Who says that rain has to ruin your theme park experience? Whether or not the outdoor rides are still running, you can have the time of your life! Here are our best ideas and tips from someone who has fought through quite a few rainy days at Universal Orlando.
Pack a poncho!
It’s always good to bring a cheap poncho with you to the parks, even if it’s supposed to be a sunny day (not everyone loves getting soaked on Jurassic Park: River Adventure!). Universal’s ponchos are around $8.00 a pop; whereas you can probably get one off-site for about a buck or so at a retail or grocery store.
But if you do have to buy your ponchos inside Universal, here’s a hint: try to buy them at the Wizarding Worlds, because they sell special ponchos with the WWoHP insignia!
If you’re already wet, hit up the water rides!
You’re already wet, so this is the best time to conquer Jurassic Park: River Adventure, Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls, and Popeye and Bluto’s Bilge Rat Barges, all of which are located inside Islands of Adventure.
And the rain adds to the ambiance of Jurassic Park quite nicely.
Ride the Storm Force Accelatron
You know of the $5.00 human-sized dryers outside the water rides? Well, Storm Force Accelatron at IOA’s Marvel Super Hero Island performs the same duty for free!
On the last rainy day I visited Universal, there was basically no line and the operator let us ride it multiple times until we were basically dry again. Storm Force Accelatron is a fun distraction with an overhang to protect you from the rain, and many people don’t take it into consideration when they are looking for things to do.
Take a break in the Hog’s Head
The bar at the back of the Three Broomsticks serves the Hog’s Head Brew to those 21 and older, and it also serves both frozen and regular Butterbeer if you aren’t old enough or inclined to drink. This is a great place to wait out the rain, as there are plenty of places to sit and stand, and there are lots of great Harry Potter-related themed elements to check out.
My friends and I played “guess the tune” and spent our waiting period trying to figure out when a particular Harry Potter melody played in the movies. Time flew by and the sun came out again. It’s also a great time to charge your smartphone or tablet and maybe play a game or two, including the popular Heads Up! game.
Just because Hog’s Head isn’t always full to the brim when it’s raining doesn’t mean the same thing can be said for Honeydukes: I ran over there to get a chocolate-covered apple and wound up standing in a very long line with a bunch of very wet patrons. Most people take the rain as a sign to head out, and this sends them into Honeydukes to make their final purchases. If you plan to wait out the rain, the Hog’s Head is a much better (and warmer) place to do it!
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Go on the indoor rides
If you are in Islands of Adventure when it starts raining and you still want to go on rides, the best idea is to quickly head over to Universal Studios Florida. Islands of Adventure definitely has more outdoor rides than Universal Studios does, whereas Universal Studios has all this indoor fun: Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem, Shrek 4D, Revenge of the Mummy, Disaster, Men in Black: Alien Attack, Escape from Gringotts etc.
When you head back to IOA later, there are still a few indoor rides you can hit, like Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, and the Cat in the Hat.
Islands of Adventure now has Skull Island: Reign of Kong, which is a great ride to head to when it is raining. The ride was actually designed to operate in both sunny weather and rainy weather with its bypass. The ride vehicle normally leaves the station and heads outside where guests venture through the giant Skull Island doors. When it’s raining however, this is switched over to the indoor bypass so the ride can still operate. Yes, your ride is a bit shorter, but you’ll still be able to experience all of the highlights of the latest attraction to open at Islands of Adventure.
It’s also a good idea to take in a show at either park, such as Terminator 2 3-D at Universal Studios or Poseidon’s Fury in Islands of Adventure. Poseidon’s Fury is great after a day in the rain, as the show features a significant amount of fire that can warm you up and dry you off.
But beware of making the indoor attraction decision – this will be the first thought in everyone’s heads, and the wait times for these shows and rides will be significantly longer.
Visit Ollivander’s Wand Shop
Since the queue for Ollivander’s in Hogsmeade is completely outdoor with no cover (or entertainment), guests are much less inclined to enter it during a rainfall. This is your chance, poncho-covered, to get in line and get inside without much wait at all! You can also head over to Diagon Alley over at Universal Studios and visit Ollivander’s there as well.
Hungry? Go back to your on-site hotel or grab a meal
I’ve only been lucky enough to stay on-site once during all my visits to Universal, and it didn’t rain at all on that trip. But if it had, I definitely would have considered going back to the hotel to wait it out. Universal’s on-site hotels are all so close that it doesn’t take much time to get back, and even if you did get wet on your way there, you’d have a change of clothes and a hair dryer in your room.
It’s also a good time to stop for lunch or dinner, or even a snack if you can find a dry spot to take a break…
The Fast Food Boulevard area of Universal Studios Florida offers a variety of quick service options if you don’t want to head back to your hotel. Over at Islands of Adventure, you have several quick service options to choose from that you can hide from the rain. Some of the larger ones include Circus McGurkus, Cafe 4 in Marvel Superhero Island, Comic Strip Cafe in Toon Lagoon and The Three Broomsticks in Hogsmeade.
But, same as the previous tip, this is something everyone else will be doing, too, so expect crowds of poncho people in your favorite restaurant.
Ride a roller coaster
Riding a coaster in the rain takes things to the next level, and it’s a level I’m not sure I’m all together comfortable with. The outdoor rides, especially the roller coasters, will shut down if there is any thunder or lightning in the area. But, if it’s just raining, they will usually remain operational.
This particular situation happened to me and my three friends: the day had been cloudy, but there hadn’t been any rain. We waited in line for the front row of the Hulk for a long time, and when we were finally strapped in and ready to go, they announced: “hope everybody is ready, because the Hulk just became a water ride!” We were in the tube, and we could see the pouring rain at the end of the tunnel.
The way I constantly describe what followed is “glass bullets blowing up in our faces.” It was quite an experience – not necessarily one I would want to repeat, but definitely one I will never forget.
Have your own tips for how to stay entertained during a rainy day at the parks? Share ’em below.
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