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If you travel to Walt Disney World in summer, central Florida’s heat is an unavoidable factor. High temperatures in the 90s, humid conditions punctuated by afternoon storms and crowds that never abate are unavoidable realities this time of year.
I’ve learned that the heat of a Florida summer is just a minor obstacle to scaling the peaks of Expedition Everest or Splash Mountain. You can read the tips I’ve offered about surviving your summer trip to Walt Disney World here. The key to making the most of a summer trip is preparation. Touring plans and park calendars are a big part of it, but knowing how to pack for summer is also essential. To that end, I’ve compiled this list of items that are particularly essential for the summer traveler.
Moisture-wicking fabric: The problem with cotton is it will soak up sweat, but won’t release it effectively. Wearing workout wear or other clothes with moisture-wicking fabric will go a long way to keeping you cooler. As a bonus, they dry off a lot quicker when you get off a water ride. And don’t forget about socks. As we’ll note below, keeping your feet dry and comfortable is key, considering the amount of walking at Disney. Unless you have access to a washer-dryer in your room (like DVC one- and tw0-bedroom villas) or plan on using the laundry facilities at your resort, you’ll want to bring extras. We often will go through two changes of clothes in a day.
Ponchos: I guarantee that if you’re traveling in the summer, it’s going to rain – hard. Rather than be chased off by the rain, you can enjoy the open walkways and lower wait times if you’re prepared with panchos. You can buy a Disney pancho at the park for about $9 or you can find a bargain at home and just keep them in the bag you bring to the parks. You want something thicker and more durable than a trash bag, but not so heavy that you’ll be sweating in it the moment you put it on.
Shoes and sandals: When you’re walking 10 miles or more in a day, it’s best to be able to change up your footwear regularly. I go with a pair of sneakers and a pair of walking sandals. The variation will help avoid blisters and aches. Also, if one pair is soaked from rain or water ride, you have a dry pair to change into. Sneakers should be broken in before your trip. Sandals should be made for walking with good arch support (no cheap flip-flops). It’s also beneficial if they’re waterproof for instances when your feet might get wet. If I plan on riding Kali River Rapids, that’s going to be a sandals day.
Two swimsuits: Most days we take a break to swim, and some days we swim more than once. If that’s the case, you definitely want to have two swimsuits so that you always have a dry suit available.
Hats: Breathable fabric with a wide brim to keep that sun out of your face. Baseball caps work fine, but you might find a safari-style hat better to give the back of your neck coverage. Plus, you’ll look right at home in Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
Cheap sunglasses: Raise your hand if you’ve lost a pair of sunglasses in the parks. I’m guessing I’m not the only one, which is why I only bring shades that it wouldn’t ruin my day to lose.
Misting fan water bottle: There’s a reason Disney can charge close to $25 for these puppies in the parks. They do the job of cooling you down with a squeeze of the trigger. Or you can purchase one for under $10 before your trip and pull it out of your bag for a quick spritz. Keep the bottle filled with water in your room refrigerator until you leave for the parks. Don’t forget extra batteries for the fan component.
Cooling towel/wipes: Cooling towels are perfect for hanging around your neck, or for a quick, cooling wipe. When wet, the towels begin to evaporate and provide and provide a cooling effect when placed on the skin. To refresh the cooling effect, simply wet the towel again and wring it out. Frog Toggs are one of the original brands, but there are plenty others to choose from. Be sure to follow the care and use instructions of your brand. Alternately, disposable cooling body cloths are another way to freshen up with a pleasant fragance.
Insulated bottle: You can’t overstate the importance of staying hydrated while touring the parks. Save the waste and expense of bottled water and opt for your favorite insulated bottle. You’ll enjoy cool water while walking in Adventureland. Then, you can refill it with the free ice water given out at counter service locations.
Sunscreen, lots of it: Don’t let a nasty sunburn make you miserable. Be sure to apply sunscreen (at least SPF 30) early, often and all over. If you run out, you’re going to pay a premium at the resort gift shop, so bring an ample supply with you. We like to bring sprays for arms and legs (don’t forget about the tops of your feet if wearing sandals). Then we’ll use cream for the face and neck. Just in case you miss a spot, have some sunburn relief cream or gel on hand. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends moisturizer with aloe vera or soy to reduce symptoms. However, it cautions that lotion containing a local anesthetic, such as benzocaine or lidocaine, can cause skin irritation or an allergic reaction. Test it out before your trip to make sure there are no side-effects.
Anti-chafing balm, cream or powder: Runners know all about this, but if you’re not accustomed to constant walking in hot, humid conditions, you might not be prepared for the chafing issues that will likely arise. Athletes swear by Body Glide balm, so I think it will be enough for the Disney World tourist. Plenty of powders and creams are also on the market. The key is to apply it before you have any issues.
Bug spray, bite relief: First, let me say that for being in central Florida, Walt Disney World is surprisingly bug-free. That said, I still bring along an insect repellent and a bite and itch relief product. This is another product worth testing out ahead of time to make sure it’s effective and non-irritating. One note on the Zika Virus scare: the Centers for Disease Control issued a warning for the Miami-Dade area in Florida, but central Florida had no mosquito-transmitted cases. Go here for the latest CDC update.
Forget something? If you leave an essential item at home, and Disney does not have it in the gift shop, you can call Turner Drugs. They charge a small fee of $7.50 and will deliver any drug store item to your resort hotel. Save their number in your phone: (407) 828-8125.
One last thing
Pack your patience. You’ll have to deal with heavier crowds and it pays to be prepared. Take advantage of the longer hours by hitting the parks early and enjoying the heat of midday back at your resort. Then, you’ll be refreshed for the cooler evenings.
What are your packing tips for touring the parks in the heat of summer? Please share in the comments.