Summer Survival Guide

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With the first official day of summer just around the corner I thought I’d take the opportunity to share some hot weather packing and touring ideas.  If there’s one thing to know about Walt Disney World during the summer months it’s that its HOT! Being prepared for for the dog days of summer can make all the difference between enjoying your vacation and being miserable.  First, let’s take a look at some things to bring with you on your trip to make your trip more pleasant.

First and foremost, do not leave home without sunscreen. As far as concerned there is no debate on this issue.  Everyone has their own preferences for in terms of SPF, but having protection is essential.  I generally will pack a larger bottle in my checked bag and then have a small travel sized one to carry around in the parks to reapply.  Reapplying the lotion is also key to preventing sunburn and discomfort.  Every few hours dab a little more onto your face and other exposed areas.  Nothing is worse than a really bad sunburn on vacation!  If you have forgotten your sunblock it can be found in the gift shops in Disney resorts as well as retail areas in the parks.  However, the price they charge is ridiculous and the selection will be limited so try to bring your own.

Be sure to wear light colored clothes.  Dark colors absorb the sun’s heat and will only make you more uncomfortable.  However, I’d stay away from white (especially for the girls out there) because there is a good chance you will get wet during your day in the parks.  Just think of how embarrassing and uncomfortable to unload from Splash Mountain and realize your shirt is now totally transparent?  I also recommend lighter weight clothes for your summer time vacation; think khaki over denim.

Also, when considering what to pack don’t forget a hat.  You would not believe what a difference covering your head makes.  Don’t worry, you don’t have to wear one all day and get hat hair!  If you keep one in your bag you can pop it on when you start afternoon heat.  Simply putting on a hat can shade your face and scalp from sunburn and provide a bit of relief from the rising temperatures.

Another must have for every member of your party is a poncho.  Summer thunderstorms are almost guaranteed daily in the Orlando area.  It’s best to be prepared for these short downpours by tucking a poncho into your bag in the parks.  Disney sells them all over property, but those folks looking to pinch pennies can find them elsewhere for much less money.  It’s worth noting Disney Parks ponchos are usually only displayed when it looks like a storm is coming or it’s actually raining.  Don’t be afraid to ask the cast members behind cash registers to sell you a poncho; they’ll be happy to oblige!

Here’s a few tips for the ladies heading to Disney World.  For starters go easy on the make up.  With lathering on sunscreen and sweating like crazy all day its just going to get gross.  I really love using Burt’s Bees colored chap stick in the parks.  They are small tubes that will easily fit in a pocket, have SPF protection, and just provide a little color for your pout.  It’s a great no fuss way to not feel totally unmade up.  I’m also a fan of using waterproof mascara.  You never know when you are going to wet between rides like Kali River Rapids and a sudden summer downpour, and who wants a photo in front of Cinderella Castle with eye makeup streaming down your face? Also, make sure to be well supplied in hair elastics or whatever your method might be to put your hair up.

And now let’s take a look at some touring strategies to make your trip fun despite the heat.  The best thing you can do is get yourself out of bed and get to the parks before opening.  Be on hand when the cast members start allowing guests through the turn styles.  First of all it is cooler early in the morning so you will be more comfortable hoofing it around a park.  Secondly, most people do not opt to get out of bed early in the morning so the parks are much less crowded.  Try to see some of the most popular rides before the crowds swell and then high tail it out of the park in the early afternoon.  Head back to your resort for a nice break including maybe a nap or dip in the pool.  This way you will miss the heaviest crowds and the highest heat levels in the mid and late afternoon.  Head back to the park later to hit some of the attractions you skipped in the morning, have a nice dinner (preferably in air conditioning), and take in the evening entertainment.  If your group is staying on Disney property take advantage of the evening extra magic hours to beat the heat too.

My other early morning suggestion is to take as many of your group pictures as possible in the morning before the heat and the inevitable afternoon storm hits.  This way you and your family can look comfortable and not sweat stained in front of the castle in your scrapbook.  As an added bonus, you’ll have fewer folks milling around in the background since the parks are less crowded at that hour.

