(The OG and Junior Addict enjoying Main Street on a rainy day!)
Disney World is one of the most magical places in the world and our family’s favorite place to vacation. With 4 of the best theme parks anywhere, a great shopping and dining district, amazing resorts, and so much more, it’s easy to enjoy everything WDW has to offer. Many people (whether it’s a one time visit or their regular annual trip) spend months or even years, planning for a perfect trip. You book your favorite hotel, make reservations at your preferred dining locations (make sure you do it as soon as your booking day opens 60 days out), make park reservations, and start pre-planning your days. If you’re anything like Krystle, you even create a color coordinated spreadsheet breaking down your days by the half hour!
While the debate rages between if having a Disney trip so planned out is better or not than doing everything on the spur of the moment, one thing at this point is for sure, you HAVE to plan if you hope to ensure you get to do everything you want to. However, even with all that planning, there is one thing you simply can’t plan for…the weather. Central Florida can range from surprisingly cold temps (the 2.5 weeks known as Florida Winter) to the sweltering surface of the sun that is August in Disney. While temperature can usually be planned for to some extent, it’s the rain that can catch even the best planners off guard and force you to quickly switch plans.
Now to be fair, Disney World, and Florida in general, is well known for their (like clockwork) summer, afternoon thunderstorms that roll in quickly and are usually gone in about an hour or two. These storms, while they can be heavy and force you to seek shelter in a nearby store or covered area, are simply part of being in Disney World and not really what we’re talking about when we say a “rainy day” at Disney. Honestly, we actually like these storms. They help cool down the temps a little in the middle of the afternoon, allow us to basically “force” some down time, either strolling shops, catching a longer indoor attraction (I’m looking at you Carousel of Progress) or even provide a chance to head back to the hotel for a quick nap, which is especially useful if you’re visiting with littles.
However, what we’re talking about are those truly rainy days. The ones that don’t let up and will have you questioning if you should even go to the parks. Our quick answer to that question is, GO! We have been to WDW well over 20 times and these days are few and far between for the times of year we usually go, so don’t be discouraged, you have a really good chance of not having rain ruin your visit. But if you do happen to have a rainy day in your forecast it is a good idea to have a plan of attack to make the best out of it.
The first bit of advice we want to offer is the most straightforward. Don’t let the weather ruin your day. While it might not be optimal to be walking around a theme park while it’s downpouring, it can offer you the chance to experience the parks in an entirely different way. I can tell you that some of our favorite memories of visiting WDW happened while we were completely soaked! If you decide to enjoy the day and make the best of it, you will.
(Lincoln making the best of the lighter crowds on a rainy night)
That being said, what can you do to prepare yourself to help you have the best possible rainy day experience? Well to start, be prepared. We ALWAYS (not just when rain is in the forecast) bring ponchos with us. The ones that Disney sells are nice as they are a little thicker than those cheap, thin camping ones many people get and can be reused for multiple trips (just be sure to dry them out properly before storing), however, they can be pricey (our last trip they cost between $12-15 for a kids and adult sizes). We also like these ponchos because they unsnap on the sides and can become a long sheet - perfect to use as a stroller cover if you didn’t bring one with you. The other thing we’d say to make sure you have if you do have a lot of rain in the forecast is a pair of flip flops and if possible a change of clothes. As soon as it starts to rain we immediately take our sneakers off and store them in favor of the quick drying flip flops and on especially rainy days it’s always nice to be able to throw on a dry shirt or pair of shorts if you’re about to grab a bite to eat at a sit-down restaurant. We usually store all this in my “dad-the-pack-mule” backpack. Finally, we’ve also started bringing umbrellas with us when rain is predicted throughout the day. Ponchos are great, but being able to keep some of that water off your head and feel a little bit drier has been an added plus for us and worth the little extra space an umbrella or two might take up. They’re also great for when you want to stand outside and enjoy the Rainy Day Cavalcade!
