Managing Sun & Heat Sensitivity While at Disney World

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EVERYONE visiting Disney World needs to take reasonable precautions because of the climate. We’ll discuss what you can do to have a more comfortable and safe trip.

Certain conditions and medications create the need to avoid or limit sun and heat exposure. Be sure to talk to your doctor and get his/her recommendations if you feel you may have a health condition that makes you vulnerable to the heat and sun.

What’s the Florida weather really like?

In general, Florida is a subtropical climate with some intense heat and humidity in the summer months. Winter months tend to be far more dry and temperatures can swing wildly from downright cold to comfortably warm. One day you can be wearing your winter coat, and the next you could be in shorts.

To see what it’s like there month by month, start by Reading our article called Weather at Disney World & Picking Travel Dates. You’ll get a really clear perspective on what to expect weather-wise during each month of the year, and you’ll find recommendations for best times to travel.

Length of days and sun exposure at different times of the year

For those who need to stay out of the sun as much as possible, consider that daylight lasts much longer in the summer months than in the winter. For example, historically daylight in August has run from 6:32 AM to 8:27 PM. In January it’s much shorter, starting at 7:04 AM until 5:28 PM.

You can visit timeanddate.com here to see their Orlando Yearly Sun Graph to get daylight times for the entire year.

If you have sun sensitivity, skip the summer months entirely. The winter is going to be your best bet. Consider visiting from November through March. Even during those months there can be some strong sunlight and heat, however the days are shorter, and the sun tends to be much less intense.

Strategies for handling sun & heat in the Disney World parks:

Here are some ways that you can minimize your exposure:

  • Try to plan your trip in the cooler months if possible, when the days are shorter.
  • Remember that UV rays, and often the heat levels, are strongest between 10 am and 4 pm. Plan your days so that you spend as little time as possible outdoors during this time period.
  • Visit the parks in the late afternoon and evening when it’s cooler with less or no sun.
  • If you’re going to a park during the day, try sticking to the parks that have a lot of indoor attractions and queues. For example, Epcot’s Future World attractions and queues are almost entirely indoors. Hollywood Studios offers a wide variety of indoor attractions. Magic Kingdom has some indoor attractions, but there are many that are outdoors or have outdoor queues.
  • Choose only indoor rides and attractions during the day, and make sure they have indoor queues as well. Save outdoor attractions and queues for either early morning or evening.
  • If you do go on a ride with an outdoor queue during the day, make use of the FastPass+ system to minimize your wait times.
  • A large percentage of the attractions at Animal Kingdom are outdoors and/or have exposed outdoor queues. Some of the animal viewing areas are located amidst tree cover, but you’ll still be exposed to some sunlight. Animal Kingdom now has evening hours, so stick to early morning or evening hours there, if possible.
  • Take frequent breaks in air conditioned locations such as restaurants and stores. Many of the stores are connected inside and they’re air conditioned. You can sometimes walk a full street length by walking inside the stores.
  • Use portable cooling devices (see below).
  • Stay hydrated! This is so important. Be sure to drink a lot. You can get free cups of ice water anywhere that Disney sells fountain drinks.

The truth about using sunscreen while at Disney World

Naturally everyone visiting Disney World should use sunscreen during the day, almost regardless of the weather. Did you know that even in cloudy weather or in the winter sun you can get a sunburn? Even those who are not sensitive to the sun can get sunburned. Here’s what one Disney visitor said:

“We hung out at the resort pool all day on our trip. It was around November 1st with temperatures in the mid 70’s. In fact there were clouds coming in and out, and we were sitting in the shade. I didn’t think I needed sun block lotion. By that night I realized I had a sunburn. My nose was bright red, and my face was burned!  I learned my lesson and wore lotion the rest of the trip.” 

Sunscreen tips: When you do go out in daylight, use plenty of sunscreen, preferably waterproof for splashing rides and sweating. It should be at least SPF 15, (SPF 50 is a good idea). Reapply frequently if you’re sweating or getting wet from misters or attractions.  Put it on before you go out, and bring it with you to the park so you can reapply it as needed.

