Dealing with heat at the parks

seafoodbuffet

Active Member
Original Poster
We recently returned from a trip in August at WDW (trip report here ). As the trip was in mid-August, temperatures were consistently in the 90s during the day, humidity got as high as 80%. This often made the heat index in the 100s. Combined with our experience from prior trips, we developed a number of techniques to manage the heat. Our kids still complained and it was still tiring, but generally made the experience a lot more bearable. I’ll give some specific thoughts for each park including locations and attractions. I'd also love to hear what other folks do to deal with the heat. Though our family swears to never return in the summer, the draw of WDW is always too great and we end up having selective memory about our summer trips (mostly only remembering the good stuff).

Some general thoughts first:

If you can avoid going in the hot months, you will be best served by doing that. You can get reasonable rates on lodging in Spring and Fall and both are way more comfortable than summer. Plus you have the possibility of catching some of the special events (Epcot Flower & Garden Festival in Spring, Food & Wine in the Fall, Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, etc).

If you can’t avoid going in summer, here’s some things that applies to all the parks:
  • Drinks lots of water, the last thing you want is your vacation to be interrupted by heat exhaustion or heat stroke. If you don’t have to pee, you aren’t drinking enough.
  • The water parks are also an obvious way to stay cool. We’re not big fans of water parks so we generally just skip them.
  • Every vendor that sells fountain drinks (this is true of every quick service and table service restaurant on property) will give you cups of ice water for free. Take advantage of that. We carried insulated bottles which allowed us to have a cooling drink hours afterwards. In fact, we found that stainless insulated bottles would keep ice water cold for as much as eight hours even in the sun.
  • Seek shade whenever possible. Walk under shade instead of the sun, sit under a tree/umbrella instead of in the sun. Definitely do this for parades where you’ll be standing around for quite a while.
  • Wear a hat, I prefer the floppy jungle-style hats but ball caps work well too. I saw people with umbrellas, but it’s a huge hassle and you’re likely to lose it somewhere.
  • Try to walk through AC if you can. That means cutting through gift shops whenever you can. You might think it’s in poor form, but I bet they designed gift shop ingress/egress specifically to encourage you to walk through on the off chance that something will catch your eye. Take full advantage of this.
  • Wear light-colored, loose-fitting, moisture wicking clothes. Under Armour might be making a killing convincing people that wearing the tightest-fitting clothes is “athletic” but it feels like crap when you’re hot and sweaty. Instead opt for loose-fitting clothes that move sweat away from the body. Oh and in case you are thinking about Coldblack technical clothing, you might read this and decide whether you agree with it: http://www.runnersworld.com/running-apparel/coldblack-does-it-work
  • I saw lots of people draping towels around their necks. If this works for you, do it. I just hated carrying a soggy towel around.
  • The same principle applies to those spray-mist fans. It’s mostly a matter of preference. They even sell fans in the parks. I don’t like them myself but the rest of my family does. I find it a lot better to just carry a hand fan (they were giving away Frozen-themed Olaf hand fans at DHS and they made a huge difference). The asian-style folding hand fans are particularly well-suited for this situation. They are compact and fit in the pocket when you fold them up, but also create a nice enough breeze when opened. They sell these in gift shops in China and Japan at Epcot.
  • Get to the parks early. It’s usually not as hot and making rope drop will afford you shorter standby times at a lot of popular attractions.
  • Finally, the early to mid afternoon is the best time to go back to the resort for pool time or a nap. The park is generally the most crowded and at its hottest. The exception to this rule is when there’s a chance that the park will close to additional visitors. This happened a few times during December and it took a very long time for us to have a chance to re-enter the park.

Okay, park specific thoughts:

Epcot
To me, Epcot is probably the easiest park in which to stay cool. Most of the attractions have indoor waiting areas and there’s tons of gift shops and indoor venues for you to duck into. Even when you walk around the World Showcase, every country has at least a gift shop and possibly an indoor venue to avoid the heat.