(photo cred to allearsnet. --> check out the homepage of the site for our own quick video of the cavalcade!)
Other than having the right supplies with you to help you deal with the rainy weather, it’s also a great idea to be aware of the indoor options available to you in each park. Now if you're a Disney veteran (like we know most of you are) you probably have a vivid map of each park in your mind and can quickly decide what line to hop on to try and escape the rain. However, this might be more difficult for a first-time visitor or someone who has maybe only been a few times. Of all the parks, we think MK is the best for a rainy day simply because there are so many indoor attractions. While the outdoor rollercoaster “might” be down for rain, almost everything else is a go in the park which is great because you’ll really only be dealing with the rain as you move from one building to the next. However, this usually means that this is the park that is most crowded on a rainy day as well so be prepared for longer waits. We will say though that if you’re not afraid to get wet and the coasters are going…GO FOR IT! They are so much fun and because of the rain might even have a little bit of a shorter wait than usual!
Now each park definitely has something to do in the rain. Most have multiple indoor attractions (but unlike MK they tend to be a little more spaced out so that walk in the rain is definitely a bit longer) and shopping options. If we had to choose one park we might want to avoid in the rain, it would most likely be Animal Kingdom. For us, a must do is the safari and unfortunately on really rainy days it most likely won’t be running and if it is, you won’t see as much animal activity as they too are trying to get out of the rain. However, we’ve done rainy days in each park and again, it all depends on how you look at it. Tromping through flooded walkways in Animal Kingdom was a great time. Even being stuck huddled in our ponchos, under a shared umbrella, beneath a tree, trying to stay as dry as possible in one of the worst downpours we’ve ever seen as we were walking back from Pandora made for an extremely memorable experience that we still laugh about today!
(escaping the rain on one of our favorite attractions...CoP!)
If you do find yourself getting a rainy day during your visit, another one of our favorite things to do is catch the shows in the parks that many times visitors skip in favor of making it on as many rides as possible. This can also include some of the longer indoor “ride-shows” like the CoP which I called out earlier, but Disney puts on some AWESOME stage shows as well. If you’re in AK, catch the Festival of the Lion King or the new show based on Finding Nemo/Dory that is projected to be coming soon. In Hollywood Studios you’ll find indoor shows based on The Little Mermaid and Frozen, the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular, and even a Disney Jr. if you have littles. While EPCOT has a number of longer indoor attractions (e.g. Living with the Land), they don’t really have many actual stage shows (especially indoor ones), but they do have a few “attraction shows” in some of the World Showcase pavilions as China, Canada, France, and America, all offer some sort of country based offering.
(Is there a better way to wait for the rain to pass then with some Disney snacks?)
Finally, another PERFECTLY acceptable way to spend a rainy day is exploring your resort if you're staying on property (or even if you aren’t). Disney resorts are some of the best themed resorts in the world and offer so many activities to fill a rainy day. From video-game filled arcades in all hotels to special cultural programs at Animal Kingdom Lodge, it won’t be hard to find something to do. You can even “resort hop” to check out some of the other hotels around property to see what they have to offer! Be sure to check with your hotel prior to going to see what they have planned during your visit just to have a “plan B” ready to go if needed.
(If you happen to be a DVC member - or with one - a great place to pass some time when it's raining out is stopping by the DVC lounge above Figment in EPCOT!)
If you are trying to “plan” around rain the best info we can provide is easily accessible from various weather sites. On average, the months you are most likely to encounter rain at Disney World are June - Sept. Again, this is very often those 1-2 hour T-storms in the afternoon, but they are technically the wettest times of year to visit. These are also the times you’re most likely to be met with the true “rainy day,” but you can honestly find yourself stuck in the rain almost any time of year…you just never know. So again, just have fun and remember, “a rainy day at Disney World, is still better than a sunny day anywhere else!”
As always, thanks for reading along and See Ya Real Soon!