This post was updated March 2016
While planning a Southern California vacation, it’s natural to have visions of sunshine and short sleeves. When days are filled with gray clouds, do not fret; most attractions remain open when it rains. Some attractions with outdoor tracks, parades and outdoor shows may close, but there are still plenty of indoor attractions and activities to stay busy.
Please note that because this is a “reference” post and not a “time sensitive” or “news-related” post, we do not discuss which attractions or shows may be temporarily closed for remodeling or refurbishment. This post is intended to provide solid visitor information and tips for many months or even years. Should an attraction listed in this post be permanently closed, we will update the post as needed.
Getting from here to there
(Please note that the transportation attractions listed below may close in the case of heavy rain.)
On rainy days, my family and I board the Disneyland Railroad at Disneyland Park and use it as transportation around the Magic Kingdom. (This attraction is closed until 2017.) The train stops at Main Street, U.S.A.; New Orleans Square; Toontown and Tomorrowland, which allows us to go from land to land without getting too terribly wet.
Over in Disney California Adventure Park, the Red Car Trolley provides transportation from the entrance of the park on Buena Vista Street down Buena Vista with stops at Carthay Circle (the end of Buena Vista Street), Hollywood Boulevard (near the Animation Building) and Sunset Boulevard at The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.
If you are staying at the Disneyland Hotel or Paradise Pier Hotel, you can utilize transportation to and from Disneyland via the Monorail and its depot in Downtown Disney.
Places to escape the rain in Disneyland
- Although it does not have a covered pre-show waiting area, the Enchanted Tiki Room in Adventureland offers 15 minutes of dry entertainment.
- The Disneyland Story presenting Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln on Main Street is a great refuge from the rain. Start out by visiting the latest exhibit in Disney Gallery next door and then enter the pre-show lobby area and learn more about Disneyland and Disney art. The show itself is about 15 minutes. The lobby area also offers a great space for little ones to stretch their legs and roam about out of confines of their strollers.
- Sleeping Beauty Castle walkthrough in Fantasyland
- Starcade (an arcade) in Tomorrowland can be a fun place to get away from the rain. Please note that this space is often converted for exhibits, which are still great to enjoy when it is raining.
- The Magic Eye Theater in Tomorrowland offers extended previews of the latest Disney movies before they hit theaters. Previews are much longer than regular trailers and are often accompanied by props or production note exhibits. The Star Wars compilation movie being shown right now is a MUST for Star Wars fans.
- The Main Street Cinema on Main Street is always showing Mickey’s favorite cartoons.
- The Penny Arcade on Main Street offers fun amusements away from the rain.
- Many indoor attractions (rides) have queues that are mostly outdoors but if it isn’t a crowded day, you should be waiting mostly indoors for attractions like Pirates of the Carribbean, Space Mountain, Star Tours, Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters, and several of the Fantasyland dark rides.
- Mickey and Minnie’s houses are also great to visit when it rains, although Minnie’s house is quite small and doesn’t provide for much respite. Mickey’s house include a meet-and-greet with Mickey, making it the perfect place to get a photo with the big guy when then weather is bad.
Places to Eat Indoors at Disneyland that Don’t Require Reservations
If you don’t have reservations (or the budget) for an indoor, table service restaurant, there are plenty of options for indoor dining while visiting Disneyland Park.
- Plaza Inn Restaurant on Main Street has a lovely indoor dining room. We always have an amazing time when we eat there. The food is delicious and the service is outstanding.
- Tomorrowland Terrace (aka Galactic Grill) in Tomorrowland is an outdoor quick service restaurant with covered, outdoor seating. It serves tasty Star Wars-themed burgers, sandwiches and salads. It isn’t ideal if there is wind with the rain or really cold.
- Rancho del Zocalo in Frontierland has outdoor covered seating. The Mexican food at this quick serve restaurant is served and paid for indoors.
- The Golden Horseshoe in Frontierland offers indoor quick-serve meals and yummy ice cream treats. The menu is limited, but any time you can dine and enjoy a show, it’s worth it! (And you seriously cannot beat the chili fries; they are big enough to share and one of the park’s best deals at less than $5!)
