As legend recalls, Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon water park resulted when disaster struck the Placid Palms Resort in the tropical paradise of Safen Sound, Florida. Landscaping of the peaceful getaway changed drastically when the Miss Tilly shrimp boat was tossed upon Mount Mayday, a fruit packing plant was—um, renovated, and sharks were deposited into the harbor. Left in the wake were an inland sea with breaking waves, a watershed mountain, caves, waterfalls, rivers and slides, and a vacationer’s dream come true.
The lagoon itself is one of the world’s largest wave pools, taking up about 109,000 square feet (2-1/2 acres) and containing nearly 3 million gallons of water. Unlike the constant bobbing motion of Blizzard Beach’s Melt-Away Bay, Typhoon Lagoon Surf Pool’s waves alternate every half hour. It’s a much rougher experience than the gentle rollers at Blizzard Beach, so time it right if you prefer to roll with the tide or surf the 6-foot breakers.
The big waves of Typhoon Lagoon’s Surf Pool provide the perfect training place for beginner surfers. Private lessons are offered in the early mornings on select days before the park opens. For a fee of $150 per person, including tax, local pros teach classes of 12 or fewer students, ages 8 and older, a 2.5-hour course. Instruction begins on land on a soft-sided board, and then heads out “to sea.” By the time the lesson’s over, you just might be shooting curls and riding waves up to 6 feet tall. To make a reservation, please call (407) WDW-PLAY or (407) 939-7529 or email WDPRSurfingPrograms@email.disney.com for more information.
Also in the early mornings and after-hour evenings, private surfing sessions are available at an additional cost to experienced surfers. Each 25-Guest maximum session includes 100 waves, broken up into sets of 25. Secure your spot out in the line-up by reserving your 100 waves online, or by calling (407) WDW-SURF or (407) 939-7873. You must be at least 18 years of age, or have parent or guardian permission to call.
Now, if you or the younger Guests in your party are not in the lagoon for extreme thrills, venture on over to the small tidal pools to the left of the main surf. Here smaller swimmers (60 inches or shorter) can splash down the two Bay Slides while Mom and Dad wade nearby.
As with all projects Walt Disney Imagineering undertakes, scientists, engineers, artists—a plethora of creative minds—convene to create entertaining attractions that are authentic enough to be believable, yet are kicked up a Disney notch (plussed) enough to make it a bit more magical than the real experience.
That’s exactly what we have here at Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Surf Pool. The gently sloping floor roughly resembles the continental shelf of a typical beach visit, and the sloshing water and breaking waves add to the familiar ambiance. But the whole thing is plussed with sparkling, clean water that’s a constant 80 degrees, and there’s no salt spray up your nostrils, no sand in your bikini, and no crabs nipping your toes! And it’s all controlled. There will never be a tsunami or a shark attack, and well-trained lifeguards are ever-ready to rescue anyone in peril.
Seriously, though, designers wanted the Surf Pool to have an authentic feel, and so you will notice the sandy beach, the rough-textured pool floor, and the wave motion. Of course, in a man-made setting these things are limited; however, in nature the sea is a wildly amazing landscape both in the waters and beneath them.
Today, investigate the topography of the ocean floor. When we think of the ocean, we may assume the ground beneath the water is like what we see at the beach with soft, squishy sand and shallow depths, but the oceans actually contains mountains, cliffs, valleys, peaks, and plateaus. Drain away the water, and the sea floor would look pretty similar to the land. Read and study the articles below with your students. Have them select a particular oceanic region and chart the heights and depths of its landforms, or perhaps have them sculpt it with clay or paper mache. Consider also how these hills and valleys affect water motion, ocean currents, water temperature, salinity, and biodiversity of the region.
SCHOOL SUBJECT: Oceanography
SKILL LEVEL: Middle Grades, High School
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