My housemate, Charles, on the bridge at Typhoon Lagoon in 1998.
Any raging Disney Park fan will tell you that those of us who live too far away to enjoy the parks on a consistent basis—especially when the weather is crummy—like to engage in something called “The Imagication.”
There are a number of ways to do this, and I’ve seen a few people post some ideas on various Disney forums: enjoy your vacation pictures on a DVD set to music or some other kind of slideshow. Listen or watch attraction ride-throughs on the Internet. Plug your favorite Disney fan park podcast into your car stereo on the way to work. Or simply go into a room, close your eyes and imagine you’re there.
Sometimes, though, a person gets lucky, and finds a Disney-esque oasis right near home.
Recently, a friend of mine took her son to Splashdown Beach water park inFishkill,New York, which is an easy forty minutes by highway from me. I’d always known about the place, but never made it over there. She came in raving about how much fun it was—and since Nathan and I are moving soon toFlorida(where we WON’T have to do the Imagications anymore), I figured it might be fun to get ourselves a dose of water park fun.
As someone who considers herself a water park junkie (and doesn’t let the condition of any kind of like-park bother her), I was thrilled with Splashdown’s theming (very tropical—loved that, since Typhoon Lagoon is my favorite water park in the world), atmosphere, cleanliness, and food. Visiting a place like that, it’s clear to see that Disney’s quality has inspired even the smallest places to at least try to ante-up.
One thing that’s different, of course, is that there’s a story behind Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon—a reason for the theme. A small fishing town was wiped out by a typhoon, so there is debris everywhere. Splashdown! Beach doesn’t feature any kind of back story, but the Tiki/Shark/Surf theme is consistent.
Anyway, it’s just the fair of August, so there’s still a nice long, hot month left. If you’re in the tri-state area, are in need of an “Imagication,” and you can get to Fishkill, New Yorkwithin an hour or so, Splashdown! Beachis definitely worth the trip. Here’s the park’s website: http://www.splashdownbeach.com/
And if you can’t get there? Here’s a virtual tour—which I peppered with photos of the Disney Parks in Orlando,Florida, for comparative reasons. These aren’t necessarily in the order of our trip—I tried to hug the map so it would make more sense.
The entrance to Splashdown Beach, which looks like it was recently expanded to include the BulletBowl, Pirate’s Plunge and Pirate’s Revenge. I have no idea if this is true, I only say it because it looks as though there’s a fountain next to those attractions that looks completely out of place. The people you see in line above the sign are for the three attractions I just mentioned.
Here’s the park map. We took this photo toward the end of the day in another area of the park, but since I’m going to be loosely following this map for our tour, I figured I’d put it up front.
This is a close-up of the roof of the admissions building, facing toward the park entrance. I love the fake palm trees; it really does give a tropical flavor.
These are on the other side of the fence near the parking lot. Several of these pilings are everywhere, not dissimilar to Typhoon Lagoon.
“Piling”-style stairwell rails at Disney’s Polynesian Resort, August, 2008. While it’s clear that the Polynesian is copying how villages in the South Seas might be built and Splashdown is inspired by traditionally-built docks (and, so, obviously, the lashing styles are also different), BOTH seem to lend the place a tropical air.
That’s me, waiting in line to get in. I was really excited for the day. There’s just something about the heat and smell of chlorine. When I was in third grade, a roving reporter from the New Milford Times came to our elementary school. They asked some kids and teachers, “what’s your idea of heaven?” My answer was “lots of palm trees and lots of swimming pools.” Even fake palm trees will do!
Here’s Nathan. He’d forgotten to bring a hat, so I ended up giving him mine for the day. It’s one of my favorite hats—I got it in the middle of nowhere in the Adirondack State Park in a little town called Paradox at their store/post office/beach front/town hall/diner. The hat says, “Paradox General Store.” I couldn’t stand it…I HAD to buy it. Too funny!
One of the changing booths. There are three inside the main entrance.
The ceiling of the changing room. I liked the shape of it.
I thought the changing room was really clean.
What I most liked about the changing room was the fact that it was bright inside. Although I love the changing facilities in Typhoon Lagoon—they ARE kind of dark. Which always surprised me.
Lattice on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom, September, 2005. I just found it interesting that the Magic Kingdom used it for a Victorian old-town feel, and Splashdown used it for a Key West feel, and even though it’s the same lattice, it works both ways.
This shark bursts out of the cupola on the admissions building.
Another shot of the shark. This gives a nice idea of how beautiful the sky and clouds were that day.
