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Our BEST tips for staying cool at Disney World

HomeBeat the heat
Our BEST tips for staying cool at Disney World

For a large chunk of the year, Disney World is HOT and humid. This includes the busy summer months, which is when many schools are on break and families plan their vacations.

If you aren’t prepared, the temperature in the parks can sneak up on you and ruin your trip.

Even though we don’t like the hot temps, we refuse to stop traveling during the summer months – and we don’t think you should, either. Instead, over the years, we’ve learned some tips that can help you beat the heat when visiting Orlando.

Here’s how to stay cool at Disney World:

How do people survive Disney World in the summer?

Ok, maybe “survive” is a tad bit dramatic, but if you’ve never visited central Florida in the summer, you may not realize just how hot it gets.

Average temperatures at Walt Disney World

According to The National Weather Service, the average temps for the summer months at Walt Disney World range from the upper 80’s to the low 90’s:

National Weather Service average temps in florida
Graph courtesy of the NWS

But the temperature is just part of the swampy equation. The other thing that you’ll need to be prepared for is the humidity.

If you are coming from a dryer climate, the humidity at Walt Disney World may come as a bit of a shock to you. And even though we personally live in places that have their fair share of humidity, as soon as we step out of the airport at MCO, the Florida humidity hits us like an unwelcomed wave.

That high humidity is what makes the temps feel oppressive, as well as what sparks near daily daytime thunderstorms during the summer. It’s what makes you sweat bullets (which can quickly lead to dehydration) and is often what most people report is the most uncomfortable.

Tips to beat the heat at Disney World

Now that you know what to expect when it comes to the weather, here are some ways you can enjoy the parks without overheating:

Take a midday break

Our number 1 tip for staying cool at Disney World is to avoid being in the parks during the middle of the day, and here’s why:

The temperature during the middle of the day is the highest, and the parks during the middle of the day are the busiest.

Neither of those things are in your best interest.

Instead, we recommend you plan to get to the parks for Rope Drop and tour until around lunchtime. Then, leave as the crowds take over and the heat and humidity approach “surface of the sun” levels.

It will be tempting to stay – but don’t!

Go back to your hotel. Get out of the sun. Nap. Take a shower. Basically, give your body a break and a chance to cool off.

As the sun begins to set, you can head back to the fun – rested, recharged, and ready to go.

Trust us on this:

We know the temptation is to cram as much into your day as you can (after all, a Disney World vacation is not cheap!), but it is a lot easier to make happy memories when you don’t feel as if you’re melting into the pavement.

And, truth be told, every kid we’ve ever travelled with has begged to head back to the hotel and swim during the day. Every day.

A quick swim and a nap is the perfect way to rest and cool off so that everyone is ready to close the parks down that night.

Drink lots of water

The heat and humidity will zap you faster than you can say supercalifragilisticexpialiholycowitshot.

Drink lots and lots of water. Even if you think you’ve consumed enough, hydrate some more.

All the counter service locations will give you a free glass of ice water (only if they serve fountain drinks), or, better yet, you can bring in your own bottle with you into the parks so that you always have some available.

connections cafe

Some people report a slight sulfur-esque (sulfur-y?) smell/taste to the water, so if you think that might bother you, consider a filtering water bottle or ordering bottled water for your room and carrying that with you.

If you know you’ll be sweating a ton, consider bringing things like Pedialyte powder with you. Water, of course, is the best, but if you find yourself getting dehydrated, adding back in a bit of electrolytes may help you recover faster.

And, don’t forget the kids, too! Make sure they have easy access to water and that they are drinking plenty throughout the day.

Wear lightweight, moisture wicking clothes

Not only are the right shoes important, the right clothes can make all the difference, too.

Shirts, shorts, and socks designed to wick moisture away are very helpful but even avoiding heavy, non-breathable fabrics can help. And, hats, visors, and sunglasses are useful for protecting your head and eyes from the powerful rays of the sun.

Oh, and, pack extra outfits.

We are huge fans of the idea of not over packing, but during the summer months we find it to be difficult because by the time we get back to our room for a break, our clothes are gross and sweaty.

And, that doesn’t even count the number of times a pop-up shower has drenched us from head to toe.

