I don’t think anyone is going to extol the virtues of summer humidity of Walt Disney World. Dealing with the summer weather in the Disney Parks can make you long for a lovely getaway to the Yukon. On my past summer vacations, 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, while I was tightly bundled in my sweatbox of a full body rain-suit.
Perhaps this is not such a brilliant epiphany. Summer wait times spike for attractions like Splash Mountain, and any of the raft rides have exponentially longer waits in the summer months than any other time of year. The idea of this post does seem self-evident and like pointing out the obvious, but it didn’t click for me until I saw those guests of all ages unabashedly letting themselves get soaked…and loving it. It wasn’t just getting soaked by deranged, hose-wielding Mickey, either. Guests of all ages ran through soak pads, went on spray attractions, and just generally were dressed for getting really, really wet.
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? Let’s take a look…
The first thing is the necessary prerequisite: dressing for the occasion. I enjoy the Dapper Days look and would love nothing more than to step into Epcot and have the crowd look like they walked out of some Herb Ryman concept art and into the actual park. The practical reality, though, is that summer heat and humidity necessitate more practical attire.
The normally fashion-conscious Japanese outfit in the outlandish on any given day in the parks, but this is taken to a new level of absurdity during the summer. I think the assumption is that if they are going to be dressed-down due to the heat, they might as well go crazy with it. The result is quick-dry shirts and awesome banana shorts, cooling towels thrown around their necks, visors, and even Crocs.
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 are SPF 50. Not sure why shorts need SPF, but I guess it can’t hurt. Remember to also wear quick-dry/sport underwear.
Likewise, quick-dry shirts are the best way to go, but I’ve found that pretty much any shirt is going to dry quickly in the Florida or California sun, so long as you aren’t continually sweating in it. Your mileage may vary on this, but I’d recommend simply saving money by packing thinner shirts you already own rather than going out and getting new stuff. Dry-fit shirts will help, but I don’t view them as essential.
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 the Teva Churn (for men) and RYKA Hydro (for women). These are more expensive than normal water shoes, but they are so much more versatile. They should work well at Walt Disney World or Disneyland, too. 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. I have this hat for beach use, but I would not recommend buying one of these and packing it, since that’s likely to destroy it. The same–or a similar–hat can be purchased in Adventureland, or you can buy similar ones from other cultures in World Showcase. Hey, don’t knock them until you’ve tried them (especially those of you who wear Crocs!).
Other accessories I noticed for sale in the Tokyo parks for summer was dry bags to put backpacks inside, waterproof case bags for phones, and lightweight kimonos. The last item is obviously a cultural thing without application here, and a dry bag is probably overkill for how wet you’re likely to get in the US parks, but I think a waterproof case bag for phones certainly could be useful.
I also think it’s fascinating how those parks have found a way to monetize their water-heavy entertainment through merchandising. I would say that nearly everyone in the audience of the shows had purchased at least one piece of merchandise designed for the events. I wonder if there would be similar results if Walt Disney World or Disneyland ran summer water-heavy shows. (These are not simply “you may get wet” shows, they are “you WILL get SOAKED” shows. A performer literally threw a bucket of water at my back in one show.)
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, save for a naked child in one. (Quick aside: children should not be naked in these areas. Parents, I don’t care if you’re free spirits who think the body is “natural.” If that’s the case, think about that seedy other demographic that is attracted to places with high concentrations of children. Yeah.)
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.
For updates on Walt Disney World, the latest news, discount information, and tips, sign up for our free monthly newsletter!
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!