Vote of the Week: What's the coldest day you've spent in a theme park?

January 3, 2014, 7:33 AM · ORLANDO — Today's forecast high temperature for the theme park area in Orlando is just 52 degrees. The hourly forecast temperatures for most of the day will be in the 40s. By Florida standards, it's gonna be a chilly one in Orlando today.

Cold morning in Tokyo
Disney fans in Tokyo bundle up on a cold morning at Tokyo DisneySea

Most fans associate theme parks with warm, summer temperatures. And for most of the year, warm temperatures persist at the Orlando and Southern California temperatures, where daily high temperatures tend to remain at least in the low 70s even during the winter months, allowing those parks to remain open throughout the year. But cold snaps happen. Heck, I worked at Walt Disney World one day when it snowed.

Cold temperatures, even snowfall, are no strangers at Disney's theme parks in Tokyo and Paris. But theme park fans traveling to Florida don't expect to have to use heavy coats and sweaters when they visit the parks.

What's the coldest daily high temperature you've experienced during a theme park visit? If you spend most of your visits going to regional parks, which are open only during the summer, you might not have spent much time in a cold theme park. Nor if you've been fortunate enough to avoid the occasional cold snaps on visits to the Orlando or Los Angeles areas.

But if you're a regular at the Florida or California theme parks, or you've traveled outside the United States, you might have had quite a few cold days in theme parks. Let's make this our Vote of the Week. For the vote, consider the lowest daily high temperature during one of your park visits. In other words, don't count nighttime lows here. Even on sunny 80-degree days in Anaheim, the temperature often dips as low at the 50s at night. Let's not count that for this vote. We're only looking for what's the lowest "high" you've experienced in a park. And since we're a US-based website, we're talking Fahrenheit here, not the Celsius scale used pretty much everywhere else in the world.

In the comments, please tell us one of your favorite cold-weather theme park stories. And if you're in Orlando today, bundle up and have a great day in the parks!

Replies (35)

January 3, 2014 at 7:41 AM · Cold.... I live in England and have been to theme parks here. Says it all really :-)
January 3, 2014 at 7:49 AM · Went to Disneyland Paris in 2006 between Chrostmas and new year. The temperature was well below freezing and our party (10 adults and 4 children) were kitted out like we were headed out on a polar expedition! Temperature really wasn't a problem except when we were waiting for parades, we joked that it was an endurance test! Theme parks are fab in any weather as long as you dress appropriately.
January 3, 2014 at 7:51 AM · We were at Tivoli (Copenhagen, Denmark) 2 years ago on their last operating day of the year (December 30), and it dropped down into the 20's.
January 3, 2014 at 8:01 AM · My coldest day was a Busch Gardens Williamsburg Pass Member Preview Day. I was riding Alpengeist in the front row as it started to snow. I still remember the snow's sting on my face as we raced down the first hill.
January 3, 2014 at 8:48 AM · I've been to Great Adventure, Dorney, and HersheyPark quite a few times in sub-32 degree temps.
January 3, 2014 at 9:02 AM · I live in NJ and usually take a few short trips to FL in the winter to warm up. But in 2005 we were in Orlando and it was 37! What was really was 65 in NJ!!! But usually, FL is almost always better than is 17 here today!
January 3, 2014 at 9:11 AM · Christmastown Buschgardens Williamsburg 2012-Nacht Tower was a bad idea at those temperatures.
January 3, 2014 at 9:24 AM · I remember walking back to our room at pop century with snow flakes falling (not many, but hey, it's florida).

We spent the next day at IOA with temps around 40F. It was perfect clear sunny skies on only felt cold in the shade.

Unsurprisingly there was no queue for ripsaw falls.

January 3, 2014 at 9:40 AM · The coldest day my family has experienced was on February 17, 2013. the high in Orlando was 54 degrees. At the security check going into Epcot the lady asked my son and I if we were "Yankees" as we were wearing shorts, we explained that the high temp for that day at home in Regina, Saskatchewan was forecast to be 24 degrees. 54 degrees may have seemed cold to the locals in Orlando but it was still 30 degrees warmer then at home, no snow was a bonus.
January 3, 2014 at 9:43 AM · I only spent one day at a park that could be considered "cool" way back in the early 90's at SFGA. It was low 60's and windy. It sucked....
January 3, 2014 at 10:07 AM · We went to Walt Disney World in December 2010 when an unexpected cold front moved in. The day we were at Animal Kingdom, the low was 28 F. They had heaters out for many of the plants. At least the lines were short and there were a lot of characters wandering into the park looking for guests.
January 3, 2014 at 10:30 AM · I had the good / mis fortune of being on the Nemesis at Alton Towers during a sudden snow blizzard some years ago. The joy of experiencing a known ride without the visual cues was thrilling, albeit it remarkably painful!
January 3, 2014 at 11:33 AM · When I went to Disney for the first time since a kid, it was in the low 40s in the morning but did warm up to a litt past 60 degrees for a high temperature in the afternoon.

January 3, 2014 at 11:38 AM · Once did the Hershey during their Christmas days. We were to go on Sat but it snowed so we went the next day.

