Top Five Disney Theme Park Weather Conditions

You’ve spent months planning the perfect Disney vacation. You’ve accounted for every possible contingency. You’ve packed enough stuff to outfit an expedition to the real Mount Everest. You’ve psyched your entire family into a Disney-induced preoccupation.

And now you’ve arrived at your chosen Disney destination. And there’s weather.

Do not despair! I have compiled a complete list of Disney Weather Conditions along with What-to-do-about-it ideas. So without further ado, and before this post is called on account of weather, let’s start with:

CONDITION NUMBER FIVE

COLD & RAINY

Tut, tut, it looks like rain! Nothing says ‘fun’ like riding an attraction in a deluge of Biblical proportions. We like riding Splash Mountain or the Grizzly Bear Rapids to get wet, but Autopia or The Magic Carpets of Aladdin? Not so much.

Here’s what to do: Do not leave the park! Everyone else will, so this is the perfect time to do indoor attractions that usually have long lines. Also, it’s a great time to shop because the stores will be less crowded, and the Cast Members will be able to give you better attention. Grab a bite at that busy restaurant that you can never get reservations for.

In short, continue to have fun. Oh, and wear a Mickey Poncho!

CONDITION NUMBER FOUR

ANYBODY’S GUESS

Those who live in Florida have a saying: Don’t like the weather? Wait a few minutes, it’ll change! Remember earlier when I said you planned for every contingency, and packed everything you’d need? Well, that’s great. But if you get up in the morning and it’s sunny, so you wear shorts and a t-shirt with no coat, but two hours later it’s cloudy and windy with a wee nip in the air, followed by one of Florida’s famous downpours, followed minutes later by scorching temperatures, you quickly realize that this weather condition isn’t much better than a full rainy day!

Here’s what to do: Watch the skies. Sometimes the weather is merciful and gives a few moments warning of what it has planned. Learn to roll with the punches and deploy that famous sense of humor of yours. You have one of those, right? It won’t help!

CONDITION NUMBER THREE

WINDY

Hang onto your Mickey Ears because it’s about to get blustery! This isn’t one of the worst weather conditions you can face at Disney, but it does present some challenges. You may want to rent a locker and stow the hats and other loose articles. Do up the coats. And get ready to acquire a taste for dust!

The main problem with this weather condition is that some rides may be shut down, such as Characters in Flight in Disney Springs.

Here’s what to do: Just keep having fun and try to make a game of dodging debris.

CONDITION NUMBER TWO

CLOUDY

Now we’re getting closer to the ideal weather conditions for a perfect Disney vacation! When the day is overcast, but not raining, usually the temperatures are moderate. The sun isn’t beating down on you and the blonde-haired person in your party isn’t a bright red yet.

Here’s what to do: Go on as many of the slower outdoor rides that you can. Driving with the top down (the cars, not yours) on The Tomorrowland Speedway for example is much more enjoyable without depleted-ozone induced cosmic rays killing you! It may also be the time to rent that watercraft and get out on the Seven Seas Lagoon. If it’s windy too, don’t rent a sail boat or you may end up in another State!

CONDITION NUMBER ONE

HOT & SUNNY

Ding! Turn me over, I think I’m done. California and Florida can get pretty hot when the sun shines in the middle of Summer. So you may think that this would be the worst time to be at a Disney park, right? Wrong!

Here’s what to do: You can use the heat for an excuse to scarf down a dozen Mickey Bars. You can ride a water-based attraction and get soaked. No problem, you will be dry by the time you get to the next attraction. If all else fails, you should be able to talk your family into some pool time back at the Resort. And trust me, you’ll quickly learn how to bathe in a drinking fountain.

Also, bright sunny days provide the best conditions for taking awesome photographs!

Sure, you’re going to suffer. But enjoy the sun while it lasts. Remember, you’ll be back at work in the middle of Winter before you know it!

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So there you have it, my Top Five list of weather conditions that you may encounter at a Disney park. And maybe I’ll see you there some day. I’ll be the one shaking my fist at the sky and screaming ‘WHY’ over and over again!

Top Five List: Why Wait in Long Disney Line Ups?

A: Because you’re crazy.

B: Because you have no choice.

C: Because it’s the only way to get into or onto an attraction.

D: Because after you’ve read this post, you’ll realize it’s not that bad.

