Making the Most out of a Rainy Day at Walt Disney World
Just How Much Rain Are We Talking About?
During the winter months it is uncommon to see very much rainfall while at Walt Disney World. However, during the summer months, when the parks are at there busiest, it rains nearly every afternoon. Its almost like clockwork. In fact the joke is that you can set your watch to the 3pm thunder storms. And, just like many other places in the world, there are even whole days where it rains nonstop. So, what exactly is there to do during those periods of rain? How are you supposed to keep your kids entertained without spending too much time at your hotel room? Do you really need to buy an over priced Mickey poncho?
Afternoon Rainfall at the Parks
So, you and your family are walking down Main Street USA on a lovely afternoon in June when suddenly the sky turns dark and out of nowhere it starts pouring. What are you going to do? Have no fear, your day is not ruined! During the summer it rains nearly everyday in the afternoon, like clockwork. You have several options here:
- Go back to your hotel and pop in a movie until the rain stops
- Grab a set of ponchos and keep on trekking
- Take shelter in the shops
- Get yourselves to an indoor attraction (each park has them)
If you have younger children the first may be your best option. As any parent can tell you it is not fun having to tote around a toddler that is upset because their feet are wet. This afternoon shower could also be the perfect excuse to get your child to take a nap before hitting up the parks again for the evening.
If you and your traveling companions are not afraid of getting a little wet why not grab a set of ponchos and keep on with your day? Very few attractions get shut down in light rainfall. It is important to note that if there is lightning all outdoor rides will be shut down and will remain closed until the storms have passed. The ponchos won't do anything to keep your feet dry, but they will prevent you from the uncomfortable sensation of wet clothes for the rest of the day. It is not uncommon to see people head to the lockers, or even their backpacks, to grab a pair of flip flops.
Taking shelter in gift shops is one of the most popular ways to ride out a rainstorm. It keeps you dry and gives you a chance to slow down the pace of the day. However, that being said since so many people opt to do this shops fill up quickly. In the heat of summer being around more people than necessary is the last thing most children want to do. Think about it, do you want to be stuck in a room with a bunch of sweaty and cranky people for a half hour? I thought not. Though sometimes it is impossible to avoid taking shelter during particularly bad storms. The one big downside is that it may encourage you to shop, and boy does Disney make that easy since they will ship everything back to your resort for free, which can be a problem is you are on a tight budget.
Indoor attractions that had been empty earlier in the day suddenly become more popular when it rains. This is because most rides and attractions are air conditioned, and unlike shops they don't have doors that are going to be opening and closing so often that the air inside is just as humid as it is outside. Another nice thing about the these attractions is that they typically take a half hour or so to sit through. This usually is enough time for an afternoon shower to clear up. Though there are some days where you'll spend much of the afternoon dodging storms and taking shelter in attractions you might not have had on your must do list.
At Which Park Would You Rather Spend A Rainy Day?
Which Park Has The Best Activities For Rainy Days?
There are four theme parks and two water parks currently on the Walt Disney World property. So, which of them is best for spending a rainy day? By logic we can eliminate the water parks first. At the first sight of lightning they are shut down until thirty minutes after the storm has passed. Speaking from experience there are not a whole lot of shops to hang around in and a whole lot of people trying to avoid leaving the park.
Each of the four theme parks have a fair selection of indoor rides and shows as well as restaurants. Out of them Animal Kingdom is the largest and, while it does have a large amount of trees, has the least of amount of shelter from the rain. The vast majority of the rides and activities are outside and have long walks between them.
The Magic Kingdom has nearly all of its rides inside. But, the lines for nearly all of those rides are outside at some point. This means you will have to stand out in the rain just to take shelter inside on a five minute ride, though you will most likely stand in line inside for about 30-40 minutes before that ride. Main Street USA offers strips of connecting shops on either side. These shops have items that you can only get at the Magic Kingdom and rain storms often provide guests with the opportunity to give these stores a good look. However, you and a few hundred of your closest friends have this same thought. Toss in some strollers and angry children and you have a good time right there. I like to spend time in Tomorrow Land when it rains. The Carousel of Progress is a long show/ride and the storm may be over by the time I'm heading back outside. If its not, I head over to Space Mountain where the queue line was recently redone and has a lot of interactive games. Its also a plus that nearly the entire line is always inside. If its still raining by the time I'm out of Space Mountain it might be worth it to consider calling it a day at the parks (especially since the line for Space Mountain is notorious for being over an hour long).
