Whether it's bobsledding down the “snowy" slopes of Mt. Gushmore or plunging straight down Summit Plummet at up to 55 miles per hour, Walt Disney World Resort guests get all the spine-chilling thrills of a northern ski resort. But the 66 acre water park is strictly tropical and the ice is limited to the soft drinks. It's all part of a “zany" combination - a water park with the atmosphere and excitement of a major ski resort in the midst of a tropical lagoon. The most eye catching attractions at Blizzard Beach can be found on the slopes of Mt. Gushmore. As guests enter the park, they are greeted by the busy view of “skiers" sliding down the face of the 90-foot snow-capped mountain.
It is home to Downhill Double Dipper, the only side-by-side racing water slides that stand 50 feet high and 200 feet long. Guests will travel up to 25 miles per hour, twisting and turning before shooting out through a curtain of water. Mt. Gushmore also features slalom courses, toboggan and water sled runs and the awesome, 120 foot-high Summit Plummet - the nation's tallest, fastest free-fall speed slide, visible from almost anywhere in the park. From Summit Plummet's “ski jump" tower, it's a breathtaking high-speed 55 mile per hour plunge straight down to a splash landing at the base of the mountain. Next to Summit Plummet is the tall but less steep Slush Gusher, a speed slide that drops guests through a snow-banked mountain gully.
Mt. Gushmore other attractions are:
- Teamboat Springs - the world's longest family white-water raft ride that takes 6 passenger rafts down a twisting 1200 foot series of rushing water falls
- Toboggan River - is an 8 lane water slide that sends guests racing over exhilarating dips as they descend the “snowy" slope
- Snow Stormers - are 3 flumes descending from the top of the mountain that follow a switchback course through ski-type slalom gates
- Runoff Rapids - is an inner tube run, where guests can careen down 3 different twisting, turning flumes
- Chair Lift - are wooden-bench chair lifts sporting colorful overhead umbrellas and snow skis on their underside, converted from ski-resort to beach-resort use - these functional chairs carry guests over the craggy face of Mt. Gushmore, from it's base at the beach, to its summit
As legend has it, Blizzard Beach was created by a freak winter storm, which dropped snow over the western side of the Walt Disney World Resort property, and Florida's first snow-ski resort was planned immediately. However, the plan was short-lived. Temperatures soared and the ice and snow rapidly began to melt. Dismayed ski-resort operators, ready to close, spotted a playful alligator sliding down the “liquid ice" slopes and realized the melting snow created the tallest, fastest and most exhilarating water-filled ski and toboggan runs in the world. As a result, the ski resort/water park was born. It was a natural. Former ski slalom courses and bobsled and sledding runs became downhill water slides. The chair lift could still carry swimmers to the top of the slides. The ski jump became the nation's tallest and fastest water slide. The melting snow revealed welcoming beaches. The sandy beach below Mt. Gushmore offers a large wave pool, a lazy river, two snack bars, a polar pub lodge and a pre-teen and children's play area. It also offers the following:
- Tike's Peak - a scaled-down element of Mt. Gushmore and it also features a snow-castle fountain play area
- Melt-Away Bay - is a 1 acre pool, nestled against the base of Mt. Gushmore, which is constantly fed by “melting snow" waterfalls
- Cross Country Creek - is a lazy creek the circles the entire park, carrying floating guests through a bone-chilling ice cave - once inside the mysterious cave, guests will be splashed with the “melting" ice from overhead
- Blizzard Beach Ski Patrol Training Camp - is designed for pre-teens with a T-bar drop, culvert slides and a challenging ice-flow walk along slippery, floating icebergs - Cool Runners is the camp's twin inner tube slide
- Avalunch and The Warming Hut - are snack bars
At the entrance to Blizzard Beach is The Village, which houses guests services such as a tube pick-up area, towel rentals, lockers, first aid, merchandise and a restaurant. Within The Village is the Beach Haus, a specialty shop offering souvenirs, towels, bathing suits, sunglasses and other essentials for a day on the slopes or in the water. Ski equipment and cold weather furnishings such as potbelly stoves are used to display merchandise. Nearby, Lottawatta Lodge, a North American ski lodge with Caribbean accents, stands ready to serve guests with an appetite. The counter-service restaurant even affords diners with a scenic view of Mt. Gushmore.
Disney's Winter Summerland, a delightful miniature golf course (where Santa and his elves come to play) is right next to Blizzard Beach. For an additional fee, Guests can take to the links. The Winter Course is a fun and exciting challenge for the whole family. From an ice castle to a snowman and a trip to the North Hole, the 18 holes of snow will send a chill through any golfer! The Summer Course is pure Florida! From sandcastles to surfboards and a visit with Santa on the WinterNet, The Summer Course is 18 holes of challenging fun in the sun! “The Winterbago", Santa's converted travel trailer, is where guests can pick up/drop off their clubs. Themed merchandise and snacks are also available.
Micheal Dupree is a life long Disney fanatic, and is referred to by family and friends as a “walking Disney encyclopedia". To learn more about the wonderful world of disney , visit his website at: http://www.mydisneymagic.com