If you have a trip to Orlando coming up you probably have started planning which parks to visit and what attractions to see. Maybe you’ve even booked a special character breakfast for your little ones to eat pancakes with Mickey Mouse. But lets face it, summers in Florida are hot and the lines for rides can be long. Follow these five simple tips to help make your Orlando vacation this summer the best yet!
Slather it on. Immediately. I’m not kidding. Lots of it and often. Starting the very first day of your trip, before you even leave your your room in the morning, put on that sunscreen.
Don’t try to “get a good base” for a few days – protect that skin from the get go. Over the years I’ve seen one too many tourists walking around the parks looking like a human tomato. The summer sun is super intense in Central Florida, and a bad sunburn can make things simply miserable for the rest of your trip. Don’t use anything less than an SPF 30, but I recommend using SPF 50 or higher if you have sensitive skin. Reapply throughout the day, find lip balm win sunscreen to keep on those lips, and bring a hat to protect the top of your head from the summer rays. Bring sunscreen from home because it will cost an arm and a leg in the parks.
2. PACE YOURSELF
A trip to Orlando’s attractions is a marathon, not a sprint. There’s a little bit of Clark Griswold in all of us, determined to see the most that we can. It’s only natural to want to get the biggest bang for your buck and make sure your family has the best trip ever. The pressure of these expectations can be daunting. The truth is that you may not get to each attraction at every theme park, but they key is to make sure the time you spend there is enjoyable with your family.
In the summers the park hours run late, so you will have more time to tackle the rides on your agenda. Wake up early to wait in line outside the park before it opens so you can hit a few of the busiest attractions before the park gets busy, then leave around 1pm. The mid afternoon hours can be the hottest of the day when you will be the most miserable and accomplish little because of the long lines. Instead leave for lunch and go back to your hotel for a swim in the pool, or just rest up for a couple of hours in the air conditioning back in your room. After you had a chance to regroup and cool down, head back to the park in the late afternoon and stay to until closing. Later in the evening the parks start to clear out because the all-day park goers will finally throw in the towel. If you don’t want to catch the parades, that is another great time to try to squeeze in a popular ride too.
The resorts on Walt Disney World property offer two other options that speed up the waiting process. Fast Pass + allows you to book up to 3 rides during scheduled times where you can ride the attraction and bypass the line. You can obtain them at the park or ahead of time on Disney’s mobile app (up to 30 days in advance generally, and 60 days in advance if you are a resort guest). The Disney resorts also offer extra magic hours where only resort guests can enter a park early and stay after the park closes. The parks for extra magic hours vary by day, so check in advance on-line or with your concierge to for more details.
3. BEACH DAY
Hitting the theme parks every day for a week will leave even the most seasoned athlete weary. Plan a day trip to the beach in the middle of your vacation for a little rest and relaxation. There are tons of fantastic beaches close to Orlando. For bigger waves and some surfing, you’ll find Daytona, Cocoa or New Smyrna Beach about an hour away on the east coast, and the cute beach town of Vero Beach about an hour and a half away.The white sands and peaceful clear waters of the gulf shore’s St. Pete Beach and Clearwater Beach are a little over two hours away. Getting off your feet for the day will do wonders!
The white sands and peaceful clear waters of the gulf shore’s St. Pete Beach and Clearwater Beach are a little over two hours away. Getting off your feet for the day will do wonders!
4. EMBRACE THE RAIN
You can count on daily afternoon thunder showers in Orlando between 1 and 5 pm. The good news is that they don’t typically last a long time, but rain will come down in buckets when it does.
Before and after the daily rain shower, expect lots of sunshine. Buy Ponchos before you leave home and carry them with you into the park. The theme park rain gear may have a cute little mouse on it, but it cost much more than that $2 poncho you can pick up at Walgreens. If it is lightening stay in a safe place to let the storm pass, but otherwise run around in those ponchos and hit as many rides as you can. Make the most of the time others are waiting for the storm to pass. The storms clear the parks out, so crowds will die down substantially after the rain too. (The clouds can make for really fantastic sunsets!) To avoid delays at the airport due to thunderstorms, consider flying into Orlando later in the evening and departing the city before noon.
5. EAT WELL
Hydrate with water, as much as you can and whenever you can (not soda). Drink even when you aren’t thirsty. Summer days in Florida are very hot and humid, making it easy to get dehydrated quickly, especially little ones. To help save money, consider buying bottles of water and refilling them throughout the park for the day.
Vacations are full of invitations to eat naughty foods. Sometimes you just need to snag a funnel cake, but the better you eat, the better you will feel when you are out and about in the parks. Try snaking on fruits and veggies as much as you can and steer away from fried foods. Nothing will make you feel more sluggish during a sunny 97 degree / 100% humidity day than pounds of greasy french fries or doughnuts sitting in gooey lump in your belly. Lots of vendors throughout the theme parks have options to substitute fries for apples at meals. Hit a local grocery store to pick up some bottles of water, juices, healthy snacks and breakfast items for your room. You will feel better throughout the day and it will help you save a few dollars along the way too!