Island H2O Live: All You Need to Know About the New Margaritaville Water Park!
Summer hasn’t looked exactly how I envisioned it. We had planned long before COVID on making a trip to Florida to see family but we thought for sure we would fly. And while we still could have flown, it just didn’t feel like the right thing yet, so we took on the great road trip of 2020. And now I’m so glad we did! Because instead of just a week visiting family, it turned into an east coast adventure.
One of our stops along the way was Orlando and with our Disney trip only 3 months from now, this visit didn’t include any Disney park days. But that just meant we got to explore other attractions we would normally look past, either because we’re out of money or out of time. But this time around we got to explore the many options available and I can safely say that we have found an Orlando attraction that would be worth setting aside a day of your Florida vacation for: Island H2O Live!
Our family was provided free entry to Island H2O Live, however all opinions you find here are always my own.
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What is Island H2O Live?
Island H2O Live! is the new Margaritaville water park located only about a mile from Disney World with a fun emphasis on technology and social media. The rides have names like “The Downloader” and “Hashtag Heights,” and guests are each given a wristband that can be scanned at each ride to rack up points. My kids had so much fun hunting for checkpoints and checking on their point totals throughout the day. Once you have enough points you can turn them in for free snacks and souvenirs. And you all know how I feel about free stuff. (I love it, in case that’s not clear yet).
The bands also allow you to choose a streaming playlist that will play as you ride on certain rides throughout the park. You can control it all from the H2O Live! app but there are several technology stations where you can access the same features if you aren’t carrying your phone with you.
What about the rides??
I thought for sure that we would spend 2-3 hours here and be ready to head home. I was so wrong! The park feels like the perfect size for a full day of entertainment for the whole family. Rides are ranked by thrill level on their website from Mild to Max. Our 6 year old felt most comfortable sticking to Mild thrill level attractions but did impress us by riding down Reply Racers (a 6 lane racer slide with a Moderate Thrill Level) on his belly! I was so proud of him!
My 8 and 10 year old were more adventurous and rode rides in all levels. But even while they were busy on those rides, my husband and I were still able to take turns having fun with our little guy at Pelican’s Paradise (a pretty epic kids’s splash zone) or Chat Creek (the lazy river). Not that our whole family didn’t enjoy these areas as well!
What Kind of Safety Precautions are they Taking in Light of Covid?
Island H2O Live! is limiting capacity to 50% for the time being. If you arrive later in the day you may not be guaranteed entry so it’s best to get there early. Sidenote: I would also recommend arriving early because of Florida weather too. Storms tend to roll in around mid afternoon so there’s always a chance your day could get cut short thanks to an afternoon thunderstorm.
Before entering the park all guests are asked a series of questions about their health over the last 72 hours. All employees are required to wear masks. And while masks are encouraged for guests when not on the rides (you CANNOT wear masks on rides) they are not required.
One of the first things we noticed was how they were handling tubes and life vests. Our first slide of the day was a downhill race called “Reply Racers” on which they are currently only using every other slide to allow for social distancing. As soon as you pass your mat to the park employees they are sprayed with sanitizer for the safety of the next guest. We also noticed that life vests were being submerged in a tub of sanitizing solution near the wave pool after each guest.
As an added safety measure you will find blue dots along the entry path to each slide indicating the appropriate space to keep between you and the guests around you. This one is of course only effective if guests follow the rules but people seemed to be doing a decent job of keeping their distance.
Chairs and Tables
When you’re ready for lunch you’ll want to look for tables with a green plaque that says “CLEAN.” When you’re all finished just flip the card over to indicate to the employees that your table needs to be disinfected for the next hungry guests. We saw someone busy cleaning tables the entire time we were eating lunch so I was happy to see that the system seems to be working!
Lounge chairs are available throughout the park in groupings that are 6 ft apart with signage helping to explain the process and that they would appreciate guests choosing one chair to use for the entirety of your visit. If a chair back is folded down that means it’s sanitized and ready for use!
Things to Know Before You Go
Tickets for Island H2O Live!
A one day pass for Island H2O Live will cost $49.99 per adult and $42.99 for both children under 48″ and Seniors 62 and over. However, if you plan ahead and buy your tickets online you can save $5 on each ticket. Or if you’re a local and you think you’ll visit more than once, a season pass is a smart option and is currently selling for $89.99.
What to Bring
Well, a bathing suit obviously. But may I suggest to my fellow moms that you wear something you feel confident enough in to squirm rather awkwardly out of inner tubes and to chase small children? A swim skirt or shorts would be perfect. I bought these shorts specifically for this day to pair with a tankini top I already owned, and I’m SO glad I did. They had just enough coverage to take my mind off the fact that I was in a bathing suit in front of hundreds of people. Worth every penny.
But other things to think about are towels which ARE NOT provided and flip flops or maybe even water shoes. We wore flip flops from ride to ride and placed them in the shoe cubbies available at ride entrances. The pavement can get hot so I was glad to have them with me.
I did wish a few times that I had a thin pair of water shoes for walking through the lazy river (there are no tubes for now because of COVID) and while in the wave pool. The floor of the pool is a little rough on your feet so something like these water shoes on Amazon would have been perfect.
One other thing that would have been nice to have is a waterproof case for my phone. I wanted to take pictures throughout the day but I kept worrying that I would accidentally drop my phone. I saw a few people with a case like this with a lanyard around their necks that would have been perfect.
And don’t forget a water bottle! There are drink stations throughout the park where you can fill up with free ice and water. We were able to ask for a free cup for water at the food stands but it was nice to have a bigger container to fill up.
Lockers are available to hold anything you don’t want to cart around with you all day. We kept a small bag with a change of clothes and our wallets in a small locker and there was plenty of room. If you want to store your towels as well you’ll probably need a Large locker (we used ours to claim our chairs for the day).
The H2O Live! App
Before you arrive it would helpful to have the H2O Live! app installed on your phone. The app helps you to take advantage of all of the unique aspects of the park. It’s free to use, it allows you to see wait times, find family and friends, and earn points for riding attractions.
You can find more instructions on how to use the app on the Island H2O Live! website.
Other Helpful Tips
Outside food and drinks are not allowed in the park, but we found the food prices to be reasonable and pretty darn tasty. If you like nachos you need to try the Big Tex Nachos at Apps & Eats. You can thank me later.
There are also Cabanas available to rent that looked pretty sweet. There are 3 different options available and all include a mini-fridge with 4 bottles of water, a safe, charging station, a table, chairs, and chaise loungers. And team members will even deliver your food right to your cabana. Rental prices start at $119 on weekdays and $149 on weekends.
And that’s it! We had a blast at Island H2O Live! and can’t wait to come back. I lost track of how many times I heard my boys say, “This is so fun!”
So if you’re headed to the Orlando area anytime soon it is definitely worth your time. Let me know if you have any other questions! I’d be happy to answer them in the comments or by email (firstname.lastname@example.org).