Surfing at Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon, Walt Disney World
If you have an active Disney family and you’ve always wanted to learn to surf, the Surfing Lessons experience at Walt Disney World’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park is an excellent VIP option for you.
The gigantic wave pool at Walt Disney World’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park is a lot of fun during regular park hours, but it’s even more fun (with a cool factor of 10+) when you’re the only one in the pool!
The Surfing lessons experience at Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon takes place on select mornings at Walt Disney World Resort before the water park opens to the general public.
How Your Walt Disney World Surfing Lessons Experience Begins
Here is how the Surfing Lessons Experience at Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon works
You book your lesson in advance of your stay (this is something I will do for your family as part of my comprehensive Disney vacation planning services, if you are clients of mine) and then you arrive at the park at the designated time. For our most recent time doing this (August 2017) we arrived at the Typhoon Lagoon front gate at 6:45 a.m. If you have a car, getting here that early is not a problem (and you’ll get the best parking spot in the whole Typhoon Lagoon lot). If you don’t have a car, you will need to take a taxi, Uber or something similar, as Disney’s regular bus transportation will not be running.
You will be greeted outside the front gate by a friendly Disney Typhoon Lagoon Cast Member who will have all surfers sign a waiver (or the parents of any surfers under 18) before entering the park. The lessons are open to guests ages eight and up. You will then be escorted through the quiet and empty Typhoon Lagoon water park to your surfing lessons spot right near the front of the wave pool (where the waves are generated).
Seats are set up on the sand for all surfers (and any non-surfers who came along with them) and here you will be introduced to your super awesome surf instructors from the Cocoa Beach Surf School. The three instructors we had are all highly experienced (they have been on the World Surf Tour and/or judged global surfing competitions), so they really know their stuff. By the way, they also taught the cast of Disney’s Teen Beach Movie how to surf! Equally as important, they are the nicest and most accommodating group of surf instructors that you’re likely to find anywhere. This makes a big difference — especially if you are just learning (which is the case with most guests) because their patience and humour go a long way towards making this a fun, educational and rewarding experience. It is their mission to ensure that every guest stands up and gets a ride.
Your Disney Surfing Session Begins
The session begins with approximately 45 minutes of information and training on the sand. They will explain to you how the wave pool generates waves (very important when you are in the water), how they will assist you to catch waves, how to paddle a surfboard, how to lie on a surfboard, how to pop-up to a standing position and how to ride the Typhoon Lagoon waves. They will also help you to determine your stance on the surfboard (regular or Goofy foot) if you don’t know this already. You will, of course, get to practice your pop-up and stance on the boards on the sand (with their helpful instruction) before entering the water.
Then, you get in the water two-at-a-time and practice paddling on the board size they have selected for you (the boards are the foam top style in lengths of eight, nine and 10 feet. Most riders go with a nine-foot board, but smaller riders (like our nine-year-old) may opt for an eight-foot board and larger riders, a 10-foot board. The paddling is very important because you will do two waves in a row during each turn in the water and you must paddle back to the starting position before the next wave hits (wave sets are 95 seconds apart from the Typhoon Lagoon wave machine).
Note: this may seem obvious, but you must know how to swim to do this surfing experience, as the water is over your head in the take-off area.
It’s Time to go Surfing at Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon!
After the paddling is done, it’s time to start surfing!
Here is how it works. Two surfers at-a-time will be in the water to catch waves. You are spaced out on the left and right sides of the pool near the back wall where the waves originate. Two of the instructors are in the water and one is assigned to help each surfer. The third instructor is on the side (out of the water) observing your ride and shouting out encouragement and tips over the loud speaker.
Whoever wants to go first will get into the water and paddle over to the first instructor. He will attach the leash of the surfboard to your ankle and aim you in the direction of shore. You will have learned on the shore what to do, but basically once the wave swells up behind you, your instructor will give you a slight push into the wave and say “get up!” That is your trigger to put into practice what you have learned. There is a set of flags overhead about halfway down the pool which is where you must jump off your board if you get a good ride. If you make it to the flags standing on your board, congratulations, you have surfed!
You will then get back on your board and paddle back to the second instructor on the far side of the pool for your second wave. You must not waste time as the next set will come in 95 seconds. So paddle efficiently! Again, the instructors will have shown you how to do all of this (and you have practiced), so it shouldn’t be a problem to get back in time. In a worst case scenario the instructor will swim out to meet you and get you back to the starting zone faster.
As you go to the second spot, the next surfer will enter the water and go to the first spot. This is how it goes for the next two hours or so. So each surfer will get two runs at a time. After you finish your second wave, you will paddle out to the shore of the pool (at the far end), pick up your board, and walk back around along the pathway back to the starting area where you had your lessons. Carrying the board all that way is tiring and little ones may benefit from some help with this. After you get back to the area where you started, you’ll line up for your next turn in the water.
Above: Here is brief video clip of one of Amelia’s rides on the big wave. Notice how she jumps off when reaching the flags. The lifeguard will alert you if you pass the flags.
The Typhoon Lagoon Surfing Experience has a maximum of 12 surfers for each day. You will get a lot of rides and you will have roughly a 15-minute waiting period before it’s time to go again. Trust me, you will get tired, so this short rest period is good. You will be watching your fellow surfers and likely getting some coaching and tips from the instructor, based on your previous turn.
About the Surfing Waves at Typhoon Lagoon
The wave machine at Typhoon Lagoon is a powerful beast, but Disney has it well tuned for the surfing lessons. For each round, the wave machine will produce two waves per set. The first wave is the big one, approximately five-feet high. This is a good-size wave for any surfer. The second wave is a smaller one, approximately one- to two-feet high. It is gentle and relatively easy to learn on. You can choose whichever wave you want to ride each time. Your instructor in the water will position you for whichever wave you choose. You can start on the small one and then upgrade to the big wave and switch back and forth on each turn. It’s totally up to you.
Not Your Average Disney Vacation
Surfing the wave pool at Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon is one of many Deluxe Disney VIP experiences available at Walt Disney World Resort.
With nearly 50 years of Walt Disney World travel experience, I aim to ensure that readers of my Luxury Disney Travel Blog do not have just another cookie cutter Disney vacation.
Planning a Walt Disney World Deluxe Vacation?
Be sure to read my Guide to Planning A Walt Disney World Vacation and my post on the Five Golden Rules of Walt Disney World Vacation Planning.
Mike Belobradic: The Finer Side of Disney Travel
Luxury Travel Blogger – Deluxe Disney Travel Specialist
The Finer Side of Travel™