How to Handle Florida Storms on Vacation

bad storm that came through
Photo Credit: Kathy Via Flickr
Hurricane season is June 1 through November 30th, putting many vacations square in the middle of the stormy season. If you're planning to visit in this window, there's no reason you can't still experience a stellar vacation. If you happen to have a hurricane or tropical storm roll in while you're here, follow these tips to make the most of your time in the parks.

Don't Let the Weather Keep You Indoors

The biggest mistake you can make is holing up in your hotel because a storm is expected to roll in. Get out and enjoy the parks, regardless of the weather conditions. Don some rain gear and proceed as normal. The only real difference you'll notice is that some outdoor attractions may be closed during inclement weather. Rain and lightning will effect nearly all outdoor rides. Some attractions, like Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit, are also effected by wind speeds.

Short of a power outage, most indoor attractions will not be effected by inclement weather. If you want to find out whether a particular ride is open before trekking across the park to see for yourself, just ask the nearest team member at any attraction and they'll be able to help you out.

Photo Credit: Joe Clay Via Flickr
Fret Not Over Lightning

Florida is the lightning capital of the United States with storms occurring about 100 days of every year. Every square mile of Central Florida is hit by lightning about 40 times annually. Since lightning is so prevalent here, theme parks like Universal are prepared to guide it away from guests and upwards to a safe area - namely, a lightning rod. There are lightning rods all over the park, concealed in lots of unexpected places, like the pillberry bush on the Gertrude McFuzz gift shop.

With deterrents like these, there's no reason to let a little lightning keep you away from the parks. If you're thinking that your hotel room is still a safer spot to wait out the lightning storm, consider that the majority of lightning casualties occur in the home. The University of Florida IFAS Extension shares that the most common spots for lightning-related deaths are on the phone, in the kitchen, doing laundry, and watching television.

Keep Moving

When the rain starts, many guests have the unfortunate habit of stopping in their tracks and congregating in gift shops or under any awning they can find. While this is really annoying if you get stuck behind a crowd, it's great for anyone who isn't afraid of melting when they get wet. The lines are noticeably shorter in the rain because so many people forget that they should just keep moving.

Stay (Relatively) Dry

You should always outfit every member of your party with a poncho before you come down to Florida for your vacation. If you forget to grab these before you leave, they are available in the parks. For the sake of your vacation budget, I recommend buying them elsewhere. You'll find affordable ponchos at every convenience store, big box store, and kitschy gift shop in Central Florida. If they look particularly flimsy, grab a few. You'll still come out ahead of theme park prices.

Double bag your purchases if you're concerned about them getting wet. Keep a few zip top bags on hand for cell phones and cameras in case you're in a real downpour and it looks like your pockets might get drenched. Flip flops are the best footwear in rainy weather, because there's really nothing worse than squishing around in wet socks.

Don't forget your sunscreen, even when the sky is overcast. The Florida sun is notably harsh and you may regret it later if you rely on cloud cover to protect you from a sunburn.

With these smart precautions, you can enjoy your Universal vacation even in the midst of a tropical storm. The parks will stay open in inclement weather long after other businesses have closed. In fact, some visitors have found that Universal was one of the few places in Orlando where they could get a good meal during a hurricane. A complete park closure is rare and you can be sure that Universal will reopen it's gates as quickly as possible if they are forced to shut down for the worst of a hurricane.

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