As a result, we’ll often change our outfits during our midday break, essentially meaning we need to plan for 2 outfits/day.

Book a dining reservation

If your trip doesn’t allow you the luxury of taking a mid-day break, consider booking a Table Service reservation at the park you’ll be visiting for lunch.

Lunchtime meals are often less expensive than dinners, and it will get you off your feet and into the air conditioning for a nice break.

Stick to the shade and AC whenever you can

We like to call it “lily padding”. It is the idea of navigating through the park by popping into spots where you can cool off for a bit. Sometimes that might mean finding a spot to grab something cold to drink indoors or even hitting up some shops to browse for a bit.

It can also mean heading to attractions or areas of the park where you can easily, and usually relatively quickly get into the shade.

Best places in the park to cool off

We think it is important to make sure you have an idea of some places in each park where you can go to get out of the heat. You don’t need to have things memorized, but if you notice people are starting to overheat, you should have an idea of where you can go to find some relief.

Best places to get out of the heat and rain graphic

Shops: Shops are a decent option if you just need to get out of the heat and cool off. The downside to them is that they aren’t going to have a place to sit, but they will work in a pinch.

Quick Service dining locations: Quick Service restaurants are also a good option, but, keep in mind that not all are air-conditioned (some are just covered or use umbrellas) and some limit access to people ordering or to those with a Mobile Order pick-ups ready.

quick service with umbrellas only

If you are hot enough to want a place to cool down, you’re probably ready for a cold drink anyway (at least we usually are!). We use the My Disney Experience app to locate the closest Quick Service location with a Mobile Order pickup window that works for us, and then order something cool to drink there while we rest our feet in the shade, or even better – in the AC!

If you are looking for an attraction or something to do other than shop or eat while you cool off, each park has spots where you can both be entertained AND get some relief from the heat. And, as a bonus, some even let you sit for a while.

Here are some good bets in each park. They typically don’t have long lines (some have no lines at all), and while not all of them are in the air-conditioning, they do all provide shade.

Magic Kingdom

In just about every land, you’ll find at least 1 attraction that will be a good option for getting out of the sun.

Epcot

Epcot is HUGE, and what we like about it is that there are a couple of pavilions conveniently located near each other where you can spend entire afternoons in the air conditioning and out of the heat and rain.

Land Pavilion (World Nature): Located in World Nature, the Land Pavilion is a giant building that houses 3 attractions (Soarin’, Living with the Land, and Awesome Planet) and 2 restaurants (Sunshine Seasons, which is Quick Service and Garden Grill, which is Table Service).

Land pavilion

The Seas with Nemo and Friends Pavilion: Also located in World Nature, the Seas with Nemo and Friends Pavilion is home to a giant 5.7 million gallon aquarium (there’s a complimentary scavenger hunt that you can pick up a booklet for inside the building), plus 2 kid-friendly attractions: The Seas with Nemo and Friends and Turtle Talk with Crush. You’ll also find Coral Reef, which is a Table Service restaurant connected to one side of the building (you have to exit the main building to enter the restaurant).

The seas with Nemo and Friends sign

If the forecast looks to be especially hot (or rainy!) and you know your traveling companions will need to avoid the heat as much as possible, these 2 pavilions are located close together and when combined with a meal, could easily provide you with several hours worth of entertainment.

In addition to those 2 pavilions, Epcot also has a bunch of “play areas” located at the exits of attractions which can be a great spot to cool off, plus you’ll find several galleries and exhibits in the World Showcase that are sort of hidden and usually relatively quiet.

Here’s our favorites:

Hollywood Studios

Hollywood Studios is a bit trickier. There are limited indoor Quick Service dining options, and the easiest attractions to use as respite from the sun or rain have unprotected queues. But, the good thing is that even though most of the shows here are still outdoors, they are covered and last quite a nice stretch which means you’ll have a longer period of time to sit and rest.

Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom is the most difficult park to find easy-to-access attractions that can get you out of the sun. The same things that make this park beautiful (lush greenery and plentiful trees) are what up the humidity and block the breeze, which can really make it feel as if you are roasting.

Our best advice is that if you need to get out of the sun, mobile order at a Quick Service location (Pizzafari is a good choice) or plan ahead and book a Table Service meal for midday.

