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How to enjoy a day at Disneyland, in the rain

Written by
Published: February 17, 2009 at 3:25 PM

Tuesday Park Visit: February means rain in Southern California. But Disneyland's open every day, rain or shine. So how should a theme park fan prepare for a day at Disneyland in the rain?

Disneyland in the rain
You might see more of these than characters on the street if you visit Disneyland in a downpour.

Winter rains can last much of the day, so you'll need to prepare if you are to fully enjoy your day in the park, which you can if you've brought the correct gear.

Summer rains, which don't happen in Southern California but do hit just about everyday in Orlando, are a different beast. Those rains tend to be brief, but intense, interrupting your afternoon or early evening. For those, it's best just to plan indoor attractions and activities during those storms. (An early dinner, perhaps?)

What to wear

The most important factor affecting how much fun you'll have a Disneyland, or any theme park, in the rain is what you wear. I recommend a hooded jacket or parka that covers your rear end. Why? You'll be sitting in plenty of wet seats during your visit, from the parking lot tram to "Small World" boats. Better to sit on your jacket than get your pants wet.

Disneyland's Small World in the rain

I recommend jackets over ponchos, too. First, why shell out the money for a Disney poncho when you probably have a good rain jacket at home? Second, ponchos become little saunas when the sun emerges, as it has today throughout the L.A./Orange County area. You can always unzip your rain jacket and get some air.

Finally, I recommend hoods over umbrellas for two other reasons. First, that's one less thing you have to carry around the park. And second, courtesy. On crowded theme park walkways, I don't want your umbrella poking me in the eye or neck. Just leave it at home and put up your hood in the rain.

What to do

We've published a great four-hour tour of Disneyland, with touring tips, most of which apply in a rainstorm, as well as on a sunny day. Most of Disneyland's top attractions stand indoors, protected from the rain.

Here are a few rides, though, that you might want to skip, or be unable to ride, in the rain:

  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad - Roller coasters in the rain can be more pain than fun. Intense rain also can shut down this ride. If that happens, you really don't want to be stuck out on the track in a driving rain.
  • Tom Sawyer's Island - A great play area on a dry day, but your local park is a better value in the rain.
  • Tarzan's Treehouse - Often closed in the rain, due to slippery steps.
  • Splash Mountain - Not the best idea to get soaked on a chilly day. But if it's a warm rain and you're already wet, why not?
  • It's a Small World - The queue and load platform are uncovered, making this uncomfortable in heavy rain, not to mention soaking the boat seats.
  • Storybook Land - Ditto, plus the fact that the whole ride is outside. Save it for a dry day.
  • Mad Tea Party - Often does not operate in the rain due to a slick ride platform.
  • Dumbo - How much do you want to spin around with rain in your face?

    Think about where you'll want to eat lunch and dinner, too.

    Disneyland's Plaza Inn in the rain
    No one will be dining today on these dripping Plaza Inn seats.

    Your best bet is to call in advance and make reservations for the indoor Blue Bayou restaurant. If you can't get into the Bayou, Redd Rockett's Pizza Port is another good indoor option. Otherwise, you'll be trying to cram into limited covered seating areas at the other counter-service restaurants. If the rain's heavy and you can't get into one of the indoor restaurants, take a break and walk over to one of the nearby Downtown Disney restaurants instead.

    When not to go

    The great advantage to visiting Disneyland in the rain is - shorter lines. Let's face it, most folks are chicken about the weather. Especially in Southern Californian, where locals freak out in the rain. (Watch a local newscast on a rainy day sometime. It's like the apocalypse is happening.)

    But Disneyland in the rain isn't for everyone. If you have a toddler, that list of attractions that might be closed or uncomfortable could get you thinking twice about a rainy day trip. Parents might not want to spend full price for a Disneyland ticket if they can't take their child comfortably on several favorite Fantasyland rides.

    I'd also recommend that on rainy weekdays local visitors skip our traditional advice to get to the park at opening. Southern California drivers aren't the best in the rain, and you'll want to avoid a rainy morning rush hour on area highways, if you can. The lines won't be too bad; go ahead and wait until after nine to head out for the park.

    Got a favorite tip to help people cope with a rainy day in a theme park? Please share it in the comments. Thanks!

  • Readers' Opinions

    From Anthony Murphy on February 18, 2009 at 7:41 AM
    Like WDW in a cold snap :)

    Thats some good advice you got there Robert! I think it speaks volume of the difference between WDW (mostly indoor rides) to DL (mostly outdoor rides).


    A tip, which I will put on the top tips is I think the best WDW park to go to if you know its going to be pouring the entire day is EPCOT. Most of it is indoors!

    From Don Neal on February 18, 2009 at 7:44 AM
    I always wear clothing that will dry fast and breathes well. Sport shirts (think under armour, jogging shirts, etc) do really well. Also trunks are great especially if they have cargo pockets to carry stuff as well as dry fast if you do end up sitting in a puddle. Crocs are also great for comfort as well as drying quickly when dealing with wet conditions.
    From Joshua Counsil on February 22, 2009 at 6:00 PM
    My tip? Keep doing what you're doing! Go home, sissy out, and leave the park for the troopers! I love when it looks like it's going to be a rainy day, or when it starts downpouring, if it's only momentary. Lines shorten, crowds thin, and many of the rides become more interesting.

    The rain here is miserable, but the Cali/Florida rain is warm and inviting.

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