Summertime is in full force, and with summer are summer vacations. Many of you will find yourselves visiting a theme parkthis year. It’s a great year for it, with more new attractions than ever before. One of the top destinations in the world is Orlando, Florida which boasts more than ten different water and theme parks within a one hour drive radius. However,visiting Florida’s theme parks means that you’ll also have to deal with summer time weather. While the heat is legendary, especially from July to the middle of October, the normal weather also includes rain, stormy weather and of course hurricanes. While the thought of going to a theme park in the middle of a storm it may surprise you that there may be no better time to visit your favorite Central Florida theme parks.
Early in the season guests were chased off by the rare (but not unheard of) tropical storm Debby. Tropical storms and hurricanes usually don’t start threatening Florida parks until late August through October, but this year, Debby has drenched theme park guests and vacationers, causing many parks to close early, cancel summer time shows and even close altogether.
While the weather is the instigator for the closings and early shut downs, it’s not the reason. The main reason, usually is the lack of guests in the park. Think about it, when’s the last time you went to a theme park and it started just pouring down buckets of rain? You generally try to avoid those days, right? What happens when it does start raining? People leave in droves! The biggest secret to Florida theme parks, especially in the very busy summer season, is that it will rain just about every day between 2p.m. and 7p.m. During that time, the crowds will shuffle out of the park, trying extremely hard to not get wet…but getting drenched in the process. Waterparks are the same way, which is ironic, because everyone’s already wet. The next time it rains, don’t run for the gate…instead, just run for the nearest gift shop or restaurant.
During days when a big bad tropical storm, or even a hurricane come knocking, most parks will not close the gates. They will stay open, rain or shine. The perfect example is when tropical storm Debby rolled by Florida’s west coast. The parks were still open, with a few exceptions. A few parks like Busch Gardens Tampa, and Legoland Florida closed early, but for the other parks it was business as usual. Want to know the best part? The rest of the parks were relatively empty!
With that in mind, here are some tips to make the most of your theme park adventures, when the weather is going to be less than perfect:
- Go shopping during rain storms. If you have some shopping to do, do it while the rain comes down. Most theme parks will hold your purchases at a central pick up area until you’re ready to leave, so you don’t have to worry about your souvenirs being sopping wet
- Take an early/later food break. Just like gift shops, restaurants are great places to wait out storms.
- Find a nice indoor ride or show. Shows make the perfect escape from the summer downpours, also most indoor shows and rides are air conditioned which makes for a great escape from the muggy air that will follow a rainstorm
- Roller coasters are now water rides. Some of the biggest coasters still operate in the rain, and while that sounds like fun, try to avoid a lot of the faster coasters. Water stings when you’re travelling 40-60 mph in an open air carriage
- Water rides get you wet no matter what. For some strange reason, people hate to ride water rides during rain storms. What’s the worse that will happen? You afraid of getting wet?
- Water parks are ghost towns. The only time a water park will shut down is if there is lightning in the area. If the water slides start shutting down, find a restaurant to hide out in. The place will be deserted
- Lightning means game over. Lightning can strike as far as 10 miles away, and can be deadly. So if you see even the remotest flash, find cover. Parks do an amazing job at tracking lightning, and tend to shut things down when lightning is about 14 miles away. Storms move quick, and 14 miles can be covered in no time. But if you can find shelter, meaning four walls, and a roof (sorry cabanas and patios don’t cut it) wait it out
- Ponchos are your friends, forget the umbrellas. Your first instinct is to grab an umbrella when it rains. If you have to get on a ride, where you gonna stick that thing? Ponchos keep you dry, and can cover your stuff better. Plus, you can wear a poncho on a ride
- Flip flops make for drier feet. Kind of funny, but it’s true. If you wear Flip flops, your feet will stay drier. Think about this, if you wear shoes, you’re more than likely going to wear socks. Socks stay wetter longer. Shoes are also insulated, and if they get wet inside, they stay wetter longer. Flip flops will get your feet wet, but they dry quicker, making for less miserable adventures
Now that you know some tips, what are the best theme parks to do in the rain? Here’s our list of favorite rainy day theme parks
- Universal Studios Florida-75% of the park consists of indoor rides and shows, the hardest part is getting from ride to ride
- Magic Kingdom-Most of the rides are indoors, the only problem is that they are so far apart, and the crowds get nuts inside those gift shops
- SeaWorld Orlando-The fish go nuts during the rain. They get a little hyper and tend to swim faster and be more active
- Islands of Adventure-The clear out factor here is the best thing. People tend to leave those coasters faster than you can say Hufflepuff
- EPCOT-Drinking around the world is so much more when you have a greater chance of slipping and busting your ass. Plus, World Showcase becomes a virtual ghost town making for easier navigation through the rides and gift shops
The next time you’re contemplating a summer theme park escape, and there’s a tropical storm knocking on the door, don’t cancel your plans! Follow these tips, stay safe and enjoy your day with fewer crowds, and shorter lines!