I was doing some online shopping for a new umbrella to keep in my car, because mine somehow disappeared recently. (I think it has something to do with one of my kids.) As I was looking for an umbrella, it got me wondering if using […]
I don’t know about you, but I’m always interesting in what’s popular and trending. Whenever I go to a new restaurant — and especially if I’m ordering dessert — I’ll ask the server, “What’s your most popular dish?” or “Which dessert is your favorite?” When […]
If there’s still any doubt in anyone’s mind that Disney World is “just another theme park,” consider this:
Most people — whether they’re first-timers or hard-core Disney people — spend way, WAY more time researching and deciding where they’re going to eat than which attractions they’re going to ride.
If you’re like “most people” in that way, then this post is for you.
By the time you’ve finished reading (especially if you visit some of the other articles I’ve linked to), you’ll be an expert on lesser-known dining options and ways to save both time and money on your Disney vacation.
1. Make dining reservations WAY in advance
Reservations for table service restaurants at Disney World are known as
ADRs, or Advance dining Reservations.
It wasn’t until our family’s second trip to Disney World that we decided to make ADR’s. (We ate off-property and at a couple quick service restaurants on our first trip.)
About 5 weeks before our trip, I had a list of table service restaurants that we wanted to visit and sat down at my computer, ready to make some reservations.
I was very pleased with myself, thinking that I was planning very far ahead and that we would have plenty of available choices.
Oh how silly I was I in my youth and innocence.
And how stunned I was to see that nothing on my list was available.
Sure, in the Real World, making dinner reservations at a restaurant over a month in advance would be almost ridiculously early.
But as you’ve probably discovered, Disney World is very different from the Real World in many ways.
You can (and ideally, should) make your restaurant reservations 180 days in advance.
Yup, that means you’re scheduling your meals roughly half a year in advance.
Possibly, but this is Disney we’re talking about. That’s just the way it is.
It’s worth noting that you don’t need to put a deposit down or anything for a Disney dining reservations. And you can cancel a dining reservation up to 11:59pm the night before.
So don’t worry about having everything planned out perfectly before you make a reservation. You can always change it.
On the flip side of that, if you’re crushed that you can’t a breakfast reservation for Chef Mickey (more about them in a moment), don’t worry, because I guarantee you that people will be canceling between now and your trip.
Just keep checking in — every day or two, if you can stand it.
But in the meantime, also consider trying some less-popular dining options.
On one trip we got reservations for lunch at Kona Cafe at the Polynesian, mostly because I was having trouble finding anything else and I thought, “Okay, whatever.”
It turned out that the food was great and it was the prefect way to take a break from the Magic Kingdom in the middle of the day.
So don’t be afraid to expand your options, especially if you’re having trouble getting reservations for your first pick.
Call me a slow learner, but it wasn’t until about our third trip that I realized, “Hey, we don’t have to eat at the parks or the quick service restaurants at our own resort! We can eat at any resort we want!”
Some people don’t like traveling to the resorts for a meal because they see it as a waste of time.
However, we enjoy taking a break from the park atmosphere, and to me it’s fun getting to visit different resorts (especially the ones we could never afford to actually stay in.)
Just a few table service restaurants at Disney resorts include:
- Cape May Cafe at Beach Club Resort — During breakfast you get to dine with Minnie Mouse, Daisy and Donald Duck, and Goofy, while at dinner you can enjoy a seafood buffet known for its great crab legs
- Topolino’s Terrace at The Riviera — This restaurant at Disney’s newest resort features breakfast with Mickey & Minnie and Donald & Daisy Duck and dinner is features seafood and meat dishes in French and Italian styles.
- 1900 Park Fare at The Grand Floridian — Meet Mary Poppins, Alice in Wonderland, the Mad Hatter, and Tigger and Winnie the Pooh for breakfast. During dinner, meet Cinderella, Prince Charming, and Cinderella’s stepmother and stepsisters.
- Jiko the Cooking Place in Animal Kingdom — A more “upscale” restaurant with a dress code, they feature African cuisine, with decor based on The Lion King.
- ‘Ohana at the Polynesian — Breakfast is a character meal with Lilo, Stitch, Pluto, & Mickey. Dinner is a family-style meal with ton of fantastic food, including meat skewers cooked over an open fire.
- Whispering Canyon Cafe at Wilderness Lodge — An “Old Western eatery” that you can get to by taking a boat from the Magic Kingdom
Even if you’re on the Disney Dining Plan, you probably want to have at least some of your own food on hand, whether it’s for a quick breakfast in your room or snacks to have on hand at the park.
There are multiple ways you can have groceries delivered to your hotel but 2 of the most popular ones are:
- Garden Grocer
No Order minimum. A delivery fee of $14 for orders under $200. Has discounts if you order early.
- 15 days ahead = 5% discount
- 30 days = 7%
- 60 days = 10%
- Amazon Prime Now
Order minimum of $20 and no delivery fee if your order is over $35
4. Bring your own food into the parks.
Once you’ve had your groceries delivered to your hotel room, make sure you pack some snacks in your park backpack, sling bag, or purse.
You don’t want to have to be at the mercy of having to buy park food every time someone in your family suddenly gets hungry.