In 2010 I ran the WDW Half Marathon and over the course of the race (on Sat) it snowed, hailed, sleeted and rained on us. From what I heard on the news is was the coldest two days in Orlando ever recorded. Sunday it was sunny but the temp was worse because it was windy. I had on every piece of clothing I packed that day as I watched the Marathon and toured the parks.

January 3, 2014 at 11:54 AM · Disneyland always seems a bit warmer than what the weather forecast says. Maybe all those bodies generating some extra heat. I've only actually been really cold at Disneyland once. The ambient temperature was in the high 40s or low 50s, but there were very heavy, cold winds and the wind chill dropped the perceived temperature into the low 30s. That just happened to be the day we had tickets to see Fantasmic with the reserved seats and dessert package. This was back when those seats were on the Disney Gallery balcony, so we had elevated, mostly sheltered seats with heat lamps, food, and hot beverages well away from the water. Timing on that could not have been better.
January 3, 2014 at 1:33 PM · My family was at Disney World in March of 1993 when a massive winter storm was hitting the entire East Coast, so temperatures were in the low 40's. We laughed about how it showed who was from Florida and who from up North by how many people were about in heavy winter gear of gloves, hats and scarves and such. A good trip despite that although I would NOT recommend Splash Mountain in such weather.
January 3, 2014 at 1:34 PM · We hit a cold snap doing Christmas at Dollywood one year. 4 days, high temp was barely in the 40s. One day the high was 25. One coaster never ran the 4 days we were there, and on the 25-degree day almost nothing was working except the lights. And the performers, who I felt horribly bad for since they were outside playing string instruments.

January 3, 2014 at 1:55 PM · We had a wonderful day at Magic Kingdom several Januaries ago - am temps in the low 30s. As I recall, rope drop had about 10 people! I have a picture taken in Fantasyland where the only people that you can see are the two of us. Best part - no lines for any rides. A couple hours later it warmed up a bit and people started to arrive.
January 3, 2014 at 3:19 PM · In the 70's I visited the Magic Kingdom during the Christmas Holiday. The temp got to 28 degrees. Being from Michigan I didn't mind it at all.The park wasn't busy which was great since those were the days they closed Disney World at time due to overcrowding. We were lucky in Orlando, Cypress Gardens got 2 inches of snow.
January 3, 2014 at 3:27 PM · Some of my favorite days at Disneyland are the cold & rainy ones in January and February.
January 3, 2014 at 3:44 PM · Like at 11:38 AM, I ran in 2010, but I did the Princess Half and thought I'd dodged the record below-freezing Marathon weekend weather after the temps warmed up to normal, but then the cold came back! The week before the Half, I had been in Tampa and it was colder than at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, where they were crying for cold and snow.
Planning to run my first Half Marathon in tank top and tutu, I left my resort at 3am with a sweatsuit overtop, and arm warmers and a windbreaker. I tossed the sweatsuit over the fence at the starting line but kept everything else on until at least 6 miles, then tied off the windbreaker to my waist but kept the arm warmers. Not pleasant.

Aside from Orlando, I've been at Canada's Wonderland for training in February - COLD! - and as a guest at La Ronde in October (also cold!) and at Blackpool Pleasure Beach in April (cold rain!) At those locations, cold is part of the geography, but in Orlando, sun and warmth is part of the contract you're emotionally making with the airline that takes you there, so it's a big disappointment to unpack the down coats even if you're perfectly comfortable (and still better off than home) with proper apparel.

January 3, 2014 at 5:11 PM · I worked at EPCOT in early February 2013 and don't recall the high temperature, but when I woke up, the temperature was 31 degrees, and I had to be there at 8:30am. I just remember feeling really bad for those people who'd saved up for years in some cases, only to visit Orlando on a day where they feel as if they're still in their hometown.

But hey, Disney gives Cast Members coats as part of their costume, so at least you're not having to buy one for the couple of weeks it actually is needed.

January 3, 2014 at 6:08 PM · In December of 1983 I was a Magic Kingdom cast member in Main Street/Adventureland Operations -- working as a conductor on the Walt Disney World Steam Railroad. I had moved to Orlando to find my fortune. I had no car. I would mooch a ride to work with a friend.

It was very near Christmas (a day before or a couple of days after). On that VERY COLD morning, I was scheduled to work the opening shift.

At the time my room-mate and I were living at the Barcelona East apartment complex on Oak Ridge Road. Right next to the apartment was a building that flashed the time and temperature. I vividly remember watching the numbers flash back and forth.

"6:22 AM. 22 Degrees. 6:22 AM. 22 Degrees."

I arrived at work and picked up my costume from wardrobe. Typical Main Street black and whites (navy blue three-piece suit) and a wool pea-coat. Black gloves

And then I spent the day ... wind swept ... riding in the open air on the back of a train.


I imagine this is how Mr. Disney feels at this very moment.

