Orlando is about 60 to 90 minutes away from the beach, depending on whether you head to the Atlantic or the Gulf, but this year you don’t even have to leave the area to enjoy sand and surf.
Typhoon Lagoon, one of the two water parks at Walt Disney World, has long been known for its wave pool that produces real ocean-worthy waves rather than just washing machine-like agitation. This summer, in honor of the latest Disney Channel movie, the park is holding a Teen Beach Movie Beach Party several times a day through September 1.
The beach party is included with your regular admission cost, and parking is free at Typhoon Lagoon (a theme park rarity). You’ll feel like you’re really at the ocean playing traditional games in the sand as you try to keep flying beach balls aloft, get into a fierce hula hoop competition, do your lowest limbo, and dance to the DJ’s tunes. Just make a note of the party times and head over to the stage near the wave pool to join in the fun.
Maybe you’re not one for limbo or hula hoop gyrations. Don’t worry, there’s plenty for you to do, too. Typhoon Lagoon can be as active and crazy or as quiet and relaxing as you want it to be. For daredevils, there are slides like Humunga Kowabunga and Crush ‘n’ Gusher, which is actually a water roller coaster that goes both uphill and down. For those who prefer the slow line, there’s snorkeling in a salt water lagoon (yes, those are real sharks, but they’re a non-aggressive species) and tubing down the lazy river, where the only activity you’ll need to do is paddling out of the way of the occasional waterfall.
I personally enjoy a mix of activity and laziness when I visit Typhoon Lagoon. I enjoy both the inner tube and body slides, and once I’ve worn myself out climbing the stairs, I find a tube and do a few rounds on the lazy river or bob like a human cork in the wave pool. There are plenty of food and snack stands, so you can easily spend a whole day at the park. Just be sure to keep applying your sunscreen so you won’t end up like the few poor souls I always see who look like boiled lobsters by closing time.
One more tip: get to the park at opening time and stake out a quiet, shady spot before you rush off to the rides. You’ll appreciate having a chair in the shade later in the day, when the sun’s beating down and you’re ready for a break.