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Summer is a very popular time to visit Disney World, what with all the kids being out of school. However, it’s also the most physically uncomfortable time to go. Because of this, it’s important to have some strategies to survive Disney World in the summer.
Why is it so uncomfortable? Two words, heat and humidity. Florida is famous for the oppressive heat and humidity of the summer months.
On top of that, you can add in the fact that it’s hurricane season and you wind up with a potentially miserable mix. Fortunately, there are things you can do to keep you and your family more comfortable for summers at Disney World.
What Disney World in Summer Looks Like
First, lets take a closer look at what to expect in general at Disney World during the summer months. There are some circumstances which should be considered.
On one hand, you might think that people would avoid summer at Disney World because of the weather. However, you would be wrong.
Because this is the time frame that most kids are home from school. That makes this prime travel season for Disney World.
Summers used to be an absolute crush, but the pattern has shifted in recent years. Summer has turned into moderate to heavy crowds.
It’s not the total crush of Christmas or spring breaks, but it’s not a low crowd time by any means.
June and July are the busiest months of the summer, especially around Fourth of July, while in August you start to see crowd levels decrease as kids return to school.
The later in August you can go, the better off you’ll be in terms of crowds. In fact, towards the end of August you’ll find some of the lowest crowds of the year.
As I already mentioned, Florida is famous for being hot and humid in the summer. But what exactly does that mean on a day to day basis?
First, let’s take a look at the average temperatures of the summer months in Orlando.
|Month||High / Low Temperatures (F)||Average Rainfall|
You can plainly see that these are some high numbers. The highest of the whole year, in fact. Compare this to the averages in October: 85/68 as the high and low temps and 5 days of range.
Basically, you need to make the assumption that temps will be in the 90s every single day through most of the summer.
And don’t forget, you need to add a whole lot of humidity into the mix. This is the factor that can make the air feel thick and sticky on top of the heat.
Is it too hot in Disney in summer? The answer is, it really depends. Yes, it’s very hot and humid. But it’s all about what you can tolerate. If you can tolerate the heat, then no, it’s not too hot, as long as you are smart.
But let’s talk about that rain, because it’s not quite the same as rain you might experience elsewhere.
I think what we’re all used to is hours and hours of rain, a full rainy day. That’s not quite how it works during Florida summers.
It rains almost every single day for a little while. Usually the rain doesn’t last for a long time, but it could be a couple hours. But mostly you’re looking at 30 minutes or less.
When you look at an extended forecast, you’ll see there a chance of afternoon thunderstorms almost every single day.
But let me just tell you, when it rains, it rains HARD. Instead of a few inches of rain over the course of a whole day, we’re looking at a few inches over the course of a half hour. It’s insane.
Think in terms of sheets of rain, not drops of rain. Oh, and did I mention that the rain is usually in the form of thunderstorms?
Now, it’s not always like this, but it could be, so you need to be prepared every day.
Sure, there are some days that it doesn’t rain, but the overall wisdom is to expect rain daily, usually in the afternoon.
Officially, hurricane season lasts from June 1 through November 30. While this encompasses a long period of time, that doesn’t mean there are hurricanes all the time.
But when there are, clearly, that’s a big deal.
Peak hurricane season is in August, September, and October. Typically, September and October are the winners for the major hurricanes that move through Florida.
During major hurricanes Disney shuts down the parks. All guests are confined to their resorts, and during the worst of it, to their rooms if they have exterior doors.
As soon as the storm is over and Disney does some clean up, the parks open up again.
The bonus to being in Disney during a hurricane is the resorts are constructed in a way to make them extremely safe. On top of that, once the parks reopen, there are very few people around, giving you an insane opportunity to enjoy very low crowds.
The long days of summer translate very well to a Disney vacation. Basically, the more daylight hours, the better.
Disney World’s summer hours tend to be some of the longest of the year. During the summer of 2022, the park hours at many of the parks span at least 12 hours or more.
The parks open earlier than normal and stay open later. This is important because it helps to disperse the crowds a little better throughout the day.
