Yester World


of Yester World
Yellow ponchos at Epcot, 2003

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2003

When it’s sunny at Yester World, guests are dressed in every imaginable color. But when it rains, the predominant color is yellow.

Yellow ponchos at Disney-MGM Studios, 2002

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2002

Guests in yellow ponchos staying dry—above their knees anyway

Afternoon rain—often very heavy rain—is a fact of life at Yester World, especially in the summer. Fortunately, the rain usually doesn’t last long. And it keeps things green all around the “World.”

Rain at Japan, Epcot, 2003

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2003

Downpour in Japan

The parks are known for magic. When it starts raining at Yester World, piles of neatly folded, plastic-wrapped yellow ponchos magically appear almost anywhere there’s a retail cash register.

Running through rain at Epcot, 2003

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2003

Keeping somewhat dry

Buy a yellow poncho for everyone in your family. There are two sizes: adult and child. Each poncho costs about as much as a counter-service lunch. It beats getting soaked by the rain.

Ponchos for all ages at Epcot, 2003

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2003

Ponchos for all ages

Put on your yellow ponchos. Don’t let the rain slow you down too much. Time is valuable.

Heavy rain at Epcot, 2003

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2003

Lone guest in a torrential rain on a busy summer day

The ponchos will keep the rain off your clothes, but if it’s a hot summer day, don’t plan on staying dry. It’s hot under the poncho, and the poncho doesn’t breathe. Your clothes may end up wet from perspiration.

Rainbow at Epcot, 2003

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2003

When the rain is over

When the rain stops, shake the water off your poncho and put it in a bag. When you get back to your hotel room, let it dry completely. Save it for another rainy day at Yester World—which will probably be tomorrow.

Mickey Mouse umbrellas, 2002

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2002

Mickey Mouse umbrellas

If yellow is not your color, consider buying an umbrella instead. Basic black is always in fashion.

It’s hard to know when Walt Disney World began selling yellow ponchos with Mickey Mouse on the back. So let’s just say, “a long time ago.”

On September 23, 2003, WKMG, Local 6 News in Orlando, reported that Walt Disney World was switching from yellow ponchos to clear ponchos.

Screen capture from Local 6 News, Orlando

WKMG Local 6 News screen capture © Internet Broadcasting Systems, Inc.

News report

The wording from Local 6 News was a bit unclear. It sounded as if Disney would require guests to turn in existing yellow ponchos in exchange for new, clear ponchos—“replacing all yellow ponchos used by visitors.” But that wasn’t the case. In fact, Disney’s shops continued to sell yellow ponchos, but as they sold out, transparent ponchos took their place. More accurately described as frosty than as clear, the ponchos no longer hid what guests were wearing.

Transparent and yellow ponchos at Epcot, 2003

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2003

Transparent and yellow ponchos in 2003

Undoubtedly, the see-through ponchos reduced the incidence of families becoming separated.

According to one theory, switching to transparent ponchos was primarily a loss prevention move. It had been too easy to hide merchandise under the opaque yellow ponchos, leading to more shoplifting on rainy days.

Transparent ponchos at Magic Kingdom, 2007

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2007

Transparent ponchos, still with Mickey Mouse on the back

The ponchos must be a highly profitable item for Disney. This is a case where Walt Disney World has a business advantage over the Disneyland Resort. Lake Buena Vista, Florida, averages 48 inches of rain per year, while Anaheim, California, averages just 11 inches per year. In just the peak summer tourism period of June, July and August, Lake Buena Vista gets an average of 20 inches, while Anaheim gets an average of close to zero—just 13/100 of an inch.

Despite the switch from yellow to clear in 2003, you can still see yellow ponchos in the parks of Walt Disney World. A few, with Mickey Mouse on the back, belong to people reusing ponchos from earlier vacations. These days, most yellow ponchos are from discount chains, off-site souvenir shops, and dollar stores. The quality is lower than Disney’s ponchos and they don’t have Mickey, but they cost a lot less—and they keep the tradition of yellow ponchos alive.

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Epcot’s Icon Tower
World Showcase Night, 1983

© 2009-2014 Werner Weiss — Disclaimers, Copyright, and Trademarks

Originally published May 15, 2009. Expanded April 4, 2014. Updated April 4, 2014.