Visiting Walt Disney World during the holiday season is exhilarating. The decorations, the special parades, holiday music and special treats make for a wonderous holiday experience. Until it gets cold, that is. A quick cold snap can definitely take your sunny Florida vacation and make it a little less magical. I remember during Reunion 2010 last year, while trying to watch IllumiNations, it got so cold I nearly couldn’t feel my toes. So what do you do when the cold hits?
Despite what you might think, just like the rain, cold is not the end of the world at Walt Disney World. So here are some tips and tricks on how to make the most of a frigid day.
Where to go – There are some parks that are easier to turn to than others to avoid the wind and cold. Foremost among those is Epcot, because the Future World pavilions are all enclosed. Spending time in The Land pavilion riding Soarin’ or Living with the Land, watching The Circle of Life film and grabbing some coffee or hot chocolate at Sunshine Season can make for quite an enjoyable time. Most of the Future World pavilions are structured that way, with an attraction, an interactive area and a nearby place to eat or rest. Downtown Disney is also a good choice, as the distance between the buildings are short, and there are plentiful coffee, hot cocoa, and places to sit and rest.
Two parks that are not as good options–but still may work–are Disney’s Hollywood Studios and the Magic Kingdom. While you will have a ways to walk between attractions, both parks have attractions packed together, and the main entranceways have shops packed together where it’s easy to walk through without going outside.
Places to avoid – Epcot’s World Showcase on a cold wintry day can be approximately the temperature of the North Pole. I’m convinced that I have been colder walking around World Showcase at holiday time than I was the one time I attended a sporting event in Milwaukee in winter time. The breeze coming off the lagoon is biting, and it does not let up.
Animal Kingdom is also a good place to steer clear of in the cold. The entire park is designed to be outside, and in the cold, that’s not where you want to be. Not to mention that the animals do not tend to stay outside in the cold, thus depriving the park of its main attractions.
Things to do – I mentioned the Future World pavilions above, and that part of Epcot is a fantastic choice for spending a cold day. Each pavilion offers at least 30 minutes of entertainment if you really stop and take your time.
If you’re really concerned about the cold, take a drive to the Transportation and Ticket Center, and take a monorail tour of the Magic Kingdom resorts to see the decorations. Starting on the resort monorail, you’ll see the poinsettias and tropical décor at the Polynesian, the Gingerbread House at the Grand Floridian and the giant wreath at the Contemporary. You can also take a boat (probably too cold) or bus over to the Wilderness Lodge and sit in the lobby by the giant fireplace to take in the Christmas tree.
Where to eat – Part of the appeal of Walt Disney World is dining, and in the cold, a warm, hearty meal offers some great benefits. First of all, taking some time indoors to sit and eat allows you to rest after the cold has sucked some life out of you. Plus, a nice warm meal will give you the energy to keep going. But where are the best locations?
In Epcot, I can’t recommend the Garden Grill highly enough. It’s a fun meal brought to your table, with Mickey, Pluto, Chip and Dale along for the ride. Plus, it’s in Future World. Over at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, a nice bowl of pasta from Mama Melrose’s will hit the spot, plus you’re right next door to the Christmas shop. In the Magic Kingdom, Liberty Tree Tavern’s menu offers some holiday fare that is just what the doctor ordered.
Whatever you do when cold weather strikes at Disney, don’t give up. There are so many unexplored corners of the resort that it’s no fun to sit in your room and wait for better weather. Instead, venture out and see what there is to warm the heart, if not those cold toes.