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Tips for visiting Walt Disney World and SeaWorld when it's cold outside

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Florida might be a subtropical paradise, but it does get cold here at times, as this week's front proves. And, though “Frozen” might be a big winter hit in the theaters right now, you don't have to spend your days in the Orlando theme parks experiencing the same.

How will the cold affect your visit to Orlando theme parks such as Walt Disney World and Seaworld? When the mercury dips below 50, some things change even if others remain the same. Here are a few things of which to be to be aware:

** Water parks will close. Disney's Typhoon Lagoon already is not open to guests because of scheduled maintenance, and Disney's Blizzard Beach also will be closed today. Same goes for SeaWorld's Aquatica. Guests who had planned to visit the Disney water park still can enjoy the adjacent Winter Summerland miniature golf course, though.

** Some animals will stay indoors, but others will not be deterred by the cold. At Disney's Animal Kingdom, a three-hour process brings all animals indoors each night to climate-controlled areas. In the morning, they are given a choice whether to venture out or stay warm and cozy. When Florida has a cold snap, such as this one, extra precautions also are taken in the outdoor habitat, such as adding heating elements, for example. So, riding Kilimanjaro Safaris will not be a bust, but you're unlikely to see the Kimodo dragon from the walkway along its outdoor habitat because it is sensitive to the cold. Same goes for some other animals, too.

At SeaWorld Orlando, many of the marine animals already thrive in cooler waters, such as the orca whales, sea lions and dolphins, so these temperatures don't affect their performances. The shows will go on! And although the penguins in the new Antarctica attraction reside in a climate-controlled area, guests just might feel like they've stepped onto the South Pole, too, no matter how chilly it might be outside.

** Steer clear of water rides, such as Splash Mountain or Journey to Atlantis, or the Splash Zone at the Shamu show. These places may be open but do you really want to spend the rest of your day shivering from wet, soggy clothes?

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** Seize the opportunity to drink plenty of hot chocolate or warm coffee in the theme parks. SeaWorld has the best deal for hot chocolate, with its refillable souvenir mug. It works the same way as its drink cups -- after a one-time purchase of the cup, all refills are 99 cents. At Disney World, coffee lovers can get their Starbucks fix at new locations on Main Street, U.S.A., in the Magic Kingdom and near the Fountain of Nations in Epcot. Additional stores are planned!

** When vacationers arrive at the theme parks, it's easy to get caught up in the excitement and the anticipation of their favorite attractions. But when it's cold, adjust your schedule accordingly. Plan to visit indoor attractions in the morning or evening, when temperatures are coolest. As the day warms up, spend more time outdoors for a more pleasurable experience.

** If you're staying in the Disney resorts, don't forget that some, like the Fort Wilderness Resort or the BoardWalk Inn, offer enticing fireplace settings in their main lobbies. Others, such as the Polynesian Resort or the Beach Club, also offer nightly beachside fire pits " complete with s'mores " that also can be fun family escapes from the rare Florida cool-downs. The cozy evening gatherings around the fire can be the perfect way to wind down after a long day in the parks, too. Who knows, if you're outside at a fire pit, you might even catch a glimpse of a fireworks show, as well.



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The previous post in this blog was AMC's dine-in theatre at Downtown Disney gives families a fun option for seeing movies.

The next post in this blog is New details about Magic Kingdom's upcoming Festival of Fantasy Parade.

Comments (11)

Patty Newton:

It may be a simple reminder but don't forget to bring winter costs, hats and gloves to use while holding onto the metal on the rides. We went to WDW a few years ago for Christmas and the temps were cold. Most of the week that we were there, the high during the day was in the mid 50's and at night (once the sun went down) the temps went down to the upper 20's. We were told that this was definitely unusual however it did happen. I was surprised to see how many people were not prepared for this cold weather. A lot of people that we talked to thought that since they were going to Florida, all they would need is a couple of sweatshirts. That wasn't the case. By the end of the evening (and yes we still went on all the rides as we planned) my son was wearing a long sleeve tee shirt, 2-3 sweatshirts, a winter coat, hat and gloves. There was more hot cocoa drank that week than a couple winters put together. The plus to being prepared was that everyone left the parks at night an there were no lines for the rides. I would still do it again.

