How to cool off in a theme park
Summertime may be winding down but the sweltering heat and "feels like" temperatures aren't going anywhere anytime soon. Being hot and sweaty while waiting in crowded theme park lines in the blazing sun can lead to unhappy campers, both young and old. As a member of the Disney Moms Panel, I probably spend more time than most hanging around theme parks, even in the hottest weather. So I thought I'd share some of my favorite tips to stay cool (and calm) in the theme parks.
Water: This may be the obvious first choice, but it's easy to put off staying hydrated. If you don't want to pay theme park prices for bottled water, bring your own frozen bottles to stay cool throughout the day. There are plenty of cold and frozen drink options for purchase too as well as free samples of sodas from around the world at Club Cool in Epcot. Just be sure to keep drinking water too. Now some parks won't let you bring in your own. If that's the case, make sure you have money to buy water and non-carbonated drinks.
In addition to drinking water, seek out fun water misters and splash fountains to help you stay cool. You can find the misters in various locations around the theme parks and there's even a splash park at Downtown Disney. Here's z great list of where to locate these features in Disney's parks. Of course water parks are a great way to spend a day and there is no shortage of those in central Florida. And you might be able to find you can get sprayed just be standing near a ride, like the splash you get near Sheikra at Busch Gardens.
Clothing: Now that you're soaked, you may want to dry off a bit. I always like to have a big beach towel with me in the stroller in case anyone wants to splash around. It also comes in handy when the sun is shining right into the stroller and the canopy isn't helping - great for making nap times work out too. (In fact, beach towels have lots of uses.)
It's up to you and your family if you feel the need to bring a change of clothes. I find that in the heat my kids don't mind walking around in a wet shirt because it dries pretty quickly. If you plan on getting soaked and are wearing shoes and socks, it's a good idea to try and keep your feet dry. At least have an extra pair of socks to change into. Or consider changing into water shoes while you splash.
Another essential is a hat. It's amazing the difference in walking around with sun on your face or having your own shade under the protection of a wide-brimmed hat. As someone with fair-skin, it's pretty much a necessity to prevent not-so-fun scalp sunburns too!
Find a Cool Breeze: Perhaps the best part about theme parks in the summer is two words: air conditioning. It's always a good idea to find a spot at the park like the Hall of Presidents or Philharmagic to get off your feet and get a blast of cool air. Don't be afraid to chill out in a restaurant or anywhere inside with a bench and regroup. Eating in table service restaurants is another great way to bring your temperatures down an a relaxed environment where you don't have to worry about standing in line for your meal or a glass of ice water. Staying in hotels on property also offers you the luxury of being close enough to chill out in your room or jump in the pool. But even if you're not staying overnight, you can enjoy the lobby, shopping and dining options -- and air conditioning! Don't forget indoor options like Disney Quest for hours of entertainment with no need for sunscreen.
Once you venture back outside, being prepared with a portable battery-powered fan, either with or without spraying water. These can be picked up inexpensively at your local Target or WalMart, but you will pay a premium if you buy them in the parks. Make sure you let your kids know to only spray family members since passers-by and others waiting on line may not want to get wet. There are also fans that clip on to strollers to keep the littlest visitors cool too.
Speaking of little ones, every Disney park has a Baby Care Center where you can feed, change and prevent meltdowns in air-conditioned comfort. TV's provide entertainment while you rest and baby essentials are available for sale.
With these tips, you can proudly become one of those people that get to say, "Hot enough for ya?" because you'll be nice and cool. At least for a few minutes.
~ Suzannah DiMarzio, zannaland.com
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