I can’t emphasize the importance of staying hydrated while touring!  Make sure you drink plenty of water and snack from time to time.  Bottles of water are available throughout Disney property.  However, if your group gets a rental car I suggest stopping at a grocery store to grab a case of water.  This is a much more economical way to stave off heat exhaustion and you can pick up some snacks, forgotten toiletries, or whatever else suits your fancy.  I’m always sure to drink a ton of water at WDW because I know how my body reacts to heat.  On a September trip one year I thought I had been drinking enough, but I did not eat enough.  I thought I was going to pass out in Mitsukoshi Department Store in the Japan Pavilion.  Lesson learned!  After having a little nibble and some advil I was back in action.

If you do find yourself feeling a bit under the weather due to the oppressive heat, do not hesitate to pay a visit to the first aid stations.  All of the parks have these facilities and can be found on your park map.  The few times I have had to use them for minor injuries (they treat a lot of blisters) the cast members could not have been nicer and more helpful.  They are there to help guests with all sorts of ailments.  They see dehydration all of the time and will know exactly what to do to help you feel better or determine if your case is too severe for them to handle and will arrange transportation to the hospital.  Please do not ignore your symptoms if you are feeling dehydrated!

Another thing to do is to seek air conditioning.  Having a long table service lunch, for example, will allow you to cool off while being waited on during the hot afternoon hours.  Many attractions offer a respite from the heat as well.  Take in one of the films in World Showcase, feel patriotic at the Hall of Presidents in the Magic Kingdom, or just keep swimming at Finding Nemo: the Musical at the Animal Kingdom.  The time off your feet and out of the sun will do you wonders.  Shows and longer attractions are also great to hit during that mid afternoon thunderstorm.  By the time the attraction is over you might have just missed the summer shower.

Also, why not take a day to explore one of the Disney World water parks?  Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach are great places to spend a hot summer day.  The same early rising rule applies with the water parks.  The lines for various slides will be much shorter early in the morning.  So get there early, get your locker, and get sliding!  Later in the afternoon you can rest in the lazy river or float in the wave pool when the crowds start to increase.  Or if you are on a tighter budget, take one day to relax around your resort’s pool.  Many of the Disney resorts have well themed pools complete with slides.

Now that I’ve shared my ideas for surviving the Florida heat, what are some of your ways to stay cool?  Please share them so others can benefit if they are heading to WDW this summer!

For more tips and tricks for touring in the heat check out this episode of WDWtoday!

Next week I’ll take a look at a fan favorite restaurant at Disney’s Hollywood Studios…

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Posted on June 16, 2010

27 Responses to “Summer Survival Guide”

  • Great post Kristen. I agree that it’s best to target the air conditioned rides in the afternoon. Or just to hit the shops then too.

  • Take a midday break if possible. You miss the huge midday crowds & everyone likes a swim!

  • by Marlene Gibson on June 16, 2010, at 11:16 am EDT

    With the summer crowds, is there a concern that if you leave in the afternoon for a rest that you won’t get back in due to crowd level?

    • The only time I’d really even consider that would be during the 4th of July holiday. Otherwise it really shouldn’t be an issue for you. If you check out the crowd calender that should back me up. Thanks for reading, Marlene!

      • by Marlene Gibson on June 16, 2010, at 4:36 pm EDT

        Gotcha. That’s the one day we’ve opted out of the parks and are swimming and sleeping in ;)

  • by Teri Helland on June 16, 2010, at 11:50 am EDT

    One idea my daughter’s softball team uses to keep cool are called “frog togs” these are shammy like “towels” that you wet down and ring out and put in the fridge you pull them out for the day and they stay cool w/out being soaking wet. It would be a nice thing to have around your neck when walking around disneyworld.

  • I’ve been a proponent of taking a nice long air conditioned sit down lunch for years. When I hear people ragging on the Dining Plan, I tell them that it’s worth it for that alone. Especially if you have kids (I have two) and they need a break from running around.

