Sammy Duvall’s Watersports Centre

Sammy Duvall’s Watersports Centre is located at the Contemporary Resort Marina. This is the spot at Walt Disney World where you can arrange to waterski, parasail, wakeboard, and a number of other activities.

Recently, Deb Wills, Deb Koma, and I were invited to experience Sammy Duvall’s Watersports Centre first hand, as their guests. We arranged to meet Dave Santini (Public Relations Manager) at the dock at 7:45am at which time I would try parasailing and waterskiing. Afterwards, we would experience the “Personal Watercraft Tour”, offered once a day in the morning. After introductions were made, we boarded the Gotta Fly. This boat is used for their parasailing adventures.

Gotta Fly

As the Gotta Fly headed out to the middle of Bay Lake, I was helped into my harness and life preserver. I was also given a rundown on how the entire adventure would unfold.

Jack getting ready for flight

Within a couple of minutes, the boat was in position and I was ready to go. I stepped onto a platform located at the back of the boat, the parasail was attached to my harness, and I took flight.

Leaving the Boat

Jack Parasailing

Jack Parasailing

Jack Parasailing

Jack Parasailing

I have to be honest, I’m afraid to fly. I know for certain when I board an airplane that this is the time we’re going to crash and burn. The only reason I’m willing to fly is because it’s the only way I can visit the other Disney parks around the world. My love of Disney trumps my fear of flying. However, I had absolutely no fear of parasailing with Sammy Duvall. I admit, I hung on tightly for the first few minutes, but in very short order, I relaxed and enjoyed the view. And what a view”¦ If you’re going to take this adventure, I would suggest familiarizing yourself with the Disney World property before you go so you’ll know where to look to see the various landmarks.

To the east you’ll find the hotels that line International Drive. To the south you can see Spaceship Earth at Epcot and the Swan & Dolphin. And if the weather is decent and you have a good eye, you can see Expedition Everest to the southwest. But the best views are of the Magic Kingdom, Bay Lake Tower, and the Contemporary Resort.

Magic Kingdom

Bay Lake Tower


My flight took me up about 600 feet. My flying time was ten to twelve minutes. Just so you know, I was taken closer to the Contemporary and Bay Lake Tower than the average guest would experience. Since we were being given a private tour early in the morning, the Sammy Duvall people were able to traverse a larger portion of Bay Lake than they can during normal operating hours.


Landing on the boat is as easy as taking off. They just reel you in and you “walk” onto the platform (with the help of a deck hand). You never get wet. In fact, there is no need to change into your bathing suit to take part in this activity. Shorts work just fine.

Returning to the Boat

This is a magnificent experience. I know many of you have “done it all” at Disney World, but unless you’ve parasailed, you haven’t. If you like “Soarin” at Epcot, you’ll love parasailing over Bay Lake. Do it!

To see a video of my experience, click on the picture below. Please note, it was raining slightly the morning I flew. I had to wipe the raindrops off of my lens several times while in flight. Also, I was using a wide-angle lens (0.45xxx) on my video camera. This gives me a much larger picture than can be obtained with the standard lens that came with the camera.

After my flight, we returned to the dock and changed watercraft. We boarded one of the ski boats and took off for a “Personal Watercraft Tour” of Bay Lake and Seven Seas Lagoon. Pictured below is our guide, Dave Santini.


Along the way, Dave filled us in on all sorts of Disney trivia associated with the various sights. We first sailed by the island formally known as Discovery Island. Here, we all shared rumors we’ve heard about its possible future uses. Next we traveled by the Fort Wilderness Dock, River Country, and the Wilderness Lodge.

Discovery Island

Fort Wilderness Shoreline

River Country

Wilderness Lodge

From the Wilderness Lodge we crossed the water bridge to the Seven Seas Lagoon. Here we sailed by the Magic Kingdom, the Grand Floridian, and the Polynesian before returning to the Contemporary dock.

Ferry Boat

Magic Kingdom

Deb Koma and Deb Wills

Grand Floridian


To see a video of our tour, click on the picture below.

