Make a Splash at Disney

From swimming to boating to dining by the water, here's the ultimate guide to finding water during your Walt Disney World vacation.
Annette Thompson
Make a Splash at Disney
Splash Mountain's 87-foot 40-mph drop thrills Magic Kingdom visitors.

Ahoy There, Mates: Boating, Paddling, and Fishing
Almost everyone steps aboard a boat at Walt Disney World during his or her visit. You can ride a ferry to the Magic Kingdom, a launch across one of the lagoons, or a shuttle boat to get from one side of Downtown Disney to the other. In fact, Disney has the largest fleet of boats in America outside of the United States Navy. In addition to the basic transportation, Disney provides more than 500 canopy boats, flat boats, speedboats, sailboats, rowboats, pedal boats, and canoes to rent.

The vessels with the most appeal--the new fleet of Sea Raycers (they replaced the Mouse Boats)--have sporty little engines that reach speeds of 18 mph on Disney's lakes. Rented on a first-come, first-served basis ($21.59 plus tax per half hour), the Sea Raycers carry two passengers. All the marinas offer them to guests for exploring the waters around the Contemporary Resort, Wilderness Lodge, Fort Wilderness, Yacht and Beach Clubs, Caribbean Beach, Port Orleans, and Coronado Springs.

If paddling canoes is more your speed, go to the Fort Wilderness Bike Barn, Caribbean Beach Marina, or Port Orleans Boat Dock. For $11 an hour, you can meander through the canals. It's a great way to bird-watch.

Ever wanted to catch fish the easy way? Schedule an excursion on Bay Lake from a pontoon boat at the Contemporary Resort Marina. For about $200, you--and up to four others--have two hours on the water, including a knowledgeable guide, gear and bait, and plenty of beverages. Shiners (little silver fish that largemouth bass love) cost extra, but they're worth it.

Wet and Wild: Extreme Watersports
Push yourself a little, and get lots of confidence with these experiences. Brush up on slalom, wakeboard, knee board, or combo skiing techniques--or get a basic lesson--with the folks at Sammy Duvall's Watersports Centre at the Contemporary Resort Marina. For $140 an hour, up to five guests can glide over Bay Lake. The center schedules excursions early in the day to take advantage of the calmest water. The boat, gear, and guide are all included in the price (reservations required).

For an eagle's-eye view of the Magic Kingdom from the Seven Seas Lagoon, try parasailing. Each 10-minute flight costs $85 for one person or $135 for a tandem flight (reservations required).

Imagine learning how to hang ten on perfect 7-foot waves. You can do just that with surfing instruction from champion Craig Carroll. His 2 1/2-hour lessons at Typhoon Lagoon's wave pool cater to a maximum of 12 students at early morning sessions (times and days vary, rates: $135 per person). Craig, along with two other world-class competitors, coaches two students at a time as the waves roll out every three or four minutes. You'll learn whether you ride the waves like a regular surfer (left foot forward) or goofy-footed (right foot forward).

Plunge into one of the world's largest aquariums at Epcot's Living Seas. In the DiveQuest program, for $140, you can scuba dive in the 27-foot-deep, 5.7-million-gallon tank that's home to more than 70 species of sea life. If you're not scuba certified, consider a snorkeling Aqua Tour ($100).