Jul 272009
 

By Erica Colmenares

We recently got a reader question in our Magically Speaking inbox. E.J. from Arizona asked, “Could you share some tips on how to make the best of rainy weather? We’ll be in Disney World in August, and I’ve heard that’s one of the rainiest seasons in Florida.” We started kicking the question around among our staff writers, and wouldn’t you know they had a wealth of suggestions that merited a full article. Thanks to Binnie, Jane, Teresa, and Kara for their great advice — read on for a collection of tips on what to do when it rains at Walt Disney World!

GENERAL TIPS

  • Most people expect it to be sunny and hot in Florida all the time and are really thrown for a loop when it rains — every day in the summer at about 4:00 p.m.! The average rainfall in Kissimmee for June and July is over eight inches, and for August and September it’s over six inches. By comparison, January, February, October, November, and December all hover just above or below two inches. If you’re planning a summer visit, think ahead about where you’ll be each day in the mid-afternoon, keeping that metrological fact in mind.
  • Be prepared. Always carry rain ponchos with you, or be prepared to buy a Disney “souvenir” poncho. Ponchos purchased off-site can be much more durable (or much less durable and also less expensive, if you buy the $1 disposable ones). If you are going during rainy (summer) months, it’s probably worth the investment to get good ponchos, as they’ll get lots of wear and tear, being taken on and off. Bring large plastic ziplock bags to store the ponchos in after the storm passes, so that everything else in your bag or backpack doesn’t get wet.
  • Keeping feet dry (or less wet) can make a big difference in your comfort. Bring “rain-proof” shoes like flip flops or Crocs. Also bring lots of socks, more than you think you’ll need, so that you can change into dry ones when you’re back at the hotel (or even bring a dry pair to change into on-the-go.)
  • At the parks, some attractions may be closed temporarily, but there are plenty of indoor attractions. If you’re a first-time visitor, look at our park-specific information below for lists of good bets for each park. Other guests will have the same idea, but if you have a plan in mind, you’re always a step ahead of many Disney parkgoers.
  • Saving shopping for periods of rain is definitely a good idea. If you are staying on-site at a Disney resort, you can have your purchases sent back to your resort’s gift shop, so that you don’t have to slog around the park with your shopping bags.
  • If you’ll have a stroller, bring a piece of plastic to cover it. Some people buy Disney ponchos just for this purpose, but any piece of plastic will do, given it’s large enough to cover your stroller.
  • Another suggestion is to bring along a jacket even if you don’t think you need one. It really helps when you are cold and wet in air conditioning.
  • Bring a plastic bag for important items in your purse or backpack like a phone or camera. Even under ponchos, if the rain is hard enough, items inside bags can get wet.

PARK-SPECIFIC TIPS

Magic Kingdom

  • The Magic Kingdom has lots of good rainy-weather attractions. Some of the longer-lasting ones are: Tomorrowland Transit Authority, Carousel of Progress, Stitch’s Great Escape, Monster’s Inc. Laugh Factory, it’s a small world, Mickey’s PhilharMagic, The Hall of Presidents, Country Bear Jamboree, and The Enchanted Tiki Room Under New Management.
  • The tricky part, in terms of keeping dry at the Magic Kingdom, will be getting between attractions. You can get up and down Main Street by walking through the stores (they are all connected inside). You can get to Tomorrowland via the Tomorrowland Terrace. If the day isn’t windy, the Walt Disney World Railway can be a good way to get around the Magic Kingdom, as the stations are all covered, and the train is too!
  • The new Wishes dessert package offers a covered place to wait for the nightly fireworks to start. Just keep in mind that to get a good view, once Wishes starts, you will need to move out from under the roofed area.
  • If it’s really pouring when you are leaving the park, use the monorail to one of the monorail resorts, and catch a cab back to your resort. You’ll stay drier, and get out of the wet clothes faster, than waiting in long bus lines. This taxi tip holds true for all the parks — if you’re wet and miserable, a taxi will get you back to your room fast.

