There’s lots to look forward to this summer when you have Disney World tickets. Or Universal Studios Orlando tickets. Or Busch Gardens Tampa tickets.
Or even if you have LEGOLAND tickets for a somewhat lesser known and even more family oriented theme park.
But the searing heat is not among the sunnier ways to view your tickets.
Walt Disney World Resort alone has set summer openings for many new attractions, among them “Frozen Ever After” and “Soarin’ Around the World.”
But Disney and all those other parks as well as the relative newcomer LEGOLAND also share the same summer weather of Central Florida.
Just for the record, it’s not really that hot here.
The highest temperature ever recorded in Miami is 98F. In Key West 95. And in Orlando 102.
By comparison, the record high for New York City is 106.
Those are not everyday temperatures. But no one or any sane person ever denies it gets hot here.
Heat is not what has made Central Florida popular for both visitors and those who live here year-round.
It’s air conditioning.
Books have been written about how air conditioning has been critical in the development and growth of the entire Southern United States.
Air conditioning made southern living possible
And Florida is as far south as you can get.
So much so that the state’s position is evident in the National Statuary Hall Collection in the United States Capitol of Washington, DC.
Different states have statues there reflecting heroic individuals such as Catholic priests fighting diseases like leprosy or the deeds of heroic doctors.
Or even political figures, unlikely as that might seem these days.
The state of Florida’s own statute honors John Gorrie.
Never heard of him?
He was a doctor, too.
But also an inventor.
In fact, he was the holder of Patent No. 8080 for a machine to make ice.
He’s generally considered the father not only of refrigeration, however.
But also air conditioning.
So no one likes being hot (or too cold, for that matter).
There’s a lot of advice out there for coping with the heat.
But this time, we’ll ask the Disney cast and other theme park employees what they do to beat the heat.
Theme park experts at hacking the heat
After all, they probably know as much as any experts.
They live with it daily.
“Incredibly humid,” is one way to put semi-tropical summers in Central Florida.
Writes one blogger:
“We went at the end of August once and I will never do it again. It wasn’t the heat, it was the humidity. You will walk outside at 8-9 am and be covered in sweat within 10 minutes. Not just a little sweat, your undergarments will be soaked, your shirt will be soaked, your shorts will be soaked.”
So if you hate the heat, should you go at all…or just visit during the winter when the cool Central Florida climate is about as comfortable as any place on earth?
Here’s the better spirit from a more optimistic blogger:
“We say nothing is worth giving up a trip to Disney. We were there in July. It wasn't that bad. I think that the quest for fulfilling our itinerary plans helped us keep our mind off of the heat. Just plan to hydrate, and duck into a restaurant or shop for an occasional break.”
We say go. But consider the hacks we will provide you.
To give them credit, Disney is aware of these burning issues. They warn anyone auditioning for jobs that can be exposed to “hot and humid weather.”
The heat is bad enough for normal cast members who pilot the rides or sell you ice cream cones. But it’s far worse for those in costume.
Sure, the trappings have been slimmed down by tech and necessity. But they remain hot.
(To be honest, though, lots of characters don’t complain. They say this is all offset by rewards of the job such as smiling faces of both adults and children, etc.).
You are certainly aware of this but there remains a common belief that fur costumes come with small fans.
An urban legend but believable
This story is probably an urban legend, but it’s worth re-telling.
It involved a Seven Dwarfs character.
Despite modern technology and lighter materials these days, the costumes are still hot, as we said
The dwarf character passed out.
Disney has a thing about head costumes, as we all know.
So removing the head was a no-no.
The dwarf was put onto a stretcher, costume and head and all, and taken away.
No further word on his/her condition.
Or even in how emergency physicians felt about treating a dwarf.
But we assume the person was ok after some rest and a little water or Gatorade.
One character notes:
“There's not an inch of your body that isn't wet when you finish a shift. There are ice bandannas you can tie around your neck, vests of ice for parades -- but those all melt immediately, and then you're lugging hot heavy water around. You pretty much just have to suck it up and suffer through.”
But even the most pessimistic blogger can overcome the heat.
So hacks they do to beat the heat apply to you as well.
Characters have been known (particularly during parades) to have towels wrapped around them to absorb the heat. After a parade, backstage, the piled up towels resemble a steaming white mountain.
Probably no real help to you. Though you could bring a towel.
There are various rules about how long characters can spend in a costume. But a general rule that they don’t spend more than 60 minutes outside at one time.
Many performers are generally restricted to limits of 45 minutes.
You as a guest can set your own limits.
So it’s a subject worth your thinking about.
Can you reasonably figure out not only your own outdoor rules for comfort, but also those with you?
No hard and fast rules, but something for you to consider individually.
Since heat is the biggest issue you face, let’s consider a few myths that the experience of theme park people can straighten out.
True or false
Grabbing a sports drink will help you weather the heat.
True. If you are an athlete.
Sports drinks are made for them.