Some good food to bring into the parks include:
- Granola or Cliff bars
- Single-serving cookie packs
- Beef Jerky
- Pre-treated apple slices
- Baby carrots
- Nuts (like these Cocoa Roast Almonds
- String cheese
- Pringles chips (not only are they the best potato chip, but they’re packaged in a way to keep them from getting crushed)
- GoGo squeeZ Yogurt
- Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (Hint:if you make them on flour tortillas, they won’t get smushed)
Even though you can get free ice water at any quick service restaurant, it’s a good idea to bring your own water bottles.
The Brita Premium Filtering Water Bottle is Amazon’s Choice and has over 1,200 5-star reviews.
Reviewers love how this water bottle:
- Filters out the chlorine taste of Florida tap water
- Saves both money and the environment over buying plastic water bottles
- Encourages them to drink more water
Amazon reviewer Kristine N. explains why this model is better than others:
Much better than the previous Brita bottles that I tried. This one doesn’t leak! It’s lightweight, and it’s not too difficult to get water to come out of the straw.
The cap is also a great feature because it protects the straw, unlike some of their other bottles where the straw is exposed and rubs up against everything from the airplane floor to the bathroom stalls and my airplane neighbor’s feet.
I saw some evidence that some leaking occurs out of the straw, but the locking cap keeps it contained from leaking out everywhere. I left the bottle laying on its side for a little while and when I popped open the cap, water spilled out, so just be careful when you open it up.
I thought that water tasted fine out of this bottle, and I also found it pretty easy to clean. This model is a huge improvement over their older models. Good job, Brita!
Depending on how much food, and what kind of food, you plan to bring into the parks, you might want to bring a backpack cooler.
The Tourit Backpack Cooler is Amazon’s choice and very popular among my readers.
It’s made of durable, waterproof fabric and has a large storage compartment plus:
- Two side mesh pockets
- Two large front zipper pockets (ideal for utensils)
- A zipper pocket on the lid
- A mesh pocket
- A beer opener on the strap
Amazon reviewer JJ Smith said this backpack cooler helped them save a ton of money on their Disney vacation:
This backpack was a huge money saver when going to Disney …. We were able to pack lunches and snacks for a family of 2 adults and 2 tweens plus water bottles with no problem.
It was comfortable to wear. Easy to eat lunch or a snack while waiting in ride lines.
I’ve had another thermal backpack from Costco and this one seems more durable, nicer looking and better made.
5. Some restaurants in the parks open before the park does.
There are 8 restaurants where you can get breakfast reservations before the park opens:
- Magic Kingdom
- Cinderella’s Royal Table
- Be Our Guest
- Crystal Palace
- Akershus Royal Banquet Hall
- Garden Grill
- Animal Kingom
- Tusker House
- Hollywood Studios
- Hollywood & Vine
A pre-park opening breakfast is awesome because:
- You can cross off both “eat” and “meet several characters” from your daily itinerary before the park even opens
- You can take the opportunity to have a mini-photo shoot when the parks are
practically emptya little less crowded
6. Eat a late breakfast.
If you can’t — or don’t want to — get a pre-park opening breakfast reservation, then consider getting reservations for a late breakfast.
- The parks are the least crowded first thing in the morning, so it’s a shame to waste that prime time sitting in a restaurant instead of taking advantage of shorter lines
- Breakfast prices are cheaper than dinner or lunch
- If you’re like me, you can pack away more food at 11am than you can at 9am
- If you time it right and eat at a leisurely pace, you can enjoy both breakfast and lunch menu options at a buffet
his can save you some money, as
7. Make an educated decision about Chef Mickey’s.
If you didn’t already know, Chef Mickey’s at the Contemporary resort is a somewhat controversial restaurant.
It tends to be listed as a “must-do restaurant” for families, and many people (like us) scramble to make that a top priority when they’re kids are little, especially if it’s their first trip.
After all, what sounds more magical than a breakfast buffet complete with Mickey waffles and “The Fab Five” of Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Pluto, and Donald Duck?
And with a monorail passing overhead, no less!
But there are some people who really hate Chef Mickey, saying it’s
- Serves mediocre food
So what to do? Is Chef Mickey’s worth it or not?
Well, it depends on what you’re looking for.
Personally, I’m glad we went, although I have no desire to go again until I have grandchildren someday. (I can’t imagine anyone going there without small children in tow — unless, I guess, you’re doing blog research.)
Rob had less love for Chef Mickey’s than I did.
He said it was “basically a Shoney’s breakfast bar.”
Which isn’t the worst thing in the world … except that the buffet at Shoney’s doesn’t cost $52 per adult.
Of course, Shoney’s doesn’t have Mickey and Friends either, which is kind of the point and the key to whether or not you should decide to eat there.
You’re paying for The Fab Five, not the food, and not even really the atmosphere (although watching the monorail go by is pretty cool.) Since Robert never gets too excited about seeing Disney characters, it’s not surprising that he wasn’t particularly impressed.
So if you love the idea of seeing Mickey and Friends all in one place, and you don’t mind eating at a restaurant that is busy and noisy and has little kids crawling all over the place, then I say go for it.
