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Vintage Walt Disney World: This Typhoon Sweeps Guests Off Their Feet

Nate Rasmussen

by , Librarian, Walt Disney Archives

A must-do on any Walt Disney World Resort summer vacation is hitting a Disney water park. One of those parks that helps guests beat that summer heat is Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon, which opened 22 years ago this week.

Mt. Mayday Comes to Life on May 12, 1988, at Disney's Typhoon Lagoon

In the photograph above, we can begin to see Mt. Mayday come to life. This photograph from May 12, 1988, lets us in on a little-known fact: Before the Miss Tilly rested 95 ft in the air atop Mt. Mayday, an American flag stood in her place. You can even see the storm slides taking shape on the right side of the mountain. Plus, if you look off in the distance, you get a great shot of Future World in Epcot, 1988 style.

Disney's Typhoon Lagoon Construction Progress in March 1989

Ten months later in March 1989, Typhoon Lagoon was beginning to resemble more of the water park as we know it today. Miss Tilly had arrived from Safen Sound, Fla., and one of my favorite attractions, Castaway Creek, was starting to take shape.

109,000-square-foot Surf Pool at Disney's Typhoon Lagoon

At the center of Typhoon Lagoon is the 109,000-square-foot surf pool where perfect six-foot waves cool guests off daily. Believe it or not, the surf pool holds nearly 3 million gallons of water – which may explain why I never did find my glasses after I lost them playing in the waves two years ago!


  • I believe you’re talking about River Country.

  • What was the name of the water park before this one? We visited with my family in 1981 and I can not remember the name of it? I do know it was a blast as everything Disney is!

  • I miss Tilly’s plume of water shooting up like clockwork.

  • awesome memories i remember riding the gigantic wave when i was 12 all the way to shore….. one time there was a very large man standing in front of me as i rode the wave all greased up and i went off has back and flying. dale i miss horizons also…. i also cant believe the adventurers club is gone… disney if your reading bring it back even if you put it in a park like the revue was in…

  • Been to Disney several times going to visit Typhoon Lagoon for the first time in Sept.

  • I am a past disney cast member and worked at typhoon lagoon from august to october 2007…such a fun place to work…seeing the old pictures is really neat

  • As a former cast member who worked at Typhoon Lagoon during my time with the College Program, these pictures bring back all kinds of fun memories. Thanks for posting them!

  • I really love all of the vintage photos that have been showing up in these blogs lately. They really bring me back to my childhood! Thank you so much for sharing them and keep them coming !

    • To everyone who has enjoyed the vintage photos, thanks. I’m glad you’re enjoying them. I enjoy finding new ones to share with all of you, too.

  • Dale from MD, I couldn’t agree with you more… great memories!!

  • Typhoon Lagoon is the most beautiful water park I have ever visited. The wave pool is also second to none. Love it!

    I hope you keep posting vintage pictures like these, they are wonderful.

  • I’m curious how the boat itself was added to the top of the mountain. Was the boat built at ground level and then hoisted to its final position, or was it constructed as part of the mountain itself?

    • It was hoisted up there…by a typhoon. 🙂

  • I’m dying for go visiting to Disney World! I just have waiting two years! Only for the pictures I like it and I can’t imagine me in that place.. it so nice Disney! I love Disney<3

  • I agree with Dale – he beat me to it – sob… Horizons.

  • Awesome photos! I love seeing stuff like this, so very cool. Typhoon Lagoon is a great place to cool off!

    Have a great day,
    Steamboat Eddie

  • oh, how I miss Horizons in the distance there . . .

    • I knew it wouldn’t take long for someone to notice…

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