Top things to do at Disney when it's over 100 degrees

July 5, 2018, 3:10 PM · 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.

Disneyland

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.

Disney California Adventure

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...

Magic Kingdom

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

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.

Disney's Animal Kingdom

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.

Disney's Hollywood Studios

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.

What's your favorite thing to do at Disney on a super-hot day?

Replies (8)

July 5, 2018 at 4:14 PM

Some good news about the Haunted Mansion queue. Last time I was in that line - I think it was on Father's Day - there were umbrellas placed in the exterior queue behind the wall on the side of the house. The tents looked like funeral tents, except they were traditional umbrella style with a central pole. Not sure if they are still in place, but it would make a big difference here.

July 5, 2018 at 5:18 PM

Sunblock, hats for everyone, water bottles (food and beverage locations will gladly offer ice and water at no cost), stay away from soda, it just dehydrates you, and suck it up. The fam and I have been known (if crowds allow) to sit through several showings of the Tiki Birds. Take a ride over to any on-site hotel for a break. Go over to Tom's island, find some shade and chill. And if you're not a daytripper to the parks, take full advantage of your hotel pool in the afternoon and return to parks for the evening.

July 5, 2018 at 7:13 PM

The best thing to do when it’s 100 degrees at Disney is leave to Universal where they make most queues inside with AC .Slinky dog outside in boiling heat ; fast and furious looking at cars in the Air con

July 6, 2018 at 7:23 AM

Considering your site has readers from around the world, could you be so kind as to include celsius in brackets after all mentions of fahrenheit? Is 100 degrees a lot? I have no idea, it definitely sounds really hot though.

July 6, 2018 at 2:57 PM

Too bad Universe of Energy is gone, that was always a great place to sit and beat the heat for a bit.

Been through a few very hot times at WDW in August so know how nasty it can be. WDW is good as a lot more in the shade than in Anaheim and more indoor stuff to duck into fast. It can be nasty but stay hydrated and such and it can be a help.

July 6, 2018 at 1:32 PM

100F is about 38C. So, yeah, hot.

July 6, 2018 at 10:27 PM

A couple more notes for WDW...

I would slightly disagree with Robert on Frozen Ever After. It is rare that the standby queue leaves the building, which is fully air conditioned and, while you're standing up, it's still a welcome respite from the Florida heat and humidity. Frozen's wait times are almost always inaccurate, as well; in my experience the actual wait is between 50-75% of the posted time.

Na'vi River Journey isn't a great ride, but even when the wait times hit an hour or more, the queue is shaded and then goes indoors. Pandora in general is probably the best land to be in on a hot day outside of an Epcot pavilion. I'll second Robert on Satu'li Canteen as well, really good food and they have the mobile order option.

July 8, 2018 at 11:20 AM

Believe it or not Disney World are great parks to be at when its hot out compared to most other parks in the south. Magic Kingdom, Epcot, DHS, and DAK all have tons of indoor attractions and shows to keep you busy all day. While many of the major rides have outdoor queues, there are tons of things to do you are trying to relax and cool off. Most other parks in the south are regular parks with regular rides and regular queues. Going to Wild Adventures, SFOG, BGW, or KD in the middle of summer are miserable (coming from experience).

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