Your kids are pretty much guaranteed to love it, not just for the characters, but also because they will love drenching their Mickey Mouse waffles in chocolate sauce, sprinkles, chocolate chips, and whipped cream.
However, I would not go to Chef Mickey’s for dinner. Based on everything I’ve heard, while the food is “just okay” at breakfast, it’s downright bad at dinner.
I would also recommend getting to Chef Mickey’s as early as your family can stand it.
They open for breakfast at 7am, so if you can get an early reservation, not only will it be little less crazy-busy, but you won’t have to sacrifice the ideal early-morning time at the Magic Kingdom.
And what many first-timers don’t realize is that there are several comparable alternatives to Chef Mickey.
True, Chef Mickey is the only place where you can dine with the notorious “Fab Five.” But there are several other places where you can eat with Mickey and/or some of his friends.
So if you love the idea of meeting classic characters during breakfast, but want to keep the noise and chaos to a minimum, check out these alternatives to Chef Mickey’s.
8. Flame Tree Barbecue is a great value on the Disney Dining Plan.
Flame Tree Barbecue in Animal Kingdom is considered one of the best values for your using you quick service meal credits.
Not only is the food great, but it’s one of the more peaceful quick service environments, with plenty of shade and a great view of Expedition Everest.
9. Consider a dinner show at Hoop-De-Doo Revue
For a fun and unique dining experience, consider getting reservations for dinner at Hoop-De-Doo revue in Fort Wilderness.
The variety-style show takes place in a huge barn and is filled with a bunch of silly, corny jokes that elementary-school age kids will love. The all-you-can-eat food includes fried chicken, baked beans, cornbread, and strawberry shortcake, and is literally served to you in buckets.
10. Sharing food is the way to go.
Unless you’re a huge eater, I would highly recommend splitting counter service meals between two (or more) people. You can get extra plates and divvy it up so people aren’t constantly snatching food off your plate.
Not only does sharing food save you money, but unless you eat like a horse, a full meal is way more food than you’ll need.
I would even recommend splitting most of the snacks.
Yes, that may sound like crazy idea at first — what, share my French Napoleons?
But honestly, many of the snacks are too big and/or too sweet for one person to finish.
Also, sharing snacks you to try more items. Personally, I’d rather have half a dessert in the afternoon and and half of a different dessert in the evening than one huge dessert all at once.
11. Visit Disney World when one of your kids is two years and eleven months old.
Kids under age 3 eat for free off a parents’ plate at Disney World buffets and family-style restaurants, which can save you a fair amount of money during your trip.
12. Check out the menus before your trip.
You can view the menus for each restaurant at the Disney World Dining Page. This is a nice way to help choose where to eat ahead of time and give you an order of what you might want to order when you get there.
13. Bring your own Pepsi.
Disney has a contract with Coca-Cola, and therefore does not sell any Pepsi products in the parks.
But if you’re a Pepsi fan, don’t worry — you can easily have all the Pepsi you want delivered to your hotel room.
14. The parks all have a great spot for babies to dine.
Each park has a Baby Care Center that is air-conditioned, quiet and peaceful. You can sit in a rocking chair and nurse your baby, or feed them in a high chair.
And if you’re short on baby food, wipes, or formula, you can buy it there. There are also toys and cartoons to keep your toddlers and preschoolers amused while they wait.
What are your favorite Disney Dining Tips?
- How do you save money on food at Disney World?
- Where’s your favorite restaurant at the resorts
- Chef Mickey’s — Yay or nay?
Let us know below in the comments!
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When you picture your Disney World vacation, you’re probably imagining a beautiful, sunny, clear day where you can’t wait to ride Splash Mountain to cool off a little bit.
So it may throw you for a loop when you’re about to head out to the park and hear that it’s going to rain — and thunder.
Or worse, that you’re happily roaming about the park in great weather, when, with little warning, you suddenly find yourself in a downpour. You not only have to run for cover, but also figure out how to change your carefully-planned itinerary.
It may not be the ideal situation, but fortunately your Disney vacation doesn’t need to be ruined when it rains.
When is the Rainy Season at Disney World?
According to TripSavvy, the wettest months in the Orlando area are:
During the summer months, an afternoon thunderstorm is not at all unusual. The good news is that these storms bring a drop in temperature with them (nature’s way of helping you stay cool at Disney World in the summer).
What Should I Wear to Disney World When it Rains?
Basically, you want light clothing that won’t get soggy and heavy. In other words, a cotton hoodie with denim shorts would not be a good choice.
Dressing in layers is a good idea because you can take off your outer layer of clothing if it gets wet.
A baseball cap can help keep the rain off your face.
And it goes without saying that you should always have some rain ponchos on hand, whether it’s the “rainy season” or not. (Ask me how I know this.)
Of course, if it is the rainy season, or if the forecast looks particularly bad, you might want to be prepared with something more sturdy than a disposable poncho. This a particularly good idea if you’re an “outdoorsy” person in general and could use a good poncho for when you’re going hiking or camping.
My Favorite Disney World Outfits
✅ What are the Best Shoes for Rain at Disney?
Basically, you want shoes that will dry quickly. Walking around for hours is soggy socks and shoes is going to make your feet very unhappy and is likely to give you blisters.
