Current Disney World Weather and Preparing For Bad Weather
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On this page we give the current weather forecast for Walt Disney World and tips for preparing for bad weather at Walt Disney World.
Current Weather Forecast for Walt Disney World
Walt Disney World Average Monthly High & Low Temperatures
Keep in mind that averages are averages, not limits. When we ran the 2017 Walt Disney World Marathon, the “feels like” temperature was below 30-degrees Fahrenheit in the morning. Here’s a chart of the average monthly high and low temperatures at Walt Disney World.
We’ll talk more about beating the heat (and the cold) in a bit.
Walt Disney World Average Monthly Rainy Days
We couldn’t find stats on the average number of rainy days each month, so we’re inferring this data from the average monthly rainfall figures. There’s a variety of reasons this won’t be a perfect measure, but it’s the best we’ve got.
If these estimates are right, June through September average rain roughly every other day, while the other months get rain once every three to five days.
About Rain Forecasts in Florida
On a daily basis, Florida weather is incredibly unpredictable. On a June 2018 trip we had a forecast of rain for five days and wound up with about three hours of pouring rain one day and light showers another (it also had rained something like 17 days straight that month). Every so often I hear conversations on the monorail like “It was going to rain today but I guess they moved it to tomorrow,” piquing my interest as to the powers of “they.”
There are really only a few days per year when the weather will be so bad as to impair a trip, and arguably even those days aren’t so bad. It’s incredibly rare for rain in Florida to last long, and Disney works hard to keep the rides of Walt Disney World operational as much time as possible.
For example, December 20, 2018 was a crazy rainy day in the area, including tornado warnings and several broken records. Even so, the only ride that was down the entire day was Test Track. Even Expedition Everest, and outdoor coaster and one of the highest points in Walt Disney World, was up 69% of the day. (Uptimes were from WDW Stats and @WDWStats). By contrast, check out the highest wait times from the middle of that day:
If you braved the rain (and thunder…and tornado warnings…), you had your pick of the rides.
Picking The Best Dates To Travel Based On Weather
Our advice for planning around weather—don’t. Okay, there are a few notes. If anyone in your party won’t do well in heat, it’s fine to plan around that—heat is a genuine safety issue, particularly for the elderly.
If you can, try to avoid September and October as historically they’re the dates most at risk (but its a tiny, tiny risk) for actual park closures (more below). Beyond that, planning to avoid rain in Florida is an impossible endeavor.
Florida weather is highly unpredictable. You can get heavy rain 365 days a year. It’s rare to have a trip with no rain at all. But—and we’ll cover this in a lot of detail as we go on—rain never has to define your trip. If you’re incredibly unlucky you’ll have a day where lightning takes out major attractions for about 25% of a day.
If none of the other factors that go into picking dates—hotel availability, price, crowd calendars, school calendars, etc.—weigh at all, then fine, use weather. But if a date makes sense, don’t ignore it simply because it falls in August and you’re worried about rain.
Disney World Park Closures Due to Inclement Weather
The waterparks are closed a few days each year due to cold weather. I’m not quite sure what the cutoff is, but it’s pretty low, far below temperatures what would draw you to the waterparks. December, January, and February are most common for these closings.
Severe enough hurricanes will close the parks. This has happened in September 1999, September 2004 (twice), October 2016, and September 2017, each time for a day or two. Otherwise, the parks remain open in all weather.
What Disney World Rides Close In Severe Weather?
Severe weather—that is, anything with local lightning—will temporarily shut down pretty much all the outdoor rides. A notable “exception” is Tower of Terror, which can (ironically) operate through severe weather. With no lightning, its incredibly rare for heavy rain to shut down a ride for very long, if for no other reason than exceptionally heavy rain usually just can’t fall that long.
Before we get to the lists at specific parks, some words of caution. First, these lists are made without any insider knowledge. They’re based on historical behavior during bad weather and a few offhand Cast Member conversations. Second, closures generally are usually temporary. While the occasional ride will go down all day, Disney works hard to keep their rides operational as long as its safe to do so. Ride closures are a safety matter—they aren’t closed for convenience, comfort, or fun. Even during days of atrocious weather, rides will run whenever it is safe for them to do so.
Finally, as we discuss more below, it’s really silly to look at this list and cross a park off your plans unless lightning is called for all day. All the parks have plenty to do for the few hours rides might be closed, so try to put some thought into your planning.
Magic Kingdom Rides That Typically Close During Lightning
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
Liberty Square Riverboat
Rafts to Tom Sawyer Island (although honestly I have no idea whether people get stranded at the island if this happens)
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
Swiss Family Treehouse
The Magic Carpets of Aladdin
Walt Disney World Railroad
Epcot Rides That Typically Close During Lightning
The only Epcot ride that is weather-sensitive is Test Track. Test Track is also often closed during heavy rain. You can read more about the rides of Epcot here.