I have to tell you, one of my favorite activities at Walt Disney World is sailing the waterways that traverse the property. Many times I have rented a pontoon boat or water sprite for an afternoon on the water. But this was the first time I’d ever gone out on Bay Lake in an honest-to-goodness speed boat – and it was a great experience. Besides having someone else do all the work, we got to go FAST. For a good portion of the trip, I sat at the bow of the boat and could feel the wind and water hitting my face. It was refreshing and FUN! In addition, Dave Santini knows a lot of Disney trivia and shares it freely. After the tour, we headed back to Bay Lake and an area set aside for waterskiing.

As a teenager, I waterskied a few times. I was never very good, but I could get up on two skis. I also skied once at Walt Disney World about fifteen years ago. So I decided to give it a try with Sammy Duvall.

Sorry, but I won’t be showing you the video of my waterskiing adventure. Let’s just say that after several attempts, this old body wasn’t going to make it out of the water. But I will show you a picture of me skiing on Bay Lake taken fifteen years ago. LOL

Jack Waterskiing

As I was spitting out mouthfuls of water after my several failed attempts to ski, I remember the rumor that Disney does not allow guests to swim in their lakes and streams because there is a dangerous microbe living in the water. I asked Dave about this and he laughed. He told me that shallow lakes that reach a temperature of 80 degrees and above can contain this microbe, but Bay Lake is very deep. In addition, Disney monitors their waterways on a regular basis to ensure that everything is safe. Dave also told me that he swims in Bay Lake five days a week, January through December, and except for a few body twitches he’s developed over the past five years (smirk, smirk), he’s fine. LOL

Parasailing may be booked as a single (one guest) or tandem (two guests flying together) adventure.

Standard Single – $95 (8-10 minutes at 450 feet)
Deluxe Single – $130 (10-12 minutes at 600 feet)

Standard Double – $170 (8-10 minutes at 450 feet)
Deluxe Double – $195 (10-12 minutes at 600 feet)

Ski Boat sessions are reserved by the hour. Each hour includes up to five guests in the party, boat, driver/instructor, and all equipment. Guests have the option to combo waterski, slalom ski, wakeboard, kneeboard, and tube ride throughout the hour. The cost is $165 per hour.

Personal watercraft tours are available each day at 9am. Guests are guided around Disney’s Bay Lake and Seven Seas Lagoon, pausing along the way to view points of interests. At the conclusion of the tour, guests may “free ride” under the supervision of the guides in a buoyed off area. And if you just want to “free ride” (with supervision) for the entire hour, that’s available too. The price is $135 per watercraft. Each watercraft can hold up to three people (400 pounds total). Operators must be at least 16 years old with a Photo ID.

Personal Watercraft

For more information, visit or call 407-939-0754.

You’ve all ridden the Haunted Mansion, Test Track, and Tower of Terror a dozen times. Next time you’re at Walt Disney World, try something new. You’ll be glad you did.

Disclosure: Sammy Duvall’s Watersports Center is a paid advertiser on the Allears website and the entire experience in my blog was provided to AllEars at no cost. Did this affect my review? No. Everything about this organization is professional. I was impressed with the friendliness and efficiency of everyone I met on the Sammy Duvall team. Even though they don’t work directly for Disney, they maintain the Disney spirit and enthusiasm. For example, when I was making a fool of myself attempting to waterski, Dave treated me with respect and understanding. You couldn’t ask for a greater bunch of people.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

32 Replies to “Sammy Duvall’s Watersports Centre”

  1. Great Article As Usual! We were in WDW 3 weeks ago. We brought our Teenage grandsons as a treat while their Mom serves in Afghanistan. The people associated with Sammy Duval’s were wonderful! We had parasailed with Duval’s in the past, and chose not to this time due to the cost (a little out of our price range this time, we chose to spend our money on the boys) However, they graciously let me take up a space on the boat to take pictures to send to their Mom….It was great fun for the boys and just amazing that she could see them shortly thereafter, all the while being half way around the world. Another great Disney experience for all of us and a great story for them to retell!

