Going to the World, But Not the Parks

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When most people think of Walt Disney World, they imagine Cinderella’s Castle at the Magic Kingdom. Or they think of the Spaceship Earth globe at Epcot, the Tree of Life at Animal Kingdom, and the Tower of Terror at Disney-MGM Studios. But there’s a World of activities outside of the parks.

You can visit the resorts, for food, drinks, or a massage. Six resorts have fitness centers (Coronado Springs, Animal Kingdom Lodge, Boardwalk, Yacht, and Beach Club and the Villas at Wilderness Lodge). There are world-class golf courses, as well as two mini-golf courses (Fantasia Gardens near the Swan and Dolphin hotels and Winter Summerland, next to Blizzard Beach.) The Boardwalk offers street entertainers, Downtown Disney has shopping, movies, dining, and adult-oriented entertainment (not to mention Cirque du Soleil). Parasailing, scuba diving . . . really it would almost be quicker to say what vacation activities Disney doesn’t offer!

Michael J. Hewell, aka TourGuideMiKE, probably know as much as there is to know about all the possible activities at Disney World. Today’s Be Our Guest shares his inside scoop on skiing, surfing, and boating at Walt Disney World. Thanks, TourGuideMiKE

Water Skiing and Ski Lessons

When Disney wanted to take advantage of all the water activity possibilities via their huge Bay Lake and Seven Seas Lagoon, they contacted one of the most famous water skiers of all time, Sammy Duvall! His Water Sports Centre is conveniently located at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. The Sammy Duvall Water Sports Centre folks would love to help you improve your water skiing, OR learn how to do it for the first time! Come on, you’re in Florida!

I’ve gathered the following information for you, but you can also visit Sammy’s own very snazzy website (http://sammyduvall.com/) directly for the latest offerings, prices, and everything else they want you to know about.

Let’s review what’s available for your own afternoon of fun:

Sammy offers Skiing, Slalom, Wakeboarding, Kneeboarding, and Tubing. They include your expert instructor, boat, and equipment for up to five guests. Your skill level does not matter, as the friendly instructors work well with everyone. (I know – I’ve been there!)

There are three price plans:

  • $80 per half hour for walk-ups only (if available)
  • $140 per hour for reserved guests (up to 5 guests)
  • Premium Package for $165 for a minimum of two hours, includes pick–up from a Magic Kingdom Resort.

Personal Watercraft:
You know what these are, right? That motorcycles-on-water you see people zooming around with! One-hour guided excursions depart at 8 a.m., 9 a.m., 5 p.m., and 6 p.m., and are $100 plus tax for up to three guests (not each). Non-guided rentals are available at 11 a.m., 12 p.m., 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. These are also $100 plus tax per hour, and the price is good for up to three guests. Walkups can also pay $65 per half hour for up to three guests. Please note that children under 18 years of age must have a parent or legal guardian sign a release form.

Hours: Peak Season Hours (Memorial thru Labor Day): 7 days a week, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., weather permitting. Off-Season hours are 7 days a week, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., again weather permitting. (Hours and prices are subject to change – I know you know that!) Reservations: 407-939-0754 or Fax, 407-939-0756 (Tip: They also provide online reservations directly from Sammy’s site.)

Surfing Lessons at Typhoon Lagoon

If you’ve always thought that catching a wave was limited to California Dreaming, think again! Walt Disney World is home to the world’s second-largest wave pool, and where there are ‘guaranteed’ waves, there is a perfect opportunity to learn how to surf! Your private instructors are waiting for you at Typhoon Lagoon!

Craig Carroll’s Cocoa Beach Surfing School has designed a 2 ½ hour program that will have you in the water and on the board in no time. After 30 minutes of land instruction with two instructors, you’ll spend a full two hours in the water catching waves on a soft-side board provided by the school. (Dude! You must use Disney-approved boards. Leave your own at home, cha?)

The class is limited to 13 guests so you are ensured personal coaching! Also, spectators are welcome, so bring the whole ‘fam with you if they want to take photos. I’m sure they’ll be memorable — what do you think? ;>)

Classes are offered Monday, Tuesday, and Friday mornings only from 6:30 to 9 a.m. Are you visiting during a cooler time of year? No worries, dude! The wave pool is heated from 80 to 84 degrees. The cost is $135.00 per guest (tax included). You don’t need previous surfing experience, but you do need to be a strong swimmer and at least 8 years old. Also, know that this price does not include all-day admission to Typhoon Lagoon – the staff will politely walk you to the exit and make sure that you leave the park at the end of class. :>( Don’t forget that you pay for your class when you arrive there. Cash, credit card, and room charge are all accepted.

Guests will need to provide their own transportation to Typhoon Lagoon in the morning, but there will be buses operating after the class to return guests to their resorts or the theme parks. Taxis are available by calling 407-699-9999. Reservations can be booked up to 90 days in advance by calling 407-WDW-PLAY (939-7529). This is a must since the class size is, thankfully, so-o-o small, and it’s only offered three times per week.

For those interested in a surfing party: Doug Dumont, manager of the Surfing Special Events at Walt Disney World, can organize private surfing opportunities before the park opens on non-school mornings AND after it closes as well! There are minimum-number-of-participants requirements. Contact him for all the info you need at 407-560-4025!