More ways to protect yourself from the sun while at Disney World

Using a hat can be protective:

It can protect your scalp and face from the sun, especially if you use a a UV protective hat. However the downside is that a hat can make you warmer. Disney sells a lot of nice (mostly Disney themed) hats that will work great for sun protection, or you can bring your own.

Personal cooling devices: cooling fan

These can really help cool you down. Disney sells personal cooling fans with water misters, and they can really provide relief in the warm weather. If you have a car, you can usually find similar fans priced more reasonably at the Walmart near Disney, or you can bring one with you from home. You can also order a cooling fan from Amazon before you travel.

Try adding ice or ice cold water to the fan’s container. It will make it much more effective at cooling you down. You can
get ice anywhere that fountain soft drinks are being sold. However around Disney you’ll see large tin buckets that are filled with soda and water bottles that Disney sells in the parks. We’ve been told that there is some type of antibacterial in the ice. I’d recommend NOT taking the ice from these buckets.

You can also bring cooling towels to use around your neck. We’ve been told that Disney is now carrying cooling towels with Disney themes, but they may not be widely available as of yet. You may find them in some refrigerators that have cold drinks for sale. If you want to be sure to have them, I’d suggest ordering them in advance. Be sure to bring some baggies with you to store the towels when they’re not in use.

Protective clothing:

If you’re very sensitive, consider purchasing light colored, lightweight clothing with UV protection to help block the sun. Another option is to carry an umbrella with UV protection to block the sun. You can google “UV clothing” or “UV umbrella” to find many websites that sell these products on the web. Here’s an example of a woman’s T-shirt that has UV protection on Amazon. Here’s a man’s version of the UV protective T-shirt. They also come in long sleeves, pants, jackets, etc.

Internet stores that carry these items include http://www.coolibar.com and www.sunprecautions.com. You can also find sun protective clothing in sporting goods and outdoor stores.

Use Extra Magic Hours (if you’re staying in a Disney resort):

Staying in a Disney resort gives you the option of visiting parks during their Extra Magic Hours. This is also true for the Swan and Dolphin resorts though they’re not owned by Disney. Extra Magic Hours allow you in a park either early in the morning before the heat and sun is at its most intense, or late in the evening. The one drawback is that not all attractions will be open during Extra Magic Hours, however most of the more popular attractions will be open. By using Extra Magic Hours, you’ll have more time in the parks without the intense sun and heat.

Sunglasses are not optional – eye protection:

This is true for every Florida visitor, including toddlers and infants. The sun in is more intense than in many other geographical locations, so even if you don’t need sunglasses in your home area, you’ll need them in Florida regardless of the time of year. For people of all ages, wearing a good pair of dark sunglasses is a must. Sunglasses are sold around Disney; however you’ll be able to pay less outside of Disney. In addition to sunglasses, a hat with a large bill or wide brim can provide some extra protection for your eyes.

Replenish Electrolytes

When you sweat you can lose electrolytes which can cause some health issues. Consider bringing along nuun electrolyte tablets for disney world
electryolyte tablets or powders to put in your water. We purchase Nuun Active Hydrating Electrolyte Tablets on Amazon. They’re easier to carry than bottles, taste good, and they’re low calorie, low carb, low sugar, with no artificial flavors or colors. They use plant-based sweeteners, and they’re certified gluten free, vegan, soy and dairy free.

Here’s a tip from one of our facebook group members:

“My favorite tip is Pedialyte flavored powder sticks. Sold in the baby department at Walmart and TargetPedialyte electrolyte for heat and sun at Disney World near the baby food. They work like the crystal light powder sticks in your water bottle, but much better and healthier than Gatorade.” —Mindy Ruderman Walbesser

 

If you need complete sun avoidance:

If you must wait for the sun to go down to participate in outdoor activities, come to Disney in the winter when the days are shortest. This will give you much more time to be outside and in the parks. Consider staying in a Disney resort so that you can have the advantage of night time Extra Magic Hours (see above). Choose a resort that has indoor hallways. These are only found within the Deluxe or Deluxe Villas categories, except for some locations in the Moderate Coronado Springs resort. Also the Art of Animation Value resort has indoor hallways except in the Little Mermaid section.