Benefits to Traveling to Disney World in Summer
Is it worth going to Disney World in the summer? While this answer will differ for everyone, I think the overall answer is yes. This comes with a caveat though. You need to be prepared or you will be totally overwhelmed by the heat.
Despite this though, there are quite a few benefits of traveling to Disney World in the summer.
Longer Park Hours
I already alluded to this a bit, but it’s a definite consideration in the plus column. The beginning and end of each park day are the best opportunities to get on ride with lower waits.
The earlier the park opens and the later it stays open, the better this becomes.
There aren’t many families willing to get up and out the door for an 8a park opening time. Ditto, those families aren’t burning the 10p oil at the same time.
So if you can take advantage of both of these time frames, you’ll be a happy camper. The summer makes this even better because of the longer park hours. In winter, the opportunity just isn’t as good.
On top the that, the early mornings and evenings are the best times of the day in terms of temperature. Sure, it will still be humid as all get out, but the sun isn’t as strong.
Summer used to be a lot more crowded with lower discounts. But the pattern has changed in recent years. Because of this, you’ll often find some of the best discounts of the year available in summer.
Depending on the resort category you choose, you can save a decent chunk of money on your resort room, perhaps between 15-30% off, depending on the room and what you qualify for.
If you haven’t already, make sure you understand the differences between the Disney resort categories so you know what that means.
No Missed School + Slightly Better Crowds
Listen, I’m the first person who unapologetically takes my kids out of school for a family vacation. But sometimes it’s nice to not tick off the school, right?
In terms of taking advantage of school breaks, summer might actually give you a better crowd experience than the other holidays.
Christmas and Easter are known for absolutely massive crowds. Other parts of spring break and Thanksgiving are also a very crowded time.
Because summer is spread over months instead of weeks, it at least allows people to spread their trips around. This equals crowds that just aren’t as bad.
I was in Disney a weekend in mid-July and the crowds were VERY manageable. The crowd levels were a 5 out of 10. Compare that to the week of Christmas break where crowd levels are in the 8-10 range.
August and September Have Low(er) Crowds
Piggy backing on top of no missed school and more manageable crowds is the fact that this improves even more the later you get into summer.
Down south school starts up again a whole lot earlier than other places in the country. Think the first and second week of August. This means that families who have kids who go back to school the end of August and beginning of September have an advantage.
You’ll start to see crowd levels drop into the 2-4 range on a 10 scale. Truly, these are some of the lowest crowds you’ll find all year.
So, if you can tolerate the heat, and possible hurricanes, you are looking at one of the best times to be in Disney World when talking crowd levels.
Less Ride Refurbishments
It’s normal for rides to have to close temporarily in order to have little repairs and upkeep done. And we aren’t talking about just the less popular rides, but major attractions.
Most of these refurbishments seem to happen in the winter and early spring.
Because of this, summer gives you the fullest complement of rides compared to some other times of year.
Tips for Surviving Disney World in Summer
Now that we’ve established that going to Disney World in the summer isn’t all bad, let’s talk survival skills. With some preparation in how you approach your day, it helps you beat the heat at Disney World.
You simply can’t approach a trip during the summer in the same way you do the rest of the year. You’ll still want to plan your ideal Disney trip in mostly the same way. There are simply some changes you’ll need to make in how you structure your days.
Taking Afternoon Breaks
Listen, my family tends to be an open until close kind of family. Taking an official break in the afternoon isn’t something we typically do. Unless it’s hot and humid in the summer.
As I’m sure you know, the afternoon is peak heat time. This is the most uncomfortable part of the day. Add to that, afternoon is usually when you get the thunderstorms rolling through. This combined makes the afternoons pretty sticky and potentially miserable.
Plus, the afternoon is typically the most crowded part of the day, meaning long lines at the rides.
At that point, some sort of afternoon break is completely necessary. Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean leaving the parks if you don’t want to, but you certainly could.
Target Air Conditioned Attractions
There are certain types of attractions throughout Disney World that are perfect for hot summer afternoons. The qualities you want to look for are simple: indoors and air conditioned.
Each of the parks has at least one show or attraction that will fit the bill, but really, there’s typically multiple options to choose from.
