Daunting forecasts loom over Disney World’s final summer weekend

Mother and daughters stroll through Epcot in Walt Disney World on Thursday.

Mother and daughters stroll through Epcot in Walt Disney World on Thursday.

ORLANDO-“Today? It will rain today,” Dominic, a Florida taxi driver, says like a

prophet, his eyes cast upwards. Above the nearing green exit sign announcing Orlando

looms a menacing storm cloud. Dominic moves to close the windows.

Along with Dominic, Orlando’s local weather station, Channel 9, calls for intermittent

showers throughout the last weekend of summer for Walt Disney World theme parks in Orlando,

FL.

“Yesterday was raining and we couldn’t enjoy ourselves,” a family of three traveling

from Karachi, Pakistan, regretfully comments. Encumbered with umbrellas, raincoats,

and a two-year-old Rania’s stroller, the visiting family felt that their three-day trip to

Disney would have been better enjoyed in good weather.

Although Disney World sees a shift from light to moderate crowds in the month of

September, their average reported 53,000 guests per day in four theme parks still

constitute an off season, according to 2012 statistics.

Total precipitation for the month of June was lower this year at 7.18 inches, compared to

the normal 8.74 inches, according to U.S climate data. The discrepancy was made up for

in August, when it rained 2.48 inches more than average at 10.31 inches.

Lucky for park visitors, rain does not shut down the theme parks entirely.

“Rides don’t run in extreme rain or lightening,” says Epcot customer service

representative, Matthew, adding that they do still operate in light showers. In the four

parks, that leaves 54 indoor attractions open and bustling with damp tourists.

According to Matthew, forecasts do nothing to deter visitors. Florida summers are

notorious for their passing thunderstorms, he says, yet June July and August months are

continuously known as high season.

Among the weather-spared attractions are iconic rides like Magic Kingdoms Haunted

Mansion, a Doom Buggie ride through a uniquely creepy house troubled by shockingly

realistic ghosts and moving ladders. Other tried and tested classics include Space

Mountain, Peter Pan’s Flight and “it’s a small world,” all located in Magic Kingdom.

Of the indoor rides, six-year old Disney fanatic, James, named Peter Pan’s Flight as his

favorite because of a matching stuffed animal he has at home.

Apart from attractions, all four of Disney’s parks have skits, interactive exhibits, curated

museums and short films to entertain. Activities not without educational value are found

in Magic Kingdoms “The Hall of Presidents,” Animal Kingdom’s “Conservation

Station,” and Epcot’s “Gallery of Arts and History,” and Hollywood Studio’s

“Mupet*Vision 3D.”

As the four parks are significantly spread apart, accessible to each other only by

monorail, bus, or taxi, weather conditions are not always applicable from one park to

another.

“When it rains in Walt Disney, it isn’t always raining everywhere else,” Australian

transplant and Animal Kingdom employee, Shelley, shares. “We always have a warning

though, because the birds will start singing really loudly. All of the animals become very

active in the rain.”

When rain is unavoidable, lockers are available for rent at the entrance of each park. For

$8-$10 a day, (depending on size selection) guests can store cameras, extra shoes, or any

other personal items.

Although rain can be inconvenient, the alternative of sun may not be the most ideal theme

park condition, either. With temperatures reaching in the high 90’s in summer months,

air-conditioned indoor attractions serve as shelter once again.

“I prefer going to Disney when it’s raining out. It lessens the blow,” said Radisson Hotel

concierge, Desirea, making fanning motions with her hand.

Not coincidentally, most tourists feel similarly to Desirea, opting for a happy medium of

neither too much sun or too much rain: autumn.

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