  2. Thanks for your blog, Jack. I did waterskiing at Bay Lake with Dave as my boat captain twice in April 2011.

    Dave was just as you described him — professional, kind, and understanding. It was an awesome experience! I would recommend Sammy Duval’s to anyone in a heartbeat.

  3. Welcome back Jack!

    The view from up there was breath-taking!

    Thank you for another fabulous blog.

    Heather 🙂

  4. hey jack
    good to hear from you again. parasailing is something that i have always wanted to try and it looks like you ha a lot of fun. also loved the video. it made me feel like i was right there. can’t wait to see your next blog and as always keep up the great work.

  5. Jack,

    It’s so nice to see you back. Just thought I would check in to see.

    I’m very encouraged to hear that you didn’t experience fear in this experience, since you are afraid of flying. I’m not afraid of flying, but didn’t know what to expect from parasailing, being so high up and just looking down through your feet! I can’t afford it right now anyway, but I’ve wanted to give it a try since seeing it on The Travel Channel program Undiscovered Walt Disney World.

    It’s also nice to know that you can wrangle cameras from up there, as I would really like to take photos if I should ever experience this.


  6. Jack,
    I just now saw your newest blog posting. I haven’t parasailed since I was a teenager. The video you took while up in the air was relaxing along with the relaxing music. I certainly do look forward to your occasional postings now. Thanks!

  7. Thanks Jack! You made my morning. I have always wanted to parasail, especially at WDW. I was worried it might be too cold when we go this December. Maybe I can convince my husband to do it!

    Jack’s Comment:

    Since you don’t get wet, it doesn’t matter if it’s too cold. Wear long pants and a jacket.

  8. Thanks for sharing your expierence Jack! Back in Jan of 1998 I decided that my trip to Disney would include waterskiing on Bay Lake. It is one of my favorite things to do, and obviously cannot be done during winter in Michigan. My husband and I headed out on a cloudy & cool morning, with my wetsuit in tow, to the docks. Back then the cost was $82 for the hour ride (I still have the receipt) and it was one of the best memories I have of that trip. The only thing that could have made the expierence better would have been if Goofy were skiing right there beside me! But the pictures my husband took of me behind the boat with Space Mountain in the background are priceless! Participating in one of the many activites that are offered outside the theme parks really does add to and enhance the magic of a Disney vacation.

  9. Yay – Jack is back. We can only hope it is permanent.

    Parasailing always looks cool – but its never more fun looking than when on Bay Lake at Walt DisneyWorld!

    Great Video.

    Don’t stay away too long.


  10. Thanks, Jack!

    That looks like so much fun. I will have to give it a try on my next trip. If I can convince my family that is, but if I show them your blog they just might be brave enough to try it.

    I misread your comment above about the minimum weight being 130 lbs and age being 6 years. I thought what 6 year old weighs 130 lbs? And then I read that is for a double and it all made sense. lol

  11. Hi Jack,

    It’s wonderful to see a blog again.

    We tried to do this in February and it was too windy the day that it was warm enough – they weren’t taking anyone up. My nephew and husband were really disappointed. Next time we’ll do it for sure! All wasn’t lost because we decided to go to Fort Wilderness and they all did the Wilderness Segway tour instead which they loved.

    Don’t stay away too long!


  12. I had a go at the Parasailing a few years ago at the Contemporary Resort and LOVED it! It was so peaceful up there and the views were amazing. It’s not cheap, but if you can afford to treat yourself, I highly recommend it. It was an experience I won’t forget in a long time.

  13. Thanks for your blog Jack. I’ve also always wanted to parasail at Disney. It’s on my list of things to eventually do so definitely enjoyed all the information about it.

    Great pic of old River Country. To answer a previous comment, I definitely remember swimming at River Country which was part of the lake back in 1983. I also remember the the scare and talk about dangerous microbes in the waterways back then but we survived. I wonder though if all the talk and risks surrounding it led to River Country’s demise.

