Obviously we all believe that the Parks aren't going to remain open if there's a possibility of real danger. But the truth is that Universal and Disney, much to our disappointment, aren't actually in control of the weather. They do keep the information channels open and close selected rides but , in general, they do try to remain open and we stick with it and make the most of it all.
In fact I think that spirit of adventure in us is ignited that bit more. People tend to pull together that little bit more too. Like we're all in this together and we're going to see it through. OK. Being at, say, Islands of Adventure, during a lightning storm isn't exactly " Saving Private Ryan" but you get my drift.
Then when the storm subsides and the skies begin to clear. There's that joyous moment when we all look around at each other with some pride at our " achievement".
It doesn't get better than that.
I recall a July 4th about 6-7 years back at Kings Island. It was a nice day all day, and crowds were light until about 4. Then the whole city of Cincinnati decided to come to Kings Island at about 5 and the park was packed. That evening, the weather turned on us to the point of a nasty storm that had possibilities of a tornado. Wild winds, close lightning, and torrential rain all came at once. All of this happened within about a half hour, while thousands of people were gathering on International street getting ready for the July 4 fireworks. Another factor was that most sections of the park were now closed because of the fireworks show, so all of the people were now occupying about 25-30% of the park. The conditions were right for chaos
Needless to say that once the big rain, lightning and heavy winds hit, an army of thousands stormed the exit gate, made a break for their cars, and created the biggest parking lot mess I've ever seen. This parking lot was the definition of fubar, as everyone wanted to leave right now and in a hurry, and Kings Island simply didn't have the trained manpower needed to direct traffic and deal with such a mess. Fights broke out and people were screaming and honking. It took a full 2 hours to get out of the lot, and by that time the bad weather had subsided. I remember thinking that we should have just ducked into a restaurant and had a drink or something. I would much rather be there during a tornado than my car. Lesson learned (or relearned) that day, think before you follow the crowd.
I will say, though, I will never ride ShiekRa in the rain again, that lift hill sucks when you keep getting rain drops in your eyes.
This meant that if you got to the parks early the queue times were really short, back to back rides on Montu in Busch Gardens for 30mins and of course no queue times for Atlantis in SeaWorld, no one is keen on getting wet when it's that cold :-)
On the downside there were some rides that were closed "until the track warmed up". In particular Manta at SeaWorld.
Is there some science to this or were they just waiting for the number of people in parks to increase before starting the rides?
Tornado: Go for the first strong shelter you can find. Preferably downhill from where you stand, if you have a choice.
Lightning: Head toward the nearest popular ride that's likely to remain open in a thunderstorm. If lightning strikes in your section of the park, just get on the ground, then scoot into the nearest permanent shelter. Avoid umbrellas, lampposts and metal strollers. And take the Bluetooth out of your ear, for Heaven's sake. (Actually, you should do that even if the weather's warm and sunny. Those things just look silly.)
Earthquake: If outside, move toward an open area, where stuff won't fall on you. If inside, move toward a doorway, or away from shelves, displays and hanging objects - again, where stuff won't fall on you. If that's not an option, get under the most sturdy table you can find and cover your head. After the shaking stops, move toward the most popular open ride in the vicinity. If everything's down while the park makes it checks, move toward the back of the park, and chat up employees to find which rides typically complete their checks the quickest. Then go there. Even if it's a catastrophic quake, I'd rather be inside a theme park, with food, generators and personnel trained in emergency response, than outside the park where chaos will prevail.
Hurricane: Go back in time two days when you should have heard the warning, then get your tush out of town, like you were supposed to. Sheesh.
Heavy rain: Read this. Then bring a raincoat and enjoy the small crowd.
Cold: Wear a hat and warm gloves with your coat. Do the outdoor rides until everyone else gives up and leaves. Then hit the indoor stuff as others abandon the park. Save the water rides for last. Splurge and spend the five bucks on the family dryer. Even if you don't ride a water ride. ;-)
My rule? If I have a theme park pass where I can go back the next day... then after 1 hour of peeing clouds... I'm OUTTA THERE to sightsee the indoor attractions of nearby places (aka the mall). Meanwhile, that 1 hour is spent browsing the theme park's indoor awesomeness... like taking pictures of myself with the cool gift shops.
If there is no pass (and the rain has hopes of clearing up in 1.5 hours) STAY IN THE PARK AND DON'T BE A WUSS. There's more to theme parks than just outdoor rides. It's a "themed" park!!!!! Discover them.
If there's no pass and rain will destroy everything for 75% of the day-- wtf are you doing in a theme park to begin with? Doesn't ANYONE check the weather before deciding to spend hundreds of dollars on a single day? If it says 60% or more of rain, then you better have Plans A-G handy.
Then, as it was the last day of our six-day stay, it was the perfect day to take our daughters on the "world tour." We stopped at each country in Epcot, and they were able to take their time in making their special craft from each country. They even had Mary Poppins all to themselves for about 30 minutes at the U.K. pavilion. Priceless!!
Anyway, when people asked us what we did that summer, we said, "We went around the world in a tropical storm!" - W.P.