Otherwise, take advantage of the places to sit in the shade, or check out one of the attractions below.

First Aid Stations

If you’ve over done it, and you need additional assistance, there are First Aid stations in all 4 theme parks and in both water parks.

first aid at Hollywood studios

They are free to use and are staffed by nurses. Of course, if ii is a medical emergency, you should call 911 and locate the nearest Cast Member for assistance. But if you, for example, get a headache from the sun, and you need Tylenol, they’ll be able to help you with that.

Baby Care Centers

Traveling with a baby or young one means you’ll have to be extra cautious about not getting overheated. Families with little ones can use the Baby Care Centers in each of the parks.

There you’ll find an indoor, air-conditioned spot to take care of all your baby’s needs.

baby care center and first aid

Each facility is open during park hours and provides the following amenities:

  • Kitchen area with sink, microwave and oven – great for preparing baby meals or bottles for little ones
  • Nursing room – these rooms provide privacy for nursing mothers, rocking chairs, and outlets for breast pumps
  • Feeding area – equipped with high chairs
  • Main room – this area contains table, chairs, sofa, and television and is a great space for others in the group to relax while things are being taken care of
  • On-site shop – the small shops offer items you may need including diapers, formula, sunscreen, clothing, baby food, juice, wipes, and over the counter medicines for purchase

What to pack for Disney World in the summer

We have an extensive packing list that goes over just about everything you might want to consider bringing with you on a trip to Disney World, but these are the things that we always pack ourselves (and things that we think you should consider, too!).

We never recommend anything that we don’t love and use ourselves, including the items below. The links on this post are what’s known as “affiliate links”, and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases from Amazon.com.

Sunblock

Sunburns aren’t just something you get at the pool. Even though most of the queues are indoors or in the shade, you’ll still be spending a lot of time in the sun.

Pay attention to the instructions for re-application and make sure to protect delicate areas like your ears and even your scalp, especially where you part your hair.

Personal fans

At the parks, you will see lots of spray misting fans for sale.

Although they seem expensive, they work really well. You can get something similar at Walmart, Target or Amazon (affiliate link):

For little ones in strollers, there are clip-on fans (affiliate link) that run on batteries that can be super helpful. Be sure to bring extra batteries since you’ll probably be running the fans all day.

There are also electric handheld fans (affiliate link) that can be recharged. We bought ones like these a couple of years ago, and they are still going strong:

handheld fan

For teens and adults (or anybody old enough to fan themselves), handheld fans are perfect.

They are lightweight, fold up small, and never require batteries.

Forget to bring a handheld fan with you? You can pick one up at both the China and Japan pavilions in Epcot.

handheld fan

Hats and sunglasses

You’ll definitely want to protect your eyes and head from the sun, and hats and sunglasses are a great way to do that.

If you forget, you can find both on property, but sunglasses especially can be a bit pricey.

BodyGlide or other anti-chafing sticks

Not every guest will have this problem, but chafing can ruin your trip if it happens to you – and high heat and humidity are the ideal environment for chafing to occur.

There are lots of products that can help (we really like BodyGlide) and if you feel a problem coming on, it is better to prevent it than it is to try to treat it.

BodyGlide is available in stores and on Amazon, but you can also purchase it directly from the company (and they typically have free shipping!).

body glide

Thighs and feet are common problem areas. So, if you are prone to chafing, make sure you pay extra attention to those spots before you head into the parks.

Umbrella with UV protection

We don’t typically like umbrellas for the rain, but we do like them for keeping the sun off of us. Look for small umbrellas that offer UV protection. We have these umbrellas from Amazon (affiliate link):

Travel umbrella

Cooling wipes

If you have access to a freezer, a good tip is to freeze washcloths to bring with you into the parks. But, if you don’t have access to a freezer, you can find cooling wipes that can help refresh you.

These Cold Shower Field Towels (affiliate link) are the ones we’ve used before. It isn’t as refreshing as a REAL shower, but they have menthol in them, which helps cool the skin:

Cold Shower field towels

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Do you have other ideas for dealing with the heat at Disney World? Feel free to share in the comments.

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Heather Thomas