There’s a “fake” tattoo place. Anyone who knows me will tell you I’ve always wanted a real tattoo—but probably would never get one, because my tastes change too much from year to year and what I want one year will change the following year. So I take pleasure in getting fake ones that last about a week once in awhile, usually at a carnival or at a place like this. It’s the same reason I only use temporary wash-out-in-ten-showers hair dye, too. Both are fun, but when you’re done, you’re done and you haven’t done anything you regret. Oh, and by the way? There is also a temporary tattoo station in Typhoon Lagoon.
This is the suspended shark over the gift shop. It’s reminiscent of the same thing that’s done on Shark Reef down at Typhoon Lagoon, only that shark is a Hammerhead and is wearing dive gear (because it’s Hammerhead Fred’s Dive Shop, which provides supplies for the Shark Reef attraction).
Yes, the shark I just referenced, Typhoon Lagoon, August, 2008.
Yes, this is the Jaws shark in the Amity section at Universal in Orlando, which has nothing to do with Disney—however, I think it’s interesting that the way the Splashdown! Beach shark is highly reminiscent of this shark. Yes, they’re both Great Whites, but both have the desperate expression of “caught in death throes.” This is me in Universal, September, 2005.
It’s stuff like this that would get me into trouble if I weren’t moving and trying to get rid of stuff. It’s a cute kids’ bag for their suits or whatever else is wet. Below, the Octopus model, and the matching crab kids’ beach chair.
The interior of the main building contains a restaurant, a gift counter, restrooms, an arcade, reptile exhibits, and the party room for birthday parties and events. The interior of the main lobby of the building has these great dinosaur murals. It was like stepping into the Jurassic Park visitors’ center. While we were there, they happened to be setting up for a child’s birthday party. As Nathan pointed out, “see, that’s why it sucks to have your birthday in February.” Since we were born three weeks apart, I couldn’t agree more—however, our anniversary is actually in January, and yet we celebrate every July (for that reason—really, what are you going to do in Danbury, CT that’s so special for your anniversary in JANUARY?). In fact, this day at the water park was our anniversary celebration.
I think iguanas are cute. This one was huge. And looking at me like, ‘leave me alone.’ For the record, I did not use a flash when I took this picture. I didn’t want to blind him.
The restaurant inside the main building. I don’t think it’s called “Under the Sea”—according to the park map, it’s Cosimo’s Pizza on the Boardwalk—which would explain the “sea” theme. Also, gotta love that it’s a direct reference to that song from The Little Mermaid we all love and adore!
Gotta love plastic barracuda! Anybody remember that movie from the 1970s? Believe it or not, I have it on video. Maybe it’s time to pull it out and have some fun!
Although the map claims there’s a “Tiki Bar,” there isn’t. It really just marks a place where you can buy beer. I have to say, though, I was happy with the selection—there weren’t just your usual Buds; a couple of the beers fit the theme. Here, Nathan holds our tropic-esque beers (mine’s the Bud Light Lime).
This was a huge beer for five bucks (we didn’t find the food or drink unreasonably priced at all, by the way). I convinced Nathan to get this one since I’d had it a few times and liked it. It’s brewed in Jacksonville, FL. Way to go!
I thought this sign was one of the coolest things in the park; it reminds me of the skull which contains the famed The Devil’s Eye diamond in the 1977 Disney film, The Rescuers or Skull Island from Peter Pan.
A shot of Skull Island from Disney’s Peter Pan.
A shot of the skull in which the Devil’s Eye is hidden in Disney’s The Rescuers.
These cabanas are available for private rental for the day and include waiter service. Each accommodates six people. Although it said “call for pricing” on the brochure they give out at the park, on the website the cost for weekday is $80 and for a weekend is $100. Divided by six people to have your own private space really isn’t bad, and it does include, as noted, waiter service and a free locker rental. Since shade is hard to find in the park, that might just be your ticket if you’re going with a group.
Notice the use of netting here at Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside Resort, where it’s used to convey a sense of America’s deep south—scroll up to the cabana photo above this one, and the netting is used to convey a sense of a South Seas dock. Neat.
I was very impressed with the quality of the wave pool and especially how clear and clean the water was, so here, I took a close-up shot of the back corner. My first reaction when I walked in was, “wow, it’s tiny!” Well…when you’ve spent your whole life in that massive wave pool in Typhoon Lagoon, yes, this thing looks like a puddle. But it was a crowded day and it seemed to accommodate everyone just fine and have plenty of room.
We pulled up a couple of chairs in the only spot that had shade on Rock Beach—but that was around 11:30 or so, and by the time we’d come back from lunch the sun had moved and we had to move our chairs (leave it to Nathan to predict where we should move our chairs to be in the shade! He’s also great at predicting the time by looking at the depth of the shadows. Pretty cool!)
