MagicKingdomWouldn’t you know it – after months of planning, the costs of plane tickets (or gas), accommodations and park tickets (not to mention the logistics of getting your whole family to Orlando for that perfect Disney World family vacation), the one element that you can’t possibly control – the fickle Florida weather – decides to send you extreme heat, thunderstorms, rain showers or a combination of all the above on the particular days that you and your family are going to be at the Disney parks.

Not fair, right? Although you can control some factors to help stack the deck that your vacation will have the perfect weather (picking the best time of year, checking long-range forecasts, etc.), Mother Nature tends to like surprises. But you don’t have to let the weather spoil your vacation – even a poor weather day can be a lot of fun and help create family memories that will last a lifetime.

Something to note is that Florida rainstorms tend to be over quickly instead of lasting all day, so don’t panic if you see clouds rolling in. But those brief rain showers don’t always cut through the humidity – in fact they can sometimes make it even worse, so staying dry will definitely help with the comfort factor for the rest of your day.

Our day at the Magic Kingdom yesterday was full of it all – sun, heat, humidity, rain and thunder. But we still had an awesome time even so. Here are some things we learned that can  help make the most of your Disney World experience, even if the weather isn’t as cooperative as you would like:

1) No matter what the forecast, don’t forget the sunscreen. You’re going to be in and out of the sun all day and it’s best to be protected since you can get burned even if the sun is behind clouds. Don’t forget to re-apply since a single coat won’t last the entire day. Sun hats and sunglasses are a good idea as well – just remember to keep them stowed during rides so they won’t blow or fall off.

2) Dress in layers. Even if it’s stifling hot outside, those air-conditioned indoor spaces may be colder than you think. And after the first few minutes of relief from the heat, you can actually begin to shiver. Tank tops are great for outdoors in the heat, but throw a light shrug or t-shirt in your bag, just in case.

MagicKingdom23) Bring rain ponchos for everyone – and if you can, buy them beforehand off-site. Yes, you can buy the Disney Parks rain ponchos at any of the parks if you need to, and they do make a good souvenir – but they are definitely pricey. I bought 4 adult rain ponchos (clear plastic) at the Winn-Dixie near our (very awesome) vacation rental home for $3.99 each and paid a dollar more to get my youngest daughter a pink Minnie Mouse poncho for $4.99. We carried them in our backpacks and re-used them several times, just stuffing them back in when we didn’t need them since they’re light and compact down easily. Our day in the Magic Kingdom started off sunny but ended in a downpour all the way through the electrical parade and fireworks show, so the ponchos were a lifesaver.

4) Don’t forget an umbrella or extra plastic bag if you plan on taking lots of photos or video. Rain ponchos work great to keep you and your belongings dry, but they don’t do anything to keep your camera or camcorder dry while you’re using them. An umbrella keeps the rain off altogether, or you can wrap a plastic bag around most of the camera (everything but the lens) to keep your camera dry. The plastic bag solution may allow water droplets to get onto your lens though, so an umbrella is probably the better bet.

5) Plan your day according to the weather forecast. If it’s going to be extra hot, make sure to carry water bottles to stay hydrated (you can refill water bottles from the park’s drinking fountains if you don’t want to pay for bottled water) and plan for stops in air-conditioned spaces, such as restaurants, gift shops or indoor shows. It’s a good opportunity to see some of the amazing shows they have in the Disney parks, and you get to rest your feet for a little while too. And if threatening clouds or raindrops appear, those are also good opportunities to browse through gift shops, stop for a meal or take in a show. Since many rain showers blow over fairly quickly, you can often avoid getting wet altogether.

6) Water misting fans can do a lot to help cool you down. You can pay in-park prices or (like the rain ponchos) buy one off-site before you head to the parks. A little bit of a breeze combined with a cool mist can really help cool you down if the day is hot and humid. Just avoid water rides where you could get more than a little damp – in muggy weather your clothes will never fully dry out, leaving you uncomfortable for the rest of the day (unless you bring spare clothes).

7) No matter what the weather does on your day(s) in the parks, don’t let it get to you. It’s still an amazing experience to be at any of the Disney parks, whether wet, sticky, hot or dry. Yes, standing in the pouring rain to watch a parade or fireworks show is uncomfortable, but you can make it a fun experience for your kids by letting them splash in puddles or twirl around in the rain. People and clothes will dry – but the memories you make that day are once-in-a-lifetime and will be something your kids will remember forever. Try to keep your frustration or disappointment to yourself to help make those memories positive ones for the kids.

Deb is Traveling Mom’s Director of Operations and writes as Technology TravelingMom, as well as at Just a mom’s take on things…. You can also find her on Twitter – she’s @DebMomOf3