We've done them all, Space Mountain, Aerosmith's Rockin' Roller Coaster, Mission Space, even Expedition Everest. These are without a doubt fabulous rides. But if you're looking for something a bit different, something a bit more breath taking, or something maybe even a bit more personally challenging than being secured into a predictable ride system, Sammy Duvall's watersports center is a must.
Located behind the Contemporary Hotel, this facility is staffed by fun, energetic folks who will go out of their way to give you a "Disney" experience like you've never had. With options from parasailing to jet skis, waterskiing and tubing, this place is a blast! While not actually owned or run by the Disney machine, everyone who works at Sammy's is just as polite, knowledgeable and professional as the cast members you'll encounter in one of the theme parks.
Basically what you have is a water sports banquet and you can pick your activities as you wish. Here are some choices. Parasailing... my wife is deathly afraid of heights and nervous about being tethered from a rope while up in the air (who wouldn't be). She flew at 600 feet and loved every minute of it. You float off the back of the boat and land as gently as you go up. You won't even get your feet wet. We took both still photo cameras and video cameras up to record everything. No worries. Again, the staff explains everything to you ahead of time and they know their stuff. Our recommendation - do it!
Jet skis. We took both the early morning tour and did some free riding as well. Both are awesome. The tour allows you to go from Bay Lake across the water bridge over to the Seven Seas Lagoon. You'll get cool info on Disney as you tour, and excellent photo opportunities that you can't get otherwise. Also, it's really fun to zip by the ferries and wave to the guests as they stare out at you. Just remember, you have to be 16 to operate the jetskis, and yes, they'll check. Have a younger family member? Let them ride as a passenger. If you take the jetskis out for "free riding" the same rule applies. But don't worry; it's still a blast to bomb around for an hour in your private section of Bay Lake if you're up front or on the back. If you can only do one or the other, take the tour. It's a bit more diverse and you still get to go fast across the water.
Water skiing, wake boarding, tubing. Now we're talking intense, high energy fun. My son had never done any of these activities, nor had my wife. I tried to water ski many years ago but failed miserably. At 14 the kid was up for anything and Sammy's crack staff had him up on the water skis on his third attempt. I made it up on my fifth. My wife was also successful. Bottom line - when they say they can teach you to ski, they really can. They also got my son wake boarding, which he loved more than the skiing. As for tubing, well, that is where you totally dictate what kind of experience you want. The boat operators are experts at dragging you on a casual joy ride, or giving you the time of your life where you'll hardly be able to hang on as you catch serious air off of the waves from the boat wake. We would highly encourage families looking for fun "together" activities to go out for an hour or two and have some fun on the water.
If we can share a few tips, here they are. 1.Book a date (or dates) early in your stay. If you get rained out, Sammy's staff will set you up with a new date. You don't want to get all pumped up to parasail on your last day at Disney and then get rained out. Also, book early in the day; it usually doesn't start raining until noon or so. 2.Pay attention to the safety directions. They are few and simple and will make your experience awesome. 3.Take a camera up if you parasail. Use a neck or wrist strap obviously. Sammy's has a photo package that you may want to take advantage of, but they only shoot from the boat. You're going to want pictures from the air too! 4.Don't pick on the counter staff if it rains. They don't control the weather (and no, they don't know how long it will be before it stops raining or when the safety patrol will open the lake either).
Bottom line, go to Sammy's. Stop thinking about it, and do it. You'll have great times no matter which activity you select, and you'll make awesome, unique memories while you're there!!
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