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The Best Way to Do Walt Disney World in the Summer

Many travellers to Walt Disney World choose to visit in the Summer for a variety of reasons.  Parents who don’t want their children to miss school, educators who can only travel on school breaks, and other folks who simply enjoy a good old Summer vacation flock to Walt Disney World in the Summer months and contend with the Florida heat and humidity.   Whether you’re bound to Summer travel or prefer it, you’ll want to put some thought into how you’ll keep your cool (both physically, and emotionally) on what is sure to be a hot, busy trip. Here are some tips to help you do just that!

1. Use some heat “hacks”

First and foremost, use sunscreen!  There’s something extra-scortchy about the Florida sun, and a sunburn can really have a huge negative impact on your trip.  You’ll continue to feel the burn for days, so avoid a sunburn at all costs. Don’t forget to slather sunscreen on the tops of your feet if you’re wearing sandals- that’s a mistake you only have to make once to remember!

For beating the heat in general, try cooling towels.  They’re simple to use and refresh throughout the day- just pop into a restroom and dowse them in room temperature water, then ring out the excess.  As the water evaporates from the towel (try wearing it on your neck), it cools you down.

2. Dress for the weather, not Instagram

Related to heat hacks is your choice of clothing.  Dress for the weather, especially the heat and humidity.  You may want to look cute for your pictures, but function and comfort should factor into your fashion choices.  Clothing made from wicking material is an excellent choice. Plan to bring extra outfits, too (or do laundry if you’re so inclined).  A fresh change of clothes for dinner or night touring can breathe new life into you. Planning two outfits for each Summer day in Disney is a wise idea.

3. Keep hydrated!

Whether you buy a cold bottle of water several times a day, refill at a fountain, or ask for free cups of ice water at quick service dining locations, you simply must hydrate at the parks to survive the heat.

Please also note that drinking around the world in Epcot does not count as hydration.

Bottled Water

4. Plan dining for mid-day

Making sit-down dining reservations for dinner is a common practice for many families, but a nice long lunch in the air conditioning is a great way to beat the heat.  Quick-service meals are perfectly fine, too, but they don’t all have indoor seating (especially at Epcot’s World Showcase). If you prefer to dine quick-service, just have an idea of the options before you go.  Some of my favorite quick-service meals with indoor seating are Satuli Canteen at Animal Kingdom, Backlot Express at Hollywood Studios, Pecos Bill’s Tall Tale Inn & Cafe at the Magic Kingdom, and Sunshine Seasons and Liberty Inn in Epcot’s World Showcase.

5. Go back to the resort

Summer heat can really create crankiness for tired out kids (and adults)!  This is a great time for your family to do whatever they need to do to recharge, whether that be to swim, take a nap, or enjoy a shower.  Children often enjoy having some time to watch TV or play with toys or souvenirs at the resort.

6. Extreme hours = less extreme heat

One of the best things about travelling to Disney in the Summer is the extended park hours.  Go early to beat the heat, or enjoy the parks at night when it’s cooler. Some combination of early and late park touring will help beat the heat.  Bonus – you’ll also beat the crowds who meander into the parks later in the morning or midday.

7. Look out for promotions

Summer is often a time when Disney offers promotions, sometimes including free dining and room discounts.   If there’s no free dining available, don’t fret- the room discounts often save you more money than dining deals!   Using an authorized vacation planner who specializes in Disney destinations- like Mickey Travels- is a great way to monitor these deals.  The best part is, it’s an entirely free service.

8. Alternate your outdoor and indoor activities

A break during the heat of the day doesn’t have to be back at your resort.  Some of the less popular “show” experiences suddenly become the best shows you’ve ever seen when you’re escaping 100 degree heat.  Suddenly every film in the World Showcase (Oh, Canada, for instance) is appealing. At the Magic Kingdom, alternate your outdoor rides with Country Bear Jamboree, the Enchanted Tiki Room, or the Hall of Presidents.  Mickey’s Philharmagic is a cute show, but not first on anyone’s priority list- but when you’re trying to escape the 100 degree heat and humidity, it’s the best show you’ve seen in your life. There are also plenty of shows at Hollywood Studios, including Muppet Vision 3D and the new Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy.  Some cool options at Animal Kingdom include two of Disney’s most excellent theater experiences: Festival of the Lion King and Finding Nemo: The Musical.

9. Know which queues are indoors

If you’re reserving a FastPass in the Magic Kingdom, grab one for Big Thunder Mountain, not Pirates.  Why? The queue for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is brutally hot and exposed to the sun, whereas the queue for Pirates of the Caribbean is dark, cool, and indoors.

Pirates Be Warned Adventureland

 

10. Consider late August

Hot is hot.  The entire Summer is a scorcher in Florida, but you’ll probably enjoy lighter crowds if you travel later in August after southern schools are back in session.  The heat is only exacerbated by more bodies in the parks, so if your plans allow, try August.



11. Know your limits, and don’t be afraid to call it quits!

Our final tip?  Knowing when to cut out a few of your plans to salvage morale (and the rest of your park days)!   Let the kids run in a fountain at Epcot or play on a playground, or grab some ice cream instead of continuing your hustle from attraction to attraction.

Are you a seasoned Summer traveller?  We’d love to hear your Summer travel tips for a magical Walt Disney World vacation!

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About Meredith Smisek

Meredith Smisek is a kid at heart and works as an elementary school guidance counselor. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, dog, and parrot. Meredith's hobbies include cooking, playing ukulele, and "talking Disney" with anyone she knows who is planning a trip to Disney or has just returned.