Summer’s here! With all of the Disney Parks in the Northern Hemisphere, no matter where you might be headed this summer it’s going to be HOT HOT HOT! With that in mind, I asked the panel “What are your best hot weather tips for dealing with the heat at Disney theme parks?” Here’s what a few of us had to say:
Mary Kraemer a travel consultant with CruisingCo/MouseEarVacations, loves to travel with her husband and four children. She is an avid Disney fan who visits Disneyland several times a year and Walt Disney World and the Disney Cruise Line as often as possible! Mary shares from her experiences:
Wow, this topic couldn’t have come at a more relevant time! I’m writing my response from Walt Disney World, where I’ve spent the past couple of days in 90-plus degree heat! I’m a heat (and humidity) wimp. It makes me feel like I’m suffocating in a sauna.
- For this trip, we have made a point to get up and going early in the morning, before the heat of the day sets in. We pack multiple bottles of cold water in our packs, and take along the sunscreen so we can reapply it a couple of times during the day because we sweat off the previous protective layer. A hat or visor is a must, in order to keep the sun off our faces and shade our eyes. I tend to pack light-colored clothes because dark colors absorb more heat.
- My strategy is to spend my day wisely, seeking shady or air-conditioned places as often as possible. When we needed to get spots to see the Star Wars parade, we scouted them out a little earlier than many people so we could sit in the shade. We try to alternate stints of being out in the heat with time spent indoors to cool down, and if it provides a place to sit as well, it’s a winner! (The Carousel of Progress gets my thanks on this scalding day for the respite.)
- Another strategy is to scale down on your activities; don’t try to see and do it all in one day. Make use of the Fastpass system and pace yourself because the heat simply wears your body (or mine, at least) out. Use the transportation systems (such as the train around the park, the vehicles on Main Street, or the monorail) to get someplace that you might otherwise walk—when it’s hot, conserve your energy!
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. When you sweat, you lose fluids, so keeping hydrated is important. I bring along numerous bottles of water, for this purpose, and I make sure that my kids are getting enough to drink as the day progresses.
- Speaking of my kids, they firmly believe that if you are hot "to the core," one of the best remedies is a half hour or so indulging in ice cream or a shake; I can’t say I argue with this theory. It certainly helps keep people happier! Just make sure you enjoy this confection inside because on a hot day, there’s no way to keep up with melting ice cream.
- If you have that feeling like you are just hot inside and out, the pavement is looking wavy from the heat rising from it, maybe it’s just time to take a break and head back to your hotel for a dip in the pool. On a hot day, there’s not much that’s more refreshing than plunging into the pool’s cool blue waters (hundreds of other guests at your resort can’t be wrong about this!). You’ll emerge revived and re-energized. Maybe that late-night time in the park isn’t so far out of reach, after all!
Laura Troescher is a Website/graphics designer, mother of one, and wannabe Annual Passholder living in the high desert of Reno, Nev. Disneyland has always been her second home. Laura suggests:
We always, always travel to Disneyland in the summer. Normally we’re witness to “June Gloom” but a few years ago we hit a shocking heat/humidity spell that had the locals and cast members alike wiping the dripping sweat from their brows with a wayward comment here and there. Here are some things we do that are related to the summer season:
- Always hit Splash Mountain in the morning. Sometimes it’s a bit chilly, but in the summer it’s warm enough to still be pleasant. By the afternoon, the crowds are socking in, looking for some relief from the midday heat. Also, in our experience, Splash has always been a bit temperamental and there have been many times that we were able to catch it first thing in the morning before it closed for hours or even the rest of the day.
- Bring sunscreen. We come from Northern Nevada, where our “beach” is Tahoe at 7,000 feet elevation, so the sun in Southern California is only fractionally as rude as the sun we know at home. Even in five full days of sunlight, and my fair skin, we rarely burn – and this combined with the morning clouds and cooler temps usually means that sunscreen is the last thing on our minds. But don’t forget it, especially if you have kids. As we’re always hearing, even a tan means skin damage, and my family has had more than our share of bright pink noses, ears, and heads after a few days in California.
- Bring water. We always either bring a case of bottled water with us on our drive, or pick one up at the store upon arriving. Having a bottle or two of water on hand means that when you’re suddenly parched, you’re not desperately hunting for the nearest outdoor vending booth without a line.
- Sunglasses & hats. The boys wear hats all day, even my 2.5-year-old.
- Our favorite “cool down” rides are Pirates of the Caribbean and Haunted Mansion. The air conditioning & getting off your feet is blissful. These also do nicely in the afternoon and early evening because the lines aren’t as long. For more of a wait, it’s a small world or Grizzly River Run will provide some relief as well.
- Consider bringing a squirt bottle full of water, maybe with a fan attached. The year that DCA featured the X-Games setup was one of the hottest visits I can remember. The cast members were walking around squirting the miserable crowds with water and fans. On the same note, try to stay out of direct sunlight for any extended period of time. Disneyland isn’t as much of a problem in this regard as DCA, although DCA is getting better.
- Remember the cool-down snacks! Ice cream (I’m partial to Gibson Girl) or outdoor vending carts (my mom always loves the frozen lemonade cups; I usually stick with a frozen banana). Park yourself in a line under a nice shady tree (just watch out for birds overhead!) and make sure your huge bucket of popcorn is accompanied by a huge drink.
