“Pace yourself” is about the simplest and best piece of advice you’ll find for visiting Walt Disney World in the summer. Keep heat and humidity in mind when planning your daily itineraries at each park. Epcot provides plenty of opportunities to escape from the sun. While you can’t avoid the Florida heat totally, here are 7 ways to beat the heat in Epcot.
1. If possible, visit Future World in the morning (World Showcase doesn’t open until 11:00 a.m., so you can’t start your day there in any case), and retreat back to your resort for a rest when the “Soarin'” Florida heat and humidity peaks in mid-afternoon. When you come back for a World Showcase dinner in the relative cool of the evening, you may also be able to snag a window table for IllumiNations. The to-and-fro obviously works better if you’re staying at an Epcot-area resort – and it works best if you can walk to World Showcase through the park’s “back door,” International Gateway. Beach Club, Yacht Club, and the Boardwalk Inn resorts are an easy stroll (or boat ride) away from Epcot.
2. Club Cool! Dally here in Future World and enjoy the air conditioning amongst Cokes of many nations. While there’s no seating inside Club Cool, there are many Coke dispensers! Don’t leave until you’ve tried every variety (it’s complimentary!), not excepting the universally loathed Beverly. Pineapple Fanta from Greece is sweet and also caffeine free. VegitaBeta, a Japanese marriage of apricot and passion fruit, might be the most popular Club Cool sample. Melon Frosty Fanta is Thailand’s favorite refresher. Bibo is a fruity juice drink from South Africa. Sparberry, a raspberry cream-flavored soda, has been a favorite in Africa, particularly Zimbabwe, for more than 50 years. Guarana Kuat is Brazil’s Club Cool contestant, inspired by the taste of the guarana berry. Inca Kola, “the taste of Peru,” is said to give the impression of “liquid bubblegum.” And of course Beverly, Italy’s crown jewel of “refreshment culture,” has a taste that only each guest can identify for herself or himself!
3. Epcot Fountains! Not far from Club Cool, opposite the FountainView Starbucks in Innoventions Plaza, is Innoventions Fountain. This is the fountain into which cultural representatives from twenty-two different foreign countries each poured a gallon of water from their homeland. The fountains dance in time to a selection of songs, the hydro-choreography powered by hundreds of individual water jets and nozzles. When the breeze is favorable, a cooling mist from the display can be felt as far away as the FountainView seating area. Continuing on towards World Showcase, you’ll pass a small water play splash pad area for children. The little ones will get soaking wet if you let them cut loose, but in the Florida heat, they’ll dry out in short order (hopefully they’re wearing waterproof shoes). Another fountain area where kids can play is in the Imagination Pavilion area. The leap frogging jets are generally above their heads, but a well-timed jump may let them catch a little happy dousing.
4. Do some multi-cultural window shopping. Many guests zip rapidly through World Showcase, but half of the fun can be perusing the selection of British candy bars, Moroccan scarves, Japanese fans, Mexican leather purses, or German steins. Where else can you browse such an international selection of beautiful products all in one place?
Gift shops are often found at ride exits – but you can find entertainment at ride exits, too. Interactive games and exhibits await at ImageWorks (after Journey Into Imagination with Figment) and at the dynamic space game in the Advanced Training Lab at the Mission Space exit. Even if no one in your party is riding Mission Space, the Advanced Training Lab is worth a visit. (Enter through the Mission Space gift shop.) All in air conditioned comfort, you can send a postcard from space; allow the little ones to explore the space-themed indoor Space Base playground with its “wormhole” tunnels and slides; play Mars-themed video games; or join in one of the most fun team games at Disney – Mission Space Race. More than 50 “cadets” at a time can join the Mission Space Race, choosing a console with Team Triton (silver) or Team Orion (gold) in a cooperative race to send a rocket from Earth to Mars. You might hear guests exclaiming that they enjoyed the Mission Space Race more than the ride itself!
5. Select a cooling beverage – Epcot is famous for refreshments. A Japanese sno-cone, known as a Kaki-Gori, might be one of the best on a hot day. Choose from a variety of fruit flavored syrups (or a combination) – though note that the treat is heavier on shaved ice than it is on flavor!
If you’re dining at Via Napoli in the Italy pavilion, don’t miss the chance to try an Acqua Fresca – fresh strawberry, sour lemon, or blood orange. At Morroco’s Restaurant Marrakesh, you’ll be transported to the Kasbah by the “Berber Passion” – a flavorful non-alcoholic peach daiquiri with Crème de Coco and Orange Juice.
Many guests touring Epcot will raise a skeptical eyebrow at the following advice, but it’s sound: Avoid Alcohol. When Disney EMTs are called in to help a guest overcome by the heat, in the vast majority of cases, that guest had been enjoying alcohol. Unless you can sit indoors in an air conditioned restaurant for a few hours, it might be best to avoid a cocktail. Imbibing one out in the blazing sun may not be in your best interest.
6. Don’t pass up a show. World Showcase is a land of many films – most of them charming. (And many guests will be sad when slightly outdated films like the endearing Impressions de France are eventually modernized. Won’t you miss watching the teenagers on wobbly bikes, the belly flop from the boat in the secluded cove, and the mother and son waving to papa on the train platform below?)
There are plenty of indoor attractions and queues at Epcot to help get you out of the sun. The best way to stay cool and also off your feet for the longest consecutive period of time is the 45-minute Universe of Energy (otherwise known as Sojourn into Air Conditioning) ride. You can also choose to cool off in an interior queue for the same length of time (45 minutes or more) at attractions like Soarin’, Test Track, or the Epcot Character Spot in Future World West — but you won’t be sitting down! The most relaxing queue cool down is found in the Living Seas as you wait to board a clamobile on the Seas with Nemo & Friends. The blue lighting mimics an underwater world with gurgly ocean noises and tinkling aquatic music. The motif naturally continues on the ride itself.
7. As your mother may have told you, “Eat slowly!” Take your time over your meals in order to allow yourself time to cool off. The Coral Reef in the living seas has panoramic windows overlooking a living coral reef containing 4,000 sea creatures (and an occasional scuba diver – maybe even Mickey Mouse himself!). It represents the biggest inland saltwater environment ever built and offers a soothing antidote to the scorching sun outside. Other restaurants with subdued lighting and good cool down effect include Le Cellier (a French Canadian wine cellar at the Canada pavilion) or the San Angel Inn (where stars always twinkle over the twilight plaza at the Mexico pavilion).
Any counter service restaurant will provide a complimentary cup of ice water. Pick one up at Sunshine Seasons in the Land, the Electric Umbrella in Innoventions East, or the Liberty Inn at the American Adventure. (Stand-alone kiosks serving food will normally not be able to offer cups of water.)
Keep thinking “down” when you head down to Disney World in the summer — slow down, sit down, down the water, and cool down!