What can you do during the day? Disney has very little to do that’s completely indoors, but there’s a movie theater and bowling alley in Disney Springs. If you can leave the Disney grounds during the day, the Orlando area has plenty of indoor options such as shopping, indoor theme parks and museums.

Infants & children and managing in the Sun and Heat at Disney World:

For those traveling with infants, see the Disney with Infants page for tips regarding sun protection.

Pools & swimming:

If you enjoy relaxing by the pool, keep in mind that most of the Disney resorts don’t provide tree shade. There are usually a few tables with upright chairs and umbrellas, but if you want to use a reclining lounge chair there are usually no umbrellas. There are a few exceptions and we’ll be including that information on each resort page on this site. We’re in the process of building the resort section of this website, so check back if it’s not there yet.

An option for increasing protection from the sun is to bring your own clip-on chair umbrellas with you. Here’s how one reader handles it:

“I need to avoid getting too much sun. When we traveled to Las Vegas, we purchased a clip-on portable umbrella on-line and had it shipped to our resort. Now we always take it to Disney, and since we drive there, it’s easy to bring. We’ve been unable to find one that’s large enough for full body coverage, but it does help. I use it to keep my face covered, and then I cover the rest of me with towels. If it’s warm, I wet the towels.”

clip-on umbrella for disney world sunPersonally we recently purchased a portable clip-on umbrella that we’re very happy with. We like the shape and the way that it’s easy to adjust.

Many guests enjoy using the pools at night, even in the winter. As Floridians we’re always shocked to see this because it seems too cool to us for swimming. In the winter temperatures can drop significantly at night; however people coming from other parts of the country and the world often seem unconcerned by the cooler night temperatures. When you’ve come from much colder temperatures, the Florida nights can seem positively warm. While we’re chilled in layers of clothing, happy kids and adults are splashing happily and running around the pool in wet bathing suits. Disney heats its pools in the coldest weather, usually to about 82 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep in mind that this is cooler than body temperature.

Overheating and Heat Stroke

Heat Stroke is a serious situation. Take precautions to avoid it, but if you suspect you or someone in your party is overheated, take it seriously. Here’s some information we found on the web with instructions for dealing with overheating and heat stroke.

If you take all of the above seriously and take precautions to avoid overheating, you should have a fantastic and safe trip to Disney World.

Do you have any other strategies for dealing with the heat and sun at Disney? Have you had problems with it?

Please tell us about it in the comments section below.

Do you have more tips or thoughts on this topic?

Please feel free to post them in a comment below. We’d love your input.

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About Author

I'm Stephen Ashley. My wife and I are huge fans of Disney World. I'm the author of Walt Disney World With Disabilities. I also wrote a book called Walt Disney World Made Easy for Everyone, but rather than have it published, at this point we've decided to place all the material from the manuscript on this website so everyone can have access to it! I hope you enjoy it, and I hope it makes your day just a little bit brighter and easier.

3 Comments

  1. Stephen, they do now sell the cooling towels, Disney character themed in the parks. A friend recently spotted and took a photo. I would caution against bringing an umbrella into the parks on a crowd level 6 or higher day. You could poke someone. My favorite tip is Pedialyte flavored powder sticks. Sold in the baby department at Walmart and Target near the baby food. They work like the crystal light powder sticks in your water bottle, but much better and healthier than Gatorade.

    • Hi Mausehouse, thanks for the tip. I forgot that one. At Art of Animation most of the resort room buildings have interior hallways but the Little Mermaid section has outside walkways. I’ll add it into the article. Much appreciated.

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