The shows in particular are ideal for several reasons. First, they tend to be high capacity theaters. This means the wait is usually low because a lot of people can fit in the theater.
Second, the shows tend to be longer than a ride, a lot longer. This buys you more time in the air conditioning, sitting down. Doesn’t that sound heavenly on a hot and sticky day with torrential downpours?
By focusing your attraction strategy on indoor shows in the afternoon, this allows you to have a cooldown break without dealing with the hassle of leaving the parks and returning later.
Take a Pool Break
Not that leaving the parks and returning later is necessarily a bad thing. If you are staying at one of the Disney resorts, this is a sound strategy for Disney World in summer.
Getting back and forth to your resort can range from very easy to a minor inconvenience, depending on where you are staying. If everyone in your group is getting overheated and tired, a dip in the resort pool just might hit the spot!
Everyone can rest for a while, the kids can have fun and cool down, and everyone can replenish their energy stores for the evening.
However, keep in mind it’s very likely to rain at some point in the afternoon, so if your pool break is at the same time, it might be disrupted!
For guests staying at off-site hotels or lodging, I don’t necessarily recommend this particular strategy. Leaving and returning is a much bigger hassle when you need to go off site. You’re dealing with parking lots, traffic, and travel time.
You might wind up spending more time than you realized stuck in the car instead of at the pool. If you are staying off-site, I would recommend using indoor attractions and shaded benches as your break.
Focus on Mornings and Evenings
Seriously, this is a top Disney planning tip for any time of year. The morning and evenings/nights are simply the best times to be a the park. This is largely because the waits for attractions are more manageable during those times in general.
But during the summer, this tip has extra importance. As I mentioned before, rain is most common in the afternoons. That means anything outdoors comes to a grinding halt.
Remember, this isn’t just rain, but torrential downpours complete with thunder and lightning. Any ride that operates outside will immediately shut down.
Tens of thousands of people scramble to find some place protected to take cover. Fortunately, the storm is usually short lived, but not always.
Because of this, focus most of your energies on getting on your must-do rides before the rain starts, and in theory, after the rain stops. This means that mornings and evenings are your best bets for the whole day.
Plan a Slower Pace
Listen, I’ll be the first to admit that my family tends to go full tilt when we’re at Disney World. But trust me, in the summer, that’s a mistake.
Don’t get me wrong, I still go full tilt during rope drop as we try to get as much done as humanly possible before the crowds arrive, but after that, it’s time to slow down.
Heat and humidity can really sap your energy. And let’s not forget that blazing sun!
To offset this factor, it’s a good idea to just go at a slower pace through the day. Take more frequent rests, don’t crisscross the park multiple times unnecessarily, walk slower, etc.
You will feel more sluggish being outside all day in the hot Florida summers, but if you just plan to go at a slower pace from the outset, you’ll make it much more manageable.
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
If you didn’t know already, you can get free ice water from any of the quick service restaurants. I highly recommend that you take advantage of this particular hack.
Yes, the cups of ice water are small, but they are free and plentiful.
In addition to that, this is a time of year that I would suggest keeping a case of water bottles in your room. This way you have your own supply of water to at least start the day with.
Also, in the summer especially, I travel with electrolyte hydration packets to add to my water. These have become increasingly popular and are now pretty easy to find.
Amazon has several brands to choose from, like this one from a company called Liquid IV. I’ve used this particular brand before and find it helpful.
Basically, you get individual packets of electrolyte powder to add to any water you have on hand. This allows you to fight dehydration more successfully.
Yes, the parks sell PowerAde, and I’ve definitely used that too. However, that will cost you a lot more over the course of a trip and is full of a lot of extra sugar.
I never go to Disney without bringing my own supply of electrolyte powder.
What to Pack for Disney World in the Summer
Considering what to wear to Disney World in the summer is fairly important. And it’s not just what you should wear, but what other gear you should pack.
While I don’t think everyone needs to overpack, there are definitely some items that I highly recommend bringing with you to Disney World in summer.
Let’s face it, pretty much all of these items are geared towards making you as comfortable as possible in summer at Disney World.
