Florida is one of the hottest states in the U.S., with average summer temperatures reaching the higher 90s. If you’re visiting and you’re not used to the Sunshine State’s subtropical climate, heat exhaustion and sunstroke may creep up on you – putting a damper on your much-awaited summer vacation plans. Planning for the weather is especially important for visiting Florida’s summer spots, where you’ll be outdoors and on your feet for most of the day.
Check out our 16 recommendations for staying cool at Florida’s theme parks that make them great options for family-friendly summer vacations.
1. Check the Weather Before Heading Out
When planning a trip to the Sunshine State, it’s best to visit between February and May. Keep in mind that hurricane season peaks sometime from mid-August to October, while the stifling summers range from July to early August.
If a summer trip is your only option, be sure to check daily temperatures and heat indexes before heading out for the day.
And if your trip itinerary isn’t very flexible and you find yourself in the Florida theme park region on hotter days go for one of the many water parks instead. Orlando has tons of options, from Disney’s Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon to Universal’s Volcano Bay.
2. Stay Hydrated
Many Florida theme parks allow guests to bring in outside food and drinks (except alcohol, of course). Keep cool by packing insulated water bottles with iced water for everyone in your group. Thankfully, most parks also have water refilling stations and offer free cups of water at lunch spots so you won’t ever run out!
Note: As part of Disney’s efforts to reduce COVID-19 transmissions in their parks, guests are required to wear face masks while indoors. So get in the spirit with a Disney face mask. For those who want to remove their masks and drink some water, you can head to any one of Disney World’s relaxation stations – designated areas where mask removal is allowed.
3. Pack a First Aid Kit
Plan for the best and pack for the worst. Blisters, insect bites, and even sunburn happen to the most prepared traveler. Sometimes, dehydration can trigger headaches. Be sure to pack some basic first aid and comfort items in your day pack.
4. Don’t Forget the Sunscreen
They don’t call Florida the Sunshine State for nothing. Alongside states like Arizona, California, and New Mexico, Florida receives more sun than most other U.S. states. Some cities even average of 350 days of sun each year!
As such, to beat the heat you’ll want to slather on the sunscreen. According to the Mayo Clinic, you’ll want to use sunscreen that is water-resistant, with a broad-spectrum coverage and an SPF of at least 30. Be sure to reapply your sunscreen every two hours, and stay out of the sun as much as possible during peak hours – that’s 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
5. Use Fastpass Systems
Some Florida theme parks offer easier access to key attraction points. Thanks to Fastpass and Fastpass+, Walt Disney World guests can schedule reservations for certain attractions, shows, and parades. If you’re particularly prone to heat exhaustion and you’re wondering how to stay cool at a theme park, it’s time to make the most of your easy access privileges. It’s one way to ensure that you don’t spend too much of your time out in the sun.
Contact theme parks in advance to find out what options are available and at what times.
6. Pick Lunch Spots with Ample Shade or Air Conditioning
On really hot days, it’s best to stay out of the sun as much as possible. Keep your cool at your favorite theme park by picking a lunch spot that’s shaded or, better yet, air-conditioned. Explore the park’s map, or check with guest services, to find out the ideal spots for taking a break from the sun and heat.
7. Take Breaks
Don’t limit your air-conditioning breaks to lunchtime. Avoid direct sun from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. This is a great time to head back to your lodging and relax and refresh. If you plan to stay at the theme park consider alternate activities like an indoor performance, or even checking-out the souvenir shops and concessions. Enjoy a leisurely lunch, or a cool beverage in the shade.
8. Head to the Water Rides
If you find yourself overheating at a Florida theme park such as Disney World you can beat-the-heat with a few rounds up and down Splash Mountain. If you’re spending the day at Universal Orlando, you can go for the wet and wild Jurassic Park River Adventure Ride at Islands of Adventure. Either way, just make sure you reserve in advance so you can enjoy the water rides at the hottest times of the day.
Plan for comfort by wearing a bathing suit under your clothes. Then do a costume change into your extra set of dry clothes to avoid walking around all soggy.
9. Visit the Splash Zones
Kids and kids-at-heart can also cool off at designated Florida theme park “splash zones” or water play areas throughout the theme parks. These spouting fountains can be found at many theme parks. Some kid-friendly splash zones include the DUPLO Splash & Play and Splash Safari at LEGOLAND, and Casey Jr.’s Splash N’ Soak Station at Walt Disney World.
10. Try Indoor Activities
Avoid the sun with a day of indoor fun. Disney’s Florida theme parks offer a variety of options. Check out the Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin, Festival of the Lion King Show at the Animal Kingdom, Space Mountain – the oldest operating roller coaster in Florida, or my favorite the classic It’s A Small World boat ride.
