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Tips on Touring Walt Disney World In the Summer
The warm sun, the fun, the rides and attractions: touring the parks during the summer sounds like a great idea. But sometimes (especially the summers in Florida) it can be down right hot. Those hot temperatures can make visiting parks unpleasant. But with some planning, it it possible to have a wonderful vacation in the midst of the summer heat.
Be prepared. One of the most important things you can do is prepare for the heat. Take a look at the predicted temperatures before you leave. If your trip is still far in the future, look at the average temperatures for the month you are traveling. We have this information for Walt Disney World and Disneyland. Don’t forget about the Florida humidity. That will factor into how you feel in the heat. So before you hop on the plane or jump into the car, spend some time gathering the necessary items to help with the temperature (see below for the nitty gritty).
Hydrate. One of the simplest things you can do to combat the effects of heat is to hydrate. A lot. Plan on bringing or purchasing lots of water. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to have a drink. Keep drinking throughout the day to avoid problems.
There are many ways to get the necessary water when at Disney. Bottled water is sold everywhere on property. A bottle will cost $3.75 at most locations. If you have access to a car or a grocery delivery service, purchase a case of water and grab some bottles in the morning. It’s far less expensive to have a stash of water than purchase individual bottles in the parks. The most economical option are water fountains. You can bring a refillable bottle and keep replenishing your water supply. These are not quite as plentiful, but they can still be found throughout the parks. Be warned, though, that some people report a sulfur taste to the tap water, and a few become nauseated after drinking the tap water in the area. There are refillable water bottles with filters on them that might help if you are worried about taste being a problem.
If you are using a fountain or bringing your own supply of water, a cup of ice can be obtained (for free!) at any of the counter-service locations. For those who don’t normally drink a lot of water, there are bottle-sized drink mixes that can just be poured into a bottle and mixed. They go a long way to promoting hydration and providing a different taste, too. There are many kid- and adult-friendly flavors and brands that are available at most grocery stores.
Have a cool treat. Along with your water breaks, there are plenty of refreshing snacks. Eating large meals may not be the best idea at this point. While there are plenty of places for ice cream, there are many cool snack choices throughout the parks. Have a Kaki Gori (flavored shaved ice) in Japan at Epcot. Stop for a Dole Whip at Magic Kingdom. Grab a frozen Coke at Animal Kingdom. There are cool possibilities everywhere.
Remember the kids. Speaking of kids staying hydrated, remind them to keep drinking. There are so many things to capture their attention, having a drink of water may not be high on the list until it’s too late. Keep a close eye on their hydration, sunscreen, and comfort level. Kids may not think to tell you that they need a break. Even the older children might be too caught up in the fun and excitement to think about drinking until it’s too late. Remind everyone to take a drink of water frequently.
Infants and toddlers should be offered drinks frequently. Some even give their infants, who might not normally drink plain water, a bottle with water in it just to keep fluids in them. The heat can adversely affect a little one very fast.
Remember sunscreen. Going hand-in-hand with hydration is sunscreen. The summer sun can be quite intense. Try to make it a habit of applying sunscreen in the morning before leaving the hotel. Ideally sunscreen should be applied thirty minutes before exposure to the sun.
When you leave the room at the start of your day, don’t leave the sunscreen behind. Reapply throughout the day to ensure continued protection. Even if you aren’t someone who normally wears sunscreen at home, this is a must. Touring the parks is different from most of our daily lives. It is possible to stand in an outside line or watch a show in the sun, and it doesn’t take long to get burned. A sunburn on vacation (or any time) is no fun!
Make sure to reapply when swimming as well. The sun will reflect off the water and cause a sunburn that you might not feel until it’s too late. There are waterproof sunscreens made for use when swimming that might be useful.
