Monday 19 September 2022

Coping with theme parks in the Florida heat

This August we had a brilliant couple of weeks in Florida doing the Disney theme parks. We've not been in August before and I wasn't quite prepared for how intense the heat would be. It was hard work, but we managed, and so I thought I'd share some tips which made it more bearable:

Apply plenty of sun cream and take a bottle with you for top ups.

Drink plenty of water. I found that I was sweating constantly and you need to be drinking almost constantly to keep up with the rate of water lost. There are plenty of water fountains and at Disney World parks you can get free iced water from most of the quick service dining locations.

Likewise eat plenty of snacks. You are allowed to take your own food and drink into the Disney theme parks (with a very few restrictions - check the park websites for the latest guidance). I'm not a nutritional expert but I'm assuming that a snack like crisps might replace some of the salts that you have lost through sweating.

Wear loose and comfortable clothing, avoid dark colours and high necklines. If you feel too body conscious to even think about wearing shorts then there's no need, there are honestly people of all shapes and sizes in the theme parks. But I wouldn't recommend skirts unless you aren't planning on going on any of the faster rides!

Wear comfortable footwear, an important tip for theme parks regardless. I bought a pair of Teva sandals which were really comfy and were great for rides where my feet got wet, as well as during the frequent Florida storms.

Take and use hats and sunglasses. If you are a glasses wearer it can be a pain to keep swapping between normal glasses and prescription sunglasses as you move from indoor to outdoor spaces. My son gets round this by taking a large pair of non-prescription sunglasses that he puts on over the top of his normal glasses!

We bought some cooling towels and they were brilliant, and you can buy a set of four for £10-£15. They are small, light pieces of fabric which you wet under a tap or at a water fountain, wring loosely to dry, and then wrap around your neck. I liked to use mine to dampen my arms, legs and face and make the most of any slight breeze on my wet skin to cool down.

We also saw lots of people with cooling fans which I was quite envious of. Some people even had fans which looped around their necks, and a fan is also great to direct at a child sitting in a pushchair. Some people had umbrellas for shade, which are also useful for the frequent downpours.

Coping in the Florida heat at theme parks

There are plenty of indoor, air-conditioned attractions and it's definitely worth saving these for the hottest parts of the day. Even the outdoor theatres are usually undercover with fans, and are a great place to sit and have a snack if you are early for a show. You can also sit down and rest while waiting for a parade or the evening fireworks. You might want to bring a small mat to sit on but I always felt comfortable sitting on the ground. 

You can also duck into one of the shops. When walking down Main Street in the Magic Kingdom we often walked some of the way through the shops on either side which are all connected.

It's also fun to go on a water ride. The wettest ride in all the parks is Kali River Rapids at Animal Kingdom which will leave you soaked. You also get pretty wet on Splash Mountain and Pirates of the Caribbean at the Magic Kingdom. Keep an eye out for fountains - there's a spitting camel next to The Magic Carpets of Aladdin at Magic Kingdom, and the ride itself can be steered through a water spray. At Epcot there are some fantastic jumping fountains that you can use to cool down in.

But by far my biggest tip would be to simply avoid the parks during the hottest part of the day as much as you can. We planned our days to arrive just before the park opened and keep going until lunchtime, often finishing the morning with an ice cream to cool us down before the long walk back to the car. Then we returned to our accommodation for some lunch, a visit to the pool and then a nap or quiet time. We went back to the parks anytime from 4pm and stayed until late in the evening. It was still hot in the evening, but once the sun has gone down it makes a big different to comfort levels.

Finally the most important thing is to keep a careful eye out for the signs of heat exhaustion and heatstroke for all members of your party. If anyone starts to feel unwell then you need to find a cool, shaded spot, have a rest and make sure to drink plenty of water. There are first aid stations throughout the parks and any cast member can help you find medical assistance.

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