We recently took a family vacation to Disney World in Orlando, Florida. It was awesome and we had a blast despite a few setbacks. Little did we know that was going to be hit with a tropical storm that started the first day we were in the park and would last throughout most of our vacation. Many people worry that their hard earned $$ will be wasted if they encounter rain during their Disney vacation but I am here to tell you not to fear. There are ways for you and your family to enjoy yourselves, even if the weather will not cooperate. In fact, sometimes you can even use the rain to your advantage if you do a little planning to help yourselves be comfortable in rain or shine. Now, I want to say that I am no expert and this is by no means meant to be the be all and end all of Disney World Vacation tip posts. I’m just going to list a few things we did in order to make our vacation more enjoyable
Here we are, waiting in line for Disney theme parks and if you are unprepared as we were that first day, you are bound to get wet., about a half hour before the skies opened up and we got totally dumped on. It was very hot and muggy and we should have known that this meant rain. When we finally got onto the jungle cruise , my family and I were the last ones on the boat and ended up in the only part of the boat that was not covered by that little awning…(right in the middle near the stairs to get into the boat. All 5 of us were seated right in that hole. By the time we got to the elephants spraying water, the rain was coming down in heavy sheets and we were all completely soaked. The most annoying thing about the whole boat ride was that all the dry people on the boat were chuckling and commenting about how wet all of us were getting but nobody offered to scoot over and let us out of the rain…oh well, I guess that would have been just postponing the inevitable. There is only so much shelter available at any of the
Here are a few lessons we learned after that first day that made our remaining time there better. Most of these are applicable to families with small children. If your kids are older, you have the luxury of being much more mobile
1. Make use ofand stroller space
If your child is 6 or under, I recommend using a stroller if available. They actually have them for rent at Magic Kingdom and you can rent a double or a single and they are just narrow enough to comfortably navigate through the crowds. We brought our double BOB Revolution and did pretty well with it, making use of the built-in awnings to help shelter the kiddos from the rain a little more. We also packed a back pack containing extra plastic bags for our gear, snacks, and camera. A lot of those recommend that you don’t bring backpacks with lots of pockets into the park because you will have to be searched when entering. We brought the multi-pocket back pack anyway and while waiting for the search line (which was never more than 3 people long) we had all the compartments unzipped and ready for inspection and it was just as quick as it would have been if I had carried a purse or diaper bag. Just make sure that any plastic bags you use to package up your stuff are clear as this makes the bag search much easier.
2. Don’t feel pressured to get to the park lines before the gates open.
Seriously! Again, most of the travel websites about Disney recommend getting there as early as possible in order to beat the crowds. We found that a huge…let me say, astronomical portion of the crowds seemed to be following this advice and the result was that the lines were awful early in the morning, especially around the monorails. We also liked to use theto get to the main gate from where we were staying as the lines didn’t seem bad for that one. Getting the stroller on and off the ferry wasn’t a big deal but when we tried the early bird thing with the throngs of other people, we did feel a little pressure to get it folded up in order to make room for others as we didn’t want to be in the way with our big stroller. We actually ended up starting our park days around lunch time or just after. Most of the crowds are sitting down to eat at this time and some of them have left the park to have a rest at their hotels and the crowds seem to thin out. The drawback to this is that if you are really into using the fast pass, which I totally recommend, you might not get seats on some of the more popular rides until later in the evening. This worked out well for us as our kids are still pretty young and preferred the smaller-child oriented rides.
3. Be prepared for rain
Flip-Flops, plastic bags, ponchos, and a towel (keep an extra in the car) These are the essential items for rainy day comfort.
This should have been a big duh for us as both my husband and I have been to Florida and are familiar with the afternoon/ evening rain showers. A tropical storm is a bit different and after that first day, we were able to take advantage of the crowd-thinning effects of rain. On that first day with the jungle cruise, we had no idea we were about to get a deluge and consequently, we were not prepared to be comfortable in wet weather. After our thorough drenching, we sheltered in one of the restaurants since it was lunch time for us and by the time we had eaten lunch and used the rest rooms, the rain had stopped for awhile. Some wonderful person (another tourist – God bless him) was walking around and offering towels to the people with babies. (What an amazing random act of kindness!) It didn’t take too long to dry out enough to be comfortable but the rain did not stay away long enough to make that an enjoyable afternoon. That was also the day we tried the early bird thing and determined we prefer the later park arrival time. That evening, we made a trip to the local Wal-Mart and bought ponchos for the entire family. They do sell them in the park but if you don’t want to pay the Disney prices, have them ahead of time purchased elsewhere. We even modified a youth-size poncho to fit our 18-month old! We also bought wet-weather appropriate foot-gear for those of us who did not have it along on the trip. This made all the difference in the world. There is nothing like slogging around in wet sneakers for an entire afternoon and after just such an afternoon with the trench foot to prove it, flip-flops were the way to go for our family. The next park day, we packed our ponchos, plenty of plastic bags, and our flip-flops (we didn’t wear those right away) We started off the day in our socks and shoes because that is the most comfortable gear to walk long distances in. Once it started raining heavily enough, we changed our foot-gear and donned our ponchos and we were ready to go. The good thing is that, while dressed like this, we were able to navigate the park very easily as the crowds thinned drastically. We were comfortable, and since the rain was warm, we still had fun seeing the attractions and not having to stand in horrible lines.
4. Best Rainy Day Parks
The rainy-day parks I recommend would be Epcot Center and Magic Kingdom. Some of the smaller attractions tend to close down rides when it starts raining hard. We were at Animal kingdom on one of our rainy days. Our Rainy Epcot day was probably the most productive as those attractions are able to stay open regardless of weather for the most part. Magic Kingdom’s crowds also thin out pretty well when the rain comes. If you can stick it out until the storm is over, you will find that many took the opportunity to head back to the hotel during the rain storm and that makes being in the park easier with lighter crowds and shorter lines. We also bought the 4-day park hopper pass as it was cheaper than the 3-day that we originally wanted. The park hopper option is nice as you can go to multiple parks in one day. For example, if you find your self stuck in Animal Kingdom in the rain, you can jet over to Epcot and the day is not lost.
All in all, with a little planning, even a rainy day experience can still be fun for the entire family. Now, if you want to talk about some of our other setbacks, on this vacation, that will have to be an entirely different post.
If you want to read more about Disney vacation tips, check out these other links:
- Great Ideas for Keeping Your Items Dry while in Disney (meetthemagic.com)
- Guest Post: 5 Tips For A Family Disney Vacation (ingspirations.com)
- Strollers! Strollers! Strollers! How to Stroller at Disney? (pixiebudget.com)