- The Stage Door Cafe is located next to The Golden Horseshoe; it is very easy to grab your food and take it next door to eat. The menu includes corndogs and chicken fingers.
- The Village Haus in Fantasyland has a large indoor dining room and serves pizzas and hamburgers.
- The Market House is a Starbucks and serves delicious treats, sandwiches, salads, and of course, coffee and tea drinks. Indoor dining is VERY limited.
- Pizza Port in Tomorrowland offers pizza by the slice or the whole pie! It is great for families looking to split a pizza or pasta dish.
Places to escape the rain in Disney California Adventure
Hollywood Land offers guests a lot of ways to stay dry all within very close proximity.
- Disney Junior – Live on Stage! is a 20-minute indoor show with a mostly covered queue area.
- For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sign Along takes place at set times each day and is a fun 15-minute show with indoor preshow waiting area.
- Next to the Frozen sing along is Monsters Inc.: Mike and Sully to the Rescue. This attraction’s queue is normally indoors (it may snake outdoors on crowded days).
- The Animation Building is brings together three fun family experiences under one roof. It includes The Animation Academy where a real Disney artist teaches guests how to draw Disney characters, Turtle Talk with Crush—an interactive experience in which guests can talk with the world’s most famous turtle, and the Sorcerers’ Workshop—a hands-on exhibit in which guests or all ages can learn how animated characters come to life. This exhibit can easily keep a family dry in doors for at least an hour–even longer.
- Like Disneyland, many attractions indoor attractions have queues that are mostly outdoors but if it isn’t a crowded day, you should be waiting mostly indoors for attractions like Soaring Over California, Ariel’s Undersea Adventure and The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. Most attractions have some sort of cover over the queue, even if it is open to the elements otherwise.
Places to Eat Indoors at Disney California Adventure that Don’t Require Reservations
Just like at Disneyland, if you don’t have reservations (or the budget) for an indoor, table service restaurant, here are your options for a quick-serve meal where you can stay warm and dry.
- Smokejumpers Grill offers a variety of hamburgers, sandwiches and salads with a large indoor dining room.
- Flo’s V8 Cafe offers a lot of indoor dining space and serves great American diner classics for breakfast, lunch and dinner. For a special rainy day treat, sit in the part of the dining room that faces Radiator Springs Racers and you’ll get to watch the rain come down on the mountain range through the restaurant’s panoramic windows.
- Award Wieners is an outdoor quick-serve restaurant that serves hot dogs and sausages. It has a small outdoor (covered) dining area next to the service windows. It is a good option if you are in a pinch, but seating may not be completely dry and is limited.
- Fiddler, Fifer & Practical Cafe (aka Starbucks) is THE place to get a cup of coffee, sandwich or salad on a rainy day.
Other tips for rainy days at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure
- Bring ponchos or rain coats and umbrellas large enough to share. Ponchos and umbrellas are available for purchase, but they are much more expensive than you would pay for them outside the parks. Don’t forget that if you are staying in a hotel in the area and don’t have rain gear with you, there is a Target about one mile from Disneyland. Click here to read more about it.
- Wear rain boots or bring a change of shoes. In really bad rain, I have seen standing water on Main Street become quite high.
- Don’t forget waterproofing your gear–look into rain covers for backpacks, diaper bags and/or strollers.
- If you cancel your Disneyland trip because of rain and decide you will go the following day instead, be forewarned: many other people are thinking the same thing and the park will be more crowded than in normally would have been because of all of the guests who delayed their visit due to weather.
- If you are traveling with a baby or toddler, the Baby Care Centers are an ideal place to get out of the rain and take care of all of your child’s needs–from diaper changing to feeding and warming up food.
The best part of a rainy day is that it is always less crowded (even during a busy times of the year), so if you don’t mind getting wet and the cancellation of some of the shows and closure of some of the outdoor attractions, it is hands down a really great day to visit! And trust me when I tell you that there is still plenty to do even if a few things must close!
The Disneyland Resort provided me complimentary admission and meal vouchers so that I could update this pot in March 2016.