Outdoor Orlando: The Thrills of Parasailing Above Walt Disney World
When you're ready to indulge in water sports and recreation in Orlando, you are in luck. Here, you'll find everything under the sun.
At Sammy Duvall's Watersports Centre, located at Disney’s Contemporary Resort at Walt Disney World Resort, you're invited to choose from wakeboarding, wake skating, skiing, tubing, parasailing and jet skiing. One water excursion I still had not checked off of my list, until recently, was parasailing.
"We are the only parasail operation in Central Florida," says Dave Santini, manager at Sammy Duvall's Watersports Centre. "Most operations are along the lakes or ocean. It makes us kind of unique because instead of being out for two hours, you are just out for a half hour on the lake. This means, you are less likely to get seasick, if that's something you suffer from on the ocean."
Here's how it works: You hop in a boat, learn the safety procedures, get geared up with a harness and life jacket, and then, you are lifted into the air. Before you know it, you're 400 feet up, higher than Epcot's Spaceship Earth. It basically feels like you are sitting on a swing, and it is a surprisingly smooth and gentle ride. Along the way, you'll spot many of the Disney resorts, Cinderella Castle, ICON Orlando and Universal Orlando Resort.
As if that wasn't cool enough, we went jet skiing, too. The high-speed jet ski tour takes you to the front gates of the Magic Kingdom and on a nostalgic look into Walt Disney World's past, including the former Discovery Island, the old River Country and the wave machine in front of the Grand Floridian where they used to do longboard contests.
Never fear: It doesn't matter if you're a newbie, because this is the perfect place to learn. After all, Sammy Duvall is a former world champion. He's got four world titles, 80 professional wins, was the first guy to jump over 200 feet, and is in the International Hall of Fame and the USA Hall of Fame. Likewise, his staff members are trained to make you comfortable and encourage you.
"From never-ever to aspiring world champions, this is the place for all water sports," says Santini. "We are one of the top secrets at Disney. We are located at Disney's Contemporary Marina, but most people find us because you can see the marina from the monorail."
Here are our tips if you decide to experience this thrill for yourself:
What to Wear
You take off from the back of the boat and land there, too. That means, you can wear most anything. Loose fitting, comfy clothing, however, works best. Sunglasses come in handy, too. Also, wear shoes, since you will need to walk down the dock to get to the boat.
Most Anyone Can Do It
The parasail boat takes up to six guests and riders can come for no charge. You need to be 6 years old to fly. Your weight, or your combined weight with someone else, needs to add up to 130 pounds and be less than 330 pounds.
Your best bet is to make a reservation, especially in the summertime. They do allow walk-in appointments, though, based on availability. Plan to go early in your vacation, and it's smart to go early in the morning when the wind and lake conditions are best.
Sarah Sekula is a national travel correspondent who lives in Orlando and regularly contributes to USA TODAY, CNN.com, NBCnews.com, FOXnews.com, ISLANDS, Scuba Diving and Destination Weddings & Honeymoons.
Stay Connected to Orlando!
Never miss a second of what happens in Orlando! Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for the latest offers, exclusive tips and live feeds from our newest attractions and fun events, and subscribe to our eNewsletter for more information from Orlando: Theme Park Capital of the World®.