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Tip of the week: Check the weather before you travel

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Published: October 30, 2012 at 9:05 AM
This week's super storm provides a great reminder of an important theme park vacation tip: Check the weather before you go.

Sandy attacks!My favorite Photoshopped Hurricane Sandy picture. If you're going to fake a photo, go all out.

You might think that the weather in Southern California or Central Florida is always gorgeous. And it very often is. (Sorry, friends up north!) But even in LA and Orlando, nasty weather strikes from time to time. You'd be surprised how many visitors forget that fact. They carelessly pack their shorts and swimsuits, thinking that they'll be enjoying stereotypical weather, no matter what's actually in the forecast.

My mother, who lives in the Orlando area, and I kid each other that whatever weather one of us is having - the other's weather is the opposite. If it's raining in Orlando, it's dry in Los Angeles. If it's warm in LA, it's on the cool side in Orlando. There might be something to that - Orlando's summers bring daily thunderstorms, while summer's the dry season in Southern California. Winters? Kinda the opposite: more rainy in LA and drier in Florida. So while LA and Orlando typically enjoy nicer weather than the rest of the country, rain, extreme heat, storms and even snow can happen.

A few weeks ago, the temperature hit 108 degrees in Anaheim. Hurricane Sandy blew strong winds across Central Florida before moving up the coast to New Jersey. I've seen theme park visitors shivering because they didn't prepare for a forecast cold snap, and wet and miserable tourists complaining about their day because they didn't change their plans to accommodate the rain. (Here are six tips for enjoying a day at a theme park in the rain.)

If you pack the right clothes and adjust your schedule to deal with the weather, you can enjoy a theme park visit in almost any weather. But if you don't look at the forecast and plan ahead, you can end up having a miserable day if you're caught in weather you didn't expect.

So go online, look in the paper or check your phone's weather app just before you pack to go. Find out what the weather will be at your destinations, and come prepared. And if you're facing extreme weather, such as a hurricane, call ahead to see if you can rebook to another time. If a hurricane warning is imminent, most places want to keep you out of the area and would be happy to rebook you to another time without penalty. But you have to ask.

Have you ever been caught by extreme weather while on vacation (or while working in a theme park)? Please share your story in the comments.

For more tips on how to get the most from your family vacation, visit our 100 Travel Tips for Visiting Theme Parks page.

Readers' Opinions

From 81.70.136.4 on October 30, 2012 at 9:34 AM
Once, when I left from Amsterdam to my regular visit to my parents in Orlando they told everyone who was flying to the US that all flights were cancled EXCEPT for my flight. My flight was going via Washington Dulles. That airport has, because of the fact of the president living there and air force one is stationed there, a heated landing strip. My plane could go and lift up in Washington to go to Orlando. Can you imagine my relieve. Now I always try to fly via Washington instead of NY or other stops because of that.
From Brian Emery on October 30, 2012 at 12:39 PM
Godzilla…. Rules….

From 74.106.18.211 on November 1, 2012 at 7:44 PM
I went with my husband and children to Disney World in January '09. Weather was great and crowds were minimal. The following January, I convinced my entire family: siblings, their spouses, children, and my parents to go to Disney World. The week we were there was a record cold snap. We even had snow one day. The fountains that normally spray water were turned to ice. Lizards were falling out of the trees. And the leaves on the trees started to change colors. We were all FREEZING!!!
From 174.52.53.29 on November 4, 2012 at 9:35 PM
I was very glade I checked the forcast when we went to Orlando last December. I packed the winter coat hat and gloves and REALLY needed them during the freezing temps. I am not sure but I think it may have been a record. It was interesting watching the news stories on how they project the oranges from freezing by spraying them with water so that ice will form on them. I am really hoping for better weather this year.

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