If you’re wearing socks, having an extra pair with you is a good idea.
OluKai Men’s Ohana Sandals
These muti-purpose men’s sandals are water resistant, quick drying, and come in 19 different colors.
Several reviewers said these were “the best flip=flops they’d ever owned” and loved the arch support, soft straps, and overall style of the shoe.
Amazon reviewer David J. Winkowski said these shoes “saved his vacation”:
I love these sandals / flip-flops. I paid $64.99 for them and was desperate because I was going to Guam for a 3-week vacation and was recently diagnosed with plantar fasciitis. When in Guam I wear flip-flops the whole time I am there and my other flip-flops would have caused so much pain that I was that it would have ruined my vacation.
I used these flip-flops for the whole three weeks and I experienced no pain what so ever! They were very comfortable. My son and I even went on a two mile hike after it had rained and I did the hike in these flip-flops. My son also wore flip-flops and he was slipping and sliding all over the place.
These flip-flops gripped so well that I was truly impressed. I used them to walk over lava rocks many times and looking at the soles you can’t even tell. I even used them in the ocean and made a point to throughly clean them after, hoping that the salt water didn’t ruin them. Well after three weeks of use, they look as good as when I bought them.
Even though they were comfortable right out of the box, the soles molded to my feet over the three week and were even more comfortable which is just unbelievable. I will admit that if it wasn’t for being so desperate because of my circumstance I would never had paid $64.99 for a pair of flip-flops, but I now will never buy any other.
Teva Women’s Tirra Sandal
The Teva Tira is Amazon’s Choice in the “Comfort sandal for women” category.
They are a sporty sandal that comes in 28 different colors, so there’s sure to be one to match your favorite outfits.
Reviewers loved how the Tirra sandal:
- Were a great fit for wide feet
- Had multiple adjustable parts
- Provided great arch support
- Eliminated the pain of plantar fasciitis
Amazon reviewer Alex Bougherie loves her Tevas Tirra:
I bought these as a replacement for the pair I’ve had for 4 years and have literally put hundreds of miles through rivers, hiking, swimming, running, and exploring on.
These TEVA’s are beasts and will last you so long. I seriously beat my old pair up and included some pics of my old ones next to these new ones so you can see how they wear in.
These are the most comfortable sandals and don’t slip or rub anywhere. No hot spots! No breaking in!
I’m not sure if they’re meant to get wet as a few small parts are suede, but I did get my old pair wet all the time and they have been completely fine. I live in Florida so I literally wear these almost every single day year round, in the rain, etc.
I have so many problems with my feet and have had reconstructive surgery and I don’t find many shoes in general comfy, but I could sleep in these! If you’re wondering if these are worth the money compared to cheaper brands, they are!
KEEN Women’s Newport H2 Sandal
The Keen Newport Sandals are a very popular, sporty shoe with 100% polyester webbing and a hydrophobic mesh lining so they can stand up to rain and dry out quickly.
They come in over 40 color combinations, including:
- Hot coral and yellow
- Neutral grey and beet red
- Azure blue stripe
- Midnight navy and Alaskan blue
- Real teal and vapor
This is a great shoe for you if you enjoy hiking, kayaking, camping, and other similar sports.
Amazon reviewer Nicole says her Keen Newports held up great during her very rainy Disney trip:
I bought these for our trip to Disney. We did 5 full (10-12hr) days walking the parks in a row and not one blister. I had no pain and my feet and legs felt great! I absolutely LOVE these shoes!
It downpoured for 3 straight days while in the parks…walking through puddles, standing in water, wet feet…dried out mostly by the next morning…no wrinkly feet, still no blisters. Would recommend to anyone. These are amazing shoes!!
Native Kid’s Jefferson Slip-On Sneaker
The Native Slip-On Sneaker is waterproof and comes in a range of kids’ sizes, for toddler to “big kid” (approximately 12 years old).
Parents love how:
- The shoe is durable
- Their toddler can put the shoes on by themself
- The shoes don’t slip off
- They’re easy to clean
Kids, meanwhile, love how the shoes look and feel.
Amazon reviewer Wife says these shoes are practical no matter what the weather:
Natives are my kids go-to shoe for my toddlers year round. My daughter loves the Hollywood pink color and always wants to wear them. My son has the navy blue which goes with everything.
They both wear them daily and they hold up perfectly. Rain or shine these are wonderful! Look great and very practical. Love that they have arch support too!
Stride Rite Water Shoe
This is the second pair I’ve gotten for my son. These are great! Especially at Disney World where getting wet or playing is splash pad areas is on the agenda … Hold up great to the abuse that my 6 year old puts his shoes through and he outgrows them before they wear out.
The Best Shoes for Disney World
Should I Buy a Rain Cover for Our Stroller?
Yeah, I would, especially if you have a child under the age of 2.
They aren’t very expensive and it’s one of those things you might kick yourself about not when you get stuck in a sudden downpour. Plus you can use it again in “real life.”
The Bemece Universal Stroller Rain Cover pictured below is a Best Seller with high ratings on Amazon.
