Orlando weather during the winter months can be tricky. At best, it’s fickle, hot and cold in the same week or even the same day. Sure, during the summer it’s easy predict what you’ll need to pack: Light clothing and maybe a sweater for nighttime or when you go into a restaurant. That’s simple. But the rest of the year can be all over the place. Many first-time travelers make the mistake of assuming that Florida is always warm, but Orlando is not Miami or the Keys. Did you know that it actually snowed during marathon weekend this past January? I’ve gone to Disney World for many years in December and I’ve often worn shorts, but just as often, I’ve worn a winter coat. If you want to be comfortable, you’ll have to pack with care from November through March. This is especially true for the little ones who may get cold when the sun goes down.
Obviously, you’ll want to check the weather ahead of time, but in all likelihood, it will change. The week before we left for our trip last December it was freezing cold–stores reported selling out of sweaters. The forecast called for much of the same during our stay there. Shockingly, the weatherman was wrong! I know! That never happens, right? When we arrived it was in the high 80s and there I was with a suitcase full of winter clothing. I spent the first full day of our trip at the mall (which, incidently, I kind of enjoyed). The pickings were slim but I managed to find a couple of pairs of capris (because I”m someone’s mother and it’s mandatory that I wear them when it’s above 75 degrees) and a few T-shirts. I could have easily avoided this problem by being smarter about what I packed. In fact, I did it for the kids, just not myself.
The smartest thing to do is to pack clothing that you can layer: Lightweight T-shirts, both long and short sleeve, lightweight sweaters, lighter fabric pants for warmer days, jeans for when it’s colder. And those trusty capris. Pack shorts as well and of course, bring your bathing suits, because you just never know. Polar fleece jackets are appropriate for most nights. To save space, think about bringing a light coat with a liner that zips out. I love theseones from LL Bean. You can wear both–and believe me, you may need it–or just the liner or the shell, depending on the weather. You can even use the liner for covering up on rides like Splash Mountain. I also like moisture wicking shirts, the kind that you normally see people run in. Layer one under a sweater for days that start out cold then heat up. A lot of guests eschew running shoes in the parks during the summer months because they’re too hot, but they’re perfect during the winter. If you do wear your Tevas or Chacas, don’t forget to put sunscreen on the tops of your feet–if it’s warm enough for sandals, it’s also warm enough to get a sunburn.
I’m sure it sounds like I’m telling you to overpack and in a way, I am. But if you bring the right kind of clothing and pack carefully, you’d be surprised what you can fit in a regular sized suitcase. I learned the art of rolling my clothing when I was in the army and it really does save a ton of space and most items come out looking fine. Hang anything that does wrinkle in the bathroom while you shower and the wrinkles will come out. Or don’t worry about it–everyone looks a little dishevled in the parks! Make it your project in the days leading up to your trip to see how efficiently you can pack. It’s part of the fun that gets you one step closer to your goal: Walt Disney World.
Orlando weather during the winter months is unpredictable, but it doesn’t have to ruin your trip. Pack with fluctuating temperatures in mind and you won’t have to buy a $55 sweatshirt in the gift shop at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.