How To Stay Cool And Comfy in Orlando Theme Parks
Orlando can get very hot! In the summer months, temperatures can reach the mid-30s. But even more than the heat, it’s the humidity that will get you. If you’re walking around theme parks all day, you need to know how to beat the heat.
We visited in August 2017 and it was scorching. The humidity in August is at it’s highest but we wanted to go for three weeks and the summer holidays were our only option.
We stayed in a villa off-site, so we couldn’t nip to our hotel for a siesta and hit the parks again in the evening. You can watch our Orlando vlog series here.
Sukh, the kids and I were in the parks from rope drop right through to closing on most days. So we had to come up with a good plan on how to stay cool and comfy so we could enjoy our time in the theme parks without getting frustrated with the heat.
The theme parks are tiring even in cooler temperatures and you could be walking miles every day as you navigate the parks, many of which are spread over some distance.So I’ve come up with a list of tips on how to stay cool and comfy in Orlando. A lot of these come from personal experience so plan, plan and plan ahead. These are in no particular order.
This is really important. I wear a moisturiser with SPF every day whatever the weather. In the summer, I ensure the kids don’t leave the house until they’ve had their daily coverage. Imagine what the scorching heat in Florida can do to your skin. Even if it’s overcast, the UV rays are strong and if you’re walking around the parks all day, you will burn easily. So don’t ruin your holiday, get your family covered in that SPF 50!
This was my my favourite buy ahead of our holiday. I read about cooling towels online and bought four straight away. They’re only a couple of pounds from eBay or amazon, so a great investment. Even after daily use for three weeks, they’re still in great shape and we will use them again on our next trip. Basically you soak the towel through, squeeze out the excess water and them snap it from corner to corner. And that’s it – they’re cool.
Drape it round your neck or wrap it around your head. We had lots of people stopping to ask us where we bought them from. They’re in vibrant colours too, so not only do they look great but you can easily keep your family members in sight in crowded parks. There are water fountains all over the parks so when they need another soak, it’s easy to do.
FREEZE WATER BOTTLES
Every night we would pop a few bottles of water in to the freezer. We threw them in to our backpack and during the morning they would thaw. The water was deliciously cold and the person wearing the backpack felt the benefits too (usually me). All of the parks have plenty of water fountains and the service restaurants will happily hand over a cup, which you can fill up with cold water for free.
WEAR THE RIGHT GEAR
Have I mentioned it gets really hot and humid in Orlando? Wear light-coloured and airy clothes. Don’t forget your sunglasses – the sun is harsh and as well as a safety precaution, you don’t want to look squinty in all of your photographs either! Make sure you’re wearing comfy shoes that have walked some miles before you head to Orlando.
Wear a hat as much as you can, especially the kids. Visors are great because they keep the sun off your face without irritating you. You can always stuff it in to your backpack when you’re indoors. Pack a poncho. When the rain comes down, it comes down hard. We bought a few cheap ones on eBay before we flew out but you can easily pick them up at Walmart too. You don’t want to be spending precious dollars buying them in the parks. I wore them on the odd water ride too, for vanity reasons only, as I wanted to avoid frizzy hair. Otherwise water rides are a blessing in that heat.
TAKE REGULAR BREAKS
As I mentioned earlier, walking around the theme parks is very tiring and if you’re on a mission to be there from morning right through to closing, you will need to rest in between. So take regular breaks because you will exhaust yourself otherwise. You can escape the heat for a bit too and enjoy a lovely burst of air conditioning. So head to one of the restaurants for a drink or ice cream.
Other ways you can take a break in AC is to watch one of the many indoor shows in each park. Many of the shows are really entertaining and not only will you give your tired feet a break, you’ll enjoy yourself along the way without feeling like you’re missing out on valuable ride time. There is lots to do in the parks aside from the rides so you can kill two birds with one stone.