Epcot

  • The only attraction at Epcot that closes down with rain (or lightning) is Test Track, so this park is a good choice for a rainy day.
  • Future World is much more rainy-weather friendly than World Showcase. Good rainy-weather attractions include: Spaceship Earth, Ellen’s Energy Universe, Innoventions East and West, and anything in The Land, Imagination! and the Seas with Nemo and Friends pavilions. The Epcot Character Spot is also a nice, dry location. The breezeways on each side of the fountain offer adequate protection, as you move between Innoventions and the Character Spot on the west side, and the Electric Umbrella and the Mouse Gear store on the east.
  • The Behind the Seeds tour at the Land in Epcot is pretty much a walk up and is always interesting. It would be something cool to do and keep you indoors, entertained for a while and dry. The cost is really quite reasonable. Prices and info are here: http://www.themouseforless.com/tripplanning/wdwparks/Tours.shtml.
  • You’ll stay drier traveling between World Showcase and Future World if you use the Odyssey Center pathway (consult your park map). The building has a small overhang and depending on the direction of the rain, the building itself blocks some rain.
  • Each separate land pavilion in the World Showcase has indoor activities and fab shopping, but there definitely is more walking out in the elements in that half of Epcot.
  • The lobby of American Adventure at Epcot is a great place to get out of the rain in the Showcase portion and just hang out and be entertained by the Voices of Liberty. The American Adventure show is long and the seats are dry and comfy.
  • Only do the Kim Possible missions in World Showcase on a rainy day if you have no alternative. Many of the clues require you to go out into the rain, so it might be better to hold off for a dry spell.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

The Studios can be tricky in the rain. Many of the attractions offer lengthy respite from a storm, but the difficulty is moving between the attractions. Here’s where a good poncho and appropriate food-wear come in handy.

  • The two attractions at the Studios that aren’t good on a rainy day are Lights, Motors, Action! (many of the seats aren’t under cover) and Fantasmic! (which will be canceled if conditions are dangerous for the cast members, plus there’s nothing worse than sitting on a wet metal seat).
  • Another Fantasmic! issue is that you might be admitted to the Fantasmic! theater only to sit in the rain for 45 minutes before Disney decided to cancel the show. The metal benches get wet and have no drainage and even with a poncho on, water will run along the benches and soak your bottom.

Animal Kingdom

  • We suggest avoiding the Animal Kingdom if there’s morning and afternoon rain in the forecast. Walks to indoor attractions are much longer and the walkway flooding can be the worst of the four parks. Also, the walk to the buses is a long one in the rain, especially to the second bus shelter. If you go, remember the ponchos and good foot wear.
  • The list of indoor attractions is short but sweet: Festival of the Lion King, It’s Tough to Be a Bug, DINOSAUR, and Finding Nemo. If the wind isn’t bad and the Kilimanjaro Safari is running, you might get a unique look at the animals, as they enjoy the rain. The Conservation Station, and the train to it, are covered options, but there’s quite a hike between the train stop and the Station, so this is an iffy choice.
  • If it is just raining lightly, not a torrential Florida rain, there will be lots of animals roaming on the Kilimanjaro Safari. So don’t be put off by a bit of cloudiness for this ride.

Downtown Disney

  • If you have the Water Park Fun & More option on your park tickets, use this if the forecast calls for day-long rain to go to Disney Quest. Add a meal across the street at House of Blues and a movie and you’ve spent very little time in the rain and made a day of it. Just know that DisneyQuest does tend to be more crowded than usual during inclement weather — get there right when it opens, at 11:30 a.m., and you’ll have a nice hour or two without too much in the way of lines.

Disney Resorts

  • How do you keep from going stir crazy if you’re spending more time than you planned at your resort, due to the weather? Well, any of the resorts have an arcade, so that’s always a possibility. There are planned activities at all of the Deluxe resorts (open to anyone, so you can drop in even if you aren’t a guest at that specific resort). Many resorts have Hidden Mickey scavenger hunts (ask at the Concierge desk.)
  • Many Disney Vacation Club villas have dryers in the units, but all Disney resorts have laundry facilities which can be used just to dry things out. If you are spending time in your resort room, it’s nicer not to have clothes draped over all the furniture, drying out.

PhotoPass

  • More and more Disney visitors are taking advantage of PhotoPass, but you might find Disney photographers few and far between if there’s rain. Keep your eyes open, though, for the distinctive PhotoPass Cast Member costume, as they are in indoor spots. The Character Connection in Epcot is all nicely indoors and the photographers there will give you lots of PhotoPass shots. And there are sometimes PhotoPass photographers in the resorts.
  • If you pre-purchased a PhotoPass CD but find you don’t get enough photos for it to be worth the money spent, know that if for any reason you are not satisfied with the photos and decide that you no longer want to order your Disney’s PhotoCD, you can receive a full refund. Just notify Disney within two weeks of your vacation. (If you’ve gotten a special promotion code for the Disney PhotoCD, a refund will not be granted.)

FINAL THOUGHTS

During the recent very rainy weeks at Disney recently, we’ve overheard many families saying they were going to cut their vacation short because of the weather. We all hope for sunny, pleasant weather, but if you also plan for the wet, you can have a wonderful vacation, whatever the climate throws at you. When it’s nasty out, Disney Cast Members will go out of their way to be cheerful, helpful and friendly. And remember, the best result of heavy rain is that many guests leave the parks! If you’re prepared, and willing to get a little wet, you might just find yourself saying “Rain, Rain, come again!”

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