Summer Survival & Packing Tips for Disney World

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Summer humidity and heat in June, July, August, and September can ruin a trip to Walt Disney World if you’re not prepared. In this post, we cover tips for packing to deal with particularly hot weather, best attractions with air-conditioning, 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! Recently, 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 do and 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.”

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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. I used to be vehemently opposed until actually trying a pair, and now I absolutely love them. Yes, they’re hideous, but a theme park is about the best setting for Crocs, so don’t feel bad if you go that route.

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.

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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!

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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.

Of course, you’re going to want the occasional reprieve from the heat via air-conditioned attractions, too. Walt Disney World during the hot summer season doesn’t bother us because many of our favorite attractions aren’t all that popular, are located in air-conditioning. Here are some of them in each park:

Magic Kingdom

  • Carousel of Progress – Rotating theater showcasing the progress of the American family, including a Fourth of July scene and a generally patriotic tone; rarely has a line meaning you can ride repeatedly if you’d like.
  • Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover – Leisurely ride through Tomorrowland on elevated track; depending on the demand, you might be able to ride repeatedly; especially great for a relaxing nighttime ride.
  • Country Bear Jamboree – Almost makes the patriotic list (what’s more patriotic than musically-inclined bears?!); a fun, humorous show.
  • Hall of Presidents – Stage show featuring every US President, this might not appeal to small kids or those who want to avoid bringing up uncomfortable political strife among those in their parties.
  • Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room – Quick, indoor show with singing tiki birds makes for a quick rest stop.

Epcot

  • American Adventure – World Showcase pavilion with performers followed by Audio-Animatronics stage show about America. Must do on the Fourth of July!
  • Turtle Talk with Crush – A cute show with Crush from Finding Nemo. Add the aquatic exhibits and this pavilion is a nice respite from the heat.
  • Impressions de France – Distinctly unpatriotic, but this film about France is a good option for escaping the heat. This travelogue is a good option for a break while Drinking Around the World at Epcot! (Actually, Drinking Around the World is a pretty good Fourth of July activity, too…)

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

  • Voyage of the Little Mermaid – Indoor black-light stage show retelling The Little Mermaid. Sometimes has a line, but that’s in the AC, too.
  • MuppetVision 3D – Muppet 3D film with Sam the Eagle, and a glorious Salute to All Nations, But Mostly America!
  • Walt Disney Presents – A walk-through exhibit tribute to Walt Disney, one of the most patriotic men to ever live.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom

  • Finding Nemo: The Musical – The name sums this one up. Lots of seating for this indoor stage show.
  • Festival of the Lion King – Another indoor stage show with a descriptive name.

In general, Animal Kingdom is not a great option for avoiding crowds and heat during a summer visit. That is, unless you want to spend ~3 hours in the air-conditioned queue for Avatar Flight of Passage. We don’t think that’s exactly the best way to spend your day, but it’s certainly one way to avoid the heat!

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.

Your Thoughts…

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!


49 Responses to “Summer Survival & Packing Tips for Disney World”
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