-From Theme Park Tourist
By Amanda Kondolojy, Friday, September 16, 2016 05:35
Though some people may treat Walt Disney World’s water parks Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach as just an afterthought, the parks are actually the most-attended in the United States, drawing millions of guests every year.
While Disney hasn’t exactly been giving these two parks a lot of attention in recent years, it looks like that may be changing in the near future, as a number of updates have been confirmed to be in the works for at least one of Walt Disney World’s water parks. However, not all of these changes are positive, so let’s get the negative one out of the way first…
1. The Shark Reef attraction at Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon is (finally) closing in just a few weeks
Though its demise has been rumored since 2014, Disney confirmed earlier this month that the Shark Reef snorkeling attraction at Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon, which gives guests the opportunity to snorkel through a sunken ship in a temperature-controlled saltwater pool complete with sharks and tropical fish, will be permanently closed after October 2, 2016 (which is incidentally, the last day for a number of other attractions as well).
While this wildlife experience was definitely an interesting part of a trip to Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon (and guests who didn’t want to wade into the chilly 70 degree water could check out the sharks and other fish in this tank from a nearby underwater observation area), Shark Reef has had a number of problems over the years, frequently closing unexpectedly or going down for refurbishment for days or weeks at a time.
In addition, this animal experience was reportedly one of the more expensive attractions at the park to upkeep. Couple this with the fact that guests often complained that the water was too cold and the experience too short (Cast Members working this attraction direct guests to swim straight across the 100 x 23 foot pool one time and then get out immediately), and this closure does make some amount of sense, even if the Shark Reef attraction was a fan favorite.
Unfortunately, Disney has also confirmed that it will be relocating the saltwater fish that currently inhabit this attraction, which means that the underwater viewing area will also be going away in the very near future. No announcement has been made about any kind of replacement for Shark Reef, and we wouldn’t be surprised if Disney just removes the attraction signage (as well as the fish) and leaves this pool as-is at the park (it’s very small). However, just because there isn’t going to be a new attraction in this same spot doesn’t mean that there aren’t any new attractions coming to Walt Disney World’s water parks anytime in the near future.
2. New family raft ride Miss Fortune Falls coming to Typhoon Lagoon next year
Later this year Typhoon Lagoon will be going down for an extended three-month long refurbishment that will kick off on December 25 and last until mid-March. In addition to the normal draining and cleaning that goes on during this park’s scheduled maintenance time, Typhoon Lagoon will also begin construction on a new ride that will debut when the park opens back up early next year. Named Miss Fortune Falls, this new attraction will be a lengthy family raft ride that will tell the story of fictitious Captain Mary Oceaneer, a treasure-hunting heroine who got stranded at Typhoon Lagoon years ago by a rogue storm.
During this two-minute raft ride (the longest raft attraction in all of Walt Disney World) guests will embark on a story-driven journey through Captain Oceaneer’s past before plunging into a thrilling white-water adventure where they can see unique artifacts that Captain Mary Oceaneer collected on her many treasure hunts around the world as they zoom by.
While we don’t have a specific launch window for this new ride just yet, this ride should be fairly quick to construct, and we’d imagine that guests will be zooming along with Mary Oceaneer by the middle of next spring.
3. Typhoon Lagoon Grad Nights H2O event to debut next spring for the class of 2017
Though Grad Nights was a Walt Disney World annual tradition for many years, in 2011 this official event was unceremoniously cancelled with no official reason given (some have blamed student behavior but the most likely scenario is probably something to do with Disney’s budget). However, though the event was gone for nearly six years, it looks like Grad Nights will be back for the class of 2017, but in a very different form. Instead of taking place at one of Walt Disney World’s theme parks, Grad Night guests will now be able to enjoy an evening of fun at Typhoon Lagoon to celebrate their achievements.
Now officially named Grad Nights H2O, this new event will include special dance parties, appearances by Disney characters, and even food and unlimited drink (in a souvenir mug). Event dates for 2017 will be on April 7, 21, and 28, 2017, and admission will cost $55 per student (with special event ticket sales arranged through directly through Central Florida students’ high schools).
Now as you are looking at these updates, you’ll undoubtedly notice one thing: Blizzard Beach is noticeably absent. While Typhoon Lagoon is getting a new ride and a new(ish) event next spring, Blizzard Beach is getting a two month refurbishment…and that’s it. We’ve long wondered about the future of this park and the lack of anything new for this park doesn’t exactly instill us with much confidence about what the future may hold.
What do you think Disney is planning to do with Blizzard Beach?
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