In Future-world
All of the venues in Future World are indoors and they’re all great for avoiding the heat.

Our favorites:
The Land: You can sit and relax on Living with the Land, sit outside the waiting area near Soarin or snack at Sunshine Seasons. They have self-service fountain drinks at Sunshine Seasons so make sure you load up.

The waiting line for Nemo as well as the activities in the living seas are indoors and nicely cooled. Turtle Talk with Crush is great for kids and there’s always plenty to do while you wait.

Innoventions is our favorite. They have all kinds of activities for kids. In particular, if you’ve not done it before, The Great Piggybank Adventure and Where’s the Fire? are not only fun but also instructional as well. My kids finished The Great Piggybank Adventure determined to start saving for their college, which I’m all in favor of doing. Best of all, if you’re comfortable with it, you can send your kids to some activity and sit in the numerous indoor seating areas while waiting for them.

Test Track can be tough because once the line grows long, a substantial portion of it is outdoors but once you make it indoors, it’s quite nice. Right outside, there’s a place that sells frozen Cokes and such, always a great way to cool your core.

Finally, don’t miss Club Cool. It’s a Coke gift shop that offers unlimited samples of coke products from around the world. My kids thought the Italians were crazy for drinking Beverly.

In the World Showcase
Go watch the exhibits. The 360 degree circle vision shows such as Reflections of China or O Canada! provide a great break from the heat and a little information to boot. Obvious favorites like Maelstrom are nice too except when that line gets long (which it often does), you end up waiting outside.

Pop into gift shops. You never know if something might catch your eye and stopping in for 10 or 20 minutes can have a great cooling effect. Our favorites include the Mexico pavilion where you can take in the lovely evening scenery and ride The Three Caballeros and Mitsukoshi, the gift shop in Japan. We probably spent more in souvenirs here than anywhere else.

One note, even if you’re hot and tired, I don’t suggest taking the ferry boats that cross the lagoon. They can take a while to pick you up and they’re a bit stifling inside the boats themselves.

Hollywood Studios
The toughest part of DHS is that the big “show” events all involved waiting or sitting outdoors. We completely skipped Lights Motors Action this time because it was unbearably hot. The kids shows (Voyage of the Little Mermaid and Disney Junior Live On Stage are in nicely cooled indoor venues and offer a great break. Use a FastPass to shorten the amount of time you have to wait outdoors if you’d like).

The ride attractions at DHS generally have a mix of outdoor and indoor waiting areas and outdoor wait times will vary by attraction and time but they are glorious once you make it to the AC part. The toughest example is Tower of Terror is which positively steamy when you’re waiting out in the gardens.

Along the way, make sure you take plenty of time to browse all of the gift shops along the entry and Sunset Blvd. There’s lots to see (and spend money on).

Finally, Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post & Frozen Funland is nice and COLD. I don’t know how long it’s planned to be around but while its there, it’s a great place to duck into, take in some ice skating if you’d like and best of all, partake of all of the Frozen-themed desserts in the gift shop part.

Magic Kingdom
MK to me rates next to last in terms of difficulty staying cool. You end up doing pretty extensive walking from attraction to attraction and along the main walkways, there’s no much in the way of shade. That said, there’s plenty of places to pop into and avoid the heat.

The shops along main street have become a standard walkway during crowds and heat. You can walk all the way from park entrance to the hub while indoors and we generally take this route unless it’s just after rope drop and we’re all making a beeline for Space Mountain of 7DMT or PP or whatever.

Our favorite thing to do in Tomorrowland are riding the Tomorrowland Transit Authority Peoplemover. Even though it’s outdoors, it moves at a pretty brisk pace and gives you a nice relaxed tour around Tomorrowland.

Carousel of Progress is another favorite attraction. It’s an indoor seated show and there’s hardly ever a wait which is really nice. Finally, you can pop into Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe, a huge quick service restaurant with tons of seating.