- A large see-through window to keep your baby happy
- A waterproof zipper so that rain doesn’t seep in
- Velcro straps to keep the cover from sliding off
- Air holes on both sides of the rain cover
Reviewers liked how the Bemece was easy to use and goes all the way down to the stroller wheels. Some also mentioned that putting the stroller cover on helped their baby sleep, which can certainly be another plus.
Amazon Reviewer Cassandra posted a photo of her rain cover and says she highly recommends it:
So I was super excited to go to Disneyland for the Food and Wine Festival. It’s an outside event, and you walk through one of the parks picking up food and drinks.
So when I found out it was going to pour, I knew I needed a cover for my daughter’s stroller. We bought this cover, and I didn’t have the highest expectations. I just needed it to keep her dry. That was all. I was STUNNED at how much I ended up loving this product!
So it was definitely pouring when we were there. I had to wear a poncho, and that barely kept me dry.
My daughter, however? She was completely dry and loving the rain! She sat in her stroller under her cover, and just watched the rain fall down around her. We would take her out of the stroller by unzipping the front panel. We gave her a little extra fresh air by opening the mesh sections in the upper corners.
This cover never came close to falling off the stroller, as there was Velcro that kept it attached to the stroller. (I have a Graco Modes Stroller, and it was a perfect fit)
On the other hand, if you’re both handy and frugal, you want to try putting something together yourself.
Kaismahma from the Disboards had good results with her makeshift stroller cover:
We bought a clear shower curtain liner from Ikea and a couple larger clips (bigger than a clothes pins) from the dollar store. It rolled up nicely and we could cover the entire stroller very easily and we tossed it when we left.
With the canopy and the curtain over the stroller our dd had plenty of breathing room and did not feel as encased as she would have with the actual stroller cover.
We used it every day we were in Disney. When hot in use we rolled it up and clipped it too the stroller.
Does Disney World Cancel Fireworks When it Rains?
It depends on the show.
Wishes in Magic Kingdom and Epcot Forever are both very very unlikely to be canceled. Delayed due to lightning, maybe, but almost never outright canceled.
Fantasmic in Hollywood Studios, on the other hand, sometimes will be canceled due to heavy rain, sometimes at the last minute. This is partly for the safety of the Cast Members.
And Animal Kingdom’s River of Lights is unlikely to cancel due to rain, but may delay or cancel the performance due to lightning.
According to WDW Magic:
- If you have a FastPass for River of Lights and it’s canceled due to weather, you’ll receive a special FastPass for any other attraction to use the following day
- If you have the River of Lights Dining Package and the show is cancelled, you will be able to attend another performance of Rivers of Light up to five days after the cancellation.
✅What Rides Close at Disney World When it Rains?
According to Theme Park Tourist, here’s the list of ride closings in each park:
Ride Closings at Magic Kingdom
Closed for Rain:
- Tomorrowland Speedway
- Tom Sawyer Island
- Festival of Fantasy Parade
- Pirates of the Caribbean (if there is flooding in Adventureland)
Closed for Lightning:
- Thunder Mountain Railroad
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
- Splash Mountain
- Jungle Cruise
- Magic Carpets of Aladdin
- Dumbo the Flying Elephant
- Liberty Belle Riverboat
- Astro Orbiter
- Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire
- Swiss Family Treehouse
Special entertainment When it Rains:
- Rainy Day Version of Mickey’s Royal Friendship Fare
- Magic Kingdom Rainy Day Cavalcade (see video below)
Video — Rainy Day Cavalcade in Magic Kingdom
Ride Closings at Epcot
Closed for Rain:
Ride Closings at Hollywood Studios
Closed for Rain:
- Beauty and the Beast
- Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular
- Jedi Training Academy: Trials of the Temple
- Slinky Dog Dash
Closed for Lightning:
Alien Swirling Saucers
Ride Closings at Animal Kingdom
Closed for rain:
- Kali River Rapids
- Maharajah Jungle Trek
- Expedition Everest
- The Boneyard
- Discovery Island Trails
- Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail
Closed for Lightning:
- Kilimanjaro Safaris
- Primeval Whirl
- TriceraTop Spin
- Flights of Wonder
- Wildlife Express (depending on severity)
✅What’s the Best Disney Park in the Rain?
Opinions on this obviously differ, and there is no one right answer.
But personally, I would say that it’s a tie between Magic Kingdom and Epcot.
Epcot is good on a rainy day because:
- Test Track is the only attraction that closes due to weather
- There are a lot of indoor rides: Living with the Land, Soarin’, The Seas with Nemo & Friends, Mission:Space, etc.
The downside to Epcot is that there’s a lot of walking between attractions.
Magic Kingdom is a good on a rainy day because:
- The stores in the Main Street Emporium are all interconnected, so you do quite a bit of shopping and/or travel from one end of Main Street to the other without stepping outside once. (A nice Disney World hack)
- There is not too much walking distance between attractions
- Riding the monorail is a nice option (which we’ll talk about more in a moment)
The downside to Magic Kingdom is that a lot of rides close, especially if there is thunder and lightning.
The general consensus is that Animal Kingdom is the worst park in the rain since:
- Percentage-wise, a lot of the attractions will be closed
- It’s hard to find a good place to eat in the rain. Pizzafari might be your best bet, which personally doesn’t get me too excited.
