One thing you should know about Florida: it’s not called the Sunshine State or the Lightning Capital of the World without good reason. But whether it’s scorching sunshine or torrential afternoon rain, the weather should NOT spoil one minute of your trip – you just need to make sure you plan accordingly!
Here’s what you need to know to make sure you have a great time at Walt Disney World whatever the weather throws at you:
1. You can pretty much set your watch by the 3pm thunder
99% of the year Florida is VERY hot, VERY sunny and you will often have a storm or two. If you visit during Hurricane Season (which tends to run June through November, with August, September and October being the worst affected) storms are pretty much a daily occurrence.
2. In summer, avoid the parks in the heat of the midday sun
If you are visiting in the height of summer, you might want to plan to visit the parks early in the morning and/or later in the evening when the weather is cooler.
You will also probably want to factor in a break back at your hotel for a swim, or if you stay in the parks, use your Disney FastPasses for indoor attractions during the hottest part of the day to make the most of that wonderful air-conditioning!
3. If rain is forecast, try to do the outdoor rides and shows in the morning
Outdoor rides will usually close for a short time ‘due to inclement weather’ during those pesky, though often welcome, afternoon storms. So if rain is forecast, try to do the outside coasters and shows in the morning.
4. Keep your plans flexible
Occasionally the parades and fireworks can get cancelled if the lightning and rain are particularly bad. Although it is not ideal, one way to avoid major disappointment is to keep some space in your schedule to fit in another attraction or activity, if the one you had planned on seeing doesn’t go ahead.
5. If it rains, DON’T head to the indoor attractions straight away (unless you want long queues)
If it does start to rain, you will find that the majority of the indoor rides have insanely long lines as everyone will rush for shelter. Don’t head to an attraction straight away; go and browse in a store or grab a coffee. You’ll find out why next….
6. ……But if the rain persists, the queues might get shorter!
If the rain doesn’t show any signs of letting up, you will soon find that the parks start to empty quite quickly. Locals (who usually have annual passes to Disney World) won’t want to stay and get drenched when they can return another day.
As the parks start to empty, be very British: Don your poncho and head off to enjoy the shorter ride queues – we are used to wet weather after all!
7. Use the weather forecast to plan which park to visit
All of the Disney World parks have both indoor and outdoor attractions, but some areas can be better than others when it comes to torrential downpours or even full rainy days (yes they do still happen).
At the Magic Kingdom, rides are fairly close together and there are plenty of shops and eateries to pop into if those pesky storm clouds appear.
I personally find that Hollywood Studios is not so great in the rain, as there are less places to shelter and it is likely that their night-time show Fantasmic will be cancelled if the storms are in for the day.
8. Bring the right kit
The sun can be almost as punishing as the rain in Florida, so it’s advisable to come properly protected from both!
Whether you are dealing with cook-you-alive heat or a drench-you-to-the-skin tempest, you need to be prepared. Pack plenty of high factor sun cream and do re-apply regularly. A cap/hat, sunglasses and sensible, cool clothing are a must too.
If you are heading out for a rainy day, make sure you take a change of shoes too. There is nothing worse than sloshing around in the hot rain in wet trainers. Read more about what to pack for Disney World
9. Pick up a poncho before you get there
Make sure that you have a poncho with you – even if it doesn’t rain, they’re handy to stop you getting drenched on the water rides! The official Disney World poncho are nice, but can work out expensive if you suddenly have to kit out a whole family, so buy them before you go, or pick them up for around a dollar in one of the big Orlando supermarkets like Walmart.
10. Winter can be brrrrr!
You may not believe it, but very occasionally in the winter months, it does get cold in Florida; locals will even be seen in hats, gloves and coats! Whilst we may not find the temperatures quite as freezing as our Floridian counterparts, if you are planning to travel in December or January it is advisable to bring at least a fleece or a coat so you can layer up if it gets cooler.
You will have an amazing time at Disney World no matter how warm or wet it is. Florida is built for this weather and they know how to deal with it – it is just a matter of being prepared. Have fun!