Another great restaurant for avoiding the heat is Columbia Harbor House, between Peter Pan and the Haunted Mansion. It’s upstairs seating is particularly nice for a more quiet atmosphere and during non-peak mealtimes, a great perch for people watching while you snack on frozen lemonade or sip a drink.

If you’re in Frontierland there’s the obvious Splash Mountain, but the wait line is mostly outdoors and usually really long. Instead, you might try taking a raft to Tom Sawyer Island, which has some nice shaded spots to relax or stand near the geyser near the exit of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (be careful though, you could get really wet).

In Adventureland, the best things to do are riding Pirates of the Caribbean (the queue is almost entirely indoors), getting Dole Whip, or hanging out in the rest area/shortcut to Frontierland. Jungle Cruise and Magic Carpet both have outdoor lines and walking the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse is just brutal in the heat. Finally, the Enchanted Tiki Room’s main show portion is indoors and nicely cool although depending on the wait, you could be waiting outdoors (albeit under shade) for quite a while.

Finally, in Fantasyland, depending on location, the best things to do are probably restaurants (Gaston’s Tavern is particularly nice), gift shops (especially under the tent at Storybook Circus), or dark rides (Small World).

As of this writing, the line for Peter Pan is being redone and the line is almost entirely outdoors, often with little shade. Coupled with the popularity of the attraction, it makes for a brutal standby experience. Best best is either FastPass or ride it really early/late. Otherwise, it’s painful.

The Seven Dwarves Mine Train is still a super-popular ride with the standby line seemingly never less than 30 minutes (even within minutes of rope drop). If you must do this, I have two suggestions other than FastPass.
First, most of the wait line is outdoors, but they’ve setup a number of fans blowing full power on the line. Once you stand within the stream of one, linger a little for full effect.
Secondly, if you can manage at all, try to bring a child under 38 inches with you to get a rider switch). That way, part of your party gets to ride a second time very quickly.

As a sidebar, I used to read about people hiring disabled companions or homeless people (who presumably waiting in line on their behalf) to help speed them through lines at Disney. Apparently nobody’s gone for the “child rental” angle yet :)

Finally, a note about the Haunted Mansion. It’s one of our favorite attractions and you get to cool off during the ride itself but the bulk of the waiting happens outdoors and it’s brutal. Even though most of the wait line is under shade, the cast members try to pack people in as close as possible which is extremely uncomfortable. I’ve seen more parents swearing at their kids in this waiting area than almost anywhere else. During the day, I’d only do this ride this with a FastPass. I’ve seen people standing in 45 minute standby lines for this and it’s just insane when it’s hot out.

Animal Kingdom
DAK is probably the most difficult park in while to stay cool. There’s not nearly as many gift shops or indoor restaurants and the dense foliage blocks a lot of the cooling breezes that you feel in other parks. That being said, there’s also lots of shade which is only a minor consolation.

Kilimanjaro Safaris is pretty harsh in the heat. The entire wait and attraction are outdoors and in the mid-afternoon when its hottest, the animals are also least active. I recommend rope drop and/or FastPass for this.

Kali River Rapids can be nice but I’ve seen plenty of people completely soaked. If you’re prepared for this then it can be kinda refreshing. The time it happened to us, it was middle of winter and instantly sent us back to the hotel.

Both Pangani Forrest Trail and Maharajah Trek have you walking outdoors and in the heat of the day, they are pretty harsh.

Ziwani Traders in Africa is one of the few gift shops where it’s quite nice to duck into for some relief and they have some really neat animal-themed things only available in DAK.

The entirety of Chester and Hester’s Dinorama is outdoors and in the heat, we generally avoid the area.

The nearby Dinosaur, however, is nice because the line is mostly indoors and it’s a nice attraction.

At DAK, their two big shows “Finding Nemo” and “Festival of the Lion King” are both pretty nice. Beware that you’ll wait for both outdoors, but the shows are long and comfortably air conditioned.