Hollywood Studios Attractions That Typically Close During Lightning
Slinky Dog Dash
Beauty and the Beast - Live on Stage (also during heavy rain)
The Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular (also during heavy rain)
Animal Kingdom Rides That Typically Close During Lightning
Kali River Rapids
Picking Your “Rainy Day” Park
The question of which park to visit on a rainy day has always sort of baffled me. Theme parks (most, anyways) are outside, you’re not going to stay dry at any of them without a poncho. Once you have a poncho, rain won’t really impact your experience. Regardless, I’ll go through each park and talk about positives and negatives in different weather conditions.
Magic Kingdom in Bad Weather
In severe weather with lightning, Magic Kingdom will lose some of its major rides, particularly Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and Splash Mountain. For that reason, I’d advise avoiding Magic Kingdom on a lightning-filled day. In rain, with or without a poncho, Magic Kingdom is a perfectly reasonable park to visit. It’s pretty rare to be more than a few steps from an indoor attraction in Magic Kingdom.
Consider the following options:
Tomorrowland: Carousel of Progress, Space Mountain, Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin, Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor
Adventureland: Pirates of the Caribbean
Frontierland: Country Bear Jamboree
Liberty Square: The Hall of Presidents, Haunted Mansion
Fantasyland: Mickey’s PhilharMagic, Peter Pan’s Flight, “it’s a small world”, Under the Sea, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
Getting between those attractions, Magic Kingdom offers the largest network of indoor shops and restaurants at Walt Disney World.
Epcot In Bad Weather
Many people think Epcot is the best park in bad weather. If you don’t mind getting wet, it’s an appealing choice. Only Test Track is liable to close, the rest of the park will operate in its normal fashion…almost. There’s two caveats to this attitude toward Epcot. First of all, some of the streetmosphere entertainment in Epcot will be cancelled even in severe enough rain. It’s not safe for acrobats, jugglers, and other performers to be out when the weather is bad enough.
Second, Epcot is physically huge, and it takes a bit to get from indoor space to indoor space. It’s really great that the film attractions throughout the World Showcase continue to operate and provide shelter (along with the stores and restaurants), but you do have to walk from pavilion to pavilion. Future World is similarly spacious. If you’re the type to avoid getting wet at all costs, Epcot is probably a poor rainy day park.
Hollywood Studios in Bad Weather
I would avoid Hollywood Studios in bad weather, at least until Galaxy’s Edge opens up. The problem is that a few spurts of severe weather can really through out the day. If a performance of Beauty and the Beast of Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular gets cancelled, your schedule can get really throw for a loop. There’s not too much to do at Hollywood Studios anyways, so it sort of needs its entire roster to be worth a visit. That said, if you have to go to Hollywood Studios in bad weather, you probably don’t have much to worry about other than some boring periods if your timing isn’t perfect.
Animal Kingdom In Bad Weather
Traditional advice was to avoid Animal Kingdom during bad weather. During rain, animals are less active. The park is almost entirely outdoors, with pretty large stretches between indoor structures. These are good points.
However, since the opening of Pandora—The World of Avatar, one really has to rethink this advice. Both Pandora attractions can operate regardless of the weather. Since bad weather keeps guests out of Animal Kingdom, you will see very reasonable waits on these rides. On December 20, 2018 (our favorite bad weather day, you’ll recall) Avatar Flight of Passage—which routinely was seeing 3 hour waits that week—had a wait of just 70 minutes at 2PM. Na’vi River Journey was sub-30 minutes.
I wouldn’t spend a day at Animal Kingdom in the pouring rain, but I would definitely consider suiting up and paying a visit to it if I needed to get my Pandora rides done.
Whats happens to FastPass+ Reservations In Bad Weather?
In case you haven’t gotten to this part of planning yet, Disney World’s FastPass+ is (roughly speaking) the system for booking ride times in advance of your trip and booking to skip lines once you’re in the park. Since ride times are booked in one-hour windows, you obviously run into a problem if your ride is shut down for any reason during that hour.
Typically, once it becomes clear that a ride you have a FastPass+ booking for won’t be working during your window, Disney sends you an email or app notification to let you know that your FastPass+ reservation has been changed to a “multiple experiences” FastPass+. A multiple experiences FastPass+ can be used for a variety of rides, including the ride you originally booked, at any time during the day.
So if a ride is down when your time comes up, you’ll have the chance to ride it or another ride at any point in the day. Just an FYI, people sometimes think that if their FastPass+ for, say, TriceraTop Spin gets cancelled, they’ll be able to go ride Avatar Flight of Passage. This doesn’t work! You need to pay attention to the list of experiences your Multiple Experience FastPass+ can be used for.
Preparing for Rain at Walt Disney World
Always—always—pack ponchos when visiting Walt Disney World. Here’s a six pack. If you’re really short on space and the weather looks to be perfect, fine, leave them at home. Ponchos at Walt Disney World cost about $10 and are sold at the registers of most stores.
