Walt Disney World (FL)

Packing For Summer At Walt Disney World

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Being prepared means packing the essentials for your summer trip to Walt Disney World (Robert Blaszkiewicz)

Ed. – this article contains affiliate links to Amazon.

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.

Essential apparel

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.

Better to bring two pairs than one of each.

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.

Cool tools

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.

These towels provide cooling comfort when wet.

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.

Drugstore dos

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.

Chafing is an unfortunate reality of summer touring.

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.

Robert Blaszkiewicz is on Twitter @RobertBlaszk and Facebook.

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17 thoughts on “Packing For Summer At Walt Disney World

  • A power strip for the hotel room to charge all the goodies MyDisneyExperience will drain during the day.

  • Extra external batteries, charging chords, chargers, and a power strip for the hotel room to charge all the goodies MyDisneyExperience will drain during the day.

  • We have several things that, while we also use them in other situations, we always make *certain* we take them to WDW! :

    1) I (Lee) started buying Columbia Tamiami II fishing shirts expressly because of getting soaked on Kali River Rapids. These shirts dry very quickly. I already had a few pairs of quick-dry nylon hiking shorts, but if you don’t you’ll want to get those too. Finally, don’t forget your underwear. If you wear underwear on a Kali day, quick dry clothing isn’t going to do you any good unless it is *all* quick-dry, down to your undies. Robin brings a shower cap to keep her hair dry during Kali.

    2) While useful all year around, in the summer a water-bottle holster that will fit on your belt or the strap for your waist pack is a lifesaver. You can find these on eBay.

    3) A good water bottle is a Brita Bottle with built-in filter. These will filter out all but the worst tasting water. We like to get cups of ice water (free!) from quick service locations and just dump them in our bottles. We originally got these because most qs locations used to give you nasty Florida tap water. More and more seem to now be giving out filtered water.

    4) Hat. Much to my wife’s chagrin, I either wear a Tru-Spec waterproof boonie hat (possibly now out of production, but still available on eBay), or a Columbia fishing cap that has fabric that comes down the back to cover your neck and ears from burning. Robin hates the look of them, but I don’t get bad neck and ear burns anymore! If you get a boonie hat, don’t get a cotton one. The waterproof Tru-Spec one will act as a good rain hat, dry quickly, and keep a lot of rain off the rest of your body due to the wider than normal brim for a boonie.

    5) Shoes: Opinions vary, but Robin wears Vionics sandals everywhere and swears by them. Never any foot trouble in the parks. I alternate between Keens and Columbia tennis-shoe like shoes.

  • We were just there the last 2 weeks and it poured for 3-4 hours at least everyday. Extra shoes, moleskin, rain ponchos, and ziploc bags were all essential! We have tried the cheap rain ponchos and they are just not comfortable or just don’t fit right or work. We bought Disney ponchos years ago and we just bring them with us every time we visit. They were a good investment since we have used them on at least 7 trips. 2 other items to bring that I had to go buy at Walgreens while there, scissors (for cutting the moleskin) and bandaids. I always bring some bandaids, but I didn’t bring enough and we ran out.

  • Zip top plastic bags are always helpful and travel packet of Wet Ones for cleaning hands before a meal or eating a snack. You are touching surfaces all day long that thousands of others are also touching.

    • Alcohol based hand wipes. Great and cleaning your hands and not leaving gloopy residue like gel hand sanitizers.

  • Battery backup for cell phones. MDE can really put a drain on the battery life and who wants to be stuck to the wall while you try to get that 4th or 5th FP+? Some pain reliever (Advil, Tylenol, etc.) might help to keep the grumpies away when mom or dad start to get that head ache or sore legs.

  • A ziplock of moleskin already cut into a variety of sizes is my must have. As soon as a toe, heel or side of foot starts to get that hot spot feeling, we stop and take care of it. Don’t forget scissors packed in checked baggage to cut more. I now buy the roll instead of sheets.

  • Great suggestions. I should have mentioned the Ziploc bags. Those can come in handy!

    • We also use the 2.5 gallon bags for carrying wet clothing in the backpack(s).

  • A small first aid kit with a antibiotic cream, band aids and wet naps (which are useful all the time).
    A mini powerstrip to plug in all the stuff you have.

  • Regarding ponchos – we bring our rain jackets that fold up into their own pockets. I know there are cheap disposable ponchos out there but why spend money when you have a perfect solution already in your home? We have lightweight jackets that most of my family keeps in their golf bags when we’re at home and they work perfectly. When it rains put on the jacket and a baseball cap or visor to keep the rain off your face and you’re good to go! We also like to pack a microfiber hand sized towel so that we can dry off seats after it rains. Lastly, throw a Ziploc bag in your park bag. We put our phones and other electronics in the Ziploc when we’re going on water rides or if it is really pouring.

  • Some other tips when you’re actually in the parks
    -If you aren’t taking a break to go back to the room, at least do a sit down lunch. An hour or so sitting in the AC and out of the sun really can help.

    – Know a few “recharge” places are in the parks- places that are inside and have AC (or at least shaded and out of the way), and that allow you sit down for an extended period of time. These can be a ride or attraction, though you probably want some thing that’s long and not to thrilling.

    -take a break! get out of the parks for a little bit. You’ll enjoy the time you’re actually in the parks more!

  • I can vouch for the frog togs. We went two weeks ago. We thought “We’re Floridians, we can handle it!” But as soon as we stepped out on the concrete we were dying. We bought those cooling towels from one of the kiosks and were amazed at how well they worked. Anytime we passed one of the vendors selling bottled drinks from the ice boxes we asked if we could scoop out some melted ice water to dip our cloth in and they had no problem with it bc they have to drain it often anyway. It worked out great!

  • We buy the 50c water ponchos from Target or Wal*Mart (they may now be slightly more expensive). We buy 3 or 4 each. They are very compact but not vey thick. When it rains we put them on. When it stops raining we throw them away – it saves having to carry wet ponchos about with us. We usually have a second poncho in our pockets in case it rains again! We have walked off the Kali River Rapids wearing the cheap ponchos and people in the queue have asked us if they can have them – so we recycled them by handed them on!

  • BUG SPRAY. We are Disneyland folk, so when we went to Disney World, it didn’t even cross my mind to bring. The parks weren’t bad for bugs at all, but we spent a few nights around the resort (Port Orleans), watching movies on the grass, carriage ride, etc. and the mosquitoes looked like mutant bugs. They were about 4 times the size of the mosquitoes at home (Saskatchewan, Canada) and the resulting bites were bigger than quarters (loonie-sized for those of you familiar with CDN currency). The gift shop at Port Orleans didn’t have any bug spray or after-bite stocked, so we just had to suffer through. Never making that mistake again!!!

  • Regarding water bottles – If you’re staying at a DVC property, or anywhere with a freezer, fill your water container about halfway and put it in the freezer overnight. Then fill it the rest of the way with water in the morning. That way you’ll have cold water to start out. If that isn’t an option for you, you can utilize the ice machines in counter service restaurants that have soda out and available for refills and put more ice in your water bottles throughout the day.


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