Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Welcome to another Tip Tuesday!
This week, I wanted to continue my series about dealing with rain in the parks. This week, we're heading over to Disney's Animal Kingdom. This is a park where rain can be a blessing and a curse. It's a blessing because rain means a break from the oppressive heat that often can be found in this park. It's a curse because rain means increased humidity and a bit of a wet time in general.
Of all the parks, Animal Kingdom may be the toughest to stay somewhat dry yet still tour the parks during the rain. There are several patches of open space that guests have to traverse and several of the attractions, especially the trails are in the open air offering little in the way of cover.
There are a few ways to stay out of the rain or at least avoid a brief shower. The best (if you can time it right) is to catch Finding Nemo: The Musical near Dinoland USA. This show runs about 30 minutes (more like 45 minutes including the time it takes to seat guests). I'll talk more about Finding Nemo: The Musical in a future post - for now I'll just say it's not to be missed.
Of course, if it's raining, chances are you're wet. If you're wet, you might as well get really wet, so it wouldn't hurt to take a ride on the Kali River Rapids (it will close if there are thunderstorms in the area). Yes you'll likely get soaked, but if you're dripping wet already, what's the difference?
Another place to get out of the rain, albeit for a short while, is to stop by It's Tough to Be a Bug on Discovery Island. This 4D film runs a little less than 10 minutes and offers some fun extra effects. Keep in mind that small children may get scared in this attraction - especially when Hopper comes out.
If you're thinking of touring the Kilimanjaro Safaris during the rain, that's a great idea because the animals will likely be a bit more active, even if they may be trying to find cover. Some at AllEars.net say the Safaris are best in the rain because of the increased animal activity.
I will say one more thing about the rain at Animal Kingdom. When it's raining, AK can be at it's most peaceful and quiet. Many guests tend to avoid AK when it's raining, which means fewer crowds and fewer people on trails. The end result is you can find yourself nearly alone in the jungle listening to the rain and seeing the animals. You'd be surprised how much closer to nature you'll feel.
So once again, when it's raining, head to the parks!
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
In my continuing series about rain at Walt Disney World, let's head over to Disney's Hollywood Studios.
So here's the scene: it's raining buckets, but you still want to be in the park (a good idea). What do you do to stay dry? Aside from ponchos and umbrellas, how can you get around the park without getting soaked?
Previously, I examined this scenario at the Magic Kingdom and Epcot. Now let's look at Hollywood Studios.
Much like the Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios has it's own "Main Street" called Hollywood Boulevard. Also much like the Magic Kingdom, the Studios has a series of shops that are connected to allow guests to walk from the Crossroads of the World (just past the entrance) all the way to Echo Lake or Sunset Boulevard, depending on which side of the street you're on. While not as long as the Emporium at the Magic Kingdom, these shops nevertheless do provide shelter and are a good option to keep out of the rain.
From here, let's head down Sunset Boulevard toward the Tower of Terror. Here the new isn't as good. There are a handful of shops, some of which are connected that run about halfway down the street. After that, the amount of shelter drops dramatically. Fortunately, Disney provides cover for many of the outdoor queue areas for the Tower of Terror and Rock-n-Roller Coaster. You will probably need to make a few dashes to get to a covered spot.
Back at the intersection of Hollywood and Sunset, there are even greater challenges if guests are looking to stay dry yet reach the back areas of the park like Toy Story Mania, Star Tours, Muppets or the Backlot Tour. There are a few areas of shelter along the way, especially as you approach Star Tours, but that's about it. Pixar Place and the Streets of New York offer little in the way of cover from rain.
So if you do see a shower coming, where can you go to get out of the rain for a while?
The best location is to head to the Animation Courtyard. The Magic of Disney Animation and the associated postshow area offers lots of things to do and it's all indoors. After the animation show, there are several character meet and greet opportunities inside the Animation building including meeting Sorcerer Mickey, characters from some of the latest Disney film releases, the Incredibles and more. You never know who might show up.
Also you can try your hand at drawing a Disney character at the Animation Academy (see this previous post for more about this often overlooked attraction).
Another good location to stay out of the rain and learn a bit about Walt Disney himself is One Man's Dream located near the entrance to Pixar Place (see this previous post). Just recently Imagineers updated the exhibits including adding models for the soon-to-be completed Fantasyland expansion at the Magic Kingdom.
