In an ideal world, families would only vacation at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida during the cooler winter months. But unfortunately, jobs, school and other responsibilities foil that perfect plan. Many folks decide not to even travel to the Happiest Place on Earth because of the summer heat. Well, I’m here to assure you that you too can channel your inner Olaf and beat the heat!
First, the basics. Always liberally apply sunscreen, wear your sunglasses and wear light colored clothing when possible (a trick I’ve learned living in the South). But for this post, I will focus on Disney-specific strategies to keep your cool.
- Rope Drop is Your Friend – As awful as it may sound to get out of bed early on your vacation, you will be glad you did. And don’t worry, you will have time to catch up on your rest later in the day. But not only does getting to the parks when they first open have you touring during the cooler morning hours, but you will be able to accomplish more attractions in less amount of time, getting you out of the heat sooner.
- Eat Your Largest Meal Midday – Once you’ve taken advantage of the morning hours, head to an air-conditioned restaurant for your lunch meal during the hottest time of day. And consider trading your soda (or pop, depending on where you’re from) for water! Caffeine and sugar will actually contribute to dehydrating your body, making the heat much more difficult to survive. Also– as your walking through the parks, be sure to stop by any quick service restaurant and they will give you a free cup of ice water!
- Alternate Indoor and Outdoor Queues – Walt Disney World does a good job of cooling the outdoor attraction queues, such as those outside Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Rock “n” Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith and Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain, but they’re still outside. Queues for Space Mountain, Toy Story Mania! and Soarin’ are indoors and fully air conditioned. Whenever possible, try to duck inside one of these cooling attractions after having spent a lot of time outdoors– whether it was standing in line or watching a parade. Shows such as Mickey’s Philharmagic, Turtle Talk with Crush or Disney & Pixar Short Film Festival are also perfect choices for getting off your feet and into cooler air.
- Use FastPass+ Strategically – Consider reserving your FastPass+ times for the more uncomfortable queues– such as those noted above– so you’re skipping past much of the line.
- Plan Water Attractions Judiciously – Save these for the hottest part of the day. Splash Mountain, Kali River Rapids– even Pirates of the Caribbean– are best enjoyed between Noon and 4:00 p.m.
- Accessorize – Misting fans are awesome! You can purchase them before your trip at WalMart, Target, and elsewhere to avoid the desperate purchase of an overpriced Disney-themed version sold in the parks. Also, my discovery of iCool Towel made by Frog Toggs has been a game changer. It’s a towel that when wet, evaporates in such a way that it is icy cold. I drape this around my neck and it is amazing how comfortable I feel in the Florida sun. It’s perfect for wiping sweat from your face, arms or anywhere you need relief. And as it dries throughout the day, I just dip it into one of those ice tubs around the parks that they use to keep bottled drinks cold. Of course, there are other brands of the same product which I’m sure work just as well, but this happens to be the one I ran across first.
- Consider a Siesta – After your big lunch, and before your late afternoon FastPass+ reservations, a trip back to your hotel room may be an option– especially for those staying on Walt Disney World property. Since you crawled out of bed for rope drop, maybe you or the kids would like a quick nap to recharge for the evening trip back to the parks. Or, take advantage of the time to cool off in the hotel pool.
- Enjoy Park Transportation – Whether by bus, boat or monorail, Disney transportation is always a chilly way to travel. Disney parking lots are basically an open-air oven baking the interior of your car. Whenever you have a chance, let Disney do the driving and enjoy the cool air.
Temperatures definitely soar under the Florida summer. But with a bit of careful planning and strategic touring, you can survive without melting into the pavement. If Olaf can look forward to summer, so can you!