As we enter the waning days of winter (thank goodness), it’s the perfect time to start thinking about and preparing for summer. For my family, summer means our annual trip to Walt Disney World which in turn means trying to find ways to beat the heat.
Beating the heat is part common sense and part science. In this post we will give you 15 ways to beat the heat and give you a little of the science to back up these methods.
This post contains affiliate links.
15 Ways to Beat the Heat at Disney and the Science
1. Take advantage of your body’s cooling points by doing the following during every bathroom break:
- Wash your hands in cold water up to your elbows.
- Run a cold, damp rag over your face, neck & forehead
- Wipe down your legs especially the front and back of your knees and inner thighs.
THE SCIENCE: The US Army even did study on “Arm Immersion Cooling” and found that it reduced exertional heat illness.
NOTE: Putting a Microfiber Cooling Towel in your park bag will make the job of beating the heat so much “cooler”. These towels stay moist for hours and are a perfect way to stay cool when you are in a long standby queue.
2. Drink, drink and drink some more. NOT caffeinated or alcoholic beverages either. Go for the water! And don’t wait until you are thirsty. Start before you even leave for the parks with at least 8 ounces of water. In some cases, if you wait until you are thirsty it’s too late and your body is already on its way to heat exhaustion. Reminder: Free water is available at any food kiosk offering fountain soda within the parks.
THE SCIENCE: As with everything else done to excess, drinking water is great but beware of drinking too much watch. There is a condition called Hyponatremia which can result from drinking too much water leaving the body with low levels of sodium. The best method of treatment is prevention. For every 16 ounces of water you drink you should drink have one sports drink. Sports drinks are available throughout the parks or you can bring your own by shipping a case to your resort hotel saving you a ton of money.
3. Look for indoor attractions when the afternoon heat is at its strongest. Here are some of my family’s favs:
Magic Kingdom Park: Mickey’s PhilharMagic, Carousel of Progress, Monster’s Inc. Laugh Floor, Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin (although the outdoor queue can be brutal if there is a long standby line), Enchanted Tales with Belle, Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid, Dumbo the Flying Elephant (the queue is in an air conditioned area with seating), Pirates of the Caribbean, Tomorrowland Transit Authority (some outside but very relaxing and refreshing), Country Bear Jamboree, Peter Pan’s Flight, Hall of Presidents, it’s a small world, Haunted Mansion
Epcot: Living with the Land, American Adventure, Soarin’, Circle of Life, The Seas with Nemo & Friends, Turtle Talk with Crush, most of Test Track, Mission Space, Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros, Frozen Ever After, Reflections of China, Epcot Character Spot, Spaceship Earth, O Canada
Disney’s Animal Kingdom: Festival of the Lion King, It’s Tough to be a Bug, Dinosaur, Finding Nemo – the Musical
Disney’s Hollywood Studios: Toy Story Midway Mania, Rockin’ Roller Coaster, Tower of Terror, Voyage of The Little Mermaid, One Man’s Dream, Star Tours, Muppet Vision 3D, Great Movie Ride
4. Schedule your lunch late or dinner early when the afternoon heat is at its strongest. Another advantage of scheduling a late afternoon meal is the availability of Advanced Dining Reservations will be greater.
5. Hit the parks early, take an afternoon break, then return in the early evening after the heat of the day has waned.
THE SCIENCE: The hottest time of day typically happens around 3:00pm. Therefore, the hours of 1:00pm to 5:00pm is a great time for some indoor attractions, a sit down meal or an afternoon break.
6. Wear sunscreen and reapply throughout the day. This is important because a lot of people think once is enough. Sunscreen should be reapplied EVERY TWO HOURS as it tends to rub and wash off.
THE SCIENCE: There are two types of sunscreen: inorganic such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide and organic which include avobenzone and oxybenzone. The inorganic sunscreens reflect UV rays while the organic absorbs the rays and slowly breaks the down and release heat. You also want to look for ‘broad-spectrum’ sunscreen which protect your skin against both UVA and UVB rays. When it comes to choosing a sunscreen make sure you go for a brand with a 50 SPF (anything above 50 has not been clinically proven to be more effective).
7. Put antiperspirant deodorant in your park bag. Let’s be honest about this one: Sweating is kinda gross and just makes you feel (and smell) yucky. Feeling fresh and clean is half the battle.
8. Clothing is key. Wear moisture wicking, lose-fitting, light-colored clothes. No dark colors!
THE SCIENCE: Remember back to grade school where we learned about color. Dark colors absorb the suns ray while light colors reflect those rays.
9. In the weeks and months leading up to your Disney vacation participate in aerobic activity. This will prepare your body to better deal with the stress of the heat.
THE SCIENCE: Acclimating your body to the heat can be as easy as working out aerobically a couple of days a week leading up to your trip. Not only will you be preparing your body for the punishment of walking as much as 20,000 steps per day, you are also training your body to deal with the heat.
10. When possible wear a hat that covers your face.
THE SCIENCE: According to Walter Herman, retired cardiologist from Philadelphia’s Jefferson Hospital, “approximately 20% of the body’s blood supply flow to your face.” Therefore, the need to keep the head and face shaded are very important. And this is perfectly good reason to head to the Mexico Pavilion to get an awesome sombrero!
11. Grab a cool snack. Here are some of our favorite snacks:
- Magic Kingdom Park – Dole Whip
- Epcot – Gelato (Italy Pavilion)
- Disney’s Hollywood Studios – Mickey Bar
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom – Chocolate covered frozen banana
12. Take your snack and find a shady spot under a tree.
THE SCIENCE: Plants extract moisture from the soil then release it into the atmosphere.
13. If a particularly hot day is forecasted during your trip take the opportunity to try one of the awesome water parks at Walt Disney World. Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach are a great way to beat the heat. Can you say Lazy River!!
THE SCIENCE: When looking at the forecast make sure you are looking at the Heat Index not just the temperature. Heat Index is how hot it feels as opposed to how hot the air temperature actually is.
14. Two of my favorite rides to cool off are Kali River Rapids and Splash Mountain. These two rides will, at the minimum, leave you a little damp. On the other hand, the last time I rode Kali River Rapids I got SOAKED. Epcot and Downtown Disney also have splash pads.
15. Misting fans keep you cool by simulate the evaporation of sweat – can buy these at parks but you will pay an arm and a leg. It is much cheaper to buy a home or ship them to your resort hotel.
***So what happens if you do end up feeling the adverse effects of heat? Immediately head to one of the First Aid Centers where they have to expertise to help you out.
Sue Nowicki is an alumna of the 2014/15 Disney Parks Moms Panel. She splits her time between planning her next Walt Disney World vacation and being team mom to ten high-energy volleyball players where she fills the roles of secretary, navigator, head cheerleader, treasurer, athletic trainer and team psychologist. You can follow her on Twitter @JazzinDisneyMom.