you wait to get to your camp or the front. You might have to walk halfway around the park. Tampa storms are eastbound and extreme. If a storm is coming out of the west (Tampa) GET OUT! Sometimes waiting an hour will change things. Storms out of the east (Miami) are lightweight, usually, and tend to do little damage.
•Fun, entertainment, and tips
Having read the rules, told the group the rules, and packed for a week trek, should make this a fun outing. Check the schedule as there are events during the year such as the Olympics themed bash. There is usually one character per park with limited hours and they don’t come out during storms.
There are many things to do at Disney water parks. The short kids can start off in a safe play area with splashing features, slides, activities, lifeguards, and shallow entry kiddie pools. Disabled guests might be able to get a water wheelchair that requires someone to push them. There are bump steps at the creeks and the main pool is shallow entry. There is a gondola on the ski lift for wheelchairs and disabled guest who can’t use the ski lift. There are single and double tubes as well as toddler tubes with a solid bottom.
There are private umbrellas with a couple of towels, umbrella and chairs for at least $40. Save your money!
Cabanas are expensive and worth the cost if you can afford it. They include private locker, towels, table and chairs, waiter who fetches drinks and food (you pay for items), cooler full of ice, and bottled water. This may have changed. 6 people who don’t have to worry about protecting their space and personal belongings.