Finally, this is specific to DAK, but you can get Jungle Juice slushies which are positively delicious at the refreshment stand right outside of Tusker House. Just be warned that when they reload, you end up getting chilled Jungle Juice instead of a slushy so if you’re angling for a slushy, ask before you order.

That does it for the parks. Hope y’all found it useful, please feel free to suggest other things. In general, my thoughts are that you’ll never completely eliminate the effects of the heat, but managing it properly can help you get a lot more out of your day rather than just being defeated and going back to the resort. (our family almost never does this, but if you’re into it, a relaxing day at a resort can be nice too)
 

Animaniac93-98

Well-Known Member
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Instead, you might try taking a raft to Tom Sawyer Island, which has some nice shaded spots to relax
Agree with this. Tom Sawyer Island is cooler and quieter than the rest of MK and makes for a good mid-day break if you don't want to leave the park. Lots of places to sit down in the shade.
 

WondersOfLife

Blink, blink. Breathe, breathe. Day in, day out.
I disagree. Epcot is probably the hardest park to stay cool in.. Trust me.. Went in August..

I mean, technically it WOULD be.. if the park was so dang large and all the attractions spread out!!

Yea it seems like a pretty nice walk from Nemo to the Land.. until it's 90 degrees outside , it feels like a mile!! And working your way around world showcase.. WOOOO ._.

With that being said, at least epcot's attractions are actually pretty lengthy and all indoors! :)

MK and HS at least have a bunch of attractions pretty close to each other.
 

Disneydreamer23

Well-Known Member
I may be one in a few but I LOVE and I mean LOVE hot weather, I love the Sun I love the heat!! I am a teacher and literally spent sunrise to sundown out side!~ BUT my DH hates heat so I will pass on this info to him ! Thank you!
 

Marco226

Well-Known Member
I disagree. Epcot is probably the hardest park to stay cool in.. Trust me.. Went in August..
I agree with WondersOfLife about Epcot. The attractions are nice and cooled inside, but having to walk across the vast amount of concrete reflecting heat back into your face is what makes this park unbearable during the hottest part of summer days. I have to plan going to Epcot in the evening hours or early morning. It's probably because I've had a heat stroke and several heat exhaustion incidents in the past, so I'm a bit more sensitive to the heat.

One little tip about using the spray fans: Don't spray too much water at one time when using them.

I also have one, and I used to think that spraying more water would help cool me off. Actually, the body cools off by letting the water evaporate off of you while taking the heat away from the body, like when our bodies sweat naturally. If you just keep spraying layer after layer of water with the spray fan, you'll never get cooled off; you'll just trap the heat between your body and the water. Just spray a little bit and then stand in front of one of those fans that are blowing in line. That's how I try stay cool :)
 

CAPTAIN HOOK

Well-Known Member
We've previously been in August and our next trip is August 2015.
The wife's a teacher so we have to go when schools out, which for us is usually Easter or summer. That said, as long as you're sensible in the sun, drink plenty, use sunscreen and pick out the shade whenever possible, you can still have a blast.

Good list, thanks for taking the trouble of compiling it
 

HatboxGhost

Well-Known Member
Yes, it does. Not very often, but sometimes. In winter you will often need a jacket in the evening. I've seen it get down to 19 degrees here.
I have been there when it is 90 during the day and 30 at night. I believe that was Oct or Nov.
Man, talk about a big difference in temp.
 

SyracuseDisneyFan

Well-Known Member
When I went in May, I found that Epcot was pretty hard to cool off in. I was in World Showcase walking from Mexico to Morocco and it was so hot, I felt like I couldn't breathe and I almost cried. That's how much the heat was getting to me. It didn't help that I didn't feel good.
 

Ralphlaw

Well-Known Member
I went for a Star Wars weekend in May one year and almost died, even with one of those spray fans. I can't imagine August. Even our one October trip was too hot at times. For me, the sun and humidity are the killer. I can tolerate heat, but the sun just fries me, and humidity just wears me out completely.

