Summer temperatures in steamy Florida are no joke, with the “feels-like” (or heat index) temperatures commonly soaring above 100 – with humidity levels to match! (The month of August sees the most days over 90 degrees.) Add crowds of fellow Disney park guests to the sweltering tropical weather, and you have a reliable recipe for heat exhaustion. The Magic Kingdom can be down right magical, but when it is just too hot, there are ways to beat the heat and still enjoy the parks.
7 Ways to Beat the Heat in the Magic Kingdom
- Stay hydrated! When it comes to staying hydrated, nothing beats plain old water. And when it comes to Disney World, nothing beats free. Any counter service location will cheerfully give you a tall cup of ice water. Take it along as you stroll and refill it at a water fountain. Water bottles from home can be heavy to tote around all day, so the ice cold complimentary water from a counter service restaurant is ideal.
- Dine in the cool – Plan a table service luncheon. Being welcomed and led to a table and being waited on can feel delightfully rejuvenating when the heat has sapped your energy and coping skills. The Plaza Restaurant, centrally located at the top of Main Street USA at the Hub, is a convenient place for lunch. Note that the Plaza offers Advanced Dining Reservations only between 11:00-12:00 pm (watch for that lunch policy to potentially become a trend at other Magic Kingdom table service locations). At other times of day, seating is all walk-up. Their efficient table assigners (the ones zipping around with the tablets) will get you seated as soon as possible. To cool down, a fresh grilled chicken-strawberry salad is just the ticket. The salad includes cucumbers, fresh strawberries, and Gorgonzola tossed in a White Zinfandel vinaigrette dressing. Alternatively, a Plaza Club sandwich is available, as well as hot sandwiches and excellent steak fries. (Mention that you’ve heard they’ve got the best fries in the Magic Kingdom to put the pressure on – the server is more likely to bring you some that are just out of the fryer.) An added advantage of the Plaza Restaurant is their robust ice cream menu. Choose a float, a banana split, or a brownie hot fudge sundae.
- Speaking of ice cream – get some! Make sure you’ve identified a shady area with available seating BEFORE you make your purchase from a cart – because ice cream melts in Florida as quickly as FastPasses disappear for the Mine Train. The section of umbrella-covered tables outside the Plaza has been expanded, but it can still fill up with guests waiting for a table inside or with guests who’ve just emerged from the Plaza Ice Cream Parlor on the corner. (Not to be confused with the Plaza Restaurant next door.) You might want to get your ice cream fix from the Plaza Ice Cream Parlor – though if lines are long, you might find the path of least resistance is a convenient cart. The Tomorrowland Noodle Terrace (which opens only when the park is especially busy) almost always has shady seating. You can also take your purchase into a counter service location to find a seat – don’t try this at Pecos Bill’s or Columbia Harbour House – far too congested. But Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe or Pinocchio’s Village Haus may have a table if you haven’t chosen the height of the lunch or dinner hours. There are a few nooks with benches, and a shady little side porch next at Hall of Presidents with a pair of rocking chairs. You’ll find more shade nearby in the seating area for Sleepy Hollow.
- Another icy option – a fruity beverage. The Magic Kingdom has two signature frozen concoctions: the Dole Whip and the Citrus Swirl. In addition to the famous Citrus Swirl (a marriage of orange slush and vanilla soft serve ice cream), the Sunshine Tree Terrace offers both Raspberry-Lemonade and Piña Colada Slushies. Meanwhile, Aloha Isle offers not only their legendary Dole Whip (pineapple juice soft serve), but also chilled, fresh-cut pineapple spears as well as pineapple juice. (Note that Aloha Isle and Sunshine Tree Terrace have swapped locations.) Over in Tomorrowland, Auntie Gravity’s serves up delicious smoothies (strawberry-banana, orange, or raspberry) and iced coffee (mocha or French vanilla). Look for a shaded table under Rockettower Plaza.
- “Come for the air conditioning, stay for the show!“- This would be an apt slogan for Country Bear Jamboree (Frontierland), the Hall of Presidents (Liberty Square), the Enchanted Tiki Room (Adventureland), Mickey’s PhilharMagic (Fantasyland), the Laugh Floor (Tomorrowland), or Carousel of Progress (Tomorrowland). While you might choose other attractions if you were consulting only your touring preferences – for cooling down, you can’t beat these shows with their indoor waiting areas, (variably) comfortable seating, and cool temperatures. The shows run long enough for you to bring your body temperature back to normal! Attractions or charcter greeting locations with air conditioned queues are other good choices to get a break from the sun. Pirates of the Caribbean, Princess Fairytale Hall, Town Square Theater, and most of the Space Mountain, Buzz Lightyear, and Under the Sea queues are all air conditioned.
- PeopleMover – Take a breezy overhead tour on the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover. This attraction (and its queue – which only forms on busy days) is entirely shaded. An added bonus is that you pass through a number of air conditioned attractions, including Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin and Space Mountain. The wait to board is almost always short (or possibly non-existent) and you can people watch as you sail over Rockettower Plaza on this ten-minute ride on Disney’s “highway in the sky.”
- Take a Break – Consider taking a mid-afternoon resort break. Many Disney veterans swear by a daily retreat from the heat (which might include a nap in air-conditioned comfort or a dip in a resort pool). After your siesta, you might adjourn to Disney Springs for a pleasant meal or venture back to a park, refreshed and hopefully enjoying a gentle breeze that wanders among the guests as sunset approaches. (Epcot is particularly known for beautiful sunsets.)
How do you beat the heat in the Magic Kingdom?