Anyone who has traveled to central Florida in summer knows that the area is notorious for its nearly daily rain showers. If you are planning a visit to the Disney World theme parks during the rainy season, touring the parks in the rain is unavoidable. However, do not let the rain interfere with enjoying your Disney World vacation. As long as we are not talking about a hurricane, a rainy day at Disney World is quite manageable.
About the Rain in the Disney World Area
Florida’s storms usually pass in a relatively short period of time but they do tend to be fairly heavy downpours. If you are not prepared, things can get miserable pretty quickly. Being prepared with the proper clothing and a plan for rainy day park touring is essential. Also, thunderstorms can be very intense so safety first!
A great resource for weather history data is wunderground.com. Use their Trip Planner to see historical weather data back to 1995 for any date range in the year. As an example of how consistently rainy it can be, for the first two weeks of July, there is only one year since 1995 with five consecutive days without rain.
If your budget allows, or you already own one, I highly recommend a good quality, light weight, packable rain coat. Make sure you go for water proof, not just water resistant and look for arm pit zipper vents. Mine can pack down small enough to fit in to a lens compartment in my camera bag.
If a new rain coat is not in the budget or if, like us, you can’t see buying your kids expensive rain gear that you know they will outgrow next year, you can go with cheap plastic ponchos available in dollar stores. New, they take up about the same space as a wallet but don’t ever expect to get them back in their original bag. You could even buy one per person for each day of your trip and just toss them after each rainy day. If you don’t use them all up on your trip, well, save them for a rainy day. Inexpensive Disney Logo ponchos also magically appear on the counters of every Disney gift shop as soon as the rain starts, just ask if you don’t see them. The problem with ponchos is that they whip in the wind, get caught on things and are not very durable. They also tend to be “one-size-fits-all”, and may take some alterations to work for a smaller child. Wearing a hat or visor over the hood may look silly but it helps keep the poncho hood in place.
If umbrellas are your thing, you may bring them in to the parks. I find them bulky to carry in my bag, difficult to deal with when moving in and out of shelter or in crowds, difficult for kids to handle, and the Florida winds may not be kind to them.
Protecting everything you carry with you is important too. Look for backpacks and camera bags with built in rain covers.
Embracing the Rain
For our family, unless its really coming down in buckets, there is a severe thunderstorm, or a hurricane is sitting over us, as long as its warm enough we just go to the parks and tour Disney World in the rain like its a clear day. We do our best to keep dry by wearing decent rain gear or ponchos and we wear light, quick drying clothing because we know that getting wet is inevitable but the storms usually pass in less than an hour. When they do, we are right in the heart of a park ready to take advantage of lighter crowds and possible short lines as closed attractions open back up.
Avoiding the Rain
When you plan your trip, plan activities for rainy days. Disney Quest at Downtown Disney naturally comes to mind, but can be very crowded on rainy days so I actually recommend avoiding it in this case. I heard that Disney Quest actually closed due to capacity during a recent rain storm . If you are at Downtown Disney when the rain starts you may consider it, but I do not recommend making a special trip to Disney Quest because it is forecast to rain all day.
On the other hand, people may avoid the parks when it is raining, or leave when the rain arrives. In this case, avoid the rain and take advantage of the light crowds to see some of the indoor attractions or to do some leisurely shopping. When the rain stops you may find yourself in a nearly deserted park. Update: In recent years I seem to be noticing that the rain does not always reduce the crowds in the parks and shops are sometimes very crowded with people escaping the rain.
Disney World in the Rain: Quick Tips for each park
- Epcot has many indoor attractions in both Future World and World Showcase. If you find yourself in World Showcase when the skies open up, there are many indoor movies, shows, and exhibits. In Future World there are plenty of places to keep dry at Innoventions, The Land, and The Seas. Ellen’s energy Adventure is a long indoor attraction that will pass a lot of time on a rainy day but if you are already soaked, the chilly air conditioning in the building may be a bit much. Note that Test Track is one of the first attractions to shut down due to rain but pay attention to when it comes back on line to take advantage of short waits. Use the electronic signs in Future World or consider the My Disney Experience App to watch for ride info updates.
- Animal Kingdom has good tree cover to protect you from the rain. It’s a Bug’s Life, Lion King, and Finding Nemo are all great indoor shows and the Harambe Reserve of Kilimanjaro Safari’s can be a whole different experience with the effect the rain has on the behavior of the animals. Expedition Everest may shut down due to the weather.
- Magic Kingdom has many indoor attractions such as Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor and Pirates of the Caribbean. The shops and attractions here tend to be closer to each other as well. Even though it is not an outdoor attraction, Space Mountain always seems to be one of the first attractions to shut down during a thunderstorm.
- Hollywood Studios is a smaller park that you can get quickly from attraction to attraction and nearly all of them are indoors. Note that Fantasmic! may be canceled due to weather and you will be asked to leave the Honey I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure if thunderstorms are threatening. Also, Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular may be modified or cut short due to the weather.
- If thunderstorms are threatening, both of Disney’s water parks will remain open but visitors will be kept out of the water until the threat has passed. If you are waiting in line for an attraction when a thunderstorm is apporaching, you will be asked to exit to ground level. If it is pouring rain but thunderstorms are not a concern, the water parks operate normally.
Recovering from a soaking
Rain gear may still not keep everyone comfortably dry. Be prepared for soaked shoes and socks by packing spares. Pack a few gallon size zip lock bags to store those wet socks or ponchos that may be used again later. Consider renting a locker to store extra clothing. I always wear my water sandals to the parks in the summer months. My feet won’t stay dry in heavy rains but they dry quickly when the weather clears up. I recommend something that protects your toes and has a good sole for walking all day. Another great accessory would be a small (approx. 12in. x 16in.) synthetic chamois towel such as the Speedo Sports Towel in Blue or in Pink. They pack down small enough to fit in a zip-lock sandwich bag, soak up lots of water and wring out almost completely dry.
Don’t Let the Rain Keep you in your resort!
There are plenty of ways to either avoid the rain or make enduring the rain more comfortable when visiting Disney World. Even if you are traveling during the rainy season, don’t be discouraged, you can still have the time of your life on a rainy day at Disney World!