  14. The sweet beauty of a new Jack Spence blog! You’ve been greatly missed.

    I managed to talk my husband out of this experience last October. After reading this blog, maybe we’ll both partake in Sept 2012.


  16. See, look at all the comments you have accumulated….sure a small sample size of the many that miss your blogs.

    I am really considering doing this in August when I am in the World. My 3 year old would love this as well, do you know if there is any age or height requirements when doing a double?

    Thanks Jack!!

    Jack’s Answer:

    There is a minimum weight requirement of 130 pounds and a maximum of 350. Guests must be at least 6 years old to fly.

  17. Hi Jack

    Great to hear from you again. I tried parasailing in Bermuda years ago. It was fun but not much to look at.

    I always knew that they were lying about the lake! I’m guessing they don’t want folks swimming because then they’d have to have life guards and/or be worried about guests’ lawsuits if something were to happen. Such a shame. I’m almost sure that, back in 1981 (we honeymooned for part of our trip at WDW), we were able to swim in the lake at the Polynesian. Anyone know if they used to allow swimming?

    Thanks again!

    Jack’s Comment:

    I’m sure it’s the lack of life guards that concerns Disney — not a microbe.

    I also remember being able to swim in the water in the earlier years.

  18. Glad to see you back Jack! I love the info on all the water options around Bay Lake! I think I’m going to have to try parasailing on an upcoming trip!

  19. Welcome back Jack!! Great to see you back with a new blog. I’ve been meaning to ask this earlier but what kind of video camera do you use for your blogs? The footage is fantastic! Hope all is well.


    Jack’s Answer:

    I use a Sony High Definition camera. The model is now out-of-date, but it was a high-end camera.

  20. Hi Jack! Welcome back (for the moment). I thoroughly enjoyed your blog. Taking advantage of anything that involves the vast lakes in Disney is right up my alley. However, parasailing in Disney is one thing I haven’t done, but my family sure loves all the water crafts. I highly recommend taking a nightly fireworks cruise out of one of the resorts on the Seven Seas Lagoon if you’ve never done it. It surely is magical, and makes me teary every time. Parasailing is on my list though… 🙂

  21. Hi Jack,
    It’s great to see your blog and again see those fantastic photos ! WOW!!! It does look so peaceful but I’m still a coward and wouldn’t try this no matter what. My son will though when he visits in September.

    On our first visit to WDW we went over to Discovery Island and enjoyed the birds and
    turtles and cast members gave liitle lectures about some of the birds.

    Take care and looking forward to another blog
    in the near future.

  22. So glad to have you back!!

    We did a private boat tour to watch the fireworks at Magic Kingdom a few visits ago, and it was incredible. While the cost does not allow us to do it on every visit, I would highly recomment any and all water activities. We also got to tour the area, and it was really cool to see!!

  23. Yeah!!

    So anywho after I have contained my excitement, I’m glad you enjoyed the parasailing. When my mom and I did it back in December in 2008, it was winding that day and was a tad scary up there, we came down early 🙁

  24. Great review I have never thought of doing this till now. This is why we miss your blogs because you point out the sometimes missed Magic of Disney.

  25. It was great to see this “little” gem exposed! I tried tandem parasailing last fall with my son and it was the highlight of our trip. I’m terrified of heights (I have issues going up a step ladder) but I had no problem parasailing. It’s so peaceful up there and what a view! (You really start to envy birds!) I look forward to doing it again someday…

  26. Jack,

    Glad to have you back for one brief shining moment! Sounds like you all had a great time. Thanks for another great blog.
    So what were the ladies doing while you were having all this fun???

  27. Quite the nice write up Jack, enjoyed the pictures and seeing areas I saw when we did a cruise of the lakes several years ago.

    I always wondered about Para-sailing and you make it seem so simple…might have to do it one of these times I visit. 🙂

    Thanks for the article!