Brooke Geiger McDonald
Disney's Blizzard Beach Water Park reopened March 7 after being closed for nearly a full year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This playful take on a thawed-out ski resort—don't worry, the water is a comfortable 78-82 degrees year round!—is no doubt calling to many families who've been buried in real snow all winter. But with COVID-19 still spreading and even new variants out there, health and safety should still be everyone's top priority over fun.
Unlike at Disney World's theme parks, a Disney Park Pass Reservation is not required to visit Blizzard Beach. One-day tickets start at $58. If you're considering adding a trip to the water park with your family during your Walt Disney World vacation this spring break, this is what to know before taking the plunge.
COVID-19 Water Park Safety Rules
Strict safety guidelines like non-negotiable mask requirements have been established at Disney World's theme parks, but things work a little differently at Blizzard Beach, since masks and water don't mix. Here, masks are required at park entry and exit, merchandise, food and beverage locations, lockers, restrooms, and changing areas. You are not allowed to wear a mask in the water, which means you'll also be unmasked while walking to and from water attractions.
We asked a pediatric infectious disease specialist what to consider when visiting a water park during the pandemic. Her key message: Maintaining 6 feet of distance from other guests when you have your mask off is critical to staying safe. Distance markers, signs throughout the park, and Disney employees all provide pervasive reminders to keep that distance.
Find a Safe Home Base
Consult the park map, which looks just like a ski resort map, with areas divided into Green, Red, and Purple. Just make sure to read the descriptions—the colors don't denote slide intensity! Lounge chairs are positioned to keep parties at a safe distance and cannot be moved. Some chairs are even on sand, so if you have littles who love to dig, grab a sandy spot!
For a more luxe and social-distanced experience, splurge on a Polar Patio. Starting at $225, these private spaces for up to 10 guests are serviced by a patio attendant and come with unlimited towels, a locker, phone charger, water, refillable drink mugs, and access to an exclusive food menu.
Get Your Gear
Complimentary life jackets are available and children in diapers must wear a swim diaper. Towels, lockers and umbrellas can all be rented. You can also pick up souvenirs and beach basics like towels, swimwear, flip-flops, and beach toys at Beach Haus.
Hit the "Slopes" AKA Water Slides
Blizzard Beach is an all-ages affair, but some of the park's most iconic—and thrilling—experiences do have height restrictions. Here's where to get your shred on.
Green Slopes: Thrill-seekers over 48 inches should head straight here. You can make the trek by staircase or hop on the Chairlift (32 inches and up) for the scenic route. At the top you'll find Summit Plummet, one of the world's tallest and fastest freefall body slides, and the Slush Gusher, a 90-foot-long, high-speed body slide.
Less-daring guests can still take the chairlift to Teamboat Springs, one of the world's longest family water raft rides. A raft seats up to six and little kiddos can ride as long as they're big enough to sit upright and hold on—no laps.
Purple Slopes: Indulge in some friendly competition at the Downhill Double Dipper, a timed race down side-by-side tube slides (minimum 48 inches). Toboggan Racers, a hilly mat slide, and Snow Stormers, a snaking mat slide down the mountain, round out the Purple Slopes.
Red Slope: It's all downhill from here with three different flumes—two open and one enclosed—all with no height requirements.
Other Water Activities for Kids
There's still plenty to do for the less adventurous. Tike's Peak is a splash area with pint-sized slides for kiddos under 48 inches. Pre-teens can test their coordination at Ski Patrol Training Camp, an activity-driven area with obstacle courses and more slides.
For more family-friendly fun, swim in the waves at Melt-Away Bay, the one-acre wave pool, or hop in a tube and drift along Cross Country Creek, the lazy river that encircles the entire park.
Where to Eat
Highlights include a honey butter-chicken sandwich and lettuce wraps at Warming Hut, hot dogs and nachos at AvaLunch, and a little bit of everything at Lottawatta Lodge. All have kids menus. Parents can cool off with a draft beer or frozen cocktail from Polar Pub or Arctic Expedition. There are tables and chairs throughout the park, or you can just bring your food back to your lounge chairs.