Ashley:

We always go in the winter and there have been some nights while we're waiting for fireworks or Fantasmic to start that we freeze our tails off (and we're from the midwest). My biggest tip is to take sweatshirts with you to the park. Even if it's 75 & sunny during the day, it can get mighty chilly once the sun goes down (especially if there's a breeze). We use an electric scooter & just leave it in the basket, but if you've got small kids and will have a stroller just toss them in the bottom. Otherwise, just rent a locker for the day (if you're staying in the same park). They aren't that expensive and how much fun are you going to have if you're freezing for a couple of hours?

alicemouse:

Kristin, great blog as always, but your title made me giggle uncontrollably. It was -5 degrees here in PA this morning. I always keep a shortcut to Lake Buena Vista weather on my weather.com page and my husband and I were just talking last night about how super jealous we are of Florida right now with it's balmy 60 degree forecast for today!!

KRISTIN: Thanks for the kind words. It's all relative, that's for sure! I grew up in Indiana so I know what you mean. :)

Tom Steigerwalt:

Our #1 tip for cold weather visits to the parks is to wear layers and rent a locker immediately after arriving at the park. Then use the locker throughout the day to shed layers as the day warms up and to retrieve them as the evening again gets cold.

Maria:

Hubby and I used to visit WDW during Jan because we had college breaks. We had days where it was 80 degrees and days where it was 35 degrees. We never let it stop us. This year was the first year we visited in October and actually saw green on the trees! My number one tip? Always pack a winter coat and gloves, you never know when you might need to bundle.

Just a reminder to stay hydrated even on cooler days in the parks. It's easy to forget to drink water on those long days when you're not sweating, but I got super dehydrated one 65 degree day at the park and spent the evening recovering in our hotel room.

I also bring a pair of shorts to change into if the forecast is 65+ and sunny b/c it can feel hot in the afternoon.

NT3:

Pretty sure that the coldest I ever remember being in my life was waiting for Fantasmic one 40-ish degree night. SO COLD with the wind whipping off the water in the amphitheater (I'm sure it wasn't too fun around World Showcase lagoon that night either.)

One tip for such an event: BRING A BLANKET or even just a few towels from the hotel room to sit on while waiting. Those metal bleachers get frigid on cold nights.

Something I will never forget from a January WDW trip was waking up to 35 degree day and seeing the big metal buckets at Animal Kingdom, usually filled with ice, water bottles, and misting fans, instead filled with Mickey blankets for sale.

Kristy:

Thank you so much for this information. We check in on Feb 2, and I have been tracking the 10-day forecast for weeks. LOL We always go in the hot months like August and September so we are really looking forward to this new experience since my son and I hate the heat. We don't care for the cold either though (yeah, we are pretty picky!) so we are hoping for low 70s. Our fingers are crossed :)

george cabanas:

Embrace the cold. Think outside the box and you'l be surprised how fun and memorable your trip to WDW in the cold can be. On the coldest nights ice cream from Ghirardelli. Since the ice cream does not melt very much you can take your time, enjoy the ice cream without it dripping all over the place and people watch. Two more words "Hot Tub". We love to get a beverage of your choice and head down to the Hot tub. People will look at you like you're crazy but it is so much fun and feels great. Much better than during the summer months. Have Fun.

Craig:

Several years ago, we were planning to visit Typhoon Lagoon, but a cold spell closed the park for two or three days. On the first warmer day the park reopened, so of course we went. And, of course, so did everybody else. I've never seen the water park so busy. So now, after such a cold spell, we always wait an additional day before visiting either Typhoon Lagoon or Blizzard Beach.

Casey:

We never go during the Summer. My DH refuses to go when it is that hot out so our three trips to DW have been twice in December and once at the end of October/first of November. Generally the weather is pleasant but on each of our trips we have had some very cool mornings or evenings. We always plan for cold weather. We make sure to bring stocking caps, sweatshirts, hoodies, etc... I have my DW backpacks and so it is very easy to take these items off and roll them up tightly and put them in the bags and then if we need them again we have them right there with us. It is also a good idea to track the weather in advance and be prepared.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on January 3, 2014 6:43 AM.

The previous post in this blog was AMC's dine-in theatre at Downtown Disney gives families a fun option for seeing movies.

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