This was the view from my chair. I love these Tiki shades. They have them at Typhoon Lagoon, too.
Here’s the beach at Disney’s Polynesian Resort, April, 2008. See how the Splashdown! Beach Tiki shades are similar to the ones at the Polynesian?
I liked this—my chair was behind it, so it was like having a private spot on my own tropical island.
Here’s a view from my chair looking back toward the wave pool.
Earlier, I referenced the Tiki shades at Typhoon Lagoon. Here they are, behind me (to the rear left of the photo), August, 2008. Sorry about the disgusting picture of food, but it was the only photo I had in which I had captured Typhoon’s Tiki shades.
Our first spot on the beach wasn’t far from the Nathan’s hot dog stand.
When it’s really hot, Nathan and I don’t eat much. He treated himself to a Nathan’s hot dog. I think he just got the plain one and put mustard on it, although maybe that’s cheese. I can’t tell.
Yes, I had to do it and have my favorite thing—beer-battered onion rings. Again, the food was reasonable—I think these were only $3.99 or something. Not bad at all.
Me on lunch break. We were lucky enough to get part of table in the shade.
Nathan went off to get something, I forget what, and I was bored so I took this picture. Simple as that. I liked the way the beer can’s color complemented the bag’s, though (if you’ve read my Goodbye Project Episode #15, handbags—http://wp.me/pIXRs-Ne—then you know I’m a bag girl!)
Our second beach spot was on the other side of Rock Beach—in fact, it was just beneath the Humunga Half-Pipe attraction and the control apparatus for the Wave Pool, which we didn’t get the opportunity to try (we’re saving it for when we go back, which we will at least once before we move).
I bought Nathan a frozen lemonade so he could take a few minutes to cool down. If you know Nathan at all, you know he really doesn’t do well in the heat. Yes, that’s what I said. But we’re moving to FL because he knows I want to be there. That’s love!
Beach Spot #2 turned out, though, to be the perfect cooling spot—every time the wave maker kicked on, there was a breeze and a spray that blew right over our chairs. Here I am enjoying it!
Below, a video of what the wave pool apparatus sounded like from our Beach Spot #2.
Crock Creek is the name of their Lazy River, and the set pieces around it have an Aztec/Old Mexico-type/Caribbean feel (I’m not sure exactly, it seems like a bit of a mish-mosh, but I enjoyed it). I’ve been on a number of lazy rivers, and though this certainly isn’t the twenty-minute extravaganza that Typhoon Lagoon’s Castaway Creek is, and you do have to get off at one go-around so others can get in, it wasn’t too short a trip at all (judging from the times Nathan took the photos, it takes seven minutes), and it had some neat water features.
Here I’m getting whacked by a water feature, most likely one that’s perched on the edges of a couple of the bridges that cross the creek.
One of the set pieces around Croc Creek that gives it flavor. It reminds me of some of the architecture around Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort’s Caribbean Cay area (you can see a photo of what I’m talking about here: http://allears.net/acc/cbr/cbr08a2.jpg)
In the photo above, note the rock structures to the left. They reminded me of the back wall of Typhoon Lagoon’s wave pool, pictured here in August, 2008.
This statue, here, is why I noted earlier I wasn’t exactly sure what type of look the park was going for. Nathan pointed out that this is closer to the statues on Easter Island in design than they are anything you’d find in the Caribbean or in Mexico. Also note the water feature spewing from the wall next to it. There were several of these types of spraying mechanisms along the attraction.
There is a lot of nice landscaping around this attraction; I just have to point that out, because there are some non-Disney water parks I have been to and their lazy rivers have nothing around them but concrete or gravel or something. And whoever did the landscaping here took the time to put in plants that fit in with a tropical theme, or at least looked like they might be tropical. I didn’t see one evergreen tree or one of those horrible ratty hemlock bushes (common in the north because they’re cheap and you can’t kill them, but boy do they look icky unless you spend your life pruning them) in the whole place.
My sister, Missie, and her daughter, Andi, float down Typhoon Lagoon’s Castaway Creek in September, 2006. I chose this photo only because, if you look at the back of the photo, you can clearly see the beginnings of the lush landscaping—something I felt Splashdown! Beach imitated very well.
Here I am, getting whacked with another water feature.
The style of this lighthouse also echoes the feel of Disney’s Caribbean Cay, especially with the palm tree alongside it.
Nathan got this shot of this fish statue near the creek. This style reminds me of Disney’s The Three Caballeros.
It’s pool water! I was trying to capture the sun’s reflection on the bottom; it didn’t exactly work.
