Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon is celebrating its 30 years of watery fun. To commemorate the milestone anniversary, Orlando Fun Tickets is taking a trip down memory lane to when the idea of Typhoon Lagoon first began.
When Walt Disney World began thinking about creating a water park they knew they wanted it to be different from anything that already existed. The idea behind Typhoon Lagoon all started with its name, which isn’t typically the way most Walt Disney Imagineering projects are done. Usually the concept is nailed down first then the name comes later. But in this case the name helped shape what the park would become.
Senior concept designer Chris Runco came up with the style of the Orlando water park and the rest is history. Runco said in an interview about his concept, “My number-one hero, of many, at WDI was [Disney Legend, animator, and Imagineer] Marc Davis. He had the incredible ability to tell a whole story in one picture, with humor and charm. So, I was looking for that one salient image that would say, ‘Typhoon Lagoon: wet, wacky and fun.’ It seemed to me that was a good target for the character of the place.
“My first take, scribbled late at night in my garage, was a fishing boat stuck in an immense, Swiss-Family-Robinson-scale tree. Then I settled on landing the boat up on top of a mountain, with waterslides gushing down in all directions—and a geyser shooting out of the ship’s smokestack. When we gathered everyone’s work together a few days later, and showed everything to Marty and [Disney Legend and then-executive producer, Disneyland and Walt Disney World theme parks] Randy Bright. Randy took one look at that sketch of mine, and said, “This is it!”
From there the rest came quickly. The theme of the park developed based on the name and icon—a rogue storm and its ensuing tidal wave wreaked havoc on a formerly pristine waterside paradise. Fishing poles, surfboards, nautical gear and anything you might find in a tropical environment are scattered about the park in a chaotic yet fun manner. The centerpiece is Chris’s shrimping ship, called the “Miss Tilly,” which was impaled upon the summit of Mount Mayday. Every half hour, the mountain erupts with a 50-foot water plume that shoots straight through the trapped ship’s stack.
All these years later, Typhoon Lagoon continues to entertain with a variety of attractions and activities, including the Humunga Kowabunga speed slide flumes that slides riders downward five stories, Storm Slides—Jib Jammer, Stern Burner, and Rudder Buster—that send riders from three stories up down twisting, winding channels to a splash pool at the bottom. Gang Plank Falls is a Family raft ride with four-person inner tubes, the Mayday Falls and Keelhaul Falls tube slides, and the popular Crush ‘n’ Gusher water coaster. Guests can relax in the 2,100-foot “lazy river” Castaway Creek and there is even a designated spot for the littlest theme park guests at Ketchakiddee Creek.