While Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon are totally different in terms of themeing and appearance, they are remarkably similar in setup. Each has a variety of water rides and attractions ranging from kiddie pools to stunning speed slides, and each has its own specialty rides. The parks are the same as far as what you should pack, what you can expect to find on hand and what you need to know before you go.

Which park is right for you?

If speed slides, funny scenery (you need to enjoy the melting snow in Florida theme) and one of the tallest, fastest rides in Disney interest you, head to Blizzard Beach. Blizzard Beach packs plenty of appeal for families with big kids, thrill riders and large groups.

Want to relax in a tropical atmosphere, swim with real marine animals (including a few sharks) an enjoy a laid back good time? Head to Typhoon Lagoon. The lazy river, kiddie play zone, huge wave pool and unique Shark Reef snorkeling experience make Typhoon Lagoon an ideal choice for families with kids of all ages, toddlers and preschoolers and budding surfers (you can get lessons for an additional fee).

Consider a cabana

Seating is limited at both water parks, with the best, shaded areas going quickly, and all of the chairs claimed by lunchtime. Avoid the rush entirely by renting a cabana for your group. You’ll get your own private area complete with shaded cabana, chairs and even a cooler of beverages and snacks if you’d like them. This isn’t the cheapest way to enjoy the parks, but works very well if you have a large family, are traveling with a baby or toddler, or have family members who want to splash a bit but then relax in the shade.

Travel light

Wear your swimsuit and a coverup, and pack sunglasses and comfortable, water-friendly shoes for each member of the family. Don’t bother packing water wings or floatation devices for the kids, you won’t be allowed to use them in the park. You can rent a locker to store your items, life jackets for little non swimmers and even towels at the park. Both Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach have several fast food eateries and snack bars.  If you wear contacts, pack a spare pair, just in case – you won’t want to return to your room if you lose them.

Pack sunblock…and other essentials

If you bring one thing to the Disney World water parks, it should be a huge bottle or tube of sunblock. The Florida sun is intense anywhere, but once you head to Blizzard Beach or Typhoon Lagoon, you’ll be surrounded by water. Your likelihood of getting a painful sunburn goes way up once you spend the day in a water park—the pools reflect sunlight, upping your exposure. Even worse, you’ll be getting in and out of water all day, so you won’t realize just how burnt you are getting. Wear plenty of sunscreen, reapply often and stick to the shade when possible and you won’t risk ruining your vacation with an extreme sunburn.

Go early or stay late

Both parks become very crowded at lunchtime, with lines for popular rides and crowded swimming areas. You’ll have a much better time if you arrive as soon as the park opens, swim and play, and then leave when the crowds arrive. Alternatively, show up in the mid afternoon when people are leaving, and stay until closing. Both parks empty out in the hour or so before closing, and you can have plenty of fun without a lot of waiting.