Best Ways to Escape the Heat at Walt Disney World
Hot enough for you?
As a Disney Vacation Club member, you’ve spent enough time at Disney theme parks to understand the brutality of Florida weather. Orlando is a paradise due to its climate, but warm weather comes at a price. You’ll feel like you’re medium rare at times. Thankfully, Disney’s baked this problem into their park planning. Here are 11 ways to escape the heat at Walt Disney World.
For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along
Since you’re a Disney pro, I’ll assume that you know all of the splash stations at the various parks. It’s why you find excuses to walk toward the Barnstormer or Test Track, after all.
Similarly, you’re experienced enough to realize that all indoor restaurants are better than any outdoor restaurant, at least in the scorching heat. When in doubt, you should use Mobile Ordering at an air-conditioned Quick Service restaurant. Alternately, grab a table at a Table Service establishment and be sure to order appetizers AND dessert to give your body more time to recuperate.
Given the above, I’m focusing on shows and long rides here, preferably ones with short waits. Yes, there will be a few exceptions, but the general idea to beat the heat is to get inside quickly and then stay inside for a while.
A perfect example is For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along. This production at Disney’s Hollywood Studios recreates some of your favorite scenes and songs from the animated movie. It’s harmonious choral bliss on its own.
When you’re burning up, the Frozen show is even better since it’s a 30-minute presentation in an air-conditioned theater. And with Frozen 2 only a few months away from the theatrical release, this summer is the perfect time to get reacquainted with your favorite characters.
Country Bear Jamboree
Wait-times are important. When you try to cool off, you want to get inside and participate in your attraction as soon as possible. That’s not always possible at Walt Disney World, and so I’m skewing this list toward indoors line queues as much as I can.
Country Bear Jamboree represents the best of both worlds. Lines are short enough that rumors of this attraction’s demise forced a reply from Disney. But the show and its waiting area are inside. This attraction is only about 12 minutes long, 15 or so including the seating process. It’s so charming and timeless that you’ll always have fun here while escaping the humidity.
Festival of The Lion King
Out of everything listed here, this is one of three attractions that may prove somewhat problematic. I don’t have to tell you about the popularity of Festival of The Lion King. It’s a Disney show that feels like their version of Cirque du Soleil, only with music from one of the most successful movies ever.
Due to the demand for this presentation, you may need a FastPass. What I’d suggest is that you plan ahead by booking one roughly four hours after you intend to arrive at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Using this strategy, you’ll build a 40-minute break into your schedule. And you’ll get to watch a technically impressive performance, too. Besides, it’s always fun to be encouraged to yell in a group setting, isn’t it?
Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros
No, I’m not going out on a limb here. Any self-respecting DVC member already knows about the magic of Gran Fiesta Tour. Still, I’d be cheating if I didn’t include it.
Just in case, you don’t know why this ride is perfect on a hot day, let me summarize. 1) The Mexico Pavilion is centrally located as either the first or last pavilion at the World Showcase, depending on where you enter. 2) The interior of the pavilion is dark and air-conditioned, making it almost chilly. 3) The boat ride is a variation of It’s a Small World, meaning that it’s refreshing and relaxing.
When you’re burning up, Gran Fiesta Tour is a magic tonic. It’ll cure what ails ya.
Kali River Rapids
Here’s the second somewhat questionable suggestion. As a water ride with many moments of drenching, it’ll undoubtedly cool you down. The problem is that the line queue is outside, albeit in a covered area. And group-think is a factor here.
On a hot day, the herd heads to Kali River Rapids to get soaked. This behavior can lead to prolonged waits, which is why I primarily recommend the attraction only when you have a FastPass. If you don’t, you’ll feel just as good about a stop at It’s Tough to Be a Bug!, an entertaining show that’s rarely crowded. Think of it as Plan B when Plan A aka Kali River Rapids has a 60-minute wait-time or longer.
Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy
Here’s the newest suggestion. In March of 2019, Hollywood Studios opened this indoor presentation in a space near Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith. Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy is a kind of digital short film hosted by the main character from the Cars franchise.
From a visual perspective, it’s quite possibly the greatest thing that Disney’s ever done at a theme park. The projection monitors are kinetic, and the story is reasonably engaging, too. You may not have watched this show yet anyway. You might as well throw it on your itinerary as something new that also doubles as a cooldown spot.
Living with the Land
Everyone has a favorite ride or show for relaxing. The Land Pavilion at Epcot hosts not one but two of my most anticipated rides during each park visit. I love Soarin’ for the majesty of the ride experience, but I also adore Living with the Land for what it represents. Disney’s trying to cure world hunger, and they’re spelling their grand ambitions out on a boat ride. They’re not worried about trade secrets or anything. They just want everyone to have enough to eat. It’s beautiful and very, very Disney.
Even if the ride sucked, however, I’d still use it for relaxation purposes, though. Parts of this dark ride are so dark that they almost automatically put me to sleep. Since it’s a 15-minute trip, that’s a solid nap.
Sometimes, beating the heat meshes perfectly with experiencing the best of Walt Disney World. Across all Disney parks, PhilharMagic is my favorite show. To me, it’s Disney Animation’s Greatest Hits, a celebration of some of the most iconic scenes in movie history. Memorable moments and songs from Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, Peter Pan, Aladdin, and The Little Mermaid highlight the proceedings of this 12-minute exercise in pure joy.
Somehow, this show is rarely crowded. Since it’s easy to find and centrally located, you can get there quickly from any part of Magic Kingdom and then sit down for 15 minutes, happily singing along to Disney’s finest.
The Seas with Nemo & Friends
I’m actually not talking about the ride here or at least not on its own. Yes, the Nemo attraction is a heavily air-conditioned dark ride that can lower your temperature several degrees. And yes, it’s adorable.
When I’m talking about escaping the heat at Epcot, however, I’m speaking in a more general sense about the pavilion. There is so much to do here, and you can find places to sit down when you’re hot and tired. Between all of the activities available at (the former) SeaBase Alpha and the child-friendly interactive show, Turtle Talk with Crush, you can kill 45 minutes here as you catch your breath.
Both The Land and The Seas Pavilions are godsends when you’re overheated. Use them well, my friends.
This attraction has all of the benefits of Kali River Rapids, only it’s twice as long, ten times as entertaining, and easy to FastPass. Splash Mountain is theme park royalty, and Magic Kingdom has the longest version of it. You’ll spend 12 minutes being thoroughly entertained. Plus, you’ll get wet enough along the way that you’ll no longer mind the hot weather. Oh, and did I mention the hilarious picture at the end of the ride? It’s reason enough to justify a PhotoPass purchase.
Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover
Come on, you knew this one had to be on here. Anyone who has ever suffered through a hot day at the Magic Kingdom remembers that glorious moment. I’m referring to the time when you boarded the PeopleMover and escaped the sun for 12 minutes while seeing many of the most interesting landmarks at Tomorrowland.
While other attractions steal the PeopleMover’s thunder, many of us old school Disney fans know that it’s the best ride at the Magic Kingdom. And on a 100-degree day with high humidity, it’s everyone’s best friend, too.