This item just might be one of my new favorite Disney World accessories for summer. I used one for the first time this past summer and it is now my go to for Disney summers.
Neck fans do pretty much exactly what you would think: they drape around your neck and blow air up towards your face and head.
There are a few different styles to choose from these days, but bladeless neck fans are currently the most popular. I personally recommend this bladeless neck fan from JISULIFE. This is the exact neck fan I have used in Disney World, and it works like a charm.
It’s not too loud, which is good since it’s sitting right near your ears. On the higher speeds there’s definitely a noise, but it’s manageable.
The air flow is surprisingly strong. I prefer to have it on the higher settings, mainly because I want as much air flow as humanly possible.
I personally found that this neck fan placed the vents at the perfect location for me. Other bladeless styles I tried hung down a little too low, sending the air flow in front of my face instead of directly at my face.
Also, I like that the vents go around the fan, cooling more than just my face. The air coming out at the back is pretty darn weak, but it’s something.
The design on this style sleeker than the more traditional neck fan, like this one. This makes it more comfortable to wear four hours at a time. And yes, I wore it ALL. DAY. LONG.
But of course, this comes at a price. Literally. The bladeless neck fans are definitely a bit pricier than the traditional style. If you are on a budget, just go with a neck fan like this one. It will still get the job done, and some airflow is better than no air flow.
If you can swing it, get a neck fan for everyone. If not get some neck fans and some of the next item on this list…
Cooling towels have become all the rage recently, and with good reason. Through some sort of witchcraft and wizardry, cooling towels have the ability to feel cool once you wet them. Don’t ask me how, because I don’t know.
You might be wondering how this is different just wetting a regular old towel and putting it around your neck. Well, the big difference is cooling towels won’t soak you in the process. They also stay cool for a lot longer.
Basically, the evaporation of the water on the towel somehow works to be extra cooling. And the type of material it’s made out of prevents you from getting very wet.
It’s a nice option for extra cooling on those hot summer days at Disney. Simply wet it using a faucet in the bathroom and sling it around your shoulders. It will help keep you a bit cooler when you need it.
I personally use the Alfamo Cooling Towel. The material stays soft and pliable when it’s both wet and dry. This comes in handy for both use and storage.
It also comes in multiple sizes depending on how you want to use it. I ordered the small and found it to be a great size for a petite woman to use.
The price is also reasonable so it won’t break the bank. You can even buy it in multi-packs and save money per towel. I really would suggest getting one for everyone.
They come in a small resealable pouch with a carabiner for easy storage and travel.
FROGG TOGGS Chilly Pad is probably the biggest name in cooling towels. This is the first one that I ever bought. I hated it. I don’t know if I got a dud or what, but that thing dried like cardboard making it impossible to fold up nicely in my bag.
By all means, look into it as an option, they really are quite popular. But it also costs twice the amount of money as the Alfamo Cooling Towel.
Regardless of what brand you go with, and there really are a TON of cooling towels on Amazon, I highly recommend that you use one at Disney World in the summer.
Wide Brimmed Hat
We now come to the final piece of my trifecta of how to beat the summer heat at Disney World: a wide brimmed hat.
Sure, some areas of the parks are well shaded, but there are plenty that are not. Have you ever walked around World Showcase in Epcot on a sunny day? Shade is sparse and that sun is brutal.
Because of this, I tried out my trusty wide brimmed hat to see how I liked using it during summers at Disney World. Spoiler alert: it was a huge help.
Keeping the sun off of my face and shoulders was a bonus simply in terms of preventing sunburn, but man does it help cool you down when your face and head aren’t getting blasted by the sun.
I wanted to get the Outdoor Research Oasis Sun Hat for ages. I finally pulled the trigger and man am I happy that I did.
First off, the material is moisture wicking and quick crying. This is essential because you will be sweating. A lot. Second, the nice wide brim provides a lot of protection for not just your face, but your shoulders and neck as well.
The chin strap is there if you happen to need it on a windier day. It was also nice to be able to just drop the hat down my back when I needed to get it out of the way.
