I’ve got a news flash for you. Are you ready? Disney World is in Florida. And Florida is….. hot. What? I know right?! What kind of crazy talk is this? Believe it or not, when I announced I was moving to Orlando I had many well-meaning people inform me of this fact with the type of “breaking news” seriousness that would have made Tom Brokaw proud. Florida is hot? Are you sure?
All though I’m sure this is decidedly not news to any of you, it’s one thing to know it’s hot, it’s quite another to be prepared to deal with intense heat all day long for a week or so. Can you visit Disney World in the middle of summer and still have a great vacation? Yes. Here’s how to do it.
5 Touring Strategies for Hot Weather
When visiting during the warmest months of the year you will still have a magical time. But there are some adjustments you can make in your planning to help you enjoy your trip.
#1-Plan to start early in the morning. It’s cooler and the crowds are lower. Yes it means getting up early even though you are “on vacation”. I know. I know. But trust me on this. I try to plan to be at opening for one day at each park. So that means four days of my week (or so) vacation I will be getting up early and hitting the park at rope drop. The other days I will have a slower morning and stay out later at night. Usually I try to alternate these early mornings with slower ones. It works out well. The one park I will skip opening is Animal Kingdom. It’s not totally necessary for that park. It’s vital for Magic Kingdom and a good idea for Hollywood Studios and Epcot. By the time people are wandering into the park around noon you will be getting ready to head out having all ready done the most popular rides in the coolest part of the day with the shortest lines.
#2- Take an afternoon break. The hottest part of the day is late afternoon so if you can, try to be either inside resting in the AC or in a pool relaxing. That afternoon break recharges everyone. Don’t worry about missing valuable touring time. If you started early then you were all ready productive and got a lot checked off your list. If you were to take a stroll in Fantasyland around 2 in the afternoon you will see plenty of evidence for using this strategy. Babies children and adults are melting down left and right. You can’t walk five steps without running into a crying kid and frazzled parents. You can just look at everyone’s expression and see that no one is having fun anymore. And really, isn’t that the point? It’s better to have five hours of fantastic, fun-filled Disney park time than 10 hours that ends with everyone miserable and hating each other. Taking a break means that everyone will enjoy the day so much more. This is also great when you decide to do tip #3….
#3-Plan to stay late until closing at least one night. Even though summer nights are still warm and muggy, temperatures are cooler and you don’t have the sun blazing down on you. Plus, there is something magical that happens when you stay late and close the park down.The park is so pretty at night with all the lights, and every park has special things to see that only happen in the evening. This can be a challenge when you have very young children. If they are small enough for a stroller then it’s possible they will fall asleep if they get too tired. This would also be a good day to rent a double stroller from the park for kids that are a little too big to typically use a stroller, but would be able to ride in the big rental one. Giving them a place to rest and sit will help them go farther. This does make for a very long day so an afternoon break and nap will be a good idea (see tip #2). If you only do this one night of your trip I highly recommend Magic Kingdom. It’s beneficial for several reasons- crowds are much lighter, temperatures are lower, and the park is so pretty at night. We always planned one late night at Magic Kingdom during our Disney World vacations. We watch the night parade, the castle projection show and the fireworks all around Main Street. Then go ride a few of the rides you may have missed due to long waits. Also, something a lot of people don’t realize is that the park will always stay open later than the official closing time. The Main Street/castle area stays open at least an hour after closing time. They have what they call the “Kiss Goodnight” where they light up the castle and say good night to everyone. It’s makes for a magical evening. It’s also a great time to get those pictures in front of the castle without other people in the way. If you do this, try to plan it so the next morning is a slow one to sleep in a little. Your family will thank you.
#4-Watch hydration levels closely. Keep a close eye on everyone’s hydration level, especially young children. Maybe this would seem like an obvious suggestion, but it’s very easy to get so wrapped up in touring the parks that you lose track of this. Headaches and crankiness is usually the first sign someone’s about to go downhill fast. Keep lots of water handy. Many people don’t realize that any place on Disney property that sells fountain drinks will give you a free cup of ice water. Free! Very little in Disney is free, so take advantage of this. Starbucks will also give free cups of ice water. Casey’s Corner in Main Street always has big cups of water filled and ready at the ordering counter. Just ask for one. You don’t need to spend a fortune on bottled waters. At $3 each you will quickly drink your money. So pack everyone with some water at the beginning of the day, and when it runs out start going to counters and asking for some. To see my favorite water bottle to bring in the parks click here. Drink lots and often. I become a water pusher. I’m shoving it in everyone’s face constantly. Every time we stop to wait in a line I’m passing them water and telling them to drink. Annoying? Yes. But effective.
#5-Stay flexible with your schedule. What sounds like a doable plan when you’re sitting in your comfortable air conditioned home months before your trip can suddenly seem way too ambitious when faced with the reality of heat and crowds. Don’t be afraid to change the plan if you need to. Once heat exhaustion starts setting in, trying to push too hard will not end well. So you may need to skip a ride or show and find a cool place to sit for a bit. Or leave early and go back to the hotel to rest. If possible, it’s a good idea to leave a day or part of a day open in your planning. Having some open space in the vacation for unforeseen changes can really help. Then if someone gets sick, or you have to skip something good you know you have that open time to go back and catch it. If you don’t end up needing it, it can turn into pool/resort time.
I get asked a lot what I bring into the parks with me. My next post will have all my favorite gear with links on where to get them. Some of these are great for summer weather so keep a look out for that. If you need help on everything that’s new this year at Disney World, and what Fast Passes you should get, check out: Summer at Disney World: Fast Pass Tips.