Summer humidity and heat can begin as early as April at Walt Disney World. In this post, we cover tips for packing to deal with particularly hot weather, and having a comfortable experience even when it’s 90-degrees with unbearable humidity.
Summer weather in Florida can make you long for a lovely getaway to the Yukon. On my past summer vacations to Walt Disney World, I’ve jumped from air-conditioned environment to air-conditioned environment, avoiding sunlight as if it’s food and I’m a Gremlin after midnight. The times when I would stand in an outdoor line, my shirt soaked through with sweat at lightning speed. This is no way to experience the parks, and I thought there had to be another way!
Last week as I watched Mickey Mouse unrepentantly douse guests with a firehose, it came to me: instead of trying to beat the summer heat by avoiding it, why not embrace it? This epiphany came by way of other guests, most of whom were dressed for the occasion in light, quick-dry summer-wear. I realized that if you pack for hot, wet weather, there wouldn’t be (as much of a) need to hide in air-conditioned theaters.
So, what can we Walt Disney World and Disneyland fans learn about how to embracing the heat while in the parks instead of fighting it by retreating to air-conditioning? Here’s what you should pack for summer heat and humidity at Walt Disney World…
For shorts, you could get quick dry athletic shorts like those banana ones (can you tell that I am a fan of those ridiculous shorts? I really regret not getting a pair…they are just the perfect amount of insane) that are made by countless brands, but you could also go for something classier that resembles a normal pair of shorts. For hiking, I have these Quick-Dry Columbia Shorts. Not only are they quick-dry, but they have sun protection.
Likewise, quick-dry shirts are the best way to go. Even if you don’t actively plan on getting wet by going on water rides, these quick-dry materials are nice because they also don’t get soaked with sweat. They’re more breathable, light, and airy, keeping you cool. Fair warning: none of this stuff is going to look fashionable, but when it’s 95-degrees with high humidity, it’s better to be comfortable than to “look fancy.”
Next, footwear. This absolutely cannot be overlooked, because no matter how comfortable your shirt and shorts when wet, I can think of no circumstances in which wet socks and shoes are a good time. Enjoying your socks being wet is like enjoying the taste of quinoa. No sane person likes either, but unlike quinoa, I can think of no health benefits of wet socks.
As far as footwear goes, the obvious recommendation is Crocs. Personally, I have never worn traditional Crocs cogs because I am not 80 years old. My stance on them has always been “vehemently opposed” although I will admit that I’m slowly coming around, and may (or may not) own a pair soon. A theme park is about the best setting for Crocs, so don’t feel bad if you go that route. Personally, I prefer the Crocs sandals, which have the same basic characteristics as the cogs, but in sandal form, so they don’t look quite as dorky.
If you want a more traditional shoe, we’ve been researching hybrid water/athletic shoes for wearing at the beach and on when we go hiking on wet trails, and the best options we’ve found are these shoes for men and the RYKA Hydro (for women). These are slightly more expensive than normal water shoes like the cheap ones you’d find at Wal-Mart, but they are so much more versatile. You could actually wear them to the Walt Disney World theme parks, not just the water parks. If you do get these and plan to wear them with socks, make sure to get quick-dry ones.
Finally, accessorize with a Frogg Toggs Chilly Pad. I’ve been praising these things for years, so it should come as no surprise that they are mentioned here. They really do work for cooling you down, and countless readers who have used them at our suggestion have reported great results. Suffice to say, we are big fans.
I would also recommend accessorizing with a large hat, because all of the attire enabling you to stay cool and dry doesn’t mean anything if you can’t bear the sun. This SPF hat is perfect for keeping the heat off your face, and also offering sun protection. Yeah, it looks sort of dorky, but that’s better than being hot and sunburnt. (Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it!)
Other accessories you might want for summer are dry bags to put backpacks inside and a waterproof case bag for phones. I consider the phone bag a must (particularly with how much it rains during the summer at Walt Disney World). The larger bag might not be quite so necessary unless you plan on going on water rides like Splash Mountain, regularly. The larger dry bag actually includes a free phone case, so you can kill two birds with one stone that way.
Another accessory we recommend is this USB-powered travel fan. It’s small, lightweight, and can plug into your external battery charger (one of the main recommendations in our Unique Disney Packing List). We got this for our July trip to Walt Disney World last year, and it was a life-saver!
Now that you’re outfitted to sweat and/or get wet, it’s time to do exactly that. Like I stated above, riding attractions like Splash Mountain, Grizzly River Run, and Kali River Rapids repeatedly are the obvious things to do. Obviously, spending time in your resort pool is another option, but that’s not really in the spirit of this article.
Splash pads are also an option, and there’s nothing stopping adults from running through one to cool off, although I probably wouldn’t make a habit of actively “playing” in them alongside kids. I would also encourage splashing yourself with water from fountains and other sources as you tour the park. I’m not saying you should jump in a fountain otherwise intended for ornamental purposes, but those fountains that allow easy and non-awkward access to water are certainly fine for dipping your hand into and splashing yourself.
Same goes with those misting fans and finding other ways to get wet. There’s plenty of water in each of the Disney Parks. Getting yourself wet when your outfitted to dry quickly makes the experience much more enjoyable than when wearing cotton or other slow-drying materials. Normally, if you get wet not only will you be hot all day, but you’ll also be soggy. When properly attired, getting wet is a respite from the heat, but not an all-day, uncomfortable experience.
Now, we just need to get more water-intensive entertainment in Walt Disney World and Disneyland so there are more opportunities for respite from that heat and humidity. In the meantime, adopting these strategies plus retreating to air-conditioning as necessary will have to do. For trip planning tips and comprehensive advice, make sure to read our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide and Disneyland Trip Planning Guide.
Do you try to embrace the heat and humidity when at Walt Disney World, or do you “hide” from it? Think a more water-friendly strategy like this might help improve your summer experience in the parks? Any other thoughts, comments, or questions? Please share below!