However, some people have had great experiences on a rainy day in Animal Kingdom. WhitneyAnne on the DisBoards describes her rainy day experience there:
We’ve been at Animal Kingdom in the pouring rain. We had a great time. We were able to ride Kali River Rapids for 3 or 4 times in a row without getting off. It didn’t matter if we got wet because we were already soaked.
And ktml had this to say:
We’ve been there in the pouring cold rain. The park was empty. There was no one on Safari. The cast members were just letting you stay on and ride again as many times as you wanted. The people coming up to get in the vehicles were just directed to whatever row was empty. The animals were all out enjoying or playing in the rain. It was great!
Magic Kingdom in the Rain
While a lot of rides can be closed due to weather in the Magic Kingdom, there are a lot that remain open, and the good news is that you don’t have to walk very far to get to one of them.
* Carousel of Progress
* Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor in Tomorrowland (one of Disney’s most underrated attractions, in my opinion)
* Space Mountain
* Buzz Lightyear’s Space Rangers Spin
* Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid
* Mickey’s PhilharMagic
* Enchanted Tales with Belle
* It’s a Small World
* Peter Pan’s Flight
* The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
* Haunted Mansion
* Hall of Presidents
* Splash Mountain (if it isn’t thundering, and if “embracing the wet” sound like fun to you)
* Country Bear Jamboree
* Pirates of the Caribbean
* The Enchanted Tiki Room
As I mentioned earlier, if you’re on or near Main Street when the rain hits, you can travel through the entire Emporium window shopping (or actual shopping) while staying indoors.
And here’s a fun and interesting alternative, especially if you’re near the front of the park:
Hop on the monorail and go visit one or more of the resorts. (I also think it’s fun to explore or eat at the Deluxe Resorts even though we can’t afford to stay there.)
I would particularly recommend the Grand Floridian, which often has live music in the lobby and a great soap shop called Basin that my daughters and I had a lot of fun in on our last trip.
It’s also beautiful.
If you visit the Polynesian, consider stopping at Pineapple Lanai, just outside the Ceremonial House, and getting a Dole Whip.
The really nice thing about this monorail resort excursion is that, when the rain eventually clears, it doesn’t take long at all to get back to the Magic Kingdom — and hopefully the crowd will have thinned out some.
Anal Annie on Disboards had these tips for Magic Kingdom in the rain:
The one ride I will say is NOT good in the rain is Astro Orbiter. We rode that once in a downpour and had a LAP FULL of rain in our ponchos by the time that thing finished. It was miserable.
Likewise I would say the Grand Prix cars are not good as they’re so slow.
Laugh Floor, Small World, Philharmagic, People Mover, Space, Pirates & Haunted Mansion are particularly good with extensive indoor time.
Epcot in the Rain
The biggest problem with Epcot in the rain is that Epcot usually involves a lot of walking. My best advice would be to find a nearby indoor area where you can hang out for a while.
For example, The Land pavilion offers two rides (Soarin’ and Living with the Land), plus Sunshine Seasons, a great quick service restaurant with a lot of options for meals or snacks.
If you’re near the Mexico pavilion when it starts to pour, duck inside and shop, maybe grab something to eat at San Angel Inn, and ride The Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros (which wins the award for Best Disney World Ride you Never Heard Of).
If you have toddlers or preschoolers, Journey into the Imagination with Figment is a good choice. The interactive “What If” Labs after the ride will keep them happily busy for a while.
And, of course, depending on where you are in the World Showcase when it starts raining, you can see one of the shows:
- Impressions de France
- O’ Canada!
- Reflection of China
- The American Adventure
Animal Kingdom in the Rain
As I mentioned earlier, Animal Kingdom is generally considered the worst Disney park for a rainy day, but there are some good options.
Some people love riding Kali River Rapids in the rain, if there’s no thunder. There’s hardly any line, and they figure they’re wet anyway and might as well go all-out.
If getting completely drenched isn’t your idea of a good time, you might prefer to take in one of Animal Kingdom’s shows:
- Finding Nemo the Musical in Dinoland U.S.A.
- Festival of the Lion King in Africa
- It’s Tough to Be a Bug in Discovery Island
If there’s no thunder, you might want to consider riding Kilimanjaro Safaris in Africa. The animals are both more visible and more active when it’s raining.
The Points Guy has a unique and clever idea for when you get caught in the rain at Animal Kingdom:
If your entire day at Animal Kingdom is washed out, I’d take the bus, an Uber or a Minnie Van to nearby Animal Kingdom Lodge.
A Mommy Points favorite, Animal Kingdom Lodge has many diverse and entertaining ways to spend a day, even if you aren’t staying there as an overnight guest.
In the space of three hours, recently my daughter and I matched the feces to the species (you read that right), decorated giraffe and elephant cookies, learned how to say elephant in Swahili (tembo), played bingo and caught some zebras taking a nap.
Total cost? Zero! They also offer drum lessons, face painting and a whole host of (often free) activities.
Hollywood Studios in the Rain
The bad news is that most of the stroller parking is outdoors. So if you’re heading to Hollywood Studios on a rainy day and your child is “borderline stroller age,” you might want to leave the stroller at the hotel.