January 4, 2014 at 4:54 AM · Well... I went to Universal Studios & Islands of adventure in January 2012. Don't remember the exact date. But it was nice and warm and it was very sunny the whole time I was at Universal (I did two parks on one day). Then I got to Islands of adventure and it was still nice and warm. I went to Popeye and Bluto's Bilge-Rat Barges and got out completely soaked. An hour later I was in line for the Harry Potter wand shop and it started raining, sun nowhere to be seen. My entire outfit was still soaked and I spend the rest of the day freezing my butt off :/
January 4, 2014 at 10:14 AM · Winterfest at King's Island in December 2004. They had ice skating on the fountain pond between the front gate and the Eiffel Tower, the train ran through a snow-covered forest lined with billboard-size antiqued Christmas cards from the 1940's, a Christmas light-show was shown across from a lake where Diamondback is now located, lots of other wonderful experiences. Light snow, very cold, but lots of fun for our kids. It was their first Christmas season in this country after we adopted them- unfortunately it was the last year for Winterfest since CP bought KI and stopped having it. Still, a great time and wonderful memories.
January 4, 2014 at 1:41 PM · we went to Epcot on a really cold day.... the hardest part of the day was the incredibly cold tram ride in from the parking lot. After that it was not so bad. Thankfully Epcot has a lot of indoor attractions, a nice hot chocolate booth near the front, and it warmed up some as the day went on!
January 4, 2014 at 8:27 PM · Dollywood about 3 years ago last day it was open high of 21 low of 4.
January 5, 2014 at 11:20 AM · In December 1998, I was working at Mickey's of Hollywood at Disney-MGM Studios as part of the College Program. Mickey's is what I call, "the big store on the left," as Disney has the main gift shop (Emporium, Centorium, etc.) on the left as you enter so that it's with the crowd on the right as you leave.

One day, it was far colder than normal and the crowds were not prepared for the weather. All day long, we sold sweatpants, sweat shirts and coats in all sizes. We were constantly stocking from the back, and the tables by the doors were switched to hold all the warm clothing. That day, this one store in one of the smallest parks, sold over $100,000 in merchandise. I know the Disney theme parks are money making machines, but hearing of total so high, was just amazing.

January 5, 2014 at 11:24 AM · Disneyland Paris definitely! Went in December a few years ago and it was. Baltic
January 5, 2014 at 1:21 PM · got to ride Leviathan at Canada's Wonderland back in may on a 37 deg day, don't think i have ever felt so cold on a roller coaster
January 5, 2014 at 1:23 PM · The day I arrived in Orlando at the last week of February 2013, it was hot enough to wear shorts and go swimming. Sunburn came easily. Everyday after that however was a little colder until March 2 arrived. Living in eastern Canada, we are always prepared for the cold. We had on thermal underwear, t-shirts, hoodies and a jacket. Hat and light mittens. It was so cold in the parks, you couldn't lean on a railing or your butt froze. The lineups to get on rides were crazy as long as they were indoors (like Test Track). The rest of Epcot was a ghost town! Kids were crying as their legs and arms were left bare in shorts and shirts. It was not a nice day for most people.
January 6, 2014 at 2:19 PM · December 2010 WDW it was in the 20's my brother called from MA (home) and said on his ride to work they said it is 28 outside but don't feel bad it is 26 in Orlando. We had breakfast reservations at Tusker house that morning and we still went. You know it is cold when Disney was giving away free hot chocolate
January 7, 2014 at 12:51 PM · "Winter" Efteling (Netherlands) at -8°C (= 18 F) and much snow, which is explicitely, perfectly and wonderfully themed at Efteling. The sculpted or animatronic fairy tale characters in the park, even have winter dresses ..
"Winter Efteling" is even a better experience then "summer" Efteling, even if the water based attractions are closed (not difficult to understand why... ;-) )
January 7, 2014 at 3:25 PM · My wife and I ran our first Marathon at Walt Disney World on January 10th, 2010. It was one of the coldest days in Orlando for decades. Though officially the low was 29 in downtown Orlando, temperatures gauges at the race start in the Epcot parking lot were saying 25 (it was also dark as it was 4:30 in the morning!) It was so cold there was ice on the ground at the water stations along the route (runners would throw their half-empty cups of water down after drinking)and people were slipping and sliding in these areas. It never got over the mid-30's for a high during the day, and the breeze also picked up in the later morning adding a wind chill factor. Of course you don't want to over-dress for a 26 mile race so we had on only long sleeves and wind breakers, which people threw off all along the route. The amount of clothing that went to charity was huge. We finished race but was suffering from hypothermia by end of it! Later heard from our kids that the theme parks themselves were almost disserted as no one wanted to brave the chill but they loved it as there were no lines for anything. Had to soak for hours in the Wilderness Lodge hot tubs by the pool to get warm again!
January 8, 2014 at 7:29 AM · I was in Orlando end of 2010 for business. Some co-workers and myself decided to head over to Universal and spent the afternoon in the mid-30s. Since we were all from Chicago it wasn't that hard of an adjustment. We felt bad for those who didn't know how to dress in the chillier temps. We were able to walk right on The Forbidden Journey though. :)

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