When people decide to visit Central Florida the first things that they think of are fun and sun. While you would be hard pressed to find a time of the year where you will not see the sun shining for at least part of the day in Central Florida there are some times when the storms roll in and others when the sun is so hot that you wish that they would. Central Florida has some extremely predictable weather. During the winter months it will be pleasant with still the possibility of some high temperatures but the rain chance is rather low. The summer months are extremely hot and humid and you can bet that sometime around 3 or 4 in the afternoon a pop up storm or rain shower will occur. There have been some instances where it will stay wet for a while when dealing with a tropical storm or even worse a hurricane but those situations are rare. Typically we can set our clocks by the weather. What I am asked frequently is what to do when you find yourself at Walt Disney World and run into some extreme weather. In those rare occasions when it does rain all day which Disney Park would be the best or the worst? More frequently I am asked which parks are better for days when the heat and humidity are off the charts. This will be the first in a series of articles about how we survive the weather in the theme parks. I will share some tips and tricks that we have found to deal with those not so perfect weather days.
I will start by saying that some guests to Walt Disney World would say that they just go with the flow. They are prepared for anything with their ponchos and ice packs and are ready to take on the parks with whatever Mother Nature may throw at them. These guests plan their vacations very far ahead and will make no concessions for the weather. Nothing is going to stand in the way of their Disney “magic.” For others who may be traveling with small children, people who may be highly affected by the heat or those who just can’t stand to have their clothes sticking to them for the rest of the day due to rain or sweat, it is important to stay up to date with the weather and know which areas of Walt Disney World might present less of an issue. In this article I will share what I would rank the parks in terms of dealing with the two main weather issues: Heat and Rain. I started to do a separate list for each but realized that they were essentially the same.
Park Rankings during Extreme Heat or Rain
1. The Magic Kingdom
3. Disney’s Hollywood Studios
4. Disney’s Animal Kingdom
It probably is no surprise that Disney’s Animal Kingdom is at the bottom of the list when the temperatures are high. This park seems to generate its own heat and with the amount of vegetation seems to act as a greenhouse and trap in the heat and humidity. I believe it is the worst during rain as well. Because there are many trees around Animal Kingdom the falling water doesn’t stop when the rain does. The trees hold on to this rain water and fling it down on you for a while after the actual rain has ceased. Disney’s Hollywood Studios is next because of the fact that it is pretty wide open to the sun and rarely seems to be a breeze running through the park. There are a few attractions and shows that are indoors but some of the higher capacity shows like Lights, Motor, Action, Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, and Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage are all outdoors. These shows do have shaded pavilions but on those extreme days this is no replacement for air conditioning. These shows do provide some protection from rain but if you get a really strong storm you are essentially trapped in one spot while you are pelted with some nice horizontal rain.
EPCOT is the second best park because there are several areas where you can escape indoors. The Land Pavilion enables you to take in several attractions and a meal while never stepping a foot outdoors. Innoventions is also a perfect place to escape the elements and find some interesting things to do. As you walk through World Showcase you can take time exploring the air conditioned/covered shops in each country. It is a great way to not feel like you are missing out on anything while still staying relatively comfortable. The only thing that keeps EPCOT from the top spot is the walking. Oh how you walk at EPCOT! Sometimes you will be walking for a considerable distance between areas for shelter. For example, if you are walking from Mouse Gear by the fountain and walking toward World Showcase there are two souvenir shops in Showcase Plaza but other than that it is all open as you make your way to either the Mexico Pavilion to the left or the Canada Pavilion to the right. There are instances like this throughout EPCOT where you would be out in the open for a while. There is one park that doesn’t have this issue and thus becomes my #1 Park for Extreme Heat or Rain; the Magic Kingdom.
Magic Kingdom has the best ways to escape the extreme weather. It starts as soon as you walk into the park. A guest has the ability to walk through The Emporium all the way down Main Street U.S.A. if they choose to escape the weather. Once you are down Main Street U.S.A. and disperse into the themed lands of the Magic Kingdom you will find many opportunities to have fun while not exposing yourself to the heat or rain. Each land has shows and attractions that are air conditioned. The one exception to this may be Frontierland which has many outdoor attractions with one lone indoor attraction Country Bear Jamboree. The Magic Kingdom also has many attractions with covered and in some cases interactive cue lines which help. The Magic Kingdom also has many places to eat that have adequate indoor seating. Cosmic Rays in Tomorrowland, Pinocchio’s Village House, Columbia Harbor House, and Pecos Bill’s Tall Tale Inn all have a large capacity to sit and enjoy a meal without having to hold an umbrella over your head. There are also sit down restaurants that you could enjoy like Crystal Palace and Liberty Tree Tavern. The few issues you will face when traveling to the Magic Kingdom on one of these days are parking, parades, and fireworks. If you are driving to the Magic Kingdom you will have to make your way from the Transportation and Ticket Center to the front gates by taking a Ferry Boat or the Walt Disney Monorail System. You can opt to take a tram from your car to the Transportation and Ticket Center and then hop on an air conditioned monorail to lessen the hassle during hot and rainy days but it is a drawback nonetheless. To view parades and fireworks properly you will need to be out in the elements so get out the ponchos to enjoy these. All in all I think that the Magic Kingdom is the way to go.
I understand that your vacation may not give you the flexibility to change your plans based upon the weather. In upcoming articles I will try to share some great ways to make the best of your days in each park when you do encounter these weather bumps in the road during your vacation. Feel free to share with me how you would rank the parks. Does your family change their plans based on the weather or do you just roll with it?