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Boating at Walt Disney World: See WDW through the Sea Raycers experience

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I recently took to Walt Disney World Resort waters as a pilot. Not as a ferryboat pilot but behind the wheel of a Sea Raycer, one of the motorized boats available to rent at several resort locations. Departing from Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club Resorts Marina, the boating adventure took me on a half-hour tour of the Epcot Resort and Disney’s Hollywood Studios area.

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Sea Raycers are small Sea Rays and two-seater, self-driven boats. In appearance and operation, they hold the kind of “vroom vroom” appeal of a Tomorrowland Speedway experience…but on water. The small boats are easy to operate, which enables guest to focus on both the fun of piloting and seeing Disney sights. The latter features up-close-and-personal views of the water and new angles from which to see other parts of WDW.

The Sea Raycers adventure was part of a Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation (RBFF) media trip to learn about the Take Me Fishing co-branded experiences at Walt Disney World Resort (WDW). The goal for the Take Me Fishing campaign? To help families connect with the outdoors and each other through fishing and boating, both considered “gateway” experiences to the wider world of outdoor activities.

Seeing the (Walt Disney) ‘World’ from the seat of a Sea Raycer

Before taking their Sea Raycers out for a spin, guests are given a short lecture on operations and safety. It includes directions on how to pilot the boat, the rules of the waterway, and where to tour. For the Yacht and Beach Club Resorts Marina, guests may travel Crescent Lake around the resorts and BoardWalk area and over to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Guests are not permitted to pilot the Sea Raycers into Epcot.

Shortly after learning how to operate a Sea Raycer, I was on the water with the rest of the Take Me Fishing media group, soaking up the sun, sights and experience. Even on a hot sunny day, piloting Sea Racyer proved to be a cool experience attributable to more than the breeze.

A Sea Raycer offers the mild-to-moderate thrill of piloting your own boat, speedy enough to feel zippy without being too fast. There was also a pleasant sense of near-solitude on the water, even when near other boats. Perhaps it was my imagination, but there also was a sense of community in sharing the waters with other boaters and in waving to guests traveling by WDW water transportation. These elements are part of boating’s appeal to me, something I’d experienced while canoeing but didn’t necessarily think I’d feel the first time piloting a motorized boat.

The Disney fan in me also recognizes part of the cool factor of boating came from the “choose your own adventure” feel of exploring WDW waters. The Sea Raycers took me into new territory even as I stayed on property. Familiar WDW sights seemed almost unfamiliar. Seeing parts of WDW for the first time, while doing new things for the first time made for a fun combination.

WDW and Take Me Fishing guides guests to fun, safe boating

Contributing to making Sea Raycers experience enjoyable is how Disney helps guests safely explore new waters – pun fully intended. These two-person boats, and their management, served as a beginner- and family-friendly introduction to boating.

Prior to piloting a Sea Raycer at Walt Disney World Resort, my experience with motorized boating had been limited to knowing all the words to the “Gilligan’s Island” theme song. I found the Sea Raycer simple to operate, maybe even simpler than steering a canoe. I quickly got the hang of how to steer and change speed and when to use reverse or put the boat into neutral – the latter so I could take those all-important tourist photos.

Disney has policies and procedures in place to make the experience both enjoyable and safe. Sea Raycers can be driven by guests 12 years and older who are five foot or taller. The boats will take a maximum combined passenger weight of 320 pounds and a maximum of two guests regardless of combined weight. All boaters must wear a provided life jacket, with the marinas offering a selection of sizes.

Sea Raycer pilots must sign a release form or, for guests ages 12-17, have a parent or guardian do so. Guests who are 16 years or older with a driver’s license can pilot a Sea Raycer alone, while guests ages 12-15 need to be accompanied by another guest who holds a driver’s license. All drivers 18 years and older must provide a valid ID with birth date.

Disney Cast members are out on the water to ensure a pleasant experience, helping guests and to making sure rules are followed. Cast members are also present to help guide guests dock their boats and disembark safely.

The Sea Raycers introduced me to motorized boating and boating safety through the carrot of a hands-on experience. With its controlled environment, WDW made it easy to relax and focus on the fun, hooking me like a fish. After a quick tour, I was plotting how to add boating time to future trips, Disney and beyond. And for just such adventures, it’s good to know RBFF offers boating education on its Take Me Fishing site.

Renting a Sea Raycer boat at Walt Disney World Resort

Current prices for renting Sea Raycers at WDW are $35 per half hour and $48 per hour. In addition to Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club Resorts, Sea Raycers may be rented from several locations: Disney’s BoardWalk, Contemporary Resort, Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground, Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, Polynesian Resort and Wilderness Lodge. Walt Disney World rents a variety of motorized and non-motorized boats to guests at various locations.

For me, the half-hour Sea Rayers experience went by quickly, almost too quickly. It was enough for an introduction to the Epcot Resort area, but for a leisurely tour of those waterways or the Magic Kingdom area I’d be tempted to rent a Sea Raycer for a longer period of time. In addition to half-hour periods, WDW offers 45-minute and hour-long rentals. That time period would offer more time to enjoy and explore at a leisurely pace. The break in price, which is far less than double for double the time, is an added incentive.

WDW’s marina hours can vary but are generally 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., but may vary. (It was 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. for my experience). Reservations for the Sea Raycers are not always necessary, depending on time of year, but may be made by calling Walt Disney World at 407-WDW-PLAY.

DISCLOSURE: As part of the Take Me Fishing media trip, Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation provided transportation, accommodations, meals and excursions. I was not required to write this article and all opinions are my own.

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