Disney World is HOT, But You Don’t Have to Be

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The season of Disney World heat is upon us – the period of the year when it’s all hot all the time. Take a look at the chart below and you’ll see that while it’s warm most of the year in the Orlando area, during July and August it never cools down, even at night.

©weatherspark.com

While the icky stickiness is real and persistent, there are some things you can do to take the edge off.

AVOID OUTDOOR ATTRACTIONS DURING THE AFTERNOON

Back to the chart above – you’ll see that the worst of the heat occurs in the noon to six p.m. range. You probably can’t avoid all outdoor activities during those hours, but you can plan your day to minimize situations like long outdoor queues in unshaded areas. Things to consider working into your plan are:

  • Do outdoor park attractions first thing in the morning or near park close.
  • Do indoor, air-conditioned attractions during the afternoon.
  • Leave the parks during the afternoon to nap or swim.
  • Have a long-ish indoor lunch as your main meal of the day, leaving more time for park touring in the cool evening.
There are water sales points all over the parks.

TAKE IT SLOW

During the winter months, I’m happy to race from one end of a park to the other, getting my steps in and crossing attractions off my to-do list. During the heat of the summer, I like to keep excess movement to a minimum. Maybe this is the trip where you decide not to “do it all” and instead just enjoy your favorite attractions supplemented by others that are nearby and have lower wait times.

For example, this might look like ambling from Space Mountain to Carousel of Progress and the Peoplemover rather than sprinting from Space Mountain to Big Thunder Mountain.

STAY HYDRATED

Adequate hydration is key to surviving the heat. Disney World sells bottled water at stores, restaurants, and kiosks throughout the parks and resorts.

Prices for bottled water vary depending on the size of the container, the brand of water (Dasani vs. Smartwater), and purchase location (watch out for high pricing on Batuu), but in most cases you’ll pay in the $3-6 range for a single-serve bottle of water. Relying on this for all your hydration is a major expense and a significant negative for the environment. A better bet is to bring refillable water bottle – or plan to buy one as your park souvenir.

Compare the $4 trenta water (center) to the free ice water (red cup).

Disney will provide free ice water at any quick service meal location. Be aware, however, that the free ice water comes in small, lidless paper cups. If you want to fill up your own bottle, you might be better off asking for a cup of ice (to put in your bottle) and then getting the water from a fountain, bathroom tap, or bottle refill station.

Note: Chrissy, our intrepid parks reporter that the in-park Starbucks locations previously would give guests any size ice water for free, they’re now charging for a cup of water in sizes larger than the small paper cup. A trenta ice water is now $3.99 plus tax. We believe this comes from a Starbucks environmental initiative rather than a mandate from Disney.

If you want to replace electrolytes as well as water, Powerade is also widely available at Disney World, with single serving containers typically priced at about $5.00. As a savings alternative, you may want to consider buying a product like Nuun Sport electrolyte drink tablets to put in your own water bottle. There are a variety of flavors, as well as being more economical.

FIND THE POCKETS OF COOL

In addition to indoor air-conditioned spaces, Disney World has a number of outdoor cooling spots. Among them are the mist stations at the Coca-Cola stand in Tomorrowland and at the giant totem statues near the Jungle Cruise, both in Magic Kingdom.

Additionally there are water play areas such as Casey’s Splash Zone in the Storybook Circus area of Magic Kingdom. And some attractions, such as Splash Mountain and Kali River Rapids, are bound to get you soaked – a drenching might not be ideal in the winter, but during Disney summer it can be a welcome refresher.

Cooling towels sold near bottled water.

A visit to one of the Disney World water parks is another great way to stay cool in the summer.

MAKE YOUR OWN POCKETS OF COOL

Savvy park goers will also make use of personal cooling devices. These might include special cooling towels (about $17 in the parks, but widely available elsewhere for less), handheld paper fans (about $14 in the parks), handheld electric fans (USB or battery charged), or misting fans. Misting fans are typically available for $15-20 in the Disney World parks, but we’ve recently seen them out of stock. If this is a must-have item for you, pick one up at Target or Walmart before you head out on vacation.

Don’t forget about your little ones! There are many variations of fans and misting fans that clip onto strollers to help keeps your kiddos cool.

EAT LIGHTLY

I too want ALL THE SNACKS at Disney World, but during this time of year, you might want to save your heavy snacking for the evening, or avoid it all together.

The earlier start of the Epcot Food & Wine Festival (opening July 14 this year) is a strange bit of torture. Everything is yum, but indulging in hot cheddar cheese soup when it’s 90+ degrees out is a sure ticket to gastric distress. Stick to salads, fruit, and icy desserts.

A cold beer or cocktail on a hot day sounds delightful, but make sure that you don’t imbibe enough to make you forget sun safety.

Look for cool mist stations, like this one near the Jungle Cruise attraction.

SUNSCREEN

Wearing sunscreen won’t keep you cool in the moment, but preventing burns will make your stay at the parks much more comfortable, not to mention safer. Coppertone is available at many shops in the parks and resorts. If you prefer a different brand, bring it from home.

DRESS LIGHTLY

Loose clothing in light colors are a key to keeping cool. Opt for flowing tops in cotton or linen. Technical exercise clothing is another good option. If you’re not planning to make a mid-day trip back to your hotel, you might consider bringing an extra shirt to allow you to freshen up during the afternoon.

PROTECT YOUR FACE AND EYES

Sunglasses, wide brim hats, and even parasols can all play a role in keeping you cool, comfortable and protected from the sun.

THINK ABOUT YOUR TRANSPORTATION

The hottest I ever was at Walt Disney World was on a 100+ day in August walking throught the Epcot parking lot searching for my rental car. The blacktop reflected and radiated so much heat that the lot looked like a mirage. And then when I finally found the car, the inside was almost too hot to touch.

If you will have a car with you, consider a windshield shade. Or perhaps avoid this situation altogether and decide to use the Disney buses or an Uber, both of which will be air-conditioned and cool when you enter.

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Erin Foster

Erin Foster is an original member of the Walt Disney World Moms Panel (now PlanDisney), a regular contributor to TouringPlans.com, and co-author of The Unofficial Guide to Disney Cruise Line. She's been to WDW, DL, DL Paris, Hong Kong Disneyland, Aulani, DVC Vero Beach, and DVC Hilton Head. She's a Platinum DCL cruiser and veteran of 10 Adventures by Disney trips. Erin lives near New York City, where she can often be found indulging in her other obsession - Broadway theater.

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