Be sure you’ve got a plan for your wallet and electronics. If your phone isn’t water resistant, in particular, make sure you’ve got a plan to keep it dry in the rain. Ziploc baggies or waterproof phone cases are a good option for this.
Keep everything else dry. Your stroller, your purse, your backpack, your guidebook, your shoes/socks, whatever else—have a plan to keep these things dry. Disney has merchandise bags in all the stores, in case you’re really desperate, but it might be good to plan ahead.
Check with the front desk about transportation. The different boat services at Walt Disney World can shut down if water conditions are too poor due to wind or lightning. Check with the front desk to confirm whether boat transportation is running.
Prepare for Uber surge pricing. We’re fans of using Uber at Walt Disney World. When bad weather hits, you’ll need to be prepared for surge pricing. The regular $8 to $15 trips will spike to around $25 (roughly).
Rainy Day Activities at Walt Disney World
It should be clear by now that the parks are a completely viable option on rainy days—but that doesn’t mean they’re for everyone. Rain might just not be your thing, so what to do if a rainy day hits and you want to stay indoors?
Resort (or bar) hopping. This is the easiest way to spend a rainy day. If you want to fully avoid the rain, you’ll need to do a monorail crawl and visit Contemporary, Polynesian, and Grand Floridian. If you have a drink or snack at each, walk around, and shop you can easily fill a few hours doing this. If you don’t mind a short outdoor walk, you can walk around the Boardwalk resorts (Yacht Club, Beach Club, BoardWalk Inn, Swan & Dolphin).
Go for a swim. Not an indoor activity, but we felt obligated to mention it. Like attractions, as long as there’s no lightning the pool will usually remain open. Pools require getting wet anyways, just keep your towel in a plastic bag and then dry off in a sheltered spot before going inside.
Disney Springs. Catching a movie at the AMC at Disney Springs is a great option for a rainy day (though you’ll have to walk a little outdoors to get there). Besides that, there are plenty of restaurants and shops to fill a few hours.
Spa day. If the weather is bad enough, you may have trouble getting in at your resort spa. There are spas/salons are Grand Floridian, Coronado Springs, the Dolphin, Saratoga Springs, Yacht Club, and Animal Kingdom Lodge. If you can get an appointment (or if there are amenities that don’t require and appointment) this can be a good way to pass a day.
Resort activities. Many, but not all, resort activities proceed regardless of weather. For example, Movies Under the Stars are often moved to indoor areas if the weather doesn’t allow them to be held outdoors. Consult your activity schedule or check with your front desk about what activities proceed in the rain.
Heat (and Humidity) at Walt Disney World
Heat is a much different problem than rain. Heat is much more of a safety issue than rain. To that end, the most important tip is to stay hydrated. You can get free cups of water at most quick service establishments, you just have to ask. These days, its common for Disney just to put out jugs of ice water with disposable cups.
Also stay cool. If you get hot, go inside and cool down. Avoid situations where you can’t easily get inside, like lengthy outdoor queues and Toy Story Land.
I always dress in layers (because air conditioning in some shows is a little strong) and bring a bag to use when the day warms up. If I really need to zip through security, I’m sure to bring a small drawstring that easily fits in my pocket while I’m wearing my clothes.
Extreme Cold at Walt Disney World
Extreme cold is rare, but not unheard of, at Walt Disney World. As we mentioned earlier, the waterparks may close when it is cold enough.
We can’t confirm, but we suspect some water features may also be turned off in the parks. These include things like the play areas and the extra cross sprays at the end of Splash Mountain (which we’ve seen off a few cold mornings).
When it’s cold at Walt Disney World, just dress in layers and bring a bag to put outer layers into as the day warms up. If you’re unprepared, Disney actually says pretty cool cold-weather gear, and you’ll usually be able to find some mittens or a hat worth purchasing.
As with ponchos, Disney also sells basic cold weather gear, including simple beanie hats and gloves for around $10. These items are available at the register most days considered “Florida cold” (usually anything under 60 degrees).
All Your Other Disney World Planning Questions Answered
Don't be overwhelmed by Disney World planning! Take a second to check out our most important content and you'll not only be an expert, but you'll save big $$$ along the way. If you're still picking dates, we've got everything you need to know about Disney crowd calendars. For picking your hotel, check out our Walt Disney World hotels guide.
Don't forget to master your Disney World FastPass+ strategy a few months in advance. We'll keep you out of long lines so you can maximize the magical time in the parks! We've got park-specific guides as well: Magic Kingdom FastPass, Epcot FastPass, Animal Kingdom FastPass, and Hollywood Studios FastPass.
Finally, before you head out, be sure to check out our to-the-point packing list, 10 essentials you forget to pack for every Disney trip. And if you're interested in saving, there's no better list than our 53 Ways to Save on your Disney trip from start to finish.