The other bad news is that this is the second hardest park to find somewhere to eat when it’s raining. (The worst park is the aforementioned Animal Kingdom.)
According to Dining at Disney, your best bets are:
- ABC Commissary — located on Commissary Lane, it has a lot of indoor seating
- Backlot Express — located next to Star Tours, lots of indoor seating
- Pizza Planet — located in front of Muppet Vision 3D, it has indoor seating, but it’s hard to find a table during peak times
- Studio Catering Co. located near Lights, Motor, Action, it has outdoor seating that is completely covered
Indoor attractions at Hollywood Studios include:
- Voyage of the Little Mermaid
- Beauty and the Beast (although seats in the rear can still leave you damp if it’s raining very hard)
- Frozen Sing-a-Long Celebration
- Star Wars Rise of the Resistance
- Star Tours
- MuppetVision 3D
- Tower of Terror
- Toy Story Mania
- Rock n Roller Coaster
General Tips About Doing Disney in the Rain
Here are a few final thoughts on a rainy day at Disney World:
Keep in mind that Florida showers are typically short.
While there’s no guarantee, there’s a good chance that the rain will be over within about 30-60. So don’t be too quick to flee the park and call it a day.
Instead of letting the rain get you down, embrace and have fun with it.
- Splash in the puddles.
- Take photos of your family soaking wet.
- Enjoy the fact that the crowds in the park will probably thin out a little.
Bring ziploc bags of various sizes for cell phones, cameras, autograph books, and wet clothes and rain ponchos.
Bring a microfiber towel for wiping down wet seats on rides.
If you don’t already have a good microfiber towel, consider getting the one below from Rainleaf.
They come in several different sizes and colors, and also work great as a gym or beach towel.
How do you do Disney in the rain?
So what about you?
- What do you think is the best — and worst — park for a rainy day?
- Any products you can’t live without when it comes to rain?
- What are your favorite things to do in the rain at Disney?
Let us know below in the comments!
Jim Gaffigan, one of my favorite comedians, has a very funny bit about Disney World. He says you can see the desperation on parents’ faces during a Disney vacation as they want to turn to their kids and say, “I hope you’re having fun … […]
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When you go to Walt Disney World, two things you want to do is 1) Ride the best rides; and 2) Avoid the long lines as much as possible.
Hopefully this post will help you do both.
To be included on this list, the ride had to be both a quality, underrated ride in my opinion and have a short line (with the slight exception of Dinosaur, which I mention below). That’s
That’s why, for example, the Mad Tea Party in the Magic Kingdom and Triceratop Spin are not included. Yes, their lines are pretty short, but I don’t consider either of them to be particularly impressive rides.
Dinosaur (Animal Kingdom)
As much as I can’t stand DinoLand U.S.A. in Animal Kingdom, it has one really good thing going for it, and that’s Dinosaur.
The concept of Dinosaur is that you travel back in time to rescue and return a living dinosaur before the species goes extinct … but then — oops! Someone miscalculated and you arrive in prehistoric times just as a giant asteroid is hurtling toward Earth.
There are great special effects and it’s more of a “thrill ride” than I expected it to be. My son Benjamin went on it for the first time on our latest visit, when he was twelve, and it was one of my favorites rides of the trip, second only to Epcot’s Test Track. He was disappointed that we were only able to ride it once.
Is Dinosaur scary for little kids?
Potentially, yes … not so much in the way a roller coaster is (the rides only goes 12 miles and has only minor drops), but because it is dark and because some little kids might find the “Oh no, our lives are in danger!” aspect to be more upsetting than amusing. There is a height requirement of 40 inches.
Note: It’s pushing it a little bit to include Dinosaur on a list of rides with short lines. It has the longest lines of any of the rides on this list, but any time we’ve gone, we’ve waited for 20 minutes or less, which is not a bad wait for what this rides offers, in my opinion.
Fastpass reservations are available for Dinosaur, but I would recommend getting a FastPass for Expedition Everest, Flight of Passage, Na’Vi River Journey, or Kilimanjaro Safaris instead.
If those rides don’t interest you or you can’t get a FastPass for them, then I would consider getting one for Dinosaur.
Gran Fiesta Tour with the Three Caballeros (Epcot World Showcase)
This ride in Epcot always has a short line, mostly because most people don’t even know it exists and it’s almost impossible to find unless you’re specifically looking for it.
Located inside the pyramid-shaped Mexico Pavillion in Epcot, The Gran Fiesta Tour is a slow, dark boat ride based on this 1944 film starring Donald Duck and his two friends, José Carioca and Panchito. It’s a nice combination of animation, animatronics, and Mexican culture.
This is a ride that all ages can enjoy. It has no height requirements and no scare factor. Plus it’s a nice way to stay cool for a while after you’ve been trekking through the World Showcase in the heat.
Guide to the Best Epcot Rides and Attractions
Tom Sawyer’s Island (Magic Kingdom)
Tom Sawyer’s Island isn’t exactly a ride, but rather a “getaway” in Frontierland that you travel to by raft.
