Orlando, Florida gets an average of 50.6 inches of rain every year. Most of that comes down between June and September when daily afternoon showers are the norm.
If you’re headed to Walt Disney World during the peak summer season, you’re almost guaranteed to get rained on, and even visitors who head down during the dry season can see some major storms. Here are the most important things to keep in mind when the weather acts up.
1. Attractions close even without rain
It’s not the rain that closes outdoor attractions so much as the lightning. Central Florida is home to a little stretch known as “Lightning Alley” which runs from Tampa to Orlando. This area sees more lightning strikes than any other part of the United States. Each year, Lightning Alley gets about 50 lightning strikes per square mile, so don’t be surprised to see the skies lighting up any hour of the day or night.
If there’s lightning in the vicinity, all outdoor attractions at Walt Disney World will close for safety. This is why you may find that you can’t hop on Jungle Cruise or Kilimanjaro Safaris “due to weather” even though the skies look clear. Wet tracks can hamper ride operation on some attractions, but more often than not it’s the lightning that keeps things closed.
Note: if there's lightning around, it is strongly advisable to seek shelter indoors.
2. Some attractions are better when wet
Once you understand exactly why outdoor attractions close, you’ll understand that the concept of rides closing for rain is largely a myth. Though guests tend to hunker down and wait out the downpour, many big attractions will continue to operate, even if they’re outdoors.
While a watery Jungle Cruise will just leave you dripping, Kilimanjaro Safaris is actually a great pick when it rains. The refreshing deluge causes many animals to come out and frolic, while the hot dry sun leaves them dozing in the background. Splash Mountain is fun in the rain as well. You’re going to get wet anyway, so why not really dedicate yourself to it?
3. Stores and restaurants are a bad pick
The majority of Disney guests flock to the nearest store or restaurant when it starts to rain. The worse the weather, the more crowded these areas will be. In smaller stores, you’ll find that you can hardly move around. Unless you’re really interested in browsing the goodies, don’t let a little weather drive you away from the things you really want to do.
Slip on a poncho instead and head out to the streets. In the rain, you’ll find them almost deserted, and many attractions will sport noticeably shorter lines simply because no one is moving about to get in them.