But not really for the typical non-athlete. Sports drinks have a lot of sugar. That might even make you thirstier.
Drinks to certainly avoid or limit: coffee and alcohol.
They add to your body’s need for liquids.
True or false
Eating spicy foods will help you cool down?
True. Some residents of the hottest areas in the world eat the most peppery food. Think of Mexico. Indian curry.
Studies show spicy foods induce sweating. Which makes you feel cooler.
Far better, however is drinking fluids.
True or false
Dry heat is better than humid heat.
True, mainly. That may count somewhere like Colorado. But no one would ever describe Florida heat as dry.
It’s humid here.
So the type of heat here is irrelevant.
At least in Central Florida.
More true and false is whether fans are the best way to avoid any heat stroke.
False. They might improve your comfort level slightly. But fans by themselves don’t have enough cool air to make a serious difference. They are particularly good for slightly cooling off older and younger kids.
Because their bodies don’t regulate temperatures as well as adults (particularly those who are healthy and fit).
More true and false is the question of when you really feel hot, find a body of water (like a nearby fountain) and jump right in.
False, of course. Not practical and not really a likely remedy for you (though it could be tempting).
If you really feel serious heat exhaustion, rest and get medical help.
That’s the serious answer to any of these myths.
As for characters and others at any theme park anywhere, a major issue is the single word:
It happens in a heartbeat
But what is surprising is how fast it can happen.
Without you being aware of it.
It starts with a feeling of general ill-being. Like the start of a cold or the flu.
Giveaway signs include heavy sweating or headaches, etc.
Bad, yes. No doubt.
But also extreme. Not common.
So this is just a warning to be aware of it.
And to listen to your own body when it shows signs of needing liquids.
No watered down advice
Just as you might take an aspirin for a simple headache, bottles of water kept handily around are the simple solution.
Hopefully, you have remembered to bring your own.
Or you can buy them. Though the inflated prices might make you feel even more dry-mouthed.
Another well-known hack
Guests can also get a free cup of ice water inside most counter service restaurants in any theme park.
Theme park employees also keep track of where fountains are for quick drinks or refilling water.
Good advice for you, too. Just in case.
Remember to drink even when you are not thirsty.
In fact, if you wait until you're thirsty, you've waited too long. Increase your fluid intake, regardless of your activity level.
How much to drink?
It’s not beer but the recommended amount is usually two to four glasses an hour.
Remember also that you have an advantage over employees.
As a guest, you are free to wander around the many indoor attractions.
And the shops, of course.
Even if you are not inclined to buy, these can be a welcome relief from the heat. Other common ways to cope…16 of them
Wear light color clothing. White is the very best. White and light colors reflect sunlight better than dark colors.
Sunscreen (No. Guests aren’t the only ones who buy it before they visit theme parks). And you don’t have to be particularly sensitive to sunburn. It’s as easy to get here as it is to buy Disney World admission tickets, for example.
Think those Goofy hats look silly? Think again. When your head's been baking in the sun and you start to feel the effects of it, you'll see that wearing a hat is not a bad idea.
Sunglasses, too. Same reasons.
Employees can’t do this but if you they could, they would go back to their hotels during the hottest times of the day. Rest. Take a nap.
A good strategy for guests is to time your indoor shows to attend during the hot afternoon hours.
Whenever possible, do the obvious. Walk through air conditioned buildings.
Stop at the drinking fountains whenever you spot one for a short few gulps.
As a guest at a hotel, you also have pools. The advice here is simple: use them. Particularly during the hottest parts of the day (though they are not bad at night, either).
Evening extra hours are a summer blessing. Even when you have to pay extra for them.
A water-misting type fan? Yes, good idea. Get it beforehand for maybe less than $10 or spend $20 and up at a theme park.
Don't be afraid to get wet. Not only at the pools and water parks, but also those great wet attractions such as the small theme park sprinklers and water misters. Or the splashing sprinklers at EPCOT and downtown Disney.
One suggestion: take along a couple of wash cloths. Dampen them with cold water. Put them in a Ziploc bag. Fill with ice. Store them in your backpack or elsewhere.
Eat light. Avoid hot, heavy meals and choose foods high in water content: fruits, salads and soups. Salty snacks are also good to replace fluids.
Water bladders of some type are a cliché but get one anyway. They come in all shapes and sizes, depending on your own thirst and how much you can tolerate carrying around.
Bananas are a great way to replace the potassium you lose through sweating.
Heat could be worse
And keep in mind that while it’s hot, things can get worse.
Unlikely, but it does happen…
No, not often. But parks do occasionally -- very occasionally -- close for hurricanes or slow down.
Rain is an entirely different story.
Late summers and early fall bring frequent rains to Central Florida, as you know if you’ve been here. But thundershowers while intense at times are almost always brief.
In fact, it’s often a good time to get in line for the most popular rides.
Disney and other parks don’t close down during the rain.
So think of it this way:
Lines are shorter when it rains.
So it’s not all or just your attitude but it can help you keep cool. ###