- Walk through the shops on your way up/down Main Street. Most of them are connected and all of them are air-conditioned.
Chris and his family stumbled upon the Disney magic in 2002, and have made a number of trips since then. Since then, he makes it a point to seek out the ultimate in Disney trips and share his experiences with friends, family, and complete strangers. Chris posts on MousePad as GusMan. Chris writes:
When my family and I first started visiting Disney on a regular basis, we were fortunate to vacation during the Fall value season. The prices were lower and so were the temps during the day. However, because of certain scheduling conflicts, we were pretty much forced into taking our vacation during the peak summer months. We were not prepared for what we experienced as the heat changes everything. Here is what we found to be some of our best tips:
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Failure to do so will ruin a vacation. You are never more than a minute walk from somewhere that will sell you a bottle of water or soda, but your body will need much more re-hydrating than what you are used to. As a cast member at one of the Baby Care Center’s mentioned once upon a time—this is especially important for babies and toddlers. Refilling bottles can help stretch a budget, but you can also get a free cup of ice water from any counter service eatery as well. Take advantage of it.
- Start early (take a break) and end late. If you try to hit some of the major attractions first thing while the sun is not at its peak, it will make the morning a lot more tolerable. Taking a break at the resort pool is a nice afternoon refreshment. In the evening hours, hit another park of your choice and end the day well after the sun goes down.
- Snacking may be better than full meals. While it is important to still eat healthy while on vacation, with dining packages available, it may be easy to overeat. Light, healthy snacking throughout the day may be the way to help beat hunger without getting that bloated feeling that is only aggregated by the heat and humidity. To be honest, this was one reason why we do not do the dining plan in the summer months—too much food and a smaller appetite due to the heat.
- Consider a water park. If your time and budget allows, consider going to the water parks for the first part of your day if you are at Walt Disney World. With the Water Parks and More ticket, or the Premium AP, it is an affordable add-on. We found that on the hottest days, you have to get there early, but there is so much to do, you will not be bored. We now consider this a must-do when we go during the summer months.
- Reconsider your summer wardrobe. As a person who like to wear jean shorts most of the summer in the mid-west, there is nothing more uncomfortable by clothing that does not “breathe” well or recovers from a water ride such as Kali River Rapids. There are a lot of new fabrics that help wick away moisture from your body and the price for such articles of clothing is dropping rather quickly.
- Seek out air-conditioned queues. For the most part, Disney does a great job of creating queues that are not only entertaining, but are also climate controlled. However, some attractions are better than others for beating the summer heat. For example, Space Mountain is a great example of a nice, air-conditioned queue line that can be a big refreshment. While at the same time, Big Thunder Mountain’s queue is primarily outdoors. Hit the outdoor queues early and in the evening and hit the enclosed, air-conditioned ones when the sun hits its peak.
- And while it may seem obvious – never forget to apply sunscreen, even when its cloudy. Nothing makes a hot day even worse than a good sunburn on your arms, shoulders, or even the top of your ears and head. As odd as it sounds, a quick mist of spray-on sunscreen on the top of the head works wonders for people like me with a little less hair on top.
- The best tip of all is to listen to your body and respond to it accordingly. You do not want to ignore what it is telling you and end up making yourself miserable. At the same time, keep an eye out for your family members, especially the little ones that may not be able to communicate how hot they may be. In doing so, you will not only be able to survive a Summer Disney vacation, but it can be filled with many magical memories.
Parenting in the Parks columnist Adrienne Krock’s three boys are now 11, 9, and 6. They’ve been visiting Disneyland since they were each just weeks old. Adrienne has been a day camp counselor and teacher. Now she’s a mom and a Cub Scout leader and has been a Disneyland Annual Passholder for 14 years. Adrienne adds:
The other contributors really covered many of my suggestions well so I have little to add, but I do have two tips:
- One little tip for cooling off: If you don’t have a spray bottle, try the paper towel trick. Wet a paper towel from the restroom and place it on the back of your or your child’s neck. If you’re handy with a sewing machine, you can make neck coolers yourself, too! Sew a long “tube” leaving a large opening in the middle of the tube. Once the tube is right-side out, create a pouch in the center: top stitch two seams about 5-inches apart from each other. Fill the pouch with the silica gel used as potting soil filler, to help potted plants retain water. It is called polyacrylamide and available at garden supply stores. Stitch up the pouch. Wet the cooler to fill the silica gel inside and tie the cooler around your neck!
- My No. 1 very favorite tip for hot weather trips anywhere is this: Water bottles are good but water reservoirs are GREAT! Camelbaks are probably the best-known name brand. Many backpacks now have pockets designed to hold water reservoirs. Poking around the internet, we found some smaller bags that the kids can carry, too. Doc and I have large (100 ounce) insulated Camelbak reservoirs. We fill them with ice in the morning and the water stays cold all day! At the end of a long day at Disneyland, we have still had ice in the reservoir! We can refill them if we need to. The best thing is that the water is always available from the hose. The kids think its fun to drink so they stay on top of drinking their water. I would much rather deal with taking a little one to the potty than the consequences of not hydrating!
It's your turn—keep the discussion flowing!
Visit the Parenting on the Parks section of our MousePad discussion board, and share your best tips for what you bring when you're at the Disney theme parks (link), or send your suggestions via e-mail (link). Reader-submitted tips might be used in a future article, and you might be selected to participate in an upcoming panel discussion!