If you're on the far side the park, you can take your time at Muppets 3D. Be sure to watch the entire preshow video -- it's hilarious! The same goes for Star Tours - take your time in the queue and don't worry if guests pass you by. The queue is just as good at the attraction itself and much funnier. Try to see how many gags and references to Star Wars and other Disney history you can find.
If you time it right, you might be able to catch a show of the American Idol Experience. It's a long running show that might help you wait out a shower while enjoying some good amateur performers.
With a bit of planning, you can make a rainy day at Disney's Hollywood Studios an enjoyable one. Hopefully your next trip will be sunny and pleasant, but if Mother Nature has other ideas, you'll at least be prepared.
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
This week, I wanted to continue the discussion about dealing with rain at the parks. Up next: Epcot.
Much like the Magic Kingdom, Epcot has several ways to stay out of the rain, especially in Future World. However, unlike the Magic Kingdom, these areas of shelter are not well connected, which means you might be making some mad dashes from cover to cover.
So here are a few good places to help avoid getting totally soaked while you make your way through Epcot:
Future WorldIn Future World, you can use Innoventions West and East to travel from near Spaceship Earth to the covered passages between the Fountain of Nations and the East and West pavilions. The bad news is there's little cover from here to the East and West pavilions. Also keep in mind that you can use the Project Tomorrow post show area (at the end of Spaceship Earth) to get to both walkways beside Spaceship Earth without having to travel around either end.
MouseGear also offers allows you to get from the Fountain of Nations to somewhat near the entrance to Test Track, also don't forget about the wide hallway along the backside of the Epcot Character Spot. Most guests don't use this hallway, so it's a good place to sit (on the floor unfortunately) and wait out the rain.
Keep in mind that many of the pavilions in Future World are pretty large and have a lot to do, so you can easily wait out a shower at any one of the pavilions. Some have long-running attractions like Ellen's Universe of Energy (45 minutes!!), others have great exhibits, like the Seas pavilion, that will keep kids and adults engaged.
World ShowcaseWhen it comes to World Showcase, the only real rain strategy is to dash and cover from pavilion to pavilion. Even then, most pavilions only have small shops and/or attractions that offer cover. Because of this limitation, many guests often avoid World Showcase during rainy periods. If you've got good rain gear (or don't mind getting pretty wet), a rainy day might be a good time to visit World Showcase during the lesser crowds.
Keep in mind that many of the pavilions have some sort of attraction. Most, with the exceptions of Mexico and Norway, are films that run around 10-15 minutes, so these can be good options to wait out a brief shower. Also don't forget about the Outpost between China and Germany. There are a few covered tents that many guests walk right past.
Hopefully your next visit to Epcot will be sunny and dry, but should you run into rain, you'll have a plan.
Friday, May 11, 2012
(my apologies for late posting -- apparently my post on Tuesday didn't actually go live).
If you've been watching Orlando weather lately, you'll notice something pretty constant -- rain. There has been quite a bit of rain lately, sometime heavy.
So what do you do when it rains?
First of all, head to the parks! Yes, you read that right. Grab your poncho or raincoat and head to the parks.
Why? Because many guests will decide to stay at their resort when it's raining -- especially if the forecast calls for rain all day. This means the lines may be shorter.
Knowing how to deal with the rain is the trick.
This week, I'll focus on a rain strategy for the Magic Kingdom.
Keep in mind that most attractions are indoors, with a few exceptions: Dumbo, Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse, Jungle Cruise, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Aladdin's Magic Carpets and the Tomorrowland Speedway.
Just because it's raining, don't assume these attractions will be closed. You can assume one thing -- they will be wet, even if they are running. Back in 2010, I posted a tip about how to handle wet seats, so check that our for more on dealing with wet outdoor attractions.
Pretty much everything else is indoors. Better yet, there's a lot of cover in the Magic Kingdom, so you can get from attraction to attraction without getting too soaked -- except for the hub area. If you have a raincoat or poncho, you can make the dash across the hub pretty easily -- just watch out for the trolley tracks. They can get slippery and will have little puddles around them.
Keep in mind that the different stores that make up the Emporium are connected inside, so you can easily get from Town Square all the way to the hub without getting a drop on you by going through the Emporium. Much of the sidewalk outside the Emporium also is covered, so that's another option.