Wear hats and sunglasses. Two more essentials for summer are hats and sunglasses. Keep the sun off of your head and face. A hat with a nice brim and some sunglasses to keep the rays at bay with make things much more comfortable. If you wear prescription glasses, plan ahead to either have prescription sunglasses or something that slips behind your glasses to block the glare. Not only will you be more comfortable, it can prevent damage to your eyes. Even the little ones should get into the hat and sunglasses act. There are many cute styles that make sunglasses more appealing for kids (and adults).
Bring some gadgets and gizmos. There are many gadgets and gizmos to help you keep your cool in the sun. While a good old-fashioned hat and glasses will work, sometimes extreme heat requires innovative measures. Disney sells a combination squirt bottle and fan that is rather useful, albeit a little pricey (although at some point you could be so hot the price seems far more reasonable). If you plan ahead, stores at home will have the same item, sans Disney characters, for a fraction of the cost. The mist of water can be more refreshing than the fan, so just a plain squirt bottle will do, too.
Scout out your local stores at home for items that might help you cool off on your trip. There are personal fans (including some that clip onto a stroller to help cool the little ones), squirt bottles, cooling bands, and more. The few extra dollars are well worth the comfort.
Learn the naked truth. Contrary to what some two-year-olds and teenagers might try to tell you, less clothes does not always mean you’ll be cooler. A light, breathable cotton will keep the sun off of your skin, which will help in keeping you a bit cooler and happier. For the girls and ladies, a sundress is a nice option. Of course light colors are cooler than dark colors. This is not the trip to break out the new dark denim. Make sure to change clothes, too. Wet clothes (especially socks) can cause uncomfortable days. There are many moisture wicking products to prevent just that.
More water, water, everywhere. In addition to drinking water, try getting some on your skin. Aside from personal misting fans, there are big misters throughout the parks. There are also splash fountains for the little and not-so-little ones to cool off. (See the top of this page for a photo of both the misters and a splash area.) If you are staying at a resort, you will have access to one or more pools. Take some time to cool off in the water there, too (don’t forget the sunscreen).
The Big Blue pool at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort.
Plus, Walt Disney World is home to two fabulous water parks. If you are going to Florida in the summer, these are a great place to spend some time cooling off and having fun.
Cool it. Make sure to take some breaks from the heat as well. Find a nice ride or show that is air-conditioned. Go back to the hotel room and take a nap. Have a leisurely lunch (it can be at a counter-service restaurant, just take your time). Visit a resort close to the park you are at and just look around. Air-conditioning is your friend. Use it.
Remember that sooner or later, the sun goes down. The afternoon is the hottest time of the day. Get up early and hit the parks for a while before it’s sweltering. Plan some late nights at the parks — the park hours are much longer in the summer than they are in the winter. Try to avoid planning your park time for the hottest part of the day. Take advantage of the cooler morning and nighttime temperatures. Leave the afternoon for cooler activities.
Take your time. Make sure that everyone in your group knows that this is not the time to do the parks from open to close. You might need to take unplanned breaks. A hot, cranky family isn’t going to make happy vacation memories. If possible, add an extra day to your planning so that you have time to relax and cool down. Plan a pool day. Even if you can’t stay longer, plan to hit the highlights so that you can build in time for relaxing and cooling off. You don’t want to exhaust everyone. The trip should be fun, even with the heat. In order to make it more enjoyable, it might have to be taken at the pace of the slowest member of your group.
Watch for signs. No matter how diligently you prepare for the heat, it is still important to be aware of the signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. If you notice anyone feeling dizzy, faint, nauseous, or experience excessive sweating or weakness, take a break and hydrate. There are first aid stations in each park and guests are welcome to stop in and be checked out if you have any concerns about dealing with the heat. Listen to the signs your body gives you — and those of your children as well. It’s better to miss your next ride on the Tea Cups than it is to spend the day (or longer) at the hospital.
So, can it be done? Can your family go to Disney in the summer and come home happy? The answer is, “yes!” Just make sure to plan, plan, plan and then be flexible enough to make changes as necessary.