E: All of the above.

OK, probably this is an occasion when the answer is ‘All of the Above’. But for the purpose of this post, we’re going to pretend that only statement D is true!

So why shouldn’t you mind waiting in a long line at Disney? It’s Top Five time:

Reason No. 5

Anticipation

One year we stayed at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground and had to wait in line for many a bus. Waiting for Disney transportation is probably the first long line you will experience on your trip and can be very frustrating!

But what are you really waiting for? Your day of magic is about to begin and perhaps a delayed bus ride is just the time you need to reflect on what you hope to reap from your day. It can be a time to plan and a time to get excited about what is to come!

OK, I realize this is a bit of a stretch, but that’s why it’s Reason number 5.

Reason No. 4

Beautiful Views

Although you almost always have to wait to get anywhere at a Disney Park, it doesn’t have to be drab. The Water Taxis around Walt Disney World ply the most scenic areas of the property. Views from most docks are breathtaking! Take a moment (or many moments if the boat isn’t on time) to relax and take it all in.

Reason No. 3

Atmosphere

    

Whether it be waiting for a table at a restaurant or entering the queue of a beloved attraction, Disney always tries to enhance the experience.

This time of waiting can prepare you for the event to come! Sitting in a waiting area that looks like grandma’s old kitchen will only make that traditional meal taste better. And passing through a cloud of foreboding fog will get your mind adjusted to the weird and wild attraction that has ‘terror’ in its name!

Reason No. 2

Unique Perspectives

    

Most lines for E-Ticket attractions are very long and heavily themed. So bring along your camera and take lots of pictures. Sometimes you can see things that aren’t always obvious from other places in the parks.

For example, you can see the loading areas from above, or watch ride vehicles pass underneath you as they leave or return to the loading area. Standing outside an attraction can give you a basic idea of what it’s about, but walking through its line (even if painfully long) can give you a more intimate feel for what the Imagineers were going for!

Reason No. 1

Interaction

Disney realizes that no one visits a park to stand in line. So they do try to make the waiting less aggravating by supplying something to do. In the Soarin’ queue at Epcot, guests can enjoy interactive screens and activities. In other attraction lines, there may be things to play with, audio stimulation, or tactile challenges.

These five reasons not enough to convince you to enjoy standing in line?

Then never forget that you are usually with your family or friends! And you are surrounded by other Disney Guests who may be just as bored as you are. I’ve enjoyed some very interesting conversations and shared tips and experiences with fellow ‘liners’ only to find it’s time to board the ride and I was left wondering where the time went!

Your time at Disney will only be as fun as you choose to make it, so find the joy wherever you can, even in that long line-up!

Magical Blogorail: Family Adventure – Weeki Wachee Springs

Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Peach Loop. Today we are discussing theme parks that would be perfect for your next family adventure. Welcome aboard!


W E E K I     W A C H E E     S P R I N G S

We’ve visited this State Park twice now, and although it isn’t as big as some of its competing roadside attractions, it still offers much to entertain the whole family!

Weeki Wachee Springs is located in Spring Hill, FL at the intersection of S.R. 50 and Hwy. 19 which places it just 45 minutes North of Tampa and 2 hours West of Orlando. The full address is: 6131 Commercial Way, Spring Hill, FL 34606.

So why should you make the trip to Weeki Wachee Springs?

SPRINGS: The Weeki Wachee River winds its way 12 miles to the Gulf of Mexico. But it starts from a spring. The Seminole Indians named the spring “Weeki Wachee,” which means “little spring” or “winding river.” The spring is so deep that the bottom has never been found. Each day, more than 117 million gallons of clear, fresh 74-degree water bubbles up out of subterranean caverns.

RIVER BOAT CRUISE: Take a ride down the pristine waterway of the Weeki Wachee River as experienced boat captains give you an educational experience about the river and the different types of natural wildlife that might be seen during the trip. This may include manatees! They have swum next to boats and have been known to interrupt the live Mermaid shows (see next entry).

You can also rent canoes and kayaks and make your own way down the river!

MERMAIDS: There are ‘real’ mermaids swimming and putting on shows for audiences in the Mermaid Theater that seats 500 and is embedded in the side of the spring 16 feet below the surface. The Little Mermaid and Fish Tails are the shows presently in production.

