Typhoon Lagoon & Blizzard Beach

Once upon a time, disaster struck Placid Palms Resort, a tropical lagoon paradise in Safen Sound, Florida. A monstrous typhoon swept across the hideaway, flooding the lagoon, tossing ships upon mountains, flinging surfboards through trees, and depositing sharks into the harbor. Rearranged by waterfalls, rivers, and slides, the once placid paradise sprang with adventure and excitement, and a Water Park resulted. Or, that’s what Disney Imagineers would have us believe anyway.

Typhoon Lagoon, located near Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World, is a 56-acre Water Park boasting the world’s largest manmade wave pool. Here also is Central Florida’s first-ever water coaster thrill ride, the Crush ‘N’ Gusher, a unique water slide experience that pushes Guests uphill and down drops. An assortment of slides cover Mt. Mayday, on which peak rests the Miss Tilly shrimp boat. A lazy river encircles the Park’s perimeter, and tropical trails abound. Guests may also snorkel with sharks and exotic marine life in a saltwater pool.

On the west side of Walt Disney World Resort is Blizzard Beach. How in the world did that end up in the sunshine state? Well, they say a freak snow storm blanketed Florida some time ago. A ski resort immediately sprang up. Alas, just as quickly, the weather heated back up, and the whole resort began to melt. Not to worry! A fun-loving alligator knew what to do. He slid down the snowless ski jump, shouting “Yahoooo!” all the way they say, and landed in a pool of runoff. And so the snowy slopes became a ski-themed Water Park.

This 66-acre Park offers some thrills from atop Mt. Gushmore, like the Downhill Double Dipper side-by-side racing water slides, toboggan runs, and the 120-foot-high Summit Plummet—the nation’s tallest, fastest freefall speed slide. Summit Plummet’s ski jump can be seen from nearly every Park locale. From its launch, Guests drop an almost vertical 13 stories at 55-60 mph to a splash zone at the mountain’s base. After modestly adjusting their wedgies, many Guests ride the ski lift right back up to the top and do it all again.

Both Parks do offer tamer play zones and designated splash areas for younger visitors, as well as eateries and snack shacks, storage lockers, and gift shops. PhotoPass is also onsite at both Parks.

P.S. Yep, that’s me & my son plummeting from the summit!

Today’s Takeaway:
Friction is the force that resists movement between two objects that rub together. It slows moving things down, stops them, or keeps them from moving at all. Friction occurs even on water slides between the plastic or fiberglass and the rider. Water lubricates the slide, reducing friction and allowing riders to slide at a rapid speed. The slide’s slope, gravity, and the force of the water being pumped out also influence the slider’s speed.

Experiment with water and friction on your backyard slide or one that is not in use at a playground. You will need a plastic or fiberglass backyard or playground slide, a water resistant baby doll, a running water hose or containers of water, dry towels, and a digital stopwatch. Perform two sets of experiments, charting results for each. Average the times and compare/contrast the results.

Dry Slide:
1) Send a baby doll down a dry plastic or fiberglass slide 3-5 times.
2) Chart the amount of time it took the doll to reach the bottom of the dry slide.
3) Average the times.

Wet Slide:
1) Run a water hose down the same slide (or have partner pour steady stream of water down slide from containers – be consistent & use same amount of water for each run).
2) Send same baby doll down same slide 3-5 times, but this time completely wet the slide first and keep water running.
3) Chart the amount of time it took the doll to reach the bottom of the wet slide.
4) Average the times.

The doll should slide more slowly on the dry surface than on the wet one. The only variance in this case is friction, as the doll weight, slide slope, gravity, and normal force remain constant.

For further study, investigate surface tension and calculate the friction coefficient.

[If using a public park, be sure not to inconvenience other children playing. Take buckets of water with you for the experiment and towels to dry the slide when you are done.] 

SCHOOL SUBJECT: Physics
SKILL LEVEL: High School

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