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
As I sit here listening to the rain pour on the Mid-Atlantic, I was reminded about a recent tip my wife (referred to here as the DisneyMommy) reminded me about as we plan an upcoming trip.
It involves dealing with wet seats on attractions. Believe it or not, it does sometimes rain at Walt Disney World (shocking, I know), but it's true. And sometimes it can rain a lot and for many hours. Unless there's lightning in the area, many of the attractions will keep running, even those exposed to the elements, like Dumbo. Personally, I recommend heading to the parks when it rains. Most times, the lines are shorter as some guests just don't want to get wet. It's just water, you can hack it.
Rain, however, does mean some wet seats. Sitting on a wet seat isn't fun and there's not much you can do to dry off afterward. That's why my wife wisely suggests bringing along a hand towel in a large (gallon size) Ziploc bag to wipe off seats before you sit down. A microfiber towel is even better if you can get one.
This is a pretty simple tip and one that you can do every day. Even if the towel is pretty soaked by the end of the day, just hang it up in the bathroom and it will be fairly dry by morning. If all else fails, most resorts have laundry facilities so you can pop the towel in the drier (or just use a hand drier in the parks).
This is just another example of how a bit of preparation can help make even a wet day in the parks enjoyable!
Monday, June 14, 2010
Welcome to another Tip Tuesday!
I decided to stick with the water theme and talk about a facet of trip to Walt Disney World that many of us hope not to see, but should expect, especially this time of year: rain.
It's safe to say that there will most likely be at least one rainy afternoon during a week-long trip to WDW in the summer. Florida sees more thunderstorms than most anywhere else in the nation. Now this doesn't mean your summer trip is a sure washout. Far from it. Florida rain is similar to tropical showers -- splash and dash. It will rain (sometimes VERY heavily) and then 15-30 minutes later the sun is out, jacking up the already humid weather to just plain muggy.
There are several tips to keep in mind when preparing for the rain. First is keeping dry. There are a few options here. The first is the good 'ol poncho. It's fairly easy to carry. It will keep your torso dry, but your shoes and lower legs will be soaked. The downsides are that ponchos don't breathe, so you will sweat up a storm until you can get it off and then you have to deal with a wet poncho after the sun returns.
The second option is an umbrella. You will stay pretty dry (aside from your shoes, maybe) and there's no worry about seating. The major downside is an umbrella is a pain to carry around all day, especially while riding attractions.
The third option is to run for it! Obviously you don't have to worry about keeping up with anything, but you're also running the risk of getting soaked to the bone. This is where the true theme park commandos display their skills at dash-and-cover. While this maneuver may have originated with the army (dash to a new spot to find cover and fire at the enemy), at WDW, this term takes on an entirely new meaning: Dash to a new place to find cover from the rain.
Whichever option you decide, it's best to know what's going to happen ahead of time. That means keeping up with the forecast and local radars.
These days most people have some sort of web enabled phone. Here are a few must-save links to have on hand while in the parks.
National Weather Service:
- Mobile site: http://mobile.weather.gov/ (just enter "34747" for the Kissimmee zip code) or go to this link.
- Mobile radar: http://mobile.weather.gov/radarhr.php?radar=kmlb
- Full site (Melbourne, FL): http://srh.noaa.gov/mlb
- Full radar: http://radar.weather.gov/radar.php?rid=mlb
- Mobile site: http://m.weather.com (again, use "34747" for the Kissimmee zip code), or go to this link. Radar links are embedded.
- Full site (WDW): http://www.weather.com/weather/today/The+Walt+Disney+World+Resort+FL+USFL0615?lswe=disney%20world&from=searchbox_localwx. Radar links are embedded.
It's also important to check the forecast before you leave for your trip. You should most especially check the tropical forecast well ahead of time for any trips between June and November. I highly encourage visiting the National Hurricane Center (NHC) at least a week ahead of time to see if any tropical weather may affect your trip. If it does appear that tropical weather might impact your trip, you should consult your travel agent to see what your options are. Disney has posted a hurricane FAQ on their Web site. It's a very good idea to read this to see how Disney handles a hurricane and what their policies are for rebooking, should that become necessary.
I'll probably do another post specifically about hurricanes at WDW, so look for that in a future Tip Tuesday.
Also, a bit of a programming note: There will not be a Tip Tuesday next week.
Until next time, keep the magic in your heart and hope that the sun is shining!