Our last visit to Walt Disney World was wonderful, as it always is, except for…..
On the drive down to our favorite vacation spot, my husband and I chuckled when I read aloud an unhappy poster’s comments on a Disney message board. “We have a 90% chance of rain each day of our upcoming visit. Will Disney refund our tickets if we cancel because of the bad weather?”
“It’s Florida,” my husband sighed. “In the summer. Of course it’s going to rain during your vacation. And then the sun comes out 20 minutes later. Buck up, Buttercup!”
Were we in for a surprise.
It rained for seven days out of our eight day visit. I’m not talking sprinkles or the expected 20 minute afternoon Florida rain shower. I’m talking, water up to your ankles, rides closed, parades cancelled, torrential down pours. For seven. Days. And yes, only one day of sunshine. One.
It wasn’t ideal.
Since Disney World opened in 1971, I’ve visited more times that I can count. I’ve never experienced weather like that before. We kept thinking, surely it’ll clear up soon. But each day, rain, rain and more rain. I tried every trick and tip I knew to make the most of our trip. I ran out of tricks by the third day. Time to buck up, Buttercup and make the best of the situation. I threw out the old playbook and created a new plan of attack, And boy, did I learn. More rain shower Disney tricks than I ever thought I’d need. And I’m here to share them with you….
Will Disney refund my trip if there are heavy down pours? Yes and No. No, to the regular and typical Florida rain showers and thunderstorms. Even a particularly bad one. But………..Yes, there is a hurricane policy in place should your trip be impacted by a hurricane heading for Florida and the Orlando area. (Update: For those of you that may be impacted by Hurricane Irma, please check with Disney or your Disney Travel Agent or click here for FAQs)
Will the rides still be operating? Yes. Unless the weather is so severe that the Cast Members deem it too dangerous to operate. Always check if you’re unsure. At Animal Kingdom it was pouring. My kids, ever the adventurers, wanted to ride Expedition Everest. I told them, No. It’s probably closed. As we were walking out of the park my kids heard the screams. “It’s running,” they cried and pivoted in the opposite direction. With a five minute wait (which means, basically, no wait) we found, to my great surprise, that in the pouring rain, Expedition Everest was indeed running. I stand corrected.
When It Pours The Park Clears. From my old playbook, I know that when it rains, guests tend to take cover or (hopefully) leave the park to rest back at their resort. We stay and enjoy shorter queues. We enjoy covered attractions during the bulk of the precipitation and then race around taking advantage of the 5 minute waits for the outdoor rides. This tip is an oldie but goodie for most rain shower situations.
Except When The Park Doesn’t Empty When It Pours. For the first time ever, we experienced heavy crowds even when it was pouring. We determined, if rain is in the forecast for the majority of the day guests will NOT stay back at their resort. They will tough it out with the rest of us. This is when it gets tricky, Queues are especially long for every covered or indoor attraction, restaurants are busting at the seams and getting around is uncomfortable.
- This is the time to pick long shows or ones you’re willing to experience for nostalgia’s sake (think Carousel of Progress.) Best bets are: Magic Kingdom: Hall of Presidents, Country Bear Jamboree, The Enchanted Tiki Room, Epcot: Soarin’, American Adventure, movies around World Showcase (France, Canada, China), Hollywood Studios: Beauty and the Beast – Live On Stage, Voyage of the Little Mermaid, Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, Animal Kingdom: Finding Nemo – The Musical and Festival of the Lion King.
- Put the umbrella away and pull out the ponchos. Umbrellas are cumbersome and could poke someone’s eye out. Plus, you’ll move faster through a crowd if you’re not negotiating air space around everyone else’s umbrella.
- Have an extra pair (or two or three) of shoes available. If the weather is soggy for the duration of your trip, shoes won’t dry as quickly in the Florida humidity. Be prepared!
If You’ve Had Enough Of Slogging Through The Parks Head To One Of The Water Parks. As long as there isn’t lightening, the water parks will be open, too. You’re going to get wet anyway and it’s here that we find the crowds REALLY disappear when it rains. Go figure! Blizzard Beach has thrilling water slides and Typhoon Lagoon has an amazing wave pool. Take your pick!
And About The Recovery Time. Back at the room you’re going to need a few extra tips for that all important recovery time.
- Have plenty of moleskin and/or band aids. Slip sliding in the parks all day in wet shoes is a surefire way to encourage a blister or two. Powder is useless at this time. Toss some Neosporin and some band aids in your pack if there is rain in the forecast.
- Shoes, especially teenage shoes, are SMELLY when wet. Luckily, our room had a closet with a real door that shut. But the smell still would seep through. A few Bounce dryer sheets tucked into each shoe helped considerably.
- In the Florida humidity, shoes will not dry out on your balcony. Bring extra pairs!
In the end, you’re at Walt Disney World. It’s still going to be a magical time. But with a few rainy day tricks up your sleeve, your vacation is sure to be a memorable one!