    Usually, by the time I finish stuffing them at Tusker House or Crystal Palace, they’re ready for a midday break and will be very still if not take a nap when we get back to the hotel.

    Plus – great food!

    • Hi Ryan! Thanks for your thoughts on a mid day meal. I don’t have kids so I often don’t think of how to keep them happy. I’m glad the readers chime in with their thoughts on those types of matters!

  • We are traveling to WDW in mid-August. Everyone I tell about our vacation says “O my Gosh, it will be soooo HOT”. Thanks for these tips! Will it really be that bad? Also we are from MT so although not used to hot and humid we are looking forward to some Fun in the Sun. (PS my daughters are 12 & 15)

    • It’s really, really hot. I’ve been in August once before and heading down again this year. You will sweat and be generally gross and there is just no getting around it. But if you stay hydrated and use some of my tips it will help you out a lot. Your kids will love a midday break with some time in the pool. When in August are you going?! I (along with some of the other touringplans team) will be there from the 12-16th.

  • Wicking Sports clothing can be a life saver. You definitely stay cooler and drier. And don’t forget the underwear / sports bra for the ladies. It makes a huge difference.

  • My husband, daughter and I are heading down there Aug. 16-21st. Thanks for the great tips for dealing with the heat. I have also heard concerns from people about it being hurricane season. Should I be worried?

    • I’ll just miss you! I leave on the 16th. The other time I went in August there was a threat for a hurricane, and Disney handles situations like that beautifully. Luckily when I was there it turned out to be a weak tropical storm by the time it blew through overnight one night. I think the only closure was the cancelation of extra magic hours at Animal Kingdom the night of the storm. Most of those kinds of storms break up quite a bit by the time they get to Central Florida. It is relatively rare for a full on hurricane to come through Orlando. If you are concerned you may want to check out trip insurance in the event there is some weather you’d like to avoid. Disney is generally pretty good about cancelations due to mother nature, but your airline may not be as forgiving.

  • If you’re not used to heat and humidity, remember to SLOW DOWN! At least for the first couple of days, yur body is not accustomed to running around full speed when it’s hot. I take a foldable cotton bucket hat (that I can soak with water at any water fountain–cools the head!) and wear running shoes that are well ventilated. I also apply baby powder liberally before dressing in the morning. If you have little kids, keep a close eye on them. They may not know they’re getting too hot, and they can overheat much more quickly than adults.

    • by Amy from KC on June 16, 2010, at 10:27 pm EDT

      I agree with Sharon on keeping a close eye on children. I have a 4 year-old, and I don’t even bother to ask him if he’s thirsty. I just tell him to have a drink. Excited and distracted young children don’t necessarily recognize that they are thirsty until it is too late and they are dehydrated. Tip: if they haven’t asked to go to the restroom lately, then they need to drink more fluids.

      My biggest tip on how to survive the Florida heat is to go in the off season when it is cooler. ;)

      • I usually avoid the summer too, but my friend I’m bringing down is a teacher and I want to see summer nightastic so I am going to deal with it this summer. It’s also worth pointing out that everyone should drink even if they don’t feel thirsty. Just keep sipping on that water all day!

    • That’s also a good tip. Thanks, Sharon! Taking some time to smell the roses in the heat would definitely be a good idea.

  • I visited Disney twice in the summer heat and my best advice is to bring a plastic water cooler (igloo type) that I fill with ice before leaving the hotel. I also fill a small water bottle with ice for each member of our group. During the day, as their personnal bottle emptied, I transferred some cool water and ice from the water cooler into their bottle. Eating or playing with ice cubes is also a great help during hot days. To my own surprise, I still had ice in my water cooler by the end of an hot day.
    The only negative is to carry the water cooler and smaller bottle so that they are easily accessible. I have two small children so I go around with two strollers. I hang the water cooler on one of the stroller. I attach the personnal bottles outside of our backpack (which is on the other stroller) with a karabiner (hope it is the right word in english). So, everything is accessible all the time.

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