Resort Marinas & Boating

Let’s take advantage of the twelve Marinas to be found at Bay Lake and the Seven Seas Lagoon, Lake Buena Vista Lagoon, and the individual lakes at Disney’s Caribbean Beach, Coronado Springs, and Yacht & Beach Club Resorts.

Bay Lake and the Seven Seas Lagoon
Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground, Wilderness Lodge, and Contemporary Resorts are on Bay Lake, and Disney’s Grand Floridian and Polynesian Resorts are on the Seven Seas Lagoon. (Trivia: These two beautiful lakes are connected together by an ingeniously engineered water bridge.) They offer small 2-seater motorboats, various sizes of sailboats, larger canopy boats, and even larger pontoon boats for 1-10 passengers. Of the above five resorts, the Contemporary, the Polynesian, and the Grand Floridian have the largest marinas on the property and have more of a selection to choose from. Examples are:

Sea Racer mini powerboats: $24 per half hour / $32.48 per 45 minutes / $38 per hour. You must be 18 years old to rent a Sea Raycer, but any child age 12 and older (and 5 ft tall) CAN drive as long as they have another person with them who is age 18 and older (with photo ID). Passengers can be of any age. The weight of those in the boat combined cannot exceed 320 lbs. Life vests are required at all times. (Note: These new boats are a LOT faster than the old ones. We were in a pontoon boat the other day on the Seven Seas Lagoon cruisin’ along and one of them passed us with a dad and son pair — easily. The old ones barely moved with two people!)

Canopy Boats: $26.50 per half hour. The maximum capacity is eight guests, and drivers must be at least 18 years of age.

21” Sun Tracker Pontoon Boats: $42 per half hour. Must be at least age 18 to drive. The seating capacity is 10 guests. Guests ages 12 and under must wear life vests at all times. Guests ages 13 and older must have their life vests with them inside the boat.

Sailboats: $20.00 per hour for a 12-foot sailboat, $25.00 per hour for a 14-foot, dual hull boat, $25.00 per hour for a 13-foot catamaran, $30.00 per hour for a 14-foot monohull boat, and $35.00 per hour for a 17-foot monohull boat, which seats 1 to 2 experienced sailors. (I can’t emphasize that ‘experienced’ point enough!)

Kayaks: Available at select resort marinas. $6.50 per half hour, $11.00 per hour.

Lake Buena Vista Lagoon
Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside Resort has its own Marina that connects to the Lake Buena Vista Lagoon. This lake is smaller than Bay Lake or the Seven Seas Lagoon but is a nice size for some afternoon fun. In addition, there is another Marina at the Downtown Disney Marketplace with Canopy and Pontoon Boats. If you are not staying at one of the above resorts, it may be easier to visit this Marina for your boating rentals. (Although you are more than welcome to visit any of them!!)

Individual Lakes
Disney’s Caribbean Beach, Coronado Springs, and Yacht & Beach Club Resorts have smaller lakes for their guests. To give you an idea of their size, Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort has ‘Barefoot Bay’ with a 1.4-mile promenade trail surrounding it for bikes and joggers. These marinas offer a variety of 2-seater motorboats, Canopy Boats, Pontoon Boats, Canoes, Sail Boats, and also Peddle Boats. Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club Resorts are in Walt Disney World’s Deluxe-category and are on the very scenic Crescent Lake that they share with Disney’s Boardwalk Resorts. There is a wide canal available that connects their lake to Lake Hollywood in front of the Disney-MGM Studios. (And, no, you can’t ride your boat into the World Showcase at Epcot even though it connects there too!!)

Rental Plans
Ever wanted to have your own armada? While you can’t quite do that at Disney, you can certainly come pretty close! Disney offers two plans that give you a lot of flexibility when it comes to renting both their boats and bikes.

Family Plan: Guests staying at Disney Resorts have the opportunity to purchase this plan. It includes unlimited use of all boats/bikes for 5 guests for 10 days. Boats rented through this offer must be rented from the same marina the plan is purchased at. (Ex: Guests who purchase the Family Plan at the Beach Club cannot use the plan at the Polynesian.) Boats are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. The price is about $265.19 – call your specific marina for more details and restrictions. Cruises and excursions are not included.

Captain’s Plan: Guests staying at Disney Resorts have the opportunity to purchase this plan. It includes unlimited use of all boats/bikes for an unlimited number of guests for 4 hours. Boats/bikes rented through this offer must be rented from the same marina the plan is purchased at. (Ex: Guests who purchase the Captain’s Plan at the Beach Club cannot use the plan at the Polynesian.) Boats are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. The price is about $138.45 – call your specific marina for more details and restrictions. Cruises and excursions are not included.

The text and photos above are excerpted, with permission, from the TourGuideMiKE Automated Vacation Planner™. For the complete scoop on Walt Disney World with day-to-day itinerary advice, detailed Sample Park Tours, and so much more, visit http://www.tourguidemike.com. Our Mouse for Less members receive a $3 discount off the price by using code A82E8-2AH.

Magically Speaking Featured Article
Library of Congress ISSN:1556-3863

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