There's hot and then there's Florida in the summer where the humidity and the temperature can reach triple digits.
Naturally, these hotter months are when school is out, which means that many will head to Walt Disney World. Heat and crowds are not a great combo, but it can be manageable if you prepare for it.
Staying at a Disney Resort is a good start. You can get to the parks in air-conditioned comfort via complimentary bus, monorail or water transportation. It sure beats shlepping to a car that's been baking in the sun for hours on end.
Another incentive for staying at a Disney Resort is being able to take advantage of the Extra Magic Hour. Knowing that you have extra time to enjoy the parks, you can take an afternoon break for a swim or a nap. Some of the resorts have water activities that are perfect on a hot day. Other resorts offer free tours and all of them have dining venues that are much less crowded midday.
One of the most important things you should do while in the parks is stay hydrated. Consider bringing your own water bottle* that you can refill at the water fountains. You'll even save some money!
Bring sunscreen. Yes you can get it at a resort gift shop, but why pay a premium price? Don't make the mistake of thinking that if you're not in a bathing suit, you won't need it. The last thing you want is to get sunburned and it can happen just by walking around the parks.
Likewise, pack a water-misting fan*. Most Wal-Marts, Targets, etc. sell them or you can get them from Amazon here*. If you wait until you're at Walt Disney World, you'll be paying at least $20 for one. If you have kids, you know that they'll be fighting over it so be smart, get them cheaply and pack extra batteries.
Think those Goofy hats look silly? When your head's been baking in the sun and you start to feel the effects of it, you'll see that wearing a hat is not a bad idea.
If you have little ones, consider the view from their perspective. While you're looking at castles and characters, they're in a hot stroller looking at, well, to put it nicely, posteriors. They're bound to get cranky considering the heat and what's at eye level. An ice cream break or simply stopping in an air conditioned store for a few moments can help. Best tip of all, let them set the pace. If the tots want to watch a duck (and I don't mean Donald), let them. Enjoy what you do see, and don't worry about what you might be missing.
With kids, the fountains at Epcot or at Downtown Disney Marketplace are places that they'll love. Plan accordingly. Either have their bathing suit on under their clothes or bring a change of clothing with you. Getting soaked is fun, being stuck in wet socks and sneakers afterwards isn't.
The Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney's Hollywood Studios have plenty of attractions that are indoors. This is not the case at the Animal Kingdom. For the most part, at this park you're going to be outdoors. Again, if you're staying at a Disney resort, take advantage of Extra Magic Hours. If not, get to the Animal Kingdom early and plan on leaving before it gets ridiculously hot and busy.
If you underestimate the heat and start to feel the effects of it, get to the First Aid Station. Each Disney theme park has one. Here you can rest and get cooled off before venturing back outdoors. The American Red Cross has good advice regarding treatment of heat related illness and the symptoms to watch for.
With the heat and humidity come sudden thunderstorms. That's not special effects, that's real lightning. Get inside a building. These storms usually pass quickly and it's best to stay safe.
As you can imagine, the Disney Water Parks are very popular during the summer months. Arrive early, stake out your spot and enjoy the day. Another alternate venue to consider is Disney Quest where you can spend the entire day in air conditioned comfort.
By now, you've figured out the strategy. Don't arrive with the "we're going to Disney World and will spend every waking moment in the parks" mentality. You'll be miserable by the end of the trip. Swim, make dining arrangements in an air conditioned restaurant, schedule a spa treatment (you know you want one), research park hours and think "outside the parks." You'll be glad you did.
Disney World Summer Touring Tips and Strategies
It’s summer in Orlando, and here’s a news flash; it’s hot and crowded in the theme parks! Temperatures can easily climb into the 90s with a heat index into the 100s. Crowd levels at the theme parks can build throughout the day. For many theme park veterans this is not surprising, but for the first-time visitor...read more
*As an Amazon Affiliate, the DIS receives a small percentage of any purchases made through these links.