While the heat and humidity of O-town's summer months can be stifling, we're at least blessed (thanks in great part to the tourist industry) with plenty of ways to stay soaking wet. A leisurely tour west to east along the I-4 corridor from Disney to Daytona uncovers vast and watery ways to beat the summer heat.
Before heading out though, you'll want to be set for proper soakage as you make your way through blistering hot parking lots and potential long lines. After all, you don't want to allow any window of opportunity to let yourself dry out and thus be subject to the prickly effects of the sun's rays. Don't go for the tacky "mist fan" favored by the tourists, but head to a Kmart, Target or some such and pick up a thrifty squirt gun. One word of warning: Make sure you pay for the gun, fill it after leaving the store, and only use good, old-fashioned tap water as the squirting substance of choice.
Begin your aquatic adventure at Disney. Forget Splash Mountain, the antiquated flume ride in the Magic Kingdom; instead head for Disney's Typhoon Lagoon, located across from Downtown Disney. Sure, there will be hordes of tourists around you, but the spacious water park provides plenty of room to get away from the masses. While the water slides are suitably entertaining activities, your best bet at Typhoon Lagoon for a leisurely day of fun in the sun is to hop on an inner tube and bob around Castaway Creek. This continuously flowing river circles the entire park and allows you to keep as wet as you want while also giving you the chance to bronze your bod. Another word of advice: If there is even the slightest ounce of homophobia running through your veins, keep Typhoon Lagoon off your itinerary for the first Friday in June, when Gay Day revelers have the run of the park.
After this good start, make Sea World your next stop down the irksome interstate. For those with no budgetary constraints, Sea World's newest attraction, Discovery Cove (opening this summer), will provide not only the requisite wetness but a chance to spend the afternoon cavorting with Flipper and his buddies. For a mere (ahem) $179, you will have the chance, along with up to 1,000 other park guests, to swim with dolphins and snorkel your way through coral reefs filled with stingrays and other exotic fishies. Maybe such a close-up experience will teach you a thing or two about the joys of total submersion.
But if your income won't allow for such luxuries (and I know mine won't), head to Sea World's original park. If you are a Florida resident and you happened to purchase a full-price ticket to Sea World earlier in the year, you already have free repeat privileges, so make the most of them to have some quality time with Shamu. Granted, you may be hustled in and out of the husky mammal's arena on an hourly basis, but Shamu's splash zone guarantees the most moistness anywhere. You might get tired of the incessant patter as Shamu is paraded out, but once the big guy lets loose with his mighty tail and soaks you royally, you'll be happy as a sopping-wet clam. Warning No. 3: Bring along a plastic bag to provide waterproofing for any reading material or other items fearful of the water.
Skipping Disney's Splash Mountain is well worth it as you head on down the road to Universal's Islands of Adventure and make tracks directly for their three water rides. Start off with Dudley Do-Right's Ripsaw Falls in Toon Lagoon. No need to actually get in line and ride the thing; just keep as close to the attraction as possible, since the explosive big-drop finale consistently showers those looking on from the ride's side vantage point.
Then head over to Popeye and Bluto's Bilge-Rat Barges. Just by stepping in the multi-man water rafts you're guaranteed wetness from the ride's earlier travelers, so make sure you sit in a wet spot and hold on as you spin and the water begins to spill.
Finish up your Islands of Adventure visit with Jurassic Park. Or, once again, if you have no interest in actually experiencing the ride's thrilling 85-foot plunge and you just want to REALLY get wet, stand alongside the Terrace Falls restaurant. As the boats hurtle down along the ride's final plunge, they throw waves of water to both sides.
Now that you're sufficiently drenched, it's time to hop back onto I-4 for your interminable trip, and eventual dry-out, to downtown Orlando. Don't even think about anything approaching wetness in the murky waters of Lake Eola; head down Colonial Drive to Primrose and to one of Orlando's most cost-efficient ways to beat the summer heat: the cement pond at the Colonial Plaza Travelodge. Once a favorite summer pastime, motel-pool hopping has largely become extinct, but this '70s-ish establishment in Colonialtown is a perfectly inviting locale. With the recent bulldozing and fill-in of the pool at the front of the motel, the pool at the rear, directly off Primrose, might be a little busier, but it's still a sure bet. The unlocked gate, which is accessed easily from the rear parking lot, posts rules and regulations: you must shower before entering, you must not bring in glass or animals. (There's nary a "no trespassing" sign to be found.) In addition to the nice-sized pool, the deck also offers a hot tub for your convenience, as well as snack and soda machines. Another cursory warning: If anyone resembling motel management happens to enter the pool area, do one of two things: (A) do your best loud and obnoxious German-tourist impersonation, or (B) get the hell out of there as quickly as you can.
Hopefully you've refilled your water guns for a lengthy trip back on 1-4 eastbound to the Orange City exit and the marvels of Blue Springs State Park. Banked along the St. Johns River and home to migrating manatees during the winter months, Blue Springs is the most consistent body of water in the area, maintaining a cool 72 degrees year round. Lined with ancient live oaks and an authentic creaky boardwalk, Blue Springs is the real-world equivalent of Disney's Typhoon Lagoon. Make sure to swim around the artesian spring that flows uphill with 104 million gallons of water everyday, but spend the majority of your time in the invigoratingly chilly waters tubing down Blue Spring Run.
It's now time to leave mother nature in her pristine state and head to our final destination, Daytona Beach, which offers nature in a more disturbed setting. In this bastion of organized getaways, the freaks of nature combing the beaches provide plenty of entertainment value. Plop yourself down on the newly designated mile-long stretch of carless beach, watch the sun sink down and revel in your busy, extremely wet day.
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