12 Tips for Staying Cool at Walt Disney World
This has been the hottest summer I’ve experienced since I moved to the Orlando area in 2013. When you live in Florida you avoid being outdoors as much as possible. You go from your air conditioned house to your air conditioned car to the air conditioned grocery store. At most you are forced to walk through the heat for a few minutes going from your car to the store (or your job, etc.). Most locals don’t venture out to the theme parks during the summer months, or if they do, it’s in the evening when the sun has gone down.
But when you’ve planned a trip to Walt Disney World you’re not going to sit in your room. You’re going to go out to the parks at some point, though I realize some folks do indeed take “resort only” vacations, but that’s a very small percentage. It takes planning to do any trip to Walt Disney World, but it takes extra planning when the temperatures hit the 90’s with a “real feel” of over 100 degrees. Even the most devoted Disney fan can feel less magical when it’s that hot. Those “not so devoted” fans will complain more frequently than usual. So let’s talk about what you can do to deal with really hot days at Walt Disney World.
- Don’t forget to apply and reapply sunscreen, especially if you’ve gone swimming. Try not to forget to bring sunscreen (as well as sunglasses) with you, because the price on property is pretty high. But if you do forget suck it up and buy, because the sun is very hot during summer months in central Florida. A bad burn can not only ruin your vacation, it can be dangerous to your health.
- If you are staying at a resort that has a refrigerator with a freezer in your room, take an empty plastic water bottle, fill it ¾ to the top with water and freeze overnight. When you are ready to go to the park fill the remaining ¼ of the bottle with cold water from the refrigerator. You can use as is and it will stay cold quite a while, but if you bring a coozie or any sort of insulated bottle holder that will keep it cold even longer. Naturally if you’re traveling with other guests it is preferable to have one bottle per person. The reason I say not to fill it to the top before the next morning is twofold. The bottle will expand when it freezes and can burst and break if it’s stressed too much. Also it will stay one big lump of ice, difficult to get much water out of for quite a while if it’s completely frozen from the get go.
- Don’t want to carry a bottle around? And you don’t want to pay $3 for a bottle of water at Walt Disney World? Well then step right up to your nearest counter service location at any Disney theme park. Tell them you’d like a cup of ice water. Voila, they will hand you one with a smile. For free!
- Make use of air conditioning whenever possible. For example, you can walk the entire left side of Main Street USA through the Emporium store instead of through the heat of the street. The right side of the street is trickier, although the first few stores are connected you can’t stay indoors all the way to the end of the street. The main street in Disney’s Hollywood Studios (Hollywood Blvd), connects on both sides all down the street. While there are no connecting stores in Animal Kingdom or Epcot, there still are plenty of air conditioned shops/attractions along the way to wherever you are going. Duck into a store or attraction and get out of the heat as much as you can whenever you can. Bonus for Disney Vacation Club members: Don’t forget to make use of the DVC Lounge in the Imagination Pavilion daily from 10am to 6pm. Free cold beverages and snacks and plenty of A/C!
- Do your touring early in the morning or later in the evening. The worst time of day to be out at Walt Disney World is in the afternoon, from 3pm to 5pm. That is when the sun is hottest and most intense, but by 1pm, and sometimes earlier, it’s already killer hot on some days. I suggest you arrive at park at opening and leave by 1pm at the latest, then go back to your resort and chill out. Maybe have a swim or do some sort of activity if the resort offers one, or take a nice relaxing nap in your air conditioned room. Then return to the parks if you’re able, after 6pm. By then it will usually be comfortable enough to tour, the sun will be lower in the sky and not as intense. As an added bonus the later it gets the fewer guests will be in attendance.
- How about a water park excursion? Walt Disney World has two options, Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach. Both are themed beautifully and have a number of fun attractions. There’s snorkeling, a wave pool, water slides, lazy rivers and more. FYI: Bring your own towel or you’ll have to pay for a rental.
- Most of the parks have water play areas for kids. Epcot has at least three in Future World. There is “Cool Wash” close to Test Track that sprays you down and looks like a car wash. There is a colorful area behind MouseGear that shoots up jets of water for kids to play in, and another similar area just off the main path near where future world meets World Showcase (on the Future World side). You might want to bring a change of clothing if you let your little ones (or you!) play in the water, as they will get really If you go into anywhere with air conditioning too soon afterwards the combination of water and air-conditioning can make one’s teeth chatter! There are also water play areas in the other Walt Disney World parks, for example you’ll find one by Storybook Circus in the Magic Kingdom.
- Eat something cold! What better excuse do you need to have ice cream, icies, a slushie or (if you’re over 21) a frozen adult beverage? Just be sure to eat that ice cream fast or go inside to eat it. When it’s super-hot, ice cream and other frozen treats tend to become drippy really fast. (As an aside it’s not a very good idea to buy chocolate while you’re visiting a theme park on a hot day unless you’re going to eat it right away or you’re headed back to your resort immediately. The Florida summer sun will turn that chocolate to mush very fast).
- Umbrellas are not just for the rain! Wearing a hat helps and is recommended, but sometimes the hat can make the top of your head sweaty. A small lightweight umbrella can do wonders if you don’t mind carrying one.
- Consider a misting fan. Bringing your own from home is most economical, the best are the bottles you would use to mist a plant. Fill them with cold water (you can also freeze some of them, check the manufacturer’s instructions) and then spray yourself periodically. The cool water on your skin cools your body down and feels great.
- For little ones you may want to think about using a stroller fan. These fans clip on to the stroller and give the occupant a nice breeze and when kids are less cranky that’s always a good thing! The fans are run by batteries, usually AA (but check to be sure). I suggest you bring extra batteries to have on hand.
- Last but not least, take it slow. I know that can be hard when you’re somewhere as exciting and fun as Walt Disney World, but rushing around is the last thing you need to do in the heat. You’ll be exhausted in no time, and you’ll more than likely get less done than if you took your time.
So, although my best advice would be to visit Walt Disney World between November and March when the temps are almost never unbearably hot, I realize that’s not an option for many people. Jobs, school and other commitments can limit when you’re able to visit. I hope some of the tips here help you stay cooler when you’re touring the Disney Parks during the warmer months. After all a trip to Walt Disney World in August is better than no trip to Walt Disney World at all!
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