On our family’s second visit to Disney World, right after we all had lunch atLiberty Tree Tavern in the Magic Kingdom, my husband Rob casually said, “Hey, let’s ride over to Tom Sawyer Island.”
I looked at him like he was crazy, because:
a) What kind of lame attraction was that?
and more importantly,
b) That was not what my carefully planned itinerary had us doing next
But I reluctantly agreed.
And yes, this is definitely one of those times where my husband was right. We loved it.
Besides the ride on the raft being fun in itself, Tom Sawyer Island has a cave, a windmill, a tipsy barrel bridge to cross; and paths to follow. It’s pretty and relaxing for adults and fun time to play and explore for kids. It’s a nice way to escape the “theme park atmosphere” and do something different for a while. Some people even pack a picnic lunch and plan to stay for a couple hours.
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Walt Disney World Railroad (Magic Kingdom)
If were you were going to list all the rides in Magic Kingdom, you might forget to even include, but it is a ride, as well as a means of transportation.
We usually get on at Main Street (the least crowded station) and travel to Fantasyland. The scenery as you go through Frontierland is fun, and it’s nice break to get where you’re going without walking, for a change.
My son Benjamin loved trains when he was younger, so riding this real steam-powered locomotive was a treat for him, especially when they blew the whistle.
If you choose to ride the entire loop, it’s is 1.5 miles and lasts for 20 minutes.
Be aware that the railroad shuts down immediately before and during parades.
NOTE: The Walt Disney World Railroad is currently closed for the construction of the Tron coaster. The re-open date is unknown at the time of this writing, but it sounds like it could be closed for most or all of 2019.
The Best Magic Kingdom Rides
Living with the Land (Epcot)
I know, I know … this one may sound like it could win an award for Most Boring Disney World ride. A slow boat ride with no cartoons, music, or animatronics … where you get an agriculture lesson?
But I found it Living with the Land to be surprisingly compelling.
It takes you through science laboratories and a futuristic greenhouse, revealing some of the food breakthroughs and experiments that Disney workers have made or are currently attempting.
My daughter Rebecca, who has always liked science, particularly enjoyed this one. There are plenty of “Hidden Mickey’s (which are not all the hidden) throughout the ride as well.
What’s really fun, especially if you’re a Chip and Dale like I am, is to eat at the Garden Grill, the rotating table service restaurant upstairs, where you can see inside Living With the Land during your meal. There is even a detailed farmhouse that you cannot see during the ride, only from the restaurant.
Prince Charming Regal Carrousel (Magic Kingdom)
It’s tempting to zip right past the Prince Charming Regal Carrousel, dismissing it as “just another merry-go-round” as you head through Fantasyland on your way to Dumbo or Peter Pan’s Flight.
But in typical Disney fashion, the Carrousel was meticulously designed and is not “just any merry-go-round.” For example, each horse has its own unique design and is decorated in real 23-karat gold leaf.
It’s a ride that’s great for all ages (my mother loved it she and my dad took my family to Disney World) and the line is never long.
I highly recommend that you ride this one after dark, as it’s particularly stunning when the lights are turned on.
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Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor (Magic Kingdom)
Maybe it’s just me, because I rarely hear people singing the praises of this Tomorrowland attraction, but I really enjoyed this one.
It’s an interactive stage show with Monsters doing stand-up comedy, night club style, and interacting with the audience. They don’t ask anybody to come front or anything, but the camera will show you on the screen up front. (Yes, both me and my daughter Rachael got “picked on.”)
I thought Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor was fresh and funny and got a lot of laughs for the crowd. The best thing is that, because of its interactive nature, it’s literally a different show every time, which you can’t say for most Disney shows.
The Magic Carpets of Aladdin (Magic Kingdom)
On our last Disney trip, my daughter Rebecca said, “This is a really underrated ride!” so of course I have to include it here.
Some people dismiss this ride as being “just like Dumbo,” but some people like it because it’s just like Dumbo, but has almost no line. (The last time we rode it, we almost literally just walked on.)
My kids like how it has the “spitting camels” and how one rider can maneuver their carpets up and down, while the other moves it from side to side.
Another plus to this ride is that, once you’re finished, you can easily walk over to Aloha Isle and get a Dole Whip.
WEDWay Tomorrowland Transit Authority People Mover
I haven’t been on this ride since I was a kid, and I will always think of it as the WEDWay People Mover.
This monorail-style tour of Tomorrowland may sound boring. But if you’re looking for a short line in the Magic Kingdom, you can’t get much shorter than this one (and it’s neighbor, Carousel of Progress, which I didn’t include on this list only because — believe it or not — I’ve never ridden it).
The People Mover is an elevated, slow-moving, air-conditioned tour of Tomorrowland, including the insides of both Space Mountain and Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin.
The People Mover has almost a cult following, with people who ride it repeatedly (the cast members will sometimes let you stay on and ride again, if you ask them). They love it for being peaceful and air conditioned. It’s also a beautiful view when you ride it at night.
Now it’s your turn.
What about you? Do you have any favorite rides that you think are underrated? Let us know below in the comments!
Sometimes when we’re planning a Disney World vacation, we get so excited about what we want to ride that we almost forget there are some restrictions about what we can ride. Or, more specifically, about what our kids can ride. It would be awful for […]