The temperature is forecast to hit a record-tying 109 degrees in Anaheim tomorrow, making a day at Disneyland a broiling experience. But most families plan their summer vacations months in advance and can't afford to stay home when the heat becomes oppressive. So what are the top things to do at Disney when the temperature soars over 100 degrees?
We will offer suggestions for both the Disneyland and Walt Disney World resorts. While the peak temperatures are higher at Disneyland in California, the average summer temperatures are higher at Disney World in Orlando. And Central Florida's persistent humidity makes a typical Disney World visit feel way more hot and muggy than an average trip to Disneyland. But as we will see this weekend, extreme heat can hit the west coast, too, so it's good to come to the parks with a plan.
Since Disneyland is getting the nasty heat this weekend, we will start there. We are looking for places that will allow you to maximize your time out of the hear and sun, while still providing a unique Disney experience.
The longest indoor ride in the park is Pirates of the Caribbean, which is great for fans because it's one of Disneyland's top-rated attractions, too. So there's no need to skip in on a broiling day. Most of the queue is outside, and only about half of it is shaded, so try to hit this one early in the day or after dark. Pirates' neighbor The Haunted Mansion also provides a respite from the heat and sun... if you can avoid a long wait time.
But our favorite place to escape the heat at Disneyland is The Enchanted Tiki Room, which rarely has a wait beyond the start of the next show, and inside the waiting area you will find the shorter of the two queues to order Disneyland's famous Dole Whips and floats, which you can continue to enjoy while you watch the show.
You also can get out of the heat on Main Street at the Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln show, which includes a display of Disneyland memorabilia in the lobby, which you can linger with as long as you want. Try to stay away from Fantasyland, though. While many of its rides are indoors, the queues are often outside and all of them are slow moving — not where you want to be trapped in 100-plus heat.
If you need a thrill ride on a hot day, we suggest using a Fastpass for Space Mountain, which is the park's indoor coaster. Use Fastpass for it, though, because the ride's standby queue is out on an exposed plaza that might be the hottest place in the park.
For meals, you want indoor restaurants on a super-hot day. The darkest and coolest option at Disneyland is the iconic Blue Bayou inside Pirates of the Caribbean, but it is also the park's most expensive restaurant. For a quick service meal, head over to Frontierland's Golden Horseshoe.
Our favorite place to escape the heat at DCA is inside the Disney Animation building, home of the Animation Academy. Spend all the time you want learning to draw favorite Disney characters, as the crew teaches different characters throughout the day. The neighboring Turtle Talk with Crush provides another unique and fun experience, too.
For a meal, just go ahead and indulge at the Disneyland Resort's best in-park restaurant, Carthay Circle. If you're not that hungry, hang out for a drink and maybe an app in the Lounge downstairs.
Your best Fastpass options on an extreme heat day in California Adventure are Guardians of the Galaxy Mission Breakout, Soarin', and Toy Story Midway Mania. Don't get caught in their outdoor standby queues, though.
You might have noticed that we are not recommending water rides. Those provide nice, temporary relief on an uncomfortably warm day. But in dangerous heat like this, you want to get indoors, with air conditioning, as much as possible. Save the water rides for a cooler day... like when it's in the 90s.
As for Florida...
Pirates, Mansion, the Tiki room, and Space Mountain are also solid options here on an extreme heat day, as they are at Disneyland. Instead of the Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln show, Walt Disney World has the longer Hall of Presidents show in Liberty Square, and that's also a great option to cool down on a hot day.
Other cool, dark shows in the Magic Kingdom include the Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor, Country Bear Jamboree, and Mickey's Philharmagic.
For meals, Walt Disney World has many more indoor restaurants than Disneyland, thanks to that oppressive summer humidity. But most of them book up months in advance, thanks to the Disney Dining Plan pushing people toward advance reservations to maximize their return on the program. Our favorite Magic Kingdom indoor, sit-down restaurant that's typically available on a walk-up basis is the Jungle Navigation Company Skipper Canteen in Adventureland.
Epcot is Disney's best theme park on an inclement day, thanks to its many indoor pavilions, attractions, and restaurants. Our two favorite attractions in Epcot, regardless of weather, are the indoor American Adventure and Impressions de France shows, both of which have indoor waiting areas and almost never a wait beyond the start of the next performance.
In World Showcase, the Canada and China pavilions also feature indoor movies, but they're not as good as the France movie, and as CircleVision shows, they don't have seats. That's a fail on a nasty-hot day when you want to sit to rest. The boat ride in Mexico, Gran Fiesta Tour, is fun and has an indoor queue, though. The Frozen Ever After ride is higher-rated, but you don't want to get stuck in that outdoor stand-by queue, so skip it unless you can get a Fastpass+.
In Future World, the Seas with Nemo and Friends and The Land pavilions offer great places to stay cool. And Spaceship Earth is also a good indoor ride, if you can catch it with a short wait, ideally later in the day. But take care moving between World Showcase and Future World. Walking distances between Epcot attractions can be far, so wait for the buses and boats around World Showcase when you can.
For food, Restaurant Marrakesh in the Morocco pavilion is a cool and underrated place to eat that's almost always available on a walk-up basis. If you want to splurge on dinner, try the France pavilion's Theme Park Insider Award-winning Monsieur Paul, located above the more popular (and often booked) Chefs de France.
Your best bets for staying cool here are inside the Finding Nemo and Lion King shows. And if you can snag the hard-to-get Fastpass+ reservation, Pandora's Flight of Passage is the highest-rated attraction at the Walt Disney World Resort. There's a huge indoor stand-by queue for this attraction, but even that won't help you escape the heat if the wait is over 45 minutes, at which point the line starts to back up outside.
Tiffins just repeated as our Theme Park Insider Award winner for world's best theme park restaurant. For less expensive, quick-service options, try Satu'li Canteen in Pandora or Pizzafari.
The big new attraction here is Toy Story Land, but it's harshly exposed to the elements, so we recommend skipping this park for now on a broiling hot day.
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