Sticking close to home this summer? We’ve got you covered with our favorite picks in our local areas. These tips translate if you’re traveling from far away, too! Check out the rest of our Staycation Summer series.
Water parks are a way of life in the Orlando area. When people plan their Disney/Universal/Sea World vacations, there is a lot of advice out there that says to leave at least one day for a water park adventure. For us locals, visiting an Orlando water park is a (little bit) cheaper way to enjoy a day in theme-parkville, with the fact that each franchise is always trying to outdo the other as a big advantage.
So when I was given the chance to take my kids to the new Shipwreck Island Water Park at the Westgate Town Center in Orlando, just a short shuttle ride to Walt Disney World, I took it! Since we live nearby, we drove over and enjoyed the water park for the day before heading home with a mini-van full of tired, happy kids (and parents). If you are not local, consider taking a shuttle with an Orlando FL service area so you don’t have to pay for parking there.
I received free admission for my family of 7 to the water park and was not compensated in any other way for this post.
Here’s what you should know if you too want to check out the Shipwreck Island Water Park at the Westgate Town Center.
You have to be a guest.
My family was an exception because I was checking it out for this blog post. In every other case, though, you need to be a resort guest to access the water park. The obvious positive here is that the amount of people attending the water park is smaller. We went during the height of spring break and we were able to land a table (in the shade) for all of our things and never had to wait for more than a few minutes for a slide (more on that to come).
The downside is that if you’ve already made reservations at another hotel for your Florida trip, you can’t go to this water park for the day. Rooms at Westgate start at $49 per night (during the summer of 2017).
But you can also choose from a variety of special discount packages including a 4-day/3-night getaway that includes 2 water park tickets, all for just $99 if you qualify for the VIP preview tour.
To qualify for that discount rate and tour, you can’t live within 60 miles of the resort property, and you’ll be subject to some basic age, income and other requirements that are listed in the resort’s terms and conditions . You’re under no obligation to get the big discount – just take the entertaining resort tour. If you’d rather not take the tour, you can shop around for the best times to go to enjoy a lower regular rate.
There are activities for a wide range of ages.
My husband and I appreciated that all five of our kids, ages 2 to 10, had a blast at the water park. The layout was great because it was spread out – with a LARGE pool on the lower level and larger, wraparound slides with lines that started on the upper level. The upper level also houses the most AMAZING splash pad area I’ve ever seen in all my water park travels, perfect for ages 3 to 12 (or so). There is also a lazy river that winds around the second level that is good for, well, all ages including moms, dads and grandparents.
The cost is pretty reasonable too. The admission cost for hotel guests is:
$20 per person, or $15 per active military member. (It’s free to vacation share owners staying on property). That’s still a lot of money for a family as large as mine, but less than some of the bigger-ticket water parks associated with Disney, Sea World and more.
The pool is fantastic.
Never any deeper than 4 feet at any point, the zero-entry pool is where my little ones (ages 4 and 2) spent most of our time. There are two preschool-age appropriate slides on the far end of the pool that land in an inch (or two?) of water, and then kids can wade over to parents.
The slides are a blast.
My older kids, ages 7, 8 and 10, were crazy about the slides, aptly named “Cannon Ball Falls.” They did both fully enclosed tube slides at least 20 times each. My husband promised my two oldest kids a Pokemon reward if they attempted the Pirate Plunge drop slide — an essential slide/water drop from the upper level to the lower in a matter of seconds. They were both freaked out about trying it (and my 7-year-old wouldn’t even look at it) but ended up liking it enough to do it several more times.
The splash pad has EVERYTHING.
Black Beard’s Pirate Ship is located in the middle of the upper level and it’s dubbed the “ultimate pirate playground.” It has three water slides of its own that feed into their individual water shoots. My kids weren’t paying attention and were drenched in spilling water that tumbles occasionally from large drums overhead. There are also some pivoting water animal statues, like an octopus and fish, that kids can shoot water from as they turn.
The other resort amenities are pretty great, too.
While we did NOT stay overnight at the resort, we were really impressed with it.
“It’s like a small city,” my husband mused as we drove in.
Indeed. We passed a breakfast place, an ice cream place and more on our drive in. The resort also offers a 24-hour fitness center, miniature golf, volleyball courts, basketball courts, an arcade/game room, a Disney movie theater, and a waterside dock and marina.
Including the Shipwreck Island Water Park, the resort has 14 heated outdoor pools and 14 hot tubs.
Food-wise, there is a pizza place, sports bar, bistro, deli, marketplace and DIY barbecue facilities on the property.
The rooms also have fully equipped kitchens so you can grocery shop and make some of your own meals to save a few dollars. Speaking of the rooms … each has its own private balcony or patio, in-room washer/dryer unit, a jetted tub and more.
The Westgate Resort also offers free scheduled transportation to the theme parks. You can make reservations right on the website.
Where are your favorite staycation spots in Orlando?
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Category: Family Free Time
Tags: family time