Between the scorching sun and the endless crowds, experiencing the magic of Disney in the summer can be a challenge. With this guide, you’ll be well-prepared for a summer vacation to the Walt Disney World theme parks.
Why, yes; that was a Lion King reference.
For a wonderful vacation, you must prepare beforehand. This means packing theme park essentials which include:
- A hat
- A camera
- Extra batteries
- A phone and/or camera charger
Having these items with you throughout the parks will ensure that you have a great experience.
Hydrate Throughout the Day
Thanks to the heat, you can become dehydrated—unless you take action. No one wants to deal with a fainting spell in the middle of a ride queue for Peter Pan’s Flight.
While at the park, there are multiple water fountains and places to purchase bottled water. However, for frugal travelers, bringing a refillable water bottle is your best bet. Do note that glass containers and bottles of any kind are prohibited in Walt Disney World theme parks.
Find Ways to Stay Cool
The hardest part about a trip to Disney World in the summer is the heat. It is imperative that you stay cool throughout the day to avoid fainting, sun poisoning, and other ailments caused by the heat. While there are many ways to stay cool throughout the day, here are our top tips:
Buy a Fan
Before you begin your trip, visit a convenience store and buy a spray bottle with a fan. Fill it with water, turn it on, and spray away. If you forget to purchase one beforehand, several stores in Orlando and the theme parks stock this portable fan.
Bring a Cold Washcloth
Many Disney World fanatics swear by this cooling tactic. The night before you enter the theme park, wet a washcloth, freeze it, and put it in a plastic bag the next day. When you begin to overheat at the park, place the washcloth on the back of your neck or forehead.
Get an Early Start
Arriving at least 30 minutes early to the theme parks will increase your chances of cooler temperatures and fewer crowds. It’s a win-win scenario, if you ask me!
Check Out the Indoor Attractions
If you can’t take the heat, head indoors. Many of Walt Disney World’s top rides are inside, including Space Mountain, Soarin’, The Haunted Mansion, Toy Story Midway Mania, Mickey’s PhilarMagic, Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster, and more.
Choose Your Attire Carefully
Your choice of attire has a drastic effect on the outcome of your day at Disney. As a rule of thumb, shorts and a T-shirt work just fine. If you’re prone to being chilly, bring a light jacket or sweatshirt. Otherwise, leave the jeans, long-sleeved shirts, and sweatpants at home.
Your choice of footwear is also crucial. While tennis shoes will provide the most support, they are heavy and don’t allow the foot to “breathe.” They can be a nuisance after water rides such as Splash Mountain, as well. On the other end, flip flops and sandals are lightweight and breathable but can be painful to walk in all day.
Weigh your options and make your choice!
Consider Your Meal Choices
Between Dole Whip, turkey legs, and ice cream, Disney World is filled with food. However, not all food items are created equally. In fact, your food choices have a direct impact on your experience at Disney World in the summer.
In the morning, eat a healthy breakfast full of protein, fruits, and vegetables. This will give you the fuel you need to conquer a day of rides, characters, and more. While Mickey Mouse-shaped pancakes are tempting (believe me, they’re tempting), they don’t contain the nutritional value you need for prolonged energy.
While in the park, eat lightly. Don’t chow down on fried food and desserts. It’ll slow you down and make for a not-so-lovely crash. Instead, choose healthy food items and indulge once your day in the park is over.
Take Advantage of FastPass+
With FastPass+, you can skip the line and hop right on the most popular rides! Using this service allows you to skip waiting in the blistering hot sun for (what will seem like) an eternity. Since you only have a certain number of FastPass+ uses per day, it’s best to use this service when crowds are at their peak. Plan ahead by choosing your FastPass+ attractions and times beforehand.
Head Back to the Hotel
If you took our advice and arrived early in the day, you’ll have already experienced a ton by lunchtime. With this in mind, if the sun becomes too much to handle, head back to your hotel for a bit. Go for a swim in the pool, take a nap, or just watch TV. Since the parks are open late into the night, you can rest up for a few hours and come back with more energy.
Plus, by the time you come back, most families will be finishing their day. Meaning, you can enjoy fewer lines, more fun, and cooler temperatures once again.
Brave the Rain
Alternatively, if going to the hotel doesn’t sound ideal, just look at the forecast. While Disney World in the summer can be unbearably hot, it’s also known for random bursts of rain. When the first rain clouds roll in, take a look at the crowds. Once it rains, the lines will begin to clear out and people will rush out of the park. This is what frequent visitors refer to as “Nature’s FastPass+”. Put on a poncho, brave the rain, and enjoy the rest of your day!
Book a Room at a Walt Disney World Hotel
Walt Disney World hotels offer a multitude of advantages for guests. One major benefit provided to guests is the complimentary park and airport transportation. Instead of renting a car or hailing a cab/Uber/Lyft, you can rely on Walt Disney World to take you where you need to go. Whether you use Disney’s Magical Express to get to and from the airport or the Disney Bus System to access the parks, you’ll have a care-free experience sans Orlando summer traffic
Also, the buses are air-conditioned, so you’ll beat the heat once again!
Visit the Water Parks
There’s more to Walt Disney World than the four main theme parks. For cooler thrills, head to one of Disney’s water parks including Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach! To visit the water parks, make sure you choose admission options such as "Water Park Fun and More" when purchasing your Walt Disney World tickets.
Our advice applies at the water parks, too: bring sunscreen, eat well, and stay cool.
Think About Your Children
You’re likely going to Disney World in the summer because your children are on a school break. As such, the wellbeing of your children will drive the majority of your decisions throughout the trip. For the best experience possible, always know the answers to these questions:
- Will my children need a stroller?
- Do I have small activities/toys packed to capture their attention while waiting in line?
- What are my kids’ energy levels like throughout the day?
- Have I packed snacks/drinks for the day?
- What characters do my kids want to meet?
- What rides are my children tall enough to go on?
- Are my children wearing weather-appropriate clothing?
Armed with these answers and our advice, you’re ready to conquer Walt Disney World in the summer.