“Did you ever see such rain, Pooh?”
Every time I walk past the Splash Mountain signs featuring Brer Rabbit that warn, “You May Get Wet,” I wonder if Disney should post one at the entrance of each park. According to usclimatedata.com, Orlando, Florida averages more than 50 inches of rainfall per year. Most of it seems to come in the form of afternoon storms that usually roll in around 3:00 p.m. You don’t need a meteorologist to tell you that if you’re taking a Walt Disney World vacation, you should plan to get rained on! Head ConciEAR Mike Renfrow mentioned recently that the forecast was particularly showery for one client’s upcoming trip so we thought it might be helpful to share some tips for “doing Disney” in the rain.
1. Bring your own rain gear and don’t get “soaked.”
Like so many tips for enjoying your Walt Disney World vacation, this one falls in the “Be Prepared” category. On any given day during a rainstorm, you will see hundreds of guests clad in clear, WDW-branded ponchos. When it comes to souvenirs, this is one you do not want: they sell for about $10 and might as well have, “Rain in Central Florida? Who knew?” stamped on the back. With a little planning and a trip to Dollar Tree, you can have your poncho and eat a (Butterfinger cup) cake, too. Our family has had the same set of cheap, $1 ponchos in our Disney bag for years. As long as you dry them out at the end of the day once you get back to your resort, you can use them again and again and avoid wasting your money on a $10 trash bag. I sometimes wear a rain jacket instead, which works fine except that in heavy rain I end up drenched from the waist down.
2. Leave your umbrella at home.
Unlike selfie sticks, Disney still allows guests to bring umbrellas into the parks. (If you’re curious about items that are not allowed, the list is here.) Frankly, I do not understand why. Imagine yourself in Animal Kingdom, for example, slogging your way past the Finding Nemo: The Musical theater elbow-to-elbow with a few hundred of your closest friends. All of a sudden, the afternoon thunderstorms begin and all around you
guests whip out their auto-opening umbrellas, sending small metal points springing upward within inches of everyone else’s faces. To quote Dr. Seeker from Dinosaur, “What could go wrong?” Take care to protect your own eyes if you’re caught in the middle of an umbrella brigade at Disney, and save yourself the headache of accidentally poking someone else in the face by opting for a poncho instead.
3. Wear shoes that can dry quickly.
No matter how quickly you don your Dollar Tree poncho as the rains come down, chances are your shoes are going to end up very wet. I always feel for guests who are wearing all-leather athletic shoes or something similar after an afternoon downpour because you know those shoes are going to be extra heavy and soaked (not to mention smelly) well into the following day. This is a recipe for aching feet and blisters, both of which can make it hard to get the most out of your trip. It’s better to stick with a pair of light mesh running shoes that will dry out more quickly. Lots of people recommend sandals. To me, they don't provide enough support for the number of miles I walk in the parks, but to each his/her own. If you’ve planned ahead to alternate shoes on each day of your trip—which you should—by the time you’re ready to wear your running shoes again they should be fully dried out and ready to go.
4. Stake out some dry ground in the park you’re visiting.
In most cases, we keep moving during the rain and try to stick with our plans. Sometimes, however, due to lightning or a full-fledged downpour you have to find some shelter. The best place to do that, of course, varies from park to park but it pays to do a little homework and have a general idea of where to go before the mad rush begins. Larger shops and restaurants are your best bet, since you and yours obviously won’t be the only ones trying to get out of the rain.
5. Know which attractions are “weather-permitting.”
While many attractions stay open during downpours, others like Test Track in Epcot go offline until the storms pass (or even in light rain if there is lightning or the threat of it). Kenny the Pirate has a good article here on attractions that normally stay open regardless of the weather. If you have a FastPass for an attraction that closes due to the weather, you are normally allowed to return once it reopens. Be prepared for a crowd, though, since there will likely be many more guests showing after their originally-slated time. Be on the lookout for an email or My Disney Experience notification giving you the option to use that FastPass for other attractions instead.
With a little preparation, the almost inevitable rain doesn’t have to put a damper on your Disney vacation. Do you have any strategies for making the most of a rainy day (or afternoon) in the parks? Please share in the Comment section below.