Summertime is a great time of the year to visit The Walt Disney World Resort and Disney theme parks in Orlando, Florida. First time visitors to Florida often learn about the local weather challenges the hard way. Those who check the average temperatures and think they can handle it are often caught off guard when they experience the weather firsthand. The combination of heat and humidity have created challenges for many families, especially for those visiting from cooler climates. Sunburns and heat exhaustion can ruin a vacation. Fortunately, there are some simple tips that will help you master the weather and get most from your trip.

Know the Weather

You’ll fare much better if you understand a few details about the Florida weather. Summer mornings and evenings are cooler, with mid-day temperatures rising an additional 15 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit. You’ll want to note more than just the temperature forecast. The humidex (humidity index) is what really matters. Higher humidity slows the rate that perspiration will evaporate from the skin, cooling the body. July and August can be particularly muggy with humidity at or near 100%.  High heat and humidity can feel exhausting to those unfamiliar with the sensation. Speaking of moisture, Florida has many pop-up storms during the summer months. You might think a gentle shower will cool things down, but it often feels muggier and sweatier as the wet concrete heats up after a quick downpour. Watch the weather forecast every morning and monitor a weather app occasionally throughout the day. It’s easy to dodge quick showers if you know they are coming.

Carry a Cooling Towel

The single best thing you can do to beat the heat is to use a cooling towel. The concept of evaporative cooling is really simple and amazes people who have never tried it. A moistened towel is placed over the back of the neck. As the water in the towel evaporates, your body temperature feels cooler. Over the years special micro-fabrics have been developed which hold less water so the evaporation occurs faster. When the towel is dry you wet it, ring it out, and reapply. For even more amazing results, chill the towel first and your body will feel 20 to 30 degrees cooler than the outside temperature.

Protip: Freeze a plastic bottle of water and keep an extra cooling towel wrapped around it. You’ll have a chilly towel when you need it, and a source of cold water throughout the day to keep the towel moist.

Pack a Weather Kit

You can carry everything your family needs to deal with the weather in a single backpack. Carry your sunscreen (lotion and spray) in a gallon sized zip lock bag. If they leak, you’ll be really thankful for the bag. Reapply sunscreen all day long. Bring a plastic poncho or rain slicker to keep dry during sudden showers. Don’t forget your own water bottles so you can keep hydrated throughout the day. You’ll find free bottle refilling stations scattered throughout the parks.

Avoid Peak Heat

If you are staying at a Disney resort, the best way to beat the heat is to avoid it. The parks open early or close late for resort guests.  The additional time beyond their normal operating times , or “Extra Magic Hours,” allows you to get an early start, or stay around later in the cool of the evening. Check the park schedules online or at the front desk of your resort because extended hours rotate from park to park.

Embrace the Siesta

Most people have heard of the siesta; the short nap taken in the heat of the afternoon.  Adopting this tradition will help you avoid the hottest, most crowded times at the park and will keep your energy levels fully charged for later nights at the park. Families with energetic kids may find a mid-day nap impossible. For them, parents can find a shady spot poolside while the kids cool off in the resort swimming pool.

Catch a Movie and Some AC

While at the parks it’s easy to get overheated. Each park offers great spots to sit and enjoy some air conditioning. Disney World has many venues to cool off, including several theaters presenting short films. These 3D movies are a lot of fun. With pre-show seating and run times from 12 to 15 minutes, you’ll be able to recharge in the air-conditioning before you venture back out into the heat.

  • Magic Kingdom – Mickey PhilharMagic is a fun 3D movie featuring Donald Duck’s foray into music conducting, with the help of a little magic.
  • Animal Kingdom – With a queuing area the under the massive Tree of Life, you are out of the sun in the roots of the tree. Once in the theater Flik and his friends from A Bug’s Life will keep you entertained and surprised.
  • Disney’s Hollywood Studios –  Muppet*Vision 3D is a really amusing film featuring Kermit the Frog and many of your favorite Muppets.

If You Need Help, Just Ask

Every Disney park has a first aid section and they are very happy to help. Any Cast Member can guide you the closets aid station. The Disney Rash (vasculitis) is not uncommon for younger guests in the summer months. The combination of the heat, blazing sun, and chafing clothing has sidelined many a kid at Disney World.  This rash seems to get worse with every step, so at the first sign of distress you may want to visit the park’s first aid stations. They can offer some cooling ointment to get your kids back in the action.

With a little planning, you can beat the heat and make the most of your vacation!