Thursday, February 23, 2012

How to: Beat the Summer Heat


Summertime...and the living is easy
I know it's not even spring yet, but I can't help but look forward to summer at Walt Disney World. It's been a very warm winter here in Central Florida so far. Aside from a scattering of days that were quite cold (and yes, it can get cold here), we've experienced consistent temperatures in the upper 70's and low 80's . There's also been very little rain. Having such a warm winter makes me think that we could be in for a very dry, hot summer though.

Summer of course also happens to be a time of year when lots of people visit Disney World. After all, the kids are out of school, the parks  stay open later, and it's traditionally the period people think of when you talk about taking a vacation. If you're one of those people, here's some tips on how to survive summer at the parks.

 Dress appropriately

Average highs during June – August are in the low 90's, but an average humidity around 60% during the same period can cause the heat index (or what a person's perception of the temperature is) to be much higher, so it's not usual to feel like it's more like 98 degrees (or more!) out. This should go without saying, but now is not the time to wear all black clothing and combat boots, while lugging around a backpack so large it comes with its own Sherpa. Light colored clothing, shorts, and t-shirts is the way to go. And don't forget to wear a hat and sunglasses. This goes for kids, too. Ditch the combat boots, and the flip flops (they won't give you enough support as you walk through the park, plus you're just asking for a wicked sunburn on the tops of your feet). And ditch the huge backpacks, too. I'm not saying don't carry one, but visitors tend to overpack for the parks. Before you head out the door, ask yourself “Will I really need this in the parks today?” If the answer is no, or probably not, leave it behind. Trust me, by early afternoon, you'll be thanking me.

Sure it's a nice hat, but I don't think it's going to protect you from the sun....

 Use sunscreen

This is another must. I know, lots of people go on vacation and want to get “a little color” to show off when they get home. The trouble is, it doesn't take long to go from a little color to a bad burn in the Florida sunshine, and you don't want to be in pain on your vacation after waiting months for your trip to arrive. Use something strong, with at least an SPF of 50 for the best protection, and don't forget your ears and behind your neck. The goal is to shield your skin, not saute it, so skip the cocoa butter. Parents, make sure your kids wear it too, even if they're like me as a kid and scrunch up their face and yell as soon as you try to touch them with it. If you're going to be swimming or at a water park, take the time to reapply it more often than you normally would. Remember that the sun's rays reflect off the water, so you will burn faster.

Stay hydrated

Aside from all the walking you're going to be doing, the heat will really take its toll on you, and you're going to sweat – a lot - so drink plenty of fluids. Ideally, you want to drink water, and not caffeinated or alcoholic beverages, since those will actually dehydrate you more quickly. You can even get a cup of ice water from all counter service locations free of charge, though, to be honest, the water isn't always that great. Consider getting some bottled water to keep in your room, and keeping it chilled in your in room fridge if you have one, or an ice bucket. 

This isn't exactly what I meant by "stay hydrated."
Take advantage of Extra Magic Hours

Whether you use them in the morning, in the evening, or both, these can be a lifesaver during the summer. Roughly 70% of all park visitors don't take advantage of the morning EMH, so if you're a morning person and can get to the parks, go! Not only will it be cooler before the heat of midday starts to set in, but you'll get a lot accomplished in the early morning. And if you're a night owl, you'll love summer and the late park hours -imagine being able to stay in the Magic Kingdom until 2 or 3 a.m!   So if your group has the ability to stay out later,  you might relax during the day and hit up the parks at night. Not only will the temperature outside be much more comfortable, but experiencing attractions like Jungle Cruise, Tower of Terror, Test Track or Expedition Everest at night is really different.

Night time is a great time to be in the parks! 


Leave the parks

Regardless of how you tour, you should plan on taking a break during the midday. From about 1-4 p.m., the sun will be at its hottest. It's no surprise that the hot weather makes people cranky and they start to snap at one another. Don't let this be you. Go back to your room for a few hours, and take a siesta, or swim in the pool. Then maybe have a nice dinner and head back to a park for the evening. An even better idea? Take a day off from the parks (about midway through your trip) and spend it relaxing poolside, or by visiting one of the water parks. I guarantee you'll feel better the next day!

Doesn't that pool look inviting? If the scary clown doesn't eat you, I mean.