Ariel and her sisters (2008)

This post, and the Peach Loop in general, is to introduce you to family-friendly tourist destinations. So I feel I should put in a word of warning at this point: There be boobies!

Well-endowed Mermaids in bikini tops aren’t the only occurrence of this overt feature of Weeki Wachee Springs. Stone statues are installed throughout the park and there is a whole line of topless sirens-of-the-deep at the entrance (see opening image for reference).

 

The statues are tasteful and are no worse than what you would see in an art museum, but I just thought forewarned was forearmed. You may want to bring blinders for the little ones… or the husbands.

ANIMAL SHOWS: The animal encounters provide you with a first-hand glimpse of some of Florida’s native wildlife including alligators, snakes, birds, and others.

 

BUCCANEER BAY: Florida’s only spring-fed water park, the thrilling flume rides empty you into the pristine waters of Buccaneer Bay. Lil’ Mates Caribbean Cove (Kiddie Pool) is an area reserved for kids 6 years of age and younger.  A water play area that the kids will enjoy and where Mom and Dad can relax as a trained lifeguard supervises.

Of course, Buccaneer Bay is a seasonal offering. Please visit the official website for more detailed information, directions, and pictures.

To conclude, I’d just like to mention that the park has been used for a backdrop in many films. And Don Knotts once visited the Mermaid Theater to promote his (then) new movie The Incredible Mr. Limpet, and how cool is that?

For more information on family adventures in theme parks,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


Here is the map of our Blogorail Peach | Family Adventure | Theme Parks

Magical Blogorail: Disneyland Hotels – Good Neighbor Hotels

Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Blue Loop. Today we are reviewing the official Disneyland hotels and some of Disneyland’s Good Neighbor hotels.


Good Neighbor Hotel: Howard Johnson

We booked our reservations at the Howard Johnson through a friend who is a Disney travel agent and we never regretted the decision! Everything went off without a hitch thanks to the professionalism of our agent and the friendly staff at the hotel.

I intend to keep this review short with a what-you-really-need-to-know approach. So with that said, here is the room we stayed in:

    

The bed was very comfortable and the decor was nice with everything being extra clean. We also had a great view of Disneyland off our balcony. Well, parts of it anyway:

    

Taking a peek at the nighttime fireworks

Blue Monorail with the Matterhorn

Red Monorail with the Matterhorn

Blue sky with the Matterhorn

The hotel was just a 5-minute walk from the entrance to Disneyland. Pricing varies with the time of visit and length of stay, so suffice it to say that we found the cost to be at least 40% cheaper than a Disneyland hotel, if not even cheaper.

The wife and I (or is it Minnie?) arriving

You can also enjoy the Family Water Playground: “Our Castaway Cove pirate themed water park area is the only one in Anaheim outside of the Disney hotels. Kids of all ages will enjoy a 30-foot pirate ship with slides, water cannons, fountains, toddler wading pool, 200-gallon drench bucket and more. There is something for everyone at Castaway Cove, from your Captain to your tiniest buccaneer. Don’t miss the 15-person Hot Tub Spa, or the Garden Pool, a separate secluded area for swimming, relaxing or getting that California tan.” It was too cold for us to take advantage of these amenities when we visited. Oh well, next time!

Other amenities include free wi-fi, free parking, gym, restaurant and bar, convenience store, great staff, and of course, information on all-things Disney!

For more Disneyland hotel reviews,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Blue | Disneyland & Good Neighbor Hotel Reviews Loop:

Canada’s Wonderland Vs. Disney Parks

Only one mountain, but it’s a doozy!

When amusement parks go head to head, it’s very hard to pick a clear winner. Any determination will be highly subjective and depend entirely on the taste of the reviewer.

The purpose of this post is to highlight Canada’s Wonderland (CW), as most of my readers are all too familiar with the Disney parks, and don’t need me to point out the attractions and features therein. But as I compare CW to the Disney parks, I will be declaring a winner in each of the categories listed, just to get everyone arguing!

Opened in 1981, this 330-acre amusement park located in Vaughan, Ontario, was the first major ‘theme’ park in Canada, and it remains the country’s largest. Canada’s Wonderland has been the most visited seasonal amusement park in North America for several consecutive years. In 2014, it was the second most visited park in the Cedar Fair chain, behind Knott’s Berry Farm, with approximately 3.5 million visitors.