EPCOT (the experimental prototype community of tomorrow) is larger than the Magic Kingdom and boasts a large number indoor pavilions. Each pavilion, the Land and the Seas, has a main attraction ride, Soarin' and Finding Nemo respectively, and when guests take shelter from the rain they often take a look at what else these places have to offer. There is also Innovations. These two buildings are like a giant playground for the young and old alike. Not to mention it is always interesting to see what technologies have been predicted for the future. Of course, my personal favorite is going through the shops in the different countries. Yes, you will have to spend some time out in the rain. But, seeing the culture associated with other nations, in my opinion, makes it worth it. That and it gives you an excuses to play the countries game. Desserts around the world or drinking around the world for the adults. (Please note that it is not advised to complete the drinking game in one day let alone one rainstorm.)
Disney Studios is the smallest of the Disney parks. It also has more indoor attractions and shows, when compared to the size of the other parks that is. Because the park itself is so small you will not have long walks between each attraction. Disney Studios also has some of the best shopping of all the Disney parks. If you have young children the Playhouse Disney section is a great option. One of the best things about Disney Studios is that nearly everything is indoors. Currently, Disney Studios is expanding and there will soon be much more for guests to explore, even in the rain.
Outside of the Parks What Else is There?
So the weather forecast is calling for rain all day and you have decided to not go to the parks for the day. What exactly is there for you to do? That is an easy one:
- Downtown Disney (renamed Disney Springs in 2017)
- Explore the Hotel
- Hotel Hop
Downtown Disney, which is soon getting a facelift, has a wide range of things to appeal to every age group. There is an AMC theatre that shows all of the latest movies, even the non-Disney ones. This is not your average run of the mill movie theatre it also serves real meals. There is also the world's largest Disney store. This store is broken up into several connecting stores that are themed: boys, girls, house items, mens, women's, and so on. Be forewarned it is almost impossible to not get lost in this store so make sure to keep a close eye on all children. What is now called Disney Springs is continually evolving. There are so many shops, many are even under cover, and different bars and restaurants. There really is something for everyone.
Each Disney resort has activities. Most often these activities go unused because people either don't know about them or are too busy at the parks. Arcades can be found at most of the resorts. Nearly all resorts now offer DVD rental programs, which are free for DVC members. And of course each room is cable equipped and comes with all the Disney Channels.
Resort hopping is becoming more popular amongst Disney guests. It is a free activity and allows for a change of scenery while providing a slower paced day. As long as you are willing to wait for a bus you can go to any Disney resort you want to. Riding the monorail loop and stopping at each of the resorts along the way is a nice way to spend a morning. Its interesting to see how you can travel less than five minutes and see Polynesian, Victorian, and contemporary themed hotels. Even the food matches the hotel. And lets be honest, what kid doesn't love a ride on the monorail? The Contemporary is a fantastic hotel to spend a rainy day, there are sitting areas on several floors (and the chairs and couches are actually comfortable), on the main floor (the one with the gift shops and Chef Mickey) you can watch the storm pass through giant floor to ceiling windows. And of course little kids love watching the different color monorails come through the resort.
My Flip Flop Recommendation
My Go To
When there is a chance of rain on one of my park days, or if I'm visiting in the summer, I always make sure I have a few necessities in my park bag before I leave for the day: a gallon size ziplock bag, a Disney poncho, and flip flops. The ziplock bag is for me to put my phone and wallet in, and usually my boyfriend's too since I'm typically the one with the bag. I've been using the same Disney ponchos for nearly 12 years. I know people complain about their price, but I've gotten a lot of use out of them so I think they are well worth it. I like to keep comfortable flip flops that are good with water. I do NOT mean those cheap $3 Old Navy flip flops! Those will give your feet blisters with all the walking you'll do, and that can make the rest of the trip super painful and just no fun. When the rain starts I pop my phone and wallet in the ziplock bag, slip on the flip slops, tie my sneakers to my back pack, and throw on the poncho. In under 2 minutes I'm ready to continue my day. A little rain doesn't scare me. After all, I'd take a rainy day at Walt Disney World over a rainy day at home any day.
I also always keep an eye on the weather. If I'm waiting in line for a ride or sitting with a snack I always take a moment to check the radar. Storms tend to pop up quick in the summer months and I like to be prepared. On our most recent trip we knew a storm was coming around park close time, 7pm. We sat down for dinner at 6 and I checked the radar as we were finishing, and it did not look good. We decided to change our plans and get the heck out of dodge. We had just enough time to walk from Pandora, take a selfie in front of the Tree of Life in our ponchos before the rain started, and we got to the bus before the real storm started. We watched so many people put on their ponchos in the rain, which kind of defeats the purpose, or just take off their shoes and run to the buses. A moment of preparation could have saved them an uncomfortably wet and cold bus ride back to their resort. Also, the entire day had a 60% chance of thunderstorms and this was the second storm of the day. No reason to not have a poncho in the park bag. The poncho weighs next to nothing and can fold up so it takes up very little space in the bag. It never hurts to be prepared.