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Don’t Get Caught Out By A Thunderstorm in Walt Disney World – Know These Tips!

Typically the weather in the Walt Disney World Resort is excellent. We all dream of Blue skies and sunshine when visiting the Disney Parks, even if it gets a little too hot. However, Florida is also known for its rain and thunderstorms. As we approach summer, you can expect a few more thunderstorms to feature in your Disney vacation.

Unfortunately, the weather can affect your plans in Walt Disney World. However, a few things to know will help you when a thunderstorm arrives. Knowing these tips before your Disney vacation should help you appreciate the impressive thunderstorms without spoiling your Disney experience.

Disney Transport is Affected

It’s probably no surprise that a thunderstorm over Lake Buena Vista affects most of the Walt Disney World Transportation System. Disney watercraft is paused for the safety of all Guests and Cast Members. So what does this mean for Guests relying on the Disney Boats?

Disney's Yacht Club Pier
Credit: V Mills

You will need to walk if you need to travel to one of the EPCOT Resort hotels, including Disney’s BoardWalk Inn, Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club Resorts, and the Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin. You must also do the same if you wish to return to Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, and Disney’s Contemporary Resort from Magic Kingdom Park. Meanwhile, you can catch the bus from the Magic Kingdom bus station if your Disney Resort hotel is Disney’s Wilderness Lodge or Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground. Additionally, Guests of Disney’s Old Key West Resort or Disney’s Port Orleans Resorts, who are at Disney Springs when the thunderstorm arrives, can use the bus to return to their Disney hotel.

If you are a Guest using a car when visiting Magic Kingdom Park, there is good news for you. Despite all other Disney watercraft stopping their operation during a thunderstorm, the Magic Kingdom Ferry Boat continues to sail. Therefore, you can return to your car from Magic Kingdom should you plan on leaving the Disney Park due to the weather.

Magic Kingdom Ferry Boat
Credit: V Mills

Similarly, the Disney Skyliner will pause operation until lightning has passed. As such, Guests of the Disney Skyliner Resort hotels will need to use the Disney buses to travel between their hotel and Disney’s Hollywood Studios or EPCOT.

Surprisingly, the Disney Monorail also pauses operation when lightning is in the area. As such, you won’t be able to travel to any of the Disney Monorail Resorts from Magic Kingdom Park. Similarly, the EPCOT Monorail will only resume when lightning has passed.

Restaurants Fill Up Quickly

If you are in the Disney Parks when the weather turns at the Walt Disney World Resort, you will find that all outdoor attractions are temporarily closed. As a result, restaurants can become busy very quickly.

You should expect that walk-in availability at full-service restaurants will become limited rapidly. After all, sitting down for some food is a great way to pass the time while the weather is unfavorable. Securing advance dining reservations earlier in the day can help to beat the dining rush. We recommend checking the weather forecast the evening before or the morning of your day in the Disney Parks. Should you see that rain is expected, you can make an advance dining reservation to coincide with the weather.

We appreciate, however, that the forecast can change. Sometimes you can’t avoid the Florida rain! Indoor quick-service restaurants are an excellent place to pause when it begins to rain. However, you will need to choose quickly to beat the rush. Alternatively, if the grey clouds start to gather, choose a dining location and head inside. While you may be finished eating while the thunderstorm is still going on, you are sure to stay dry inside.

Walt Disney World in the Rain
Credit: How To Disney

Car Parks Become Chaotic

You may find that you are arriving at a Disney theme park during a thunderstorm. Generally, theme park car parks have parking attendants who guide you to free spaces. However, they head to safety to take shelter once the rain begins and lightning is due. During such times, the car parks can become chaotic. While you can drive where you want to, looking for a parking space, many Guests move against the arrows.

Once you’ve found a space, take care when talking through the car parks. You can expect heavier traffic nearby. Additionally, your feet may not stay dry due to the large puddles that quickly develop due to the heavy rain.

Credit: V Mills

Fireworks are Delayed but not Cancelled

You read that correctly! Generally, a thunderstorm only delays Disney fireworks. They are only canceled in extreme circumstances. Of course, delays can be pretty substantial, resulting in lengthy waits. Remember that you can also get drenched while waiting! However, it’s positive news to know that you still have the opportunity to see Happily Ever After, Fantasmic!, or EPCOT Forever should there be a wet evening in the Walt Disney World Resort. Regular announcements are made when the Disney fireworks are delayed to keep you informed.

Carrying ponchos or rain jackets can help you stay dry when the nighttime spectaculars are delayed. However, taking shelter can be difficult, as doing so can cause you to give up that perfect viewing spot you have secured. Consider dining at quick-service locations on the water’s edge of World Showcase Lagoon in EPCOT to help stay dry. Similarly, viewing Happily Ever After from Main Street U.S.A in Magic Kingdom provides easy store access.

Indoor Attractions are the Place to Be

For safety reasons, outdoor attractions, such as Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in Magic Kingdom and Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, will temporarily close when lightning is in the area. Therefore, you can expect a rush to indoor attractions, including Avatar Flight of Passage in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Spaceship Earth in EPCOT, Haunted Mansion in Magic Kingdom, and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. You may wish to consider purchasing individual lightning lane tickets for a ride if some are available during the storm. Otherwise, you can take shelter by waiting in line. Purchase of Disney Genie+ earlier in the day can be advantageous when the weather turns, as you can continue to make lightning lane reservations for indoor rides during a thunderstorm.

EPCOT World Showcase Poncho
Credit: V Mills

You may wish to Exit the Disney Water Parks & Disney Resort Pool Areas

Inclement weather impacts Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon and Disney’s Blizzard Beach operations. You may wish to leave if you are in a Disney water park during a thunderstorm. Alternatively, take shelter in the shops or restrooms, and wait for the storm to pass. Once storms have passed, the Disney water parks are an excellent place to be, as lines are short, and you can enjoy the lazy rivers and wave pools with few Guests around.

Unfortunately, the slides and pools at the Disney Resort hotels are also affected when lightning is in the area. You will be asked to exit the water until it is safe to reenter. Disney lifeguards are usually on hand to help create other fun if a storm is around for longer. You may be able to enjoy games, coloring, and other activities in the Disney hotel lobbies.

Stormalong Bay Rain, Disney's Yacht & Beach Club Resort
Credit: V Mills

Don’t let a thunderstorm ruin your next Disney vacation. We love finding a sheltered spot to watch the sky for lightning forks when it’s grey. Or maybe even dance in the rain!

Victoria Mills

Victoria is a Disney-loving, tea-drinking, Math teacher from Liverpool, England. Her motto is 'work hard, Disney harder'! Having taken part in the Disney College Program back in 2010, Victoria's love and appreciation for Walt Disney World only grew, and it's the place where she feels most herself - it's home!

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