Braving the Summer Season

What in the World?
A weekly peek at Walt Disney World

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Florida was hit with a major heat wave the past few days, and as a service to those of you planning to brave the parks during summer, I’m republishing this article I wrote a couple of year’s ago (with a few new tweaks).  Enjoy and try to stay cool out there!

June 22nd is the first official day of summer, which also means that the busy season at Walt Disney World is in full swing.  With schools out, masses of people from all over the world converge on Walt Disney World for a fun-filled family vacation.  However, what stops some trips from being truly magical is the amazingly hot and humid Florida weather.  The average high temperature in Orlando is about 90 degrees, and when humidity climbs to 100% on some days, touring the parks can seem unbearable (the heat index last week was about 106 degrees).  However, there are some tips that can save you a lot of sweat during your vacation.

Take Afternoon Breaks

 You probably heard it a dozen times from a dozen different sources…that’s because taking a break from noon to about 4 pm is one of the most important things you can do to protect yourself from the Florida heat. 

All four parks at Walt Disney World are not only the hottest, but the most crowded from the hours of about noon to 4 or 5 pm.  Leaving whatever park you find yourself in at about noon and heading back to your resort will not only save you from the sun, but it will also save you a lot of grief by avoiding the massive amount of people that accumulate by midday.  Moreover, you have the opportunity to throttle down and relax a little bit.  After a morning full of commando-style touring, it is nice to lounge by the pool, take a nap in an air-conditioned room, or have a calm and quiet lunch or afternoon snack.  In other words, once you get back to your resort do something to help rejuvenate yourself.

If you are worried about not spending every waking moment in the parks in order to get your money’s worth, have no fear; because of the increased attendance all four parks are usually open later than they usually are during off-peak seasons.  Once you stroll back into the park at about 5 pm or 6 pm, many of the sun-beaten and exhausted guests will have left, and you can enjoy a much cooler and hopefully less congested park. 

Find the Cool Attractions

When I go to Walt Disney World during the summer months, I often use the “find the coolest attractions” touring plan.  While it might mean a bit of aimless wandering, the reward of sitting through an air-conditioned or water-filled attraction is often well worth it.  The objective in this touring plan is to do the outdoor attractions in the morning, when it is the coolest, and the indoor attractions in the afternoon/early evening.  For example, you wouldn’t want to wait in line for Dumbo or the Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster (while not an outdoor attraction, a big portion of the queue is stuck outside) at 1:30 pm…you would want to do it first thing in the morning.   In the afternoon, navigate through the attractions that offer a lot of air conditioning and a lot of sitting time.  My personal favorite is the Universe of Energy, because not only is the attraction itself is indoor, the preshow is as well.  Moreover, the entire length of the preshow and the ride is well over thirty minutes.  That’s thirty minutes you do not have to be in the sun. 

Other attractions that are “cool” to visit include: Carousel of Progress, the American Adventure, the Hall of Presidents (once it reopens), the Great Movie Ride, and One Man’s Dream. 

Take Extra Care of Yourself

Lets face it, we all get sweaty in hot and humid temperatures.  That is why it is especially important to make sure you protect yourself from the sun.  And I’m not just talking about sunscreen and sunglasses/hats.  Sweat, especially in your shoes can cause very, very painful blisters that can completely ruin your experience.  As I have written about before, during a trip in June 2004 I developed a blister one every single toe on day four of an eight day trip.  The moisture in my socks caused a lot of friction and after a couple days it became unbearable to even walk.  It was agony. 

There are several different things you can do to prevent blisters.  Firstly, be sure to wear appropriate footwear (I prefer broken in shoes) and socks.  Making sure that shoes are the right size and shape, and that socks are made from a synthetic blend is an effective way of reducing the occurrence of blisters.  Other effective ways to reduce blisters is to apply petroleum jelly or talcum powder on your feet before heading out in the parks.  If you feel a tender or sore spot developing during the day, sit down in a shaded area, take your shoes off and place a bandage on the area, and then let your feet dry.  Reducing moisture is key to avoiding blisters. 

Water, Water, Water

This one is a no-brainer, but important nonetheless.  Hydration is essential to a successful trip during the summer months.  Always carry water with you in the parks and try to avoid diuretics, such as Coke and tea.  Of course, water in WDW is expensive so, if necessary, reuse the same bottle to avoid spending a lot of money on water.  Of course, if you’re like me and can’t stand the taste of Orlando tap water…then forking over a little extra for bottled water might well be worth it.  No matter how you do it, stay hydrated throughout the day!

Don’t Push Yourself

Finally, while one might feel compelled to do, see, and experience EVERYTHING that WDW has to offer, it does not warrant pushing yourself to the breaking point.  Listen to your body.  Know when you need to take a break, drink water, or head back to the resort.  If however, you find yourself dizzy, nauseous, or sick in any way, go to the First Aid Center or notify a nearby Cast Member.  

Conclusion

This list is by no means exhaustive.  Instead, it is meant to get you started thinking about the kinds of things you can do to adequately protect yourself during the warm summer months.  Heat and humidity does not have to ruin your summer vacation to Walt Disney World.  With preparation beforehand and application during your vacation you can enjoy all that Disney has to offer in the summer.