Visiting Walt Disney World during the summer months usually means large crowds, afternoon storms and some seriously hot weather. Having a plan for the high heat and humidity is as important as having a strategy for visiting the most popular attractions.
So, what are some of the best ways to beat the heat while visiting Walt Disney World?
Visit the theme parks early
This point can’t be stressed enough. Not only are the crowds the most manageable at Disney theme parks right as the park opens, so too is the heat.
Visiting the theme parks at rope drop, or right as the park opens, is the best way to experience the most popular attractions before the big crowds arrive. It’s also the best way to get the most accomplished before the hottest part of the day can start making life miserable.
Head for the hotel in the afternoon
It’s extremely tempting to stay in the theme parks all day long, especially after spending a good amount of money for a ticket. But, those hours out in the heat can take a toll.
We always recommend visiting the theme parks in the morning before heading back to your resort during the afternoon hours. Take a nap, head to the pool and just relax. Then, head back to the parks around dinner as the day starts cooling down. This tip usually works best when staying on property as driving around in a hot car isn’t quite as relaxing as Disney’s complimentary transportation.
Drink a lot of water. Seriously. Heat exhaustion and dehydration can set in quickly in the hot Florida months, which can turn your fun vacation into an unpleasant one.
Bring a couple of water bottles with you and take advantage of the complimentary water offered at every dining location. Take a big drink after every attraction or whenever you take a quick break in the shade. Staying hydrated should be a top priority even if you don’t feel thirsty.
Enjoy some gift shop air conditioning
Navigating through gift shops can be an unappealing proposition for a family with young kids, but it’s a great way to enjoy some air conditioning while traveling through the parks. Dipping in and out of the gift shops as you head for your next ride or show can offer a brief reprieve from the relentless heat and humidity.
We would caution that jumping from cold A/C to the heat and back again too quickly can create some nasty headaches.
Visit a water park
It’s easy to overlook the two water parks that call Walt Disney World home – Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach. These two destinations are a fantastic way to beat the heat thanks to their collection of slides, wave pools and lazy rivers.
We personally visited Typhoon Lagoon during a July trip and loved spending time at the Crush ‘N’ Gusher and the seriously huge – and kind of scary – wave pool. Just remember to keep applying that sunscreen and you’ll have a great day.
Plan a table service meal
We have found one of the best ways to recharge your batteries during a long park day is through a table service meal. Making a reservation for the afternoon or early evening is a great way to escape the heat and relax before finishing out the final stretch of your park day.
Note that table service meals take a considerable amount of time compared to quick service locations, so we usually don’t recommend planning too many during your stay if visiting the attractions is your top priority.
Use FastPass+ to avoid long waits outside
Note – FastPass+ isn’t offered at Walt Disney World at this time. A replacement is expected soon. Below is our old recommendation.
Some of the best attractions can have lengthy outdoor waits with no air conditioning. We’re looking at you Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Slinky Dog Dash. Try to schedule a FastPass+ reservation for these attractions in advance so you don’t have to experience a ton of time in a slow-moving, hot line.
Visit the parks at night
This option may only apply if you have a lengthy trip or park hopper tickets, but skipping out on the hot weather in the parks entirely can be a great way to avoid the worst heat.
Assuming you have plenty of time to experience Walt Disney World, consider visiting once the sun starts cooling off in the late afternoon. There’s nothing quite like a Disney theme park at night and it’s especially enjoyable once the sun goes away.
Take breaks in the shade
It’s easy to get caught up in the commotion of Walt Disney World, rushing from attraction to attraction trying to make sure you experience everything. Avoid that temptation. Find a bench or a place to sit in the shade and slow things down for a few minutes.
Even the longest Walt Disney World trips can’t experience and do everything, so it’s silly to even try. Make sure you take it slow and take some time sitting and relaxing in the shade. Grab a frozen treat and people watch in the shade. It’s like an attraction in itself!
Prioritize indoor attractions
While Mickey’s PhilharMagic, Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor, It’s Tough to be a Bug, the Enchanted Tiki Room, the Country Bear Jamboree and the Carousel of Progress aren’t the most popular attractions, they’re a few examples of indoor destinations that can help cool you off on a hot day.
During our July trip we made a point to work indoor attractions and shows into our schedule to take a break from the usual hustle and bustle that makes up a normal day in Walt Disney World. Not only was it a great way to experience and appreciate some of the more overlooked attractions, like the Enchanted Tiki Room, it was an ideal way to cool off.
Dress lightly and in light colors
This is another tip that sounds obvious, but it’s amazing how few people follow through with dressing appropriately for Florida in the summer. Avoid the color black and avoid thick materials that will bog you down as you experience the theme parks.
We made the mistake of wearing black in Walt Disney World in the summer. We wanted to show off a fun Toy Story shirt! But, that one time will be the last time. It made an extremely hot day far more uncomfortable. Lesson learned.
Eat a cool treat
As if you needed another reason to eat ice cream or another frozen treat in Disney, there’s few better ways to cool off. Save the warm treats for a different vacation and indulge in those Mickey Bars and frozen lemonades. Things will melt quickly, so make sure you enjoy them before they turn into a puddle.
And remember – Calories don’t count in Walt Disney World.
Plan a pool day
This point relates to others above (start your day late, take a break in the afternoon) and can be an amazing way to beat the heat. All Disney resorts have great pools and some, such as the Yacht & Beach Club, have pools that may even rival a small water park.
Planning a pool day in the middle of your trip can go a long way in recharging everyone’s batteries. Be aware that the pools can be very popular in the summer (obviously), so you may want to get their earlier in the day to find a nice shaded spot.
Use plenty of sunscreen
This, along with staying hydrated and wearing light clothing, is one of the main points that too many people overlook. Wear sunscreen with a high SPF and make sure you’re reapplying it regularly. It doesn’t take long for a sunburn to set in when you’re out having fun at Disney.
You don’t want to spend your vacation dealing with a nasty sunburn.
Take it slow
Finally, our last point is a summary of several above – take it slow.
Avoid the temptation to jam a ton of plans into your Walt Disney World trip and accept that there will simply be things you can’t experience and can’t control. Give your group plenty of buffer time between attractions, reservations and deadlines. Don’t rush around as it’s a guaranteed recipe for a cranky, overheated family.
Be prepared for the weather Florida can throw at you and you’ll have an outstanding vacation.