We generally went in November when my son would only have to miss a few days of school during one of the short school breaks. This was perfect, but now that he's in high school, we go for Christmas when he won't miss any school days. I just can't imagine waiting all year for a trip, and then being constantly miserable because of the heat. In fact, we went to Disneyland and went on a Disney Alaska cruise when we had summer vacations in the past.

As a kid, it seemed our vacations were always in the summer, sweating away in the back seat of an Oldsmobile without air conditioning, and seeing relatives I really didn't care about, usually while wearing that lovely 1970's un-breathing polyester. Oh the humanity.
 

Jahona

Well-Known Member
I was at the World in late July and the heat was tolerable. I'm from Texas so heat isn't a stranger to me. We were at the parks from late morning to evenings and experienced the hottest part of the day. The park that I found the most unbearable was actually HWS. Most of the QS restaurants are outside and a lot of the shows and attractions have ques outside. Beauty and the Beast was miserable. It might be under the shade but it felt hotter there than outside. Animal Kingdom didn't seem to bad but we finished the park pretty quickly.

Also good tips!
What I always tell people they should be doing anyways Hydrate Hydrate Hydrate. Start a week or two before you leave.
 
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afar28

Well-Known Member
Very helpful. The heat doesn't bother me bunch at all considering I've been in Florida 13 straight years in August, but this still is really helpful
 

steviej

Well-Known Member
the # 1 suggestion I give everyone going to WDW as far as the heat is concerned, wake up early in the morning, hit the parks, then at 11 or 12ish, make your way back to either your hotel room, your hotel pool, or a water park until at least 2:30
 

Tom Morrow

Well-Known Member
the # 1 suggestion I give everyone going to WDW as far as the heat is concerned, wake up early in the morning, hit the parks, then at 11 or 12ish, make your way back to either your hotel room, your hotel pool, or a water park until at least 2:30
Yeah, this is probably the best advice. There are so many advantages to skipping the afternoon and returning for the evening through park close. As a local, I will never go to the parks before 3:00 or 4:00-ish. I have no reason to be there early in the morning like those on vacation, and through most of the year, walking around the parks in the afternoon heat can be dreadful.

This is also the time the parks are the most crowded. Its so much easier to ride everything if you wait until the evening. For example, you can easily ride everything at DAK if you arrive around 3:00 or 4:00 (depending on when it closes) with little to no wait on most days. The only reason to arrive earlier than that is if you want to see Nemo and FOtLK.
 
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Disnee4Me

Well-Known Member
When the DSs were little, we always went in August, when summer camp finished, but school didn't start yet. One of our favorite cool off ideas was to make reservations at a sit down restaurant sometime between 1:30 and 2:30, when the sun felt the strongest. After we'd finish eating, we'd always visit the gift shops and then by 4:00, we'd start heading back onto the rides. We were still full when everyone else went to eat between 5 and 6:30, so it helped with the lines being shorter. It was a way to take a break and relax without going back to the resort.
 

seafoodbuffet

Active Member
Original Poster
When the DSs were little, we always went in August, when summer camp finished, but school didn't start yet. One of our favorite cool off ideas was to make reservations at a sit down restaurant sometime between 1:30 and 2:30, when the sun felt the strongest. After we'd finish eating, we'd always visit the gift shops and then by 4:00, we'd start heading back onto the rides. We were still full when everyone else went to eat between 5 and 6:30, so it helped with the lines being shorter. It was a way to take a break and relax without going back to the resort.
That's a good idea. We've always been fans of eating at non-traditional times to avoid crowds. For example, we'd often eat a really late breakfast or a really early lunch (which is practically a necessity if you want to eat lunch at BoG without a FastPass). Given our newly-discovered love to booking breakfast at the park prior to opening, I think a 2:30 lunch sounds like a great idea.
 
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