We’re just back from our mother and son trip to Disneyland and we had an awesome time. Going with a little boy is very different than going with a girl. This trip had no princesses or fancy dresses, but lots of Star Wars and Toy Story. My daughter loves roller coasters and thrill rides while my son is better at sitting through shows and parades. But one thing was constant between this latest trip and the one in November: the rain.
I know the odds are in your favour for getting sunny weather when you visit Southern California, but both the two day trips I took this year had rain each day. Our November trip involved one day with light drizzle and another with periods of fairly heavy rain, but this latest trip featured two “mega storms” in a two day period. The first storm happened overnight and was pretty much over by the time we got to the park in the morning, but the second one dropped two inches of rain our second morning at Disney. At one point it was raining so heavily that we might as well have been standing in a shower going full blast. So I’ve had my fair share of touring Disney in the rain recently and I’ve picked up a few tips to share.
1) Staying close is a huge help
We were at one of the closest hotels to the parks both times and it really made a difference to be less than ten minutes from the entrance gates. When we were hit with the torrential rains on Friday we were pretty much drenched to the skin after less than two hours at the park. We were able to duck back to the hotel, warm back up, dry our shoes with the hotel hairdryer and change into warm, dry clothes and be back to the park by lunch time. This would be much harder if we had to walk an extra 15 minutes each way or if we had to wait for a shuttle or trek out to the parking lot to get a break.
2) Lots of things get closed/cancelled in the rain
Outdoor rides can be closed during heavy rain or winds and even after a light rain they can be closed for a while. For example, it had stopped raining by 8 am on one day but they were mopping up and testing the Teacups and the Alice in Wonderland rides until about 10 am. Outdoor acts like the Dapper Dans and the Red Car Newsboys don’t perform in the rain and the parades are cancelled for even a light drizzle. Fireworks may happen in the rain, but any sort of wind will cancel them. It was pretty disappointing for us back in November when they cancelled the Christmas parade and the fireworks on the same night, but there’s not much you can do to prevent it.
3) Lines can be shorter in the rain
I’ve often read in people’s tips for visiting Disney that rainy days are a great time to go since the lines are so short. And we did get a bit of that on both trips. We were able to walk on to some rides and ride others with very short waits at times. However, when the rain is shutting things down and people don’t want to be outside, the indoor rides can get very busy. Restaurants with indoor seating can also fill up. On even a moderately busy day the lack of options can lead to long lines and busy indoor spaces.
4) Consider your choice of park
Both my recent trips had a Thursday with only a little rain and a Friday with heavy rains, but I did the parks in a different order each time, starting in California Adventure the first trip and in Disneyland the second. In my opinion, California Adventure is a much better park for a rainy day than Disneyland. Both parks have quite a few outdoor rides, but our favourite rides at DCA like Soarin, Toy Story Midway Mania, Little Mermaid and Monsters Inc. are indoors. DCA also has a lot of great shows like Aladdin, Muppet Vision 3D, Turtle Talk with Crush and Disney Jr Live on Stage. We were able to spend a lot of the rainiest part of the day ducking from one show to another. If you are visiting during a stretch of bad weather, I would try to save the better days for Disneyland and plan to go to California Adventure on the rainiest ones.
5) Check the forecast before you go and pack for the weather
As soon as it starts to rain at Disneyland, all the shops in the parks and the surrounding areas start selling ponchos for $8-$10. These are the same ponchos that you can pick up at the dollar store before you go for a buck or two. I also brought a jumbo garbage bag and a couple of clothespins to make a snug fitting stroller cover so I wouldn’t come off the rides to a soaking wet stroller. It’s also handy to have a small hand towel to dry off the ride seats since even the indoor rides may have had someone sitting in them in a dripping raincoat. If you have room in your luggage, a second pair of shoes is great if you’d like to avoid having to dry your shoes with the hotel hair dryer like I did.
6) Don’t forget to have fun!
I would love to have perfect weather for every trip, but I try not to dwell on things I can’t change. Sure, a rainy Disney trip has some disadvantages, but a rainy day at Disneyland is still way better than a sunny day at home! Even in the rain, it’s still the happiest place on earth.