by Jennifer Stuart
For those of us from cooler climates Disneyland can be much warmer than home for most of the year, but in the summer months, or during a heatwave, it can be simply scorching. We have some strategies and tips to help you beat that heat in the parks.
Go Early and Stay Late
Crowds increase dramatically by 11am, so start to either head to lunch or head back to your hotel for a recharge by noon. A nap (even for adults) in air conditioned bliss is a great way to get out of the sun and let you all stay up late.
Go back to the park for dinner or after dinner, when it starts to cool down. You can expect crowds for the nighttime shows, but if you don’t want to watch them it can be a great time to get on rides. Also the parks at night are beautiful and not to be missed.
More than Splash Mountain
Think air conditioning. In Disneyland, Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Carribean, and Small World are longer rides in cool air conditioning. In California Adventure, Little Mermaid usually has shorter wait times and Soaring lasts longer.
Search out rides and attractions that offer shade. When it is hot out, the last thing you want to do is wait for 45 minutes in the blazing sun. I am looking at you Autopia.
These rides have shadier queues:
Pirates of the Caribbean
Indiana Jones Adventure
Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride
Alice in Wonderland
Star Tours – The Adventure Continues
Grizzly River Run
Monster’s Inc. – Mike and Sulley to the Rescue
Rides with partially shaded queues:
Finding Nemo Submarine Ride
Mad Tea Party (the tea cups)
Little Mermaid – Ariel’s Undersea Adventures
Toy Story Midway Mania
Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree
Goofy’s Sky School
Most of the rides in Bug’s Land
For most of the day many of the Fantasyland rides in Disneyland are in the shade but they are also mostly original rides and they can be very stuffy.
There are also shaded spaces that don’t exactly qualify as rides—so we will call them attractions. Redwood Creek Challenge Trail in DCA is a wonderfully shady heavily treed area in DCA. Kids will have a blast climbing, sliding and swinging all out of the direct sunlight. It is also a great place to sit in the shade for a break from all the hot pavement. Tom Sawyer’s Island in Disneyland is another such area but is sadly closed for renovations until spring 2017.
See a Show
Disney is not all about the rides there are lots of other experiences to be enjoyed in the parks. Consider watching vintage movies in the Main Street Theater or the interactive Turtle Talk with Crush. (We once enjoyed the air conditioning here for over an hour while we waited for our hotel room to be ready and the temperature topped 100F/40C). The show at the Hyperion Theater in DCA---Frozen (now open) is a Broadway quality stage production that is well worth your time in any type of weather but is also a great place to sit down and cool down on a hot day.
Cool Spots to Eat
When stopping for a bite to eat you will want to think about finding a spot that offers air-conditioning or good shade coverage. In DCA, I love the seating outside Paradise Garden Grill and Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta. The trees and shaded arbors are really nice. Also good for shade is the covered seating beside Smoke Jumpers Grill. In Disneyland, I love the Hungry Bear (sadly the view is lacking these days as the Rivers of America are closed for refurbishment) but it is still very shady. Other good shade options for outside seating are Rancho del Zocalo and Café Orleans. Most restaurants have umbrellas to offer some shade for outdoor diners, but these are significantly shadier than the others.
There are places to get a little wet even if you aren't on the water rides. In DCA walk down the path behind the entrance to Grizzly River Run. You can watch the extra river water come down the side of the rocks and be misted by cool water. Venture down to the lookout next to the last drop and expect to get wetter than the people on the ride. I mean soaked to the skin! (I have warned you).
Also in DCA, visit Princess Dot's Puddle Park in Bug's Land. It is a great little splash pad and the kids will love to run through the water and get wet. Expect it to be busy on a hot day.
Unless you fall off the Jungle Cruise the only place to get wet in Disneyland is this giant wet ball outside of Space Mountain in Tomorrowland. Honestly my kids love this. It is amazing how long they could stay and play with it, and it does cool you off a bit.
Ice Ice (Cream) Baby
As you might expect from a sunny holiday destination there are many delicious cool treats on offer at Disneyland. See our blog post 7 of the Best Cool Treats at Disneyland for other ideas, but the Dole Whip available at the Tiki Juice Bar in Adventureland has reached iconic status among fans and is hands down our family's first choice.
Everyone is aware of the need to stay hydrated but it can be easy to forget when there is so much to see and do. Bring a water bottle with you to the park (plastic- not glass). At last check a bottle of water was $2.79USD!! We buy a flat of water from Target and then just fill our water bottles at the hotel in the morning.
Plan Pool Time
Most hotels in the Disneyland area have some kind of pool. It can vary widely from a small rectangular pool to an elaborate pool with waterslides or a splash zone. My kids are water babies for sure and we make sure to schedule some pool time in the afternoon when the sun is at it's hottest and we all need a break from the parks.
Tools for Cool
There are some tools that you can bring with you to the parks that can really help you stay cool as you walk around in the heat.
Spray Bottle Cooling Fans
Bring your own or spend the money to get the Disney ones. Basically a spray water bottle with a battery powered fan attached. These do really work to temporarily cool you down. The Disney ones will run about $20USD so if you are prepared or looking to save some money then bring one from home.
Insider Tip: use ice from your drink to refill your fan with COLD water. If you use the Disney ones don’t fill them up all the way, they can get heavy.
If you are Canadian click here to find them on for Amazon.ca
There are some places in the parks that are just SO much hotter than anywhere else. In Disneyland, that would be Mickey’s Toontown. In keeping with the theming of a cartoon land there is almost no greenery. I find it hard to describe the heat here on a hot summer day. The same applies to Cars Land. There is lots of pavement and cacti but not a lot of shade. Hit these early in the morning before the heat builds or for Carsland late at night. Night in Carsland is cooler and really atmospheric with all the neon signs, but Toontown will be closed for safety to prepare for the fireworks.
All photos by Jennifer and Kim Stuart
Thoughts? Questions? What tips do you find work for you to survive the heat?
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