For an adrenaline-filled indoor day try out the go-karts at Andretti Indoor Karting & Games. Experience the thrills of skydiving at iFLY Orlando Indoor Skydiving.
And finally, if you want a family-friendly and educational activity, you can always head to SEA LIFE Orlando Aquarium to marvel at hundreds of amazing sea critters.
11. Pack a Portable Re-chargeable Fan
Here’s a cheap trick that can help you stay cool at Florida’s theme parks: Pack a portable handheld misting fan. These fans are light weight, compact, can plug into your phone, and even clip onto baby strollers to keep you cool. They’re also great for keeping sweat from drenching your face masks.
Some fans even have a compartment which you can fill with water. Then with a press of a button, the fan sprays the water into a cooling, refreshing mist.
12. Beat the Heat With a Cooling Towel
Beat the heat with an affordable summer hack. Cooling towels are are lightweight and compact, and they’re easy to activate. All you have to do is soak the towel in some water, give it a shake, and viola! Place it on the back of your neck or your forehead for instant relief from the summer heat.
Some of our favorites include:
Here are a few others you might prefer:
13. Don’t Forget Your Umbrella
Afternoon showers are not unusual in Orlando, even in the summertime, so it’s a good idea to pack an umbrella just in case. Umbrellas are also great for staying cool during peak sun hours. You can avoid heat stroke by taking refuge under the cool shade of a travel umbrella or parasol. Just make sure that when you’re not hiding from the heat, you put your umbrella away, especially during parades, outdoor shows, and photo ops with cast members.
14. Wear Cooling Clothing
When picking clothes for your theme park adventures, it’s important to know which fabrics will work best in warm weather. Choose t-shirts in light, cooling, breathable, and absorbent fabrics like cotton, rayon, chambray, and linen. Some folks prefer to wear moisture-wicking fabrics like polyester, merino wool, nylon, and bamboo as well.
15. Frozen Treats are Your Friend
Sometimes, water just won’t cut it anymore. Beat the heat and treat yourself with something sweet and frozen! Luckily, Orlando has no shortage of delicious frozen goodies. Here are some of our must-tries:
- Frozen Butterbeer at Universal Orlando’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter
- L’Artisan des Glaces’ gourmet French desserts at EPCOT in Disney World
- Brownie sundaes at Edy’s Ice Cream Parlor at SeaWorld
- A Guanabana & Dulce de Leche artisanal popsicle at La Palette (located in Hunters Creek)
- Rolled ice cream (a classic Thai street food) at Mr. Cool located just outside Universal Orlando
- LEGOLAND’s rainbow-colored Fun Town Slushies
16. Enjoy Your Hotel Pool
One of the best things about visiting Florida’s them parks is how well-integrated the hotels are into the parks. If you’re itching for an afternoon nap or wanting to immerse yourself in the cool hotel pool, you can always duck-out of the amusement park first and relax for a few hours. Don’t forget sunscreen, a swim shirt, or a hat if you go for a daytime dip. The cool water can be misleading — the sun will still find you!
Some of the best swimming pools in Orlando are just a short hop from theme parks.
Dive into luxury and comfort at the Sheraton Vistana Villages. This sprawling villa-style resort offers three pools, a pool bar, and a dedicated kiddy pool with a pirate ship!
For family fun make a splash at Coco Key Hotel and Water Resort. This is Orlando’s first canopy-covered water park. Enjoy fourteen water flumes, a heated outdoor pool for cooler months, and for avoiding the sun altogether there’s a 6,000 square-foot game arcade.
Float your cares away at Signia by Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek. This oasis of a resort is set in a nature preserve. The 3-acre lazy river pool and water slide have been ranked among the top in the world.
The Bottom Line
Keeping cool is the key to a great Florida theme park visit. The most important thing to keep in mind during your stay at Florida’s parks is to respect the sun! Stay hydrated, listen to your body, and take as many breaks as necessary.
For more theme park planning tips, amusement park day tips, and general summer survival guides for Florida visitors, continue reading our blog!
***Disclaimer: There is a good chance that this post contains affiliate or sponsor links. If you make a purchase through them, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you (for which we are extremely grateful).
Also, while we do our best to highlight LGBTQ-friendly destinations and businesses, info provided is based solely on personal experience and recommendations by community partners. We hope that nobody experiences discrimination or homophobia while visiting Florida, but we make no guarantees. Please inform us if you experience discrimination or homophobia while visiting any destination so we can make updates to our recommendations.