Riding atop the Walt Disney World waves…Sort of!
On any given day, many of WDW’s lakes, lagoons and connecting waterways become the play area of the Sea Raycers, miniature powerboats designed with fun in mind.
Chances are you’ll have seen one or two buzzing around the Seven Seas Lagoon as you cross the water en-route to the Magic Kingdom, or noticed them bobbing about in the quay-side at your Disney resort.
Regardless of whether you are familiar with them or not, the following should give you a little bit of detail on where to find them, what a typical rental involves and one or two tips to consider before making waves.
Sea Raycers first appeared at Walt Disney World in the early part of 2004, replacing the similar Water-mice/Mouseboats at its existing resort marinas. Each boat contains a small 9.9 h.p. engine and can reach speeds of around 22mph which might not sound a lot, but will seem quicker when you’re out on the water.
Currently, Sea Raycers can be found at the following locations: -
- Disney’s Beach Club Resort
- Disney’s Caribbean Resort
- Disney’s Contemporary Resort/Bay Lake Tower
- Disney’s Port Orleans (Riverside) Resort
- Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
- Disneys Polynesian Resort
- Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
- Disney’s Yacht Club Resort
- Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground
- Disney’s Old Key West Resort
- Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort
- Downtown Disney Marketplace – Capt Jack’s Marina
Now, it should be noted at this point that only guests aged 12 years and above are allowed to drive the boats, and that those between the ages of 12-17 must have a parent or guardian sign a release form before being permitted to ride.
In addition, anyone over the age of 18 must provide some form of valid ID with visible birth date.
Their is also a maximum combined rider weight limit of 320lbs per boat, and minimum height requirement of 5ft for drivers 12-17, although how strictly the latter is enforced is up for debate.
As far as I know, there is no minimum age limit for children under 12 to ride as a passenger with a responsible adult.
Having decided where those in your party fit into the above, we can then proceed to the part which requires the parting of cash. Rental prices are dictated by how long you want to spend on the water, starting at $32 + tax per half hour, $40 + tax per 3/4 hour, $45 + tax per hour.
Ok, so we’re done with the formalities and paperwork and are all set to go. What happens next?
First off, you will be asked to put on a lifejacket, then given a quick brief on the no-go areas in whichever area you are renting. Using the Polynesian as an example, the only areas out of bounds are the other resort marinas, boat docks, areas of low tide and a section of Bay Lake used for watersports. You will also be instructed of the ‘no-wake’ zones, which are up to the far end of the resort marina area from which you exit and the bridge section that connects the Seven Seas Lagoon to Bay Lake. When in those areas you are expected to drop to very low speed until clear.
Keeping a safe distance from any other boat, especially the ferries crossing over Seven Seas is also expected for obvious reasons. Disney has Water Patrol boats scattered around all of its waterways and anyone seen flouting the rules will be asked to return their craft without refund.
Besides being on the lookout for misbehavers, the Water patrol are there to assist should you encounter difficulties with your Sea Raycer.
If you stall or lose significant power, dont panic! Simply raise your arms and wave and one of the patrol boats will pull up to help you out. This has happened to me before and they got me going again pretty sharp-ish.
If the problem can’t be resolved quickly, you may be asked to return to your home dock (if possible) or towed back and transferred into another boat.
If wondering how difficult it is to control a Sea Raycer is something that worries you, it honestly couldn’t be simpler. All you have is a throttle which you use to speed up/slow down, and a steering wheel to turn your boat left or right. Even complete novices will pick it up within minutes.
When your time is up (you may be given a return time before leaving, but its best to work out when you should head back prior to boarding) then its just a case of finding your way back to the resort dock from which you left and disembarking. If you stay longer than your allotted time, knowingly or otherwise, you will be asked to pay the excess. Being the odd minute late wont be a problem of course, only signigficant increments. (ie. 15 mins +)
As can happen in Florida, especially during the summer months, afternoon thunderstorms can disrupt your fun. Disney are very good at tracking storm movement and should you be out on the water when a storm threatens or lightning is in the vicinity, a patroller will ask you to return to dock until it passes. Depending how long into your rental you are, you will likely be offered a pass to return at a later time or be refunded for the lost time.
Check out our map of the Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake boating areas.
Here are a few tips to consider should you decide to go for it :-
1. Its advisable to apply sunblock before heading out on the water, especially for longer rentals. Dont let overcast skies deter you, the sun is still up there and it’ll get ya! Waterproof is best as you are likely to encounter spray-back when riding at speed.
2. Check the forecast for the day to determine the best time to go or avoid any rain showers. Or if it’s something you’ll do on spec, dark clouds up above mean there is the potential for your fun to be cut short.
3. The Magic Kingdom area is best for getting the most from the experience, being the largest area to cut loose and explore. You can also get a close-up look at the now defunct Discovery Island and River Country.
4. Bring along a camera for some unique photo opportunities. You can get some great shots of the resorts and theme parks from various points on the lagoon/waterways. A throw-away/waterproof would be a better option than any pricier alternative, just in case.
5. Riding earlier in the day will give you the best chace of getting a faster boat. Some will be faster than others but one theory is that the more frequent a boat’s been used that day, the more flooded the engine may be thus resulting in a loss of power. So it can be hit or miss later in the daytime.
6. Similar to tip 5, the less weight in your boat the quicker you’ll move, so going solo is your best bet. Some report that leaning forward slightly can generate a bit more oomph but the Sea Raycers are limited so its debatable whether doing so makes too much difference. Worth a try though!
7. Don’t take risks, as THIS story for a few months back will atest. Some of the waterways can get quite narrow, but plenty wide enough to navigate safely. Staying out of the path of larger vessels is just common sense.
8. A great way to fill an hour or so on those quieter days between park visits. Many guests retreat back to their resort in an afternoon so this could be a fun alternative to the siesta or dip in the pool.