Image credit: HarshLight
As we write this blog, another song comes to mind: “Oh, the weather outside is frightful….” We’re 14 hours into a rare torrential December downpour, with a massive column of not-very-festive greens and reds sweeping over Weatherbug’s online weather map, and no end in sight. In that time, we’ve had half of our average monthly rainfall, and that’s not good news for the tourists. Or is it? If you’ve planned ahead, you’re ready for an all-day storm, whether it’s the rainy season or not.
You’ve got your Orlando Eat and Play Card or Orlando Explorer Pass in hand (or you’re putting your day together piecemeal), and now you just need to decide what to do. Here are our recommendations, with suggestions for families with young children, teens, or adults-only.
ICON Orlando 360 (formerly I-Drive 360, best known as the Orlando Eye, aka ICON Orlando minus the 360. Are you confused yet? : The ICON Orlando 360 complex on International Drive is a great choice for everyone, with several attractions under one roof, which means you can easily make a half-day of it without ever setting foot outside.
The main draw here is the giant wheel, ICON Orlando (formerly the Orlando Eye), and if it’s open during inclement weather it’s worth doing if visibility is still relatively good. The 23-minute “flight” (one rotation of the wheel) affords views as far as the Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center on the east coast when visibility is at its best, but you may be able to see Walt Disney World, and almost certainly Universal Orlando, when visibility is limited.
Madame Tussauds Orlando is also part of the complex, and it’s easy to spend an enjoyable hour or more wandering through the attraction taking selfies with a host of realistic wax celebrity and popular culture look-alikes. This is a superb choice with teens.
SEALIFE Orlando is a pleasant pastime for everyone, but children especially enjoy this “underwater” experience. From walk-through tunnels with a full aquarium view to touch-pools and backstage tours, it’s the kind of watery encounter you don’t mind on a rainy day.
A minor attraction within ICON 360 is the 7-D Dark Ride Adventure interactive 3D shoot-ʼem-up game, with sight, sound, smell, motion, wind and lighting effects. Perfect (if short) for teens and adults.
If you visit in the morning you can stay on for lunch before heading to your afternoon attractions. There is a food court inside the complex, but a very quick run through the raindrops (ideally with your umbrella!) opens up a great deal more choice. Yard House is our favourite restaurant within the immediate vicinity of the complex, while Shake Shack (burgers), Buffalo Wild Wings, and Outback Steakhouse are also terrific choices.
Also good for families on International Drive are Ripley’s Believe It Or Not “odditorium” (weird and wild curiosities from around the world) and WonderWorks indoor “amusement park” with Laser Tag, science-orientated hands-on exhibits, 4D Motion Theater, a glow-in-the-dark ropes course and the hilarious Outta Control Comedy Dinner Show (you can’t miss WonderWorks; it’s the upside-down building). Titanic: The Artifact Exhibit will appeal to older kids and adults, especially if you add in the Titanic Gala Dinner (Friday and Saturday nights only).
Everyone knows torrential rain is depressing, and everyone knows the best cure for depression is chocolate, so make your mid-day treat a visit to Chocolate Kingdom (on the Orlando Explorer Pass) or Chocolate Museum and Café (on the Eat and Play Card). Sure, you’ll learn about the process that turns bitter cocoa pods into something akin to heaven on Earth during your factory tour, but let’s face it; you’re really here for the samples.
The Eat and Play Card also includes an experience that will definitely keep teens and adults happy, though children as young as 3 years old are welcome to give it a try. iFly Orlando Indoor Skydiving on International Drive is absolutely brilliant, and while we hear you crying, “I could never do that!” the truth is, you can. Because frankly, if Susan can, ANYONE can (we’re not saying she’s good at it, we’re just saying she can do it and come away from it raving about it). The good news is, you can drop by and watch other people take their indoor wind-tunnel “skydiving” flights if you need to get your courage up, but we strongly suggest you just go ahead and book your own flight. It’s one of Orlando’s minor attractions that is always a major hit when our family members come for a visit.
Just feel like heading to the Florida Mall for some shopping? It’s an obvious choice for teens and adults, but even young children will be happy to spend time there if you include a visit to the Crayola Experience, which is included on the Eat and Play Card. Arts, crafts, live shows, a playground, interactive games and character meet-and-greets round out the offerings, and the kiddies can happily pass a rainy afternoon playing and creating.
Then, when the sun comes out again, as it inevitably does, take another break day from the theme parks with mini-golf, outlet and mall shopping, a spectacular airboat ride with Wild Florida, and, for adults, the fabulous Warbird Adventure, where even rank novices can take the controls and fly an authentic flight training airplane.
There are plenty of other fantastic indoor options that aren’t on multi-attraction tickets, which may fit the bill perfectly for your group. Among the best are the massive (!!) Andretti Orlando karting and activity centre just off International Drive, and the fun WhirlyDome located right on I-Drive, with its interactive games, Lazer Frenzy and Laser Tag, arcade and the outrageous WhirlyBall game, a combination of basketball and lacrosse, but with bumper cars! Adults will get the most out of WhirlyDome (it’s open to everyone, but kids must be 54ins/137cm tall to play WhirlyBall), especially with an early evening visit that includes dinner and drinks at the complex’s restaurant and bar.
Finally, check out one of our new favourites for ages 10 and up, The Void virtual reality game. It’s state-of-the-art, whole-body gaming, complete with 3D headgear, super-cool vest, and virtual weaponry. There are two experiences to choose from: Ralph Breaks VR andStar Wars Secrets of the Empire. You’ll only get about half an hour of rain-free fun out of each, but if you get caught in a summertime downpour while you’re in Disney Springs, this is one of the most engaging ways to pass the time.
Wet winter weather during your Orlando holiday? No problem! With a little pre-planning, you’ll be all set for a rain-free break from the theme parks.
What do you do on rainy days in Orlando? Come and share your thoughts or ask your questions on the ATD discussion forums!