Disneyland (above) & Walt Disney World

Disneyland was opened in 1955 with Walt Disney World following 16 years later in 1971. Both parks have had amazing success and are the heavy hitters in this comparison! For the sake of this review, I will have the Disney parks compete separately, switching between them as necessary. Now let’s look at our first category:

T H E M I N G

Winner: Disneyland & Walt Disney World

To be fair, it should be mentioned that Disney builds Theme Parks, whereas Canada’s Wonderland and other parks are more like traditional Amusement Parks. So where Disney spends time and money on storytelling, CW simply makes things look good, but focuses more on getting visitors right to the fun and thrills!

Of course, this means that at CW, if you’re not riding, you’re not doing much else. Although the park is pretty, it is basic flowers-and-trees pretty. CW is designed for young thrill seekers and young families (more on them later) leaving the tamer middle-aged set pretty much out of the picture. So no one is standing around admiring the fact that the garbage cans match the Land they are in. Instead, they are usually on the move from one ride to the next.

A D U L T    R I D E S

Winner: Canada’s Wonderland

Disney wants almost every ride to be family friendly. So your ten-year-old can ride even the most wild Roller Coaster with his Grandfather at Disney, whereas at CW, both would be well advised to skip most of the thrill rides offered!

We rode The Leviathan:

Visible from anywhere in the park

This coaster swings out over the parking lot and is the first thing you see when entering the park. While riding, we were dropped from 306 feet at an 80 degree angle! We traveled over 5486 feet of track at speeds reaching 148km/hour, or 92 miles an hour!

We also rode the Backlot Stunt Coaster which has non-stop action from start to finish as we twisted and turned through a helix, a series of quick drops and turns including a pitch black 88 degree banked turn. The Linear Induction Motor (LIM) launches this coaster and reaches 64km/hour (40 m/hour) in less than 10 seconds! It felt faster and more intense than Aerosmith’s Rockin’ Roller Coaster and Test Track at Disney.

The park features many thrill rides, including 16 roller coasters, tied with Cedar Point for second-most roller coasters in an amusement park behind Six Flags Magic Mountain.

C H I L D R E N ‘ S     R I D E S

Winner: Disneyland/Canada’s Wonderland

Now, if I had called this section Family Rides, WDW would have won hands down. If you include Dark Rides (like Peter Pan’s Flight) and E-ticket attractions (like The Enchanted Tiki Room) than it would be impossible for any other park to match the sheer number of options at Walt Disney World. Even so, WDW gets a very honorable mention here!

CW has two children’s areas: Planet Snoopy and Kidzville. I put CW ahead of WDW because, since the closure of Mickey’s Toontown, WDW has slipped a bit on offerings solely for the little ones. I liked CW’s offerings because the two areas were side-by-side and easy to navigate, with some truly unique offerings. And… they have these:

Swan Boats, anyone?

And keep in mind that Canada’s Wonderland has the rights to use the Peanuts cast of characters. So you’ll see Snoopy and the gang around the park and in some shows. And many of the children’s rides are themed to one of the Peanuts gang.

Hey look, it’s Sally!

And while we’re on the topic of the Peanuts gang, let’s segue into…

M E R C H A N D I S E

Winner: Walt Disney World

No one can beat WDW for merchandise options! So what’s the point even trying to compare? CW adds just enough shopping options to give you a chance to get out of the sun. There is no high-end stuff, as CW focuses more on its Peanuts line of products and the usual Canada’s Wonderland key chains, snow globes, and t-shirts.

But the Peanuts merchandise at the shops is pretty amazing:

    

    

    

W A T E R     P A R K S

Winner: Walt Disney World

Again, with two distinct water parks and themed pools at every resort, few come close to WDW for watery fun!

However, Canada’s Wonderland also features a 20-acre water park called Splash Works. With Whitewater Bay – Canada’s Largest Outdoor Wave pool, a ¼ mile Lazy River, and water slides galore; there’s something for everyone at Splash Works. And here’s a fun fact for you: It would take 154,567,128 bottles of water to fill Splash Works!

New for 2015, Splash Works is home to Typhoon, a thrilling new water slide featuring oscillating funnels and hairpin turns and Splash Station, a wet and wild interactive children’s play area!