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF EARLY OR LATE HOURS
If you’re staying on Disney or Universal property, you will get the perk of early park admission or late opening hours. Make the most of this, as you can always pop back to your hotel during the day when the sun is at its peak. Have a swim or take a nap, then head back in to the parks in the evening. It’s still hot and humid but at least it’s more bearable.
TAKE A BACKPACK BUT TRAVEL LIGHT
We took a backpack in to the parks every day. These carried our frozen water bottles, anti-bacterial wipes, cooling towels (if we weren’t using them), ponchos and a few personal items. We kept the backpack light because the last thing you want is to be carrying a ton of weight on your back as you walk. At Universal, you can’t take backpacks in to the queue line and they provide lockers at the ride entrance. Make sure your belongings can fit in to these lockers.
CONSIDER A STROLLER
When I was researching our trip, this is a topic that had opinion split down the middle. Those with toddlers and babies will of course, use a stroller and will bring it with them in most cases. However, my advice is to get one for all younger kids. Shivam was 7 when we went and I had no qualms about hiring a stroller every day. He wouldn’t ever use one in the UK (of course not, he’s a big boy!) but when you’re trying to navigate the parks, walking for miles in the heat and getting tired yourself, trust me, you will be glad you took this advice.
A few people gave us a second look when they saw a grown boy being pushed around but it made life so much easier for us. He was able to rest his feet when he got tired, it meant we could keep tabs on him at all times without him letting go of our hand. Shalini also made good use of it to rest her tired feet when we were stationary and we were able to put our bags over the rail to save our shoulders too. The ones for hire at the park aren’t the most comfortable (they’re plastic) but Shivam had no complaints. They’re spacious and sturdy and you can buy a multi-day pass to save a few extra dollars.
PLAN AHEAD TO REDUCE WAITING TIMES
One of the best ways you’re going to stay cool and comfy in Orlando is to make your ride wait times shorter. That means less time standing in lines, which means more time for shows, resting or experiencing parks at a slower pace. Get the apps for the individual parks so you can see the wait times for each ride. If you are clever in your planning, you will have booked your Disney Fastpasses in advance, so have a rough plan of the rides you have pre-booked.
We spent two years researching our trip so we knew the park maps very well before we even set foot in Orlando. We knew which areas we wanted to hit first, which were less busy at different times of the day etc. When we got to Orlando most of that plan worked but we were open to being flexible when we had to be. Sometimes a ride had a really long queue so we headed over to a different one.
In Universal, we stayed in an on-site hotel for one night, which meant we were given an Express Pass for each member of our party for both the check-in and check-out day. This was fantastic. It was the one time during our three-week stay that we went back to our hotel for an afternoon nap. It also meant we breezed through the lines for the most part.
I’m going to mention Child Swap (Universal), Rider Switch (Disney) and Single-Rider lines here. I plan to go in to more detail on these in a future blog post about tips and tricks but make the most of these if you can, as you will cut your queue times down a fair bit.
CONSIDER WEARING A SWIMSUIT
We didn’t do this one but I would definitely consider wearing a swimsuit under my vest top the next time I go. Swimsuits dry quicker than regular clothes and if you plan on going on a lot of water rides, it’s easy to strip off your vest or t-shirt before you ride. On most days we wore trainers but I would always have my flip flops handy in my backpack.
Before every water ride (and trust me, you will get completely soaked on most of the rides!), I would put my croc flips on. This was a huge relief as most people around me were tipping out their trainers afterwards!
You can watch us getting completely drenched in this Busch Gardens vlog, which is part of our Orlando series.
It’s really easy to get frustrated in the heat. Your legs and feet get tired but try not to lose your cool (pardon the pun). If you follow the tips above, take regular breaks in the AC and keep as cool and comfy as possible, you will enjoy yourself a lot more.
Are you planning a trip soon? Let me know which tips on how to stay cool and comfy in Orlando you’ve found the most useful. If you need any advice or have any questions, feel free to drop them in the comments below.
Have you read some of the other travel tips I’ve written? Here’s what you need to know before you visit Mumbai.