Finally, this hat is very packable. It folds up into a pretty small size to easily toss into your bag.
As an extra pro-tip: use the wide brimmed hat and the neck fan together for extra cooling. The wind from your fan bounces off the brim of your hat back down onto your face and shoulders. It enhances the cooling effect of the fan!
Remember those torrential downpours I mentioned? You might want a bit of protection against them. It’s way too hot to cart around rain coats, but ponchos give you a nice alternative to some protection against getting completely soaked.
It’s really a personal preference thing regarding whether you get reusable ponchos or disposable ponchos. Personally, I got for the disposable kind. I’m not interested in having to store my wet poncho after the rain stops.
Yes, the reusable ponchos will probably do a better job of keeping you dry. They are simply more substantial.
But the disposable ponchos should do a good enough job, and then when you are done, you simply toss them in the trash. They are also relatively cheap, you can buy a multipack for $20. They have the bonus of being individually packaged for easy packing in your park bag.
Moisture Wicking Fabrics
Trust me when I tell you this, wearing breathable, quick dry fabrics is a must for surviving the heat at Disney World. Even for the rest of the year it’s not a bad idea. This type of clothing helps you dry faster after getting wet on the water rides.
But for summer, it’s essential. The heavier the fabric is, the longer it will take for your sweat to dry. Or once you’re soaked after a rainstorm. You get the picture.
No matter the source of the moisture, you want to be able to dry as quickly as possible. Wet clothes can often lead to chafing, and that’s a great way to ruin anyone’s day.
The good news is, there are so many brands and styles that make quick dry clothing it’s not even funny. You can find fits and styles to suit the whole family.
Athletic brands can be a font of availability for this stuff. Most athletic clothes are designed to wick moisture away and dry quickly to keep athletes more comfortable.
My personal go to shorts for Disney World are these Eddie Bauer Guide Pro Shorts. I live in these things down here in Florida. I love all the pockets for stashing my phone and anything else I need. Plus they are made with a quick dry stretchy material.
They are definitely a splurge. I tend to watch for sales and snatch them when they get close to more reasonable. But I’m not gonna lie, you can find cheaper options on Amazon.
No matter where you buy them from, just look for as many quick dry pieces of clothing you can manage. Trust me, you’ll be happy you did.
2 Pairs of Shoes for Everyone
This is advice that I give in general for everyone in my official Disney World packing list. Having two pairs of shoes you can alternate between helps with foot pain and fatigue just in general.
However, in the summer, this can take on extra importance. Let me paint you a picture.
You and your family are out enjoying an afternoon at Epcot. Suddenly, out of nowhere, the skies open and a deluge begins. Then the rain kicks up, it’s raining sideways in sheets! The walkways flood rapidly. Before you can get to shelter, you and the whole family are soaked, especially your shoes.
Do you know how long it takes soaked sneakers to dry? More than overnight, that’s for sure. Do you really want to put wet shoes on again the next day? I sure don’t. That’s a recipe for discomfort at best, blisters in the worst case scenario.
If you have 2 pairs of shoes, it allows you to have a back up pair just in case this exact scenario happens. The rain really does come down so heavily and rapidly that walkways flood.
We once had to walk through a lake that formed on the pathway from Epcot to Beach Club Resort. And when I say the water came up to mid-shin, I’m unfortunately not exaggerating. It was deep and there was no other way around that particular section.
I watched everyone traipse through it with their shoes and just prayed they had a back up pair!
If you want some general ideas, I have a whole post dedicated to the best shoes to wear at Disney World.
Final Thoughts on Disney World in Summer
Once upon a time, I never would have considered going to Disney World in the summer. This was largely based on assumptions I had made.
However, as I pointed out, there are some definite benefits to taking your Disney trip in the summer. These benefits come with a major caveat though: you have to have a good strategy or you’ll wind up hot, wet, and miserable.
So read through the tips for surviving Disney World in summer and understand what you are up against.
Once you do, and have prepared accordingly, you’ll have an amazing trip.
How about you? Would you consider planning a Disney trip in the summer do you prefer a different time of year? Let me know in the comments below.