D I N I N G

Winner: Walt Disney World

Again, it’s like sending a sheep to slaughter to expect a park like CW to compete with the vast amount of dining options at WDW, or DL for that matter. But they do a fair job of giving visitors good options at fairly reasonable (theme park) prices. The one thing I did like at CW was the iPhone App which listed every menu item for all allergy requirements.

And as a bonus at CW this past weekend, they had a Food Truck Festival. Close to a dozen food trucks from the Toronto area showed up and it was diversity heaven!

CW offers a refillable cup for soft drinks. It was $14.99 (or $12.99 if ordered online in advance) and can be refilled as many times as you like, all day, during your visit. They use a bar code to determine this. But if you bring the same cup back on another day, it’s just 99 cents per refill, instead of the usual $3.49 per. Take that Disney!

S H O W S

Winner: Just Disney!

At CW there were about half a dozen shows which cycled with multiple times throughout the day. They had a diving show with 3 men who jumped off the mountain into the moat which only lasted about 5 minutes. A bit anti-climatic. A 3-D dinosaur show was available for an additional fee. A BMX stunt show was popular. We took in Dimensions: A Cirque Experience (think Cirque du Soleil knock-off) which was very good!

And we also stopped by the children’s Playhouse Theatre to see Charlie Brown’s Jungle Journey. This was about 15 minutes long and not very well thought out. The jungle theme did not come across but the kiddies seemed to like it well enough.

It was unfortunate that the Peanuts characters weren’t available for pictures with guests. I had to settle for this shot with ‘Snoopy’:

    

But you could also sit with Snoopy’s little yellow friend

S P E C I A L     E V E N T S

Winner: Three-way Tie?

Again, the Disney parks dominate, but not because CW doesn’t try to mix it up a bit! But being only a seasonal park, the number of special events is obviously going to be lessened. CW does have a Halloween-themed event called Halloween Haunt in the fall season.

This year CW hosted a traveling exhibit called Dinosaurs Alive:

This was a premium paid attraction requiring an additional $5.00 charge to enter. But it was worth it. The animatronics weren’t quite up to Disney standards (for range of movement only), but seeing full-sized dinosaurs up close was amazing!

    

The scale was truly awe-inspiring!

There were dozens of dinosaurs and each was tripped by a sensor to move and roar as you walked by.

S U M M A T I O N

Canada’s Wonderland holds its own against the heavy hitters!

Being as Canada’s Wonderland is just about the only option in my Province, it does stand out in a class of its own. It doesn’t have to apologize to anyone for thrills, as it delivers these in spades! So young thrill-seekers rejoice! Also, CW has many options for parents with very young children.

Where CW falls short is for the middle-aged group who may go with the rest of the family, but may not be interested in going 90 miles an hour in a sled or sitting through a lame character show. The Disney parks definitely cater to the whole family in a better way.

Canada’s Wonderland has one major flaw, and that’s the layout. Karen and I got lost so often, and this was even while holding and ‘following’ the park map! Unlike Disney, who lay out their parks on Walt’s original spoke and wheel design with a central hub, CW has tried to do that, but fails.

There are just too many twisting walkways to attractions, many of which lead to dead-end areas. Backtracking becomes the only way to get around, which wastes time, and sucks when the temperature get high! Also, being a seasonal park, the staff aren’t quite up on all of the features of the park they work in. Most vendor employees had no idea where rides were. While employees walking around were better, some supplementary signage would have been an ideal way to make up for this problem.

Of course, we need to keep in mind that most employees were probably new, as the park must have to rehire every season, so training is likely an ongoing nightmare.

CW has a form of Disney’s PhotoPass and ride photo opportunities, season passes with perks and discounts, a V.I.P. tour package, and Cabanas to rent in the water park. And obviously more rides and attractions than I have time to cover here. So be sure to click the links added to this post for more information.

So the main reason to go to Canada’s Wonderland is to hit the coasters! They are amazing and well worth the admission fee. An adult ticket is just under $70 for the day (10 am to 10 pm) with reduced prices available for those who come later in the day.

I’ll be doing some follow-up posts focusing on pictures to show the basic layout and look of Canada’s Wonderland soon.

OVERALL RATING: 3 out of 5 STARS