Shipwreck Lagoon is the children’s interactive play area. While the brochure doesn’t boast it has the “Over 50 interactive water features” that the new Bob the Builder Splashworks area features, I thought the Shipwreck area had plenty to do for kids—and I liked the festive décor. Here, this crab reminded me of a decorative container in my bathroom.
The crab I just showed you, above, reminded me of the style of the animals in The Little Mermaid diorama that’s outside the Main Street Emporium in the Magic Kingdom—take a close look at the snails in the lower right-hand corner and you’ll see what I mean. This photo was taken in September, 2007.
The stacked parrots in the back remind me of the Enchanted Tiki Room in Walt Disney World (I’m a purist, I refuse to deal with “Under New Management” and am grateful that element is FINALLY going away this year!). I don’t have any photos, so if anyone’s got one they’d like to share so I can post it, just leave me a comment and let me know.
This grouping is an interesting mix of the Tikis in Adventureland, the Finding Nemo display outside Epcot’s Living Seas, and the Tiki figures inside Nemo’s fishtank in the film.
The Tikis near the Adventureland entrance.
In this photo and the next, I could really note the similarities in style between the Adventureland Tikis and the ones depicted in the crab display at Splashdown! Beach. This photo was taken in September, 2005.
Looks like the Tikis had just gotten a fresh paint job here in August, 2008—now Splashdown! Beach’s colors seem to more closely match what’s down in Adventureland.
Here’s a shot of the display outside The Seas with Nemo & Friends at Future World in Epcot, August, 2008.
Here’s me posing for animal crackers or something at the display outside The Seas with Nemo & Friends at Future World in Epcot, September, 2005 (note—the pavilion wasn’t open yet; it was in the middle of being remodeled at the time).
Here’s Nathan in front of The Seas with Nemo & Friends, September, 2005.
I know these are common in children’s areas in water parks and feature all manner of animals, fish, and birds. I don’t know why, but this bird reminded me of the famous rainforest bird in It’s a Small World in Disney World.
Here’s the bird I referenced in the caption for the last photo. See how Splashdown’s is reminiscent? This photo was taken by my housemate, Charles, in September, 2005.
The bird I just referenced, above, at Splashdown! seems reminiscent of The Three Caballeros’ José, pictured here in the load area of the Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros (formerly the El Rio del Tiempo) attraction in Epcot World Showcase’s Mexico Pavilion. This photo taken September, 2007.
A pirate keeps watch for trouble approaching.
Here’s me at the entrance to Typhoon Lagoon in August, 2008. I thought Splashdown! Beach’s pirate, shown in the previous photo, was reminiscent of the Disney water park’s signature sign.
…and, it also reminded me, of course, of Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean attraction signage (well, minus the skeletal pirate in the crow’s nest), seen here in September, 2006.
It’s a long way up to the three slides that begin from the same point. Similar to Typhoon Lagoon’s Keelhaul Falls for those of you who know it, we were told by some frequent-riding early teens that “purple’s fast, yellow’s orange is swirly.” We chickened out and did orange. It was still pretty fast!
I love these sharks just popping out of random walls; it’s like something out of a bad Syfy Channel movie.
These Tikis, reminiscent of the ones on Easter Island, stand firm among the serpentine coils of the super-fast Cowabunga Falls purple slide.
This Tiki guards the orange slide, the one Nathan and I both chose to ride.
As I’d mentioned earlier, Nathan had commented that these Tikis really are like the ones on Easter Island. Here’s another what seems to be more-closely-related-to-what-you’d-find-on-Easter-Island style—this one at Disney’s Polynesian Resort. Photo taken in May, 2008.
These three attractions also launch from the same platform; we stuck with the Pirate’s Revenge and while not as exciting as Typhoon Lagoon’s Crush ‘n’ Gusher, we thought it was pretty intense. Let’s put it this way—I was certainly screaming on the way down! According to the brochure: “Over 400 feet of enclosed tunnel and 360 degree loops.”
Tikis like this eye you all the way to the stairs that ascend to the launch platform for Pirate’s Plunge, Revenge and the Bullet Bowl.
The landing pool for Pirate’s Plunge (center output); Revenge (output at left) and Bullet Bowl (far right).
A ghost story writer who still sleeps with the lights on, Kristi Petersen Schoonover’s fiction has appeared in many magazines and anthologies; her traditionally published books include a short story collection, THE SHADOWS BEHIND. She was the recipient of three Norman Mailer Writers Colony Residencies and holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College. She serves as co-host of the DARK DISCUSSIONS podcast, as founding editor of the dark literary journal 34 ORCHARD, and is a member of both the New England Horror Writers and the Horror Writers Association. Follow her adventures at kristipetersenschoonover.com.