Use Fastpass and a touring plan

No one likes waiting in line for things, and that's especially true when it feels like it's 95 degrees out and you're baking in the sun. Make sure you use Fastpass for the popular attractions whenever you can, and if you aren't using a touring plan, get one. I can  tell you from experience, they work very well, and can greatly reduce the amount of time you spend in line. 

Better get a Fastpass, or be prepared to wait to ride!

Go for the “cool” attractions

No, I don't mean cool as in awesome. Do kids even say awesome anymore? I feel old. I mean attractions like Philharmagic, Haunted Mansion, Muppet Vision, It's Tough to be a Bug, and yes, even the Hall of Presidents. They're large, air conditioned attractions where you can get out of the sun for a bit. Plus, you can sit down in them, and you can probably even take a long nap without anyone bothering you in that last one. Another good place to come in from out of the heat? The shops. Suddenly, paying $28 for a t-shirt seems reasonable if it means not having to go back outside for 10 minutes.

Bring a poncho

 Summertime in Florida means rain (well, usually). Typically, these storms happen in the afternoon and although they are impressive, strong storms, with thunder and lightning, and can often deliver several inches of rain in a short period of time, they also don't tend to stick around. Here's a tip, too -they'll be lots of people who will leave the parks once it starts to rain; chances are though by the time they get back to their resort, the rain will already be on its way out, so use this time to shop, eat a snack, or experience an indoor attraction. You may just find a much more empty park to enjoy when the sun comes back out.
Serious downpours are part of summer!

What are some of your favorite ways to stay cool in summer at Disney? 

9 comments:

Surrounded-By-Boys said...

I'm probably going to be accused of being a serious party pooper here..but the way we avoid it is to NOT GO AT ALL during the summer. We live in Florida so we know how hot, sticky, rainy, humid, and sweltering it can get. MIx that with the HUGE crowds and it's a recipe for disaster. I know, I know.....party pooper! I am however, THINKING about taking my boys in June for a weekend and just hanging out at the pool all day and not doing the parks at all!

Christina Wood said...

You'll have to call me a party pooper too, because I tend to stay away during the summer. I did go last August and it was okay, but it was for a work trip and I was only in the parks during the cooler parts of the day.

Jenny said...

We are going june 2nd for a week... I'm hoping it isn't too bad then

Matt said...

Maybe I'm a gluten for punishment but I always tend to come out in the first two weeks of June. As a Brit I'm definitely not used to the heat or humidity in Orlando at that time of year.

I find the best way to deal with this is tip number 5 - leave the parks. After so many years of practice the family and I are quite efficient at getting rides done and have been known to be out of a park by 10.30am having done EMH. We'll then spend the day by the pool or going elsewhere before going back to a park in the evening where we'll do less rides and more soaking up of atmosphere.

The best part of this is that we feel like we get to enjoy a fast paced Disney holiday and a relaxing, read a nice book by the swimming pool, vacation all at the same time.

One of the most enjoyable things to do when leaving the parks this early is to head to a nearby resort for a late breakfast / early lunch. At Magic Kingdom I'll get the boat over to the Grand Floridian and sit outside Gasperilla's to get a great view of the castle before doing a resort tour round the monorail. At Epcot or Hollywood Studios I'll walk to the Boardwalk / Yacht and Beach area.

Tinks BFF said...

We are going second week in June for 10 days and your article was very helpful!! Great ideas!! TY

Roxann said...

Lots and lots of ice cream :)

Anonymous said...

I was in WDW in September 2011, and the average high was in the mid 90s all week. While I am the type of person who likes to spend the entire day at the park, getting the most time I can for my money, but my fiance convinced me this is not always best. She wanted to go back to our hotel room for a nap in the middle of the day. We would leave the parks about 1 and return at around 4. We were re-energized and could go at a much better pace and felt better the whole time when we returned, whereas when we would spend the whole day at the park and not leave for a nap we would get burnt out from the heat and we had a much slower pace later in the day and not nearly as good of a time as when we stopped to take a break. We believe we got as much or more done on the days when we got out of the heat, compared to the days we did not leave for a nap.

Anonymous said...

I love when it is raining its a nice way to cool of!

Anonymous said...

I love when it is raining its a nice way to cool of!