Here's how to beat the heat on a scorching Disney vacation

June 12, 2018, 10:11 PM · With summer just a few days away, the temperature has been rising at both the Walt Disney World and Disneyland resorts. How can you beat the heat during your Disney trip on this summer vacation?

Heat-related issues are the number-one cause of visits to the first aid facilities at Disney theme parks. But no one wants to spend their beloved vacation time feeling miserable in a first aid station. With daytime temperatures sometimes approaching 100 degrees Fahrenheit at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World in the summer, coupled with the drippy humidity in Orlando, visitors need to prepare themselves to deal with the heat.

The first step happens before you leave home. Establish a habit of drinking water regularly to fully hydrate your body before your trip starts. Look, Disney has free, clean, public bathrooms everywhere in its parks. If you're not needing to use them on a regular basis, you are not drinking enough. A well-hydrated body provides your first and best defense against heat exhaustion... and worse conditions.

Notice that I recommended drinking water, too. If you want to enjoy something else to drink on your trip, by all means do. But don't count on that to help keep you hydrated. Water should be your go-to beverage of choice throughout hot summer days in the park.

Next, dress for the heat. No, that does not mean packing the skimpiest outfits you own. In fact, you ought to try to cover up as best you can. The trick is to cover up from the sun with light fabrics — in both color and weight — that allow you to shed heat and moisture easily. SPF-protecting fabrics can be wonderful for visitors with especially sensitive skin, as well.

Wear comfortable shoes, too. And with socks if you are one of those people who suffer from "Disney rash" on your ankles and lower legs after a day walking on the parks' hot pavement.

Double up your protection by using sunscreen, as well. Go with your personal favorite here, but remember that you'll be sweating all day, so if you've got something that stands up well to that, go with that option. Bring the sunscreen with you to reapply when needed.

Of course, the best protection from the broiling sun is to stay inside. On really hot days, just plan to do nothing but indoor attractions between lunch and dinner, when temperatures peak and the sun exposure is at its worst. That's also the time when lines are longest, so leaving that part of the day for indoor, air-conditioned theater shows that rarely have much of a wait can save you time as well as the discomfort of being outside. (My favorite, go-to midday choices are the Animation Academy and the Frozen musical at Disney California Adventure, the Enchanted Tiki Room and Main Street Cinema at Disneyland, the American Adventure and Impressions de France at Epcot, and the Lion King and Finding Nemo musicals at Disney's Animal Kingdom.)

You also can help keep yourself cool by slowing down as you walk through the parks. People go on vacation to relax, but the expense of a Disney vacation can leave people feeling like they have to run everywhere to cram in as many rides and shows as they can for what they paid to be in the parks. But running around to do more won't help you if it leaves you in the first aid station with a case of heat exhaustion, robbing you of the rest of your day. Resists the temptation to rush and instead go slow to do more on hot days in the parks.

Leisurely meals can help recharge your energy on a hot day, too. If you can book a reservation in a sit-down, indoor restaurant for lunch rather than hitting up carts or outdoor quick-service windows, that gives you more time out of the sun, as well. Whatever you do, make sure to down at least a couple glasses of water at each meal. Try to order less food than usual, too. Stuffing yourself can make you feel even worse in the heat. Smaller, lighter meals will keep you fueled up without overheating.

Water rides can provide temporary relief, but sometimes they can leave you feeling sticky and miserable after the ride water evaporates. Another choice for relief can be to soak a clean hand towel with cold water from a drinking fountain and to wear it around the back of your neck. That will last longer than a flume ride soaking, anyway.

If you do start to feel any of the effects of the sun and heat on your visit, do not wait to seek relief. Get out of the sun right away, even if just by ducking into a store. Drink some more water, then look for a place where you can sit down, out of the sun and the heat, until you have recovered. If that means heading back to your hotel, do it. Missing a few extra rides is a small price compared with suffering a heat-related illness that could disrupt your vacation for days.

Disney designs its theme parks to provide comfort. But it's up to you to take advantage of that. Prepare yourself by getting and staying hydrated and dressing appropriately when you come to the parks. Then pace yourself throughout the day, taking every opportunity to get out of the sun and to rest to recharge. It's fun to play in the sun, but don't let the heat ruin your Disney summer vacation.

Replies (7)

June 13, 2018 at 10:24 AM

The forecast is 88 to 90 degrees next week in Orlando and cloudy. Maybe no rain showers. This is good news since I'm flying there and arriving on Monday. This weekend will have rain showers and temps reaching 92.

How can anyone go glamping in this weather? I need air conditioning.

June 13, 2018 at 12:53 PM

"Glamping" usually includes a generator powering fans inside of tents. I wouldn't say what we do is "glamping" but even we have a battery powered ceiling fan for our tent to keep the air moving on hot sticky nights.

I've been watching the weather this weekend too ahead of our trip to UO, but it looks like it's going to be fine with highs in the upper 80's/low 90's with just scattered showers and T-storms for Saturday and Sunday. Nothing overly threatening or out of the ordinary for an Orlando summer.

June 13, 2018 at 12:32 PM

We've had thunderstorms almost every afternoon for weeks, so be prepared to get wet anytime after 3pm. Some have been really strong too (rare for May/June) Monday & Tuesday next week are both 50% for storms. As always with Orlando, get done what you can in the AM, and take your chances with the rain in the PM. Have a great time at the parks.

June 13, 2018 at 1:10 PM

I remember being at Disney World on a very hot August weekend in 1999, heat indexes near 100. I recall at a bus stop, one of those flash showers hit and heat so much, literally an inch of steam coming off the ground. Had to use all those tricks and is important.

Of course, can be worse at some parks in the Midwest without as much covering and lines outside. Chicago is expected to be in a brutal heat wave this weekend and thus Six Flags Great America will be folks having to handle all that and without as much indoor stuff or covering to remind you how Disney has benefit of a lot of indoor attractions.

June 13, 2018 at 2:49 PM

If you plan on visiting a water park, make sure to bring water shoes. Those cement grounds will get HOT, so wear them unless you want to burn your feet. Disney will either let you wear them on the ride or hold on them during so.

June 13, 2018 at 5:02 PM

Those are all good reminders for anyone venturing out to any Theme Park during the summer months. Especially about wearing shoes and socks, I see people wearing little flip-flops and flimsy sandals all the time - please consider the increased chance of infections in ones' feet when wearing those kinds of footwear at a theme park. There are countless times I was glad to be wearing shoes when my foot (or feet) have been stepped on, run-over, dropped on or otherwise abused by some passing guest or employee.

June 15, 2018 at 1:30 PM

If you have younger children, I would recommend strollers that are covered, not the open-air umbrella strollers. The battery-operated fans that spray misty water also are nice to have. You can get cheaper ones outside of the parks. And if you’re tired from the heat in the early afternoon, that means your younger kids are even more tired. Pack enough little snacks to keep them energized so they’re less likely to have those big meltdowns on this vacation you planned for months and months for their enjoyment.

if your budget allows, try to squeeze in a relaxing day or two at the resort pool in between park days. Hitting the parks day after day with little kids is exhausting on everyone. Splitting it up can be very refreshing.

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