With blue skies and bright sunny days, a vacation at Walt Disney World during the summer is the stuff picture-perfect postcards are made of. Unfortunately, the picture doesn’t capture the entire reality of those hot, sticky, exhausting days of touring the theme parks with all the summer crowds and in the heat.
Here are some of my favorite tips for helping you keep your cool, literally, while at Disney. Doing so may also help you keep your temper!
Generally, surviving your summer vacation at Walt Disney World means being aware of the risks of too much sun, as well as how the hot weather and crowd level may affect your pace and energy. You’ll want to use common sense when touring during hot weather and peak periods: do early-morning touring, take afternoon breaks, and avoid too much criss-crossing in the parks.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Bring water into the parks – it’s allowed, just no glass bottles. Fill up at water fountains or, if you prefer cooler water, simply ask a Cast Member at a quick-service restaurant for a free cup of water or ice. If you don’t like the taste of water, add Crystal Light to the mix. Avoid over-consumption of soda, caffeine, or alcohol, all of which dehydrate.
Cool tip: Visit Epcot’s Club Cool to sample a sip or two of free Coke products from around the world. It’s not water, but it is refreshing.
Alternate outside and inside attractions. Of course, you want to hit all the most popular attractions early in the morning anyway, before there are lines, as well as use FASTPASS. In addition, try to alternate shady or indoor, air-conditioned attractions – say, a show – with outdoor attractions. And, if you absolutely need to be in the parks all day (for the love of Mickey, no!) try to save longer, indoor attractions for the afternoon.
Cool tip: Visit Carousel of Progress (Magic Kingdom), The Seas with Nemo and Friends (Epcot), The Voyage of the Little Mermaid (Disney’s Hollywood Studios) or Flights of Wonder (Disney’s Animal Kingdom).
Linger over lunch. Summer months offer a great reason to try table-service for lunch, as a relaxed sit-down meal can rejuvenate and refresh. Lunch meals are cheaper than the restaurants’ dinners, and you can take a much-needed break. If quick-service dining is on the itinerary, pick indoor spots with lots of seating or shady outdoor areas.
Cool tip: For quick-service, try Tomorrowland Terrace (Magic Kingdom), Sunshine Seasons (Epcot, The Land), ABC Commissary (Disney’s Hollywood Studios) or Pizzafari (Disney’s Animal Kingdom).
Time to take a nap. For me, any Disney vacation is made better by an afternoon nap, but especially in the summer. If you balk at the name “nap,” call it a siesta – which, to my mind, offer a touch of vacationing flair. Or call it a mid-afternoon break or free time. But get away from the fun of the sun and crowds, which become less fun as the day grows long. At the very least, go back to your resort for a few hours of air-conditioned comfort and leisure.
Cool tip: If you can’t get away for a nap, check out Nancy’s “Finding Peace and Quiet at Walt Disney World” for some quiet places and down time.
Water Play! Don’t just drink your water, play in it. Summer months are the time to experience Disney’s water rides, like Splash Mountain or the Kali River Rapids. A hot day is a good day to visit one of Disney’s water parks, as long as you also score some seats in the shade. A dip in your hotel pool offers a nice mid-day break. Look for the interactive water play areas in the theme parks, particularly at Epcot.
Cool tip: Disney’s water parks tend to become less crowded from afternoon into evening, making them a relaxed complement to a theme-park morning.
Seek out sun protection. At a minimum, use a high SPF sunscreen applied often and liberally. I also recommend a hat to protect your face and scalp, the latter of which can also get burned. On particularly bright days, I’ll wear a light, long-sleeved shirt to protect my too-fair skin; I’ve seen others carry an umbrella.
Cool tip: If you or anyone in your traveling party does get sunburned, visit the First Aid Station in each theme park (locations identified on park maps). They’re staffed by RNs and can offer you assistance.
Hot-Weather Touring for Guests with Disabilities
If you have, or someone in your party has, a disability, medical condition and/or limited mobility, you may wish to plan on using a wheelchair or ECV (scooter) while at Disney theme park. Indeed, I would recommend renting an ECV from an outside vendor for use throughout all Walt Disney World Resort.
Cool tip: There are several companies that rent ECVs for use at Walt Disney World Resort. The PassPorter Community maintains a thread on ECVs and scooters that offers useful rental information.
Also, make Guest Services your first stop at your first Disney theme park to request a(GAC). Explain your specific concerns – for instance, being in the sun for long period of time, standing or walking too much, wheelchair access, etc. Guest Services will help identify your needs for the GAC, which will, in turn, help Cast Members at attractions provide assistance.
Cool tip: Disney cannot require you – by law – to provide documentation of your medical condition to issue a GAC. So you need not make an extra trip to the doctor’s prior to your trip, although it might not be a bad idea to do so to discuss other strategies for your particular circumstances.
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