(as long as there's no lightening, the water parks are a great place to go on a rainy day...you're getting wet anyway)
Anyone who's been to Florida for any length of time will tell you, it rains. Often it's just a 30 minute shower in the afternoon but there are times when the rain just doesn't seem to end.
Some of the more common questions I get when people are planning their first trip to Disney World revolve around hurricanes and the question of when is hurricane season. It officially runs from June 1st through November 30th but the "peak season" is from August to October with 96% of the major hurricane days. And the pinnacle of that season is early to mid-September...but don't let that stop you from planning a trip during those dates. In fact, we prefer to go mid-September because the crowd levels are lowest and outside a bit of rain here and there the weather is great.
Keep in mind that Disney World has only shut down completely due to hurricane weather twice. Ever. Once in 2004 and once in 2005. If you plan to go during the hurricane season, there's a couple things you can do to ensure you have the best possible vacation. First, and probably most importantly, look into travel insurance. If you book your trip through Disney-either online or via phone, they will gladly add travel insurance to your package. Secondly, plan. Be aware of the attractions and activities you can do if you're caught in an unending rain.
Something you may want to do even before it rains is try to do all the "must-dos" for your group that are outdoor and will naturally shut down (ie Big Thunder Railroad...Expedition Everest...etc) during a storm so that if, like on our most recent trip, your last day is a monster storm, you won't have missed anything. For the record, this most recent trip of ours is the ONLY one we've ever had where the rain didn't let up after a little bit of time...it just rained and rained and rained...it was kind of metaphoric since it was also the last day of Joshua's R&R and we had to go back to deployment life.
If it's just another 30 minute Florida afternoon storm, consider doing something like the Hall of Presidents in Magic Kingdom or Finding Nemo Musical in Animal Kingdom to pass the time. Just remember to cover your stroller before you leave it so the kiddos won't have to come out to a wet stroller.
One of our favorite rainy day activities is the Character Meet and Greet inside Epcot. If it looks like a storm won't let up, Disney will bring in extra characters and put them in the hallway. Generally, the fab five...Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Goofy, and Donald are there but Disney will add Chip and Dale, Daisy and even some of the Princesses to help give the guests something to do. We had a great time playing with the characters on our last day when everything else was either a 60 minute wait or shut down due to the rain. We bought a cheap football from Walmart, threw it in an "ice bag" from the resort room and had all the characters sign it. The "ice bag" kept the signatures from smudging in the rain and gave the characters something to do with the kids...Goofy even spent about 5 minutes playing catch with the boy and another kiddo who was in line behind us.
Running from indoor attraction to indoor attraction and waiting in longer-than-usual lines is not as easy when totting small kids. Instead, you may want to head over to Downtown Disney. You can let the kids go crazy inside Disney Quest-an indoor, interactive Theme Park with five floors of virtual reality, state-of-the-art 3D games divided into four zones: explore, create, score and replay. It would be easy to classify Disney Quest as an arcade but there's so much more to it than that and unlike an arcade, almost all the games and attractions are free (with paid admission...which btw, comes included in a water parks and more option on your Disney ticket package). If you are traveling with little ones, the 4th floor is particularly geared toward them and also has a dining area with booths which I can attest are great for nursing. One caveat, Disney Quest, by it's nature is loud and full of bright flashing lights. It is not something I would recommend for children with autism or a seizure disorder. The other big draw for Downtown Disney is the AMC Downtown Disney Theatres. If you've never tried a "dine-in" theater before, this is a great one...of course, they also have showings without the "dine-in" option.
One of the biggest disappointments that a rainy day will bring is if the nightly fireworks and light shows, Wishes in Magic Kingdom, IllumiNations in Epcot and Fantasmic in Hollywood Studios are canceled. But fear not, there are other fun things to do. One of our favorites (Weds-Sat nights) is at Disney's Port Orleans Riverside Resort. Inside the lounge is a family-friendly piano entertainer/comedian Bob Jackson...better known to us as Piano Bob. The show starts at 8:30pm and features great sing-alongs for the entire family. Bob manages to get everyone from 6 to 86 involved. It's a great place to sit, have a drink and laugh with friends and family...or at friends and family as is often the case. Please note that I do have photos of our great times at various Piano Bob shows over the years but I'm holding onto those for future blackmail purposes.
All in all, it's disappointing when rain invades your Disney World vacation but it doesn't have to ruin the fun. Have a great time and as always, if you have any questions, feel free to ask.