Keeping Cool at Walt Disney World
Summer in the Orlando area is going to be hot, no way around that. The heat actually begins before the official first day of Summer.
High temperatures can be difficult to deal with, especially for those who live in colder climates, so it’s important to find ways to stay cool at the theme parks. There are a number of ways to make the heat more tolerable, and that’s what this blog is all about.
Although some families do “resort only” vacations, which makes it easy to avoid the heat, the majority of guests are going to venture out to the Disney theme parks for at least part of their visit. Even the most devoted Disney fan can feel less than magical when it’s that hot.
Let’s see what you can do to deal with really warm days at Walt Disney World!
- Be sure to apply and REAPPLY sunscreen, especially if you’ve gone swimming. Both sunscreen and sunglasses should be on your packing list. If you forget to pack them, you can buy both at Walt Disney World. The summer sun in Florida can be brutal, and a sunburn will certainly put a damper on your vacation.
- If you are staying at a DVC Resort that has a refrigerator with a freezer in your room, (or if you are local and coming from home) take an empty water bottle, fill it ¾ to the top with water and freeze overnight; use one for each person in your traveling party. When you are ready to go to the park, fill the remaining ¼ of the bottle with cold water from the refrigerator. The water will stay cold quite a while, but if you bring a koozie or any sort of insulated bottle holder to insert it into, that will keep your water colder even longer. I use this technique all the time, and it amazes me that even after 5 hours, my water is still ice cold. The reason I say not to fill it to the top before the next morning is twofold. The water in the bottle will expand when it freezes and can burst and break if it’s overfilled while freezing. 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.
- What if you don’t like the idea of carrying a bottle around, but you don’t want to pay big bucks for a bottle of water at Walt Disney World? Well then head to your nearest counter service location at any Disney theme park. Tell them you’d like a cup of ice water, and they will hand you one at no cost. EXTRA TIP: You can bring flavor packets to add to the water.
- 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 trekking through the sun walking outside. The main street in Disney’s Hollywood Studios (Hollywood Blvd), connects on both sides all down the street. Most of the countries in Epcot have stores that connect to one another within each particular country. There are no connecting stores in the Animal Kingdom, but there are 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.
- Do your theme park touring early in the morning or later in the day. When I lived in NY, the hottest time of day to be outside in the summer was 1 PM-3 PM. But it’s different in Florida. The worst time of day to be out at Walt Disney World is from 3 PM to 5 PM. That is when the sun is hottest and most intense. I suggest you arrive at park opening and leave by 1 PM at the latest (noon is even better) and go back to your resort and chill out. Take a swim or do some sort of resort activity. Another option is to take a nice relaxing nap in your air-conditioned room. Then return to the parks later in the day. By then, it will usually be comfortable enough to tour; the sun will be lower in the sky and not as intense. As a side note, I acknowledge that with the current park hours, it may be difficult to accomplish returning later in the day. Yet, you can arrive fairly early in the morning to the parks.
- They are temporarily closed, but when they reopen, Walt Disney World has two options for water parks, Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach. Both are themed beautifully and have a number of fun attractions and are a great way to beat the heat. There’s snorkeling, a Wave Pool, Water slides, Lazy Rivers, and more.
- Eat or drink a cold treat! You can choose from ice cream, ices, a slushie, or (if you’re over 21) a frozen adult beverage. If your choice is ice cream, be aware it will melt fast, so grab plenty of napkins if you’re eating outdoors. As an FYI, you cannot eat while you are walking, as that would require removing your mask as you pass by other guests. You must be seated.
- Umbrellas are not just for the rain! A small, lightweight umbrella can do wonders if you don’t mind carrying one.
- If carrying an umbrella, even a tiny one, seems too cumbersome, be sure to wear a hat. The best kinds are lightweight ones with broad brims. These keep the sun out of your eyes and off of the back of your neck. A hat can make all the difference between feeling comfortable or uncomfortable.
- Consider a misting bottle. Bringing your own from home is most economical. My local dollar store sells them, this is not a pricey investment, but one you will love when it’s hot. 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 a few dollars more, you can buy a misting bottle with a fan attached—a double bonus! I have also seen guests with small personal size battery operated fans.
- For the smaller Mouseketeers, you may want to purchase a stroller fan. These fans clip on to the stroller and give the little ones a nice breeze. The fans are run by batteries, usually AA (but check to be sure). I suggest you bring extra batteries to have on hand if you are in need. This is another item that can be purchased at Walt Disney World, but you’ll save money if you bring your own from home.
- Pace yourself. I know that it 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.
- If you need a break from wearing your mask, there are places in each park designated “Relaxation Zones.” There are a number of zones, but the ones with air conditioning (as of this writing) are as follows: Tomorrowland Terrace in the Magic Kingdom, Akershus Restaurant in World Showcase at Epcot, Pizzafari in the Animal Kingdom, and Star Wars Launch Bay in Hollywood Studios. Other guests will be there as well, but everyone will be seated with proper social distance.
- Do your best to avoid queues that are in the sun, especially at the hottest time of the day.
- If you are outdoors, try to walk in the shade whenever possible. It always amazes me how much more comfortable I feel just by getting out of the sun.
- Wear breathable footwear. While flip-flops are not recommended for walking for long periods of time, there are many types of lightweight footwear on the market. Be sure to break in any new shoes before you go to the parks; blisters are the last thing you need.
- Bring a cooling towel. These are small and fit easily in your luggage. When wet they stay nice and cold for quite some time.
- If you decide NOT to take a resort break, try to save the indoor attractions for midday. You want to do all you can to avoid being outside during the hottest part of the day.
- Dress for the weather. Most people realize they should wear shorts, but not everyone remembers to wear light-colored clothing. A dark shirt will absolutely absorb the heat more than a light-colored one will.
- I am going to finish up with a “don’t”: Do NOT eat the ice you see in the carts outdoors, the ones that keep soda and water cool. This can be very tempting when you are hot, but it is not meant to be edible and can give you a stomach ache.
I hope some of the tips here help you stay cooler when you’re touring the Disney parks during the warmer months. There is no doubt it can be hot, but if you plan carefully, you can do a lot to keep cool and have a wonderful time. Happy touring!