Get Ready for an Orlando Summer

Orlando , Expert View Column
By’s Florida Experts, Susan and Simon Veness
It’s going to be super-hot and humid, people, so be prepared!

Yes, it’s Florida. Yes, it’s going to be hot. And humid. But are you REALLY prepared for what’s in store with your Orlando summer holiday?

It’s easy to be glib about it. We make jokes about it all the time. Things like, “It’s so hot, we don’t need to use our oven.” And the classic, “You won’t find a Jacuzzi in Florida, because if a Floridian wanted to suffocate themselves in hot steam they’d just walk outside.” Sure, it’s all fun and games until that first wave of humidity hits you. For most visitors, it’s the moment they step outside Orlando International Airport and that outrageously hot air goes straight up your trouser legs. But we also had our own ‘Welcome to Florida moment’ recently when we drove back into the Sunshine State after an extended trip away.

We had mainly been in the dry-weather states – places like Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico – and came back into the state via the Panhandle in the north-west, stopping off at state capital Tallahassee. Where it was 91F/33C with 98 per cent humidity. And, suddenly, it felt like we were standing in front of an open oven door. With the sprinkler system on. We went from smooth to frizzed in about 10 seconds flat.

If you’ve ever been to Vietnam, or Panama, or Colombia, you’ll know what that feels like. It’s an atmospheric combination that makes everything feel WAY hotter (and damper) than the mere temperature. Here, they call it the Heat Index, or ‘the Real Feel,’ where the mercury might SAY it’s 91, but it actually FEELS more like 100. Or 105.

And most of our visitors will be out in it for eight to nine hours a day, tramping around the theme parks and other attractions, and feeling increasingly like a wet rag that hasn’t been wrung out. Yes, it cools down a bit after sunset, but the humidity doesn’t die off. It’s an ever-present companion wherever you go that doesn’t have air-conditioning. 

As a quick aside, you will need to get used to the drone of your A/C unit, whether you’re in a hotel or a villa. It’s the essential barrier between you and The Humidity, and it is definitely your friend for the duration. Don’t even THINK about switching the A/C off when you go out for the day, unless you want to come back to an atmosphere that is akin to a sauna.

Now, we don’t say all this to frighten you. We don’t want you to think that Orlando is somehow uninhabitable. The evenings can still be perfectly enjoyable (and all the theme parks have longer evening hours in summer to provide more of an opportunity to enjoy them without the daytime heat), and forewarned is fore-armed in this instance. You don’t need to be worried about it, but you DO need to be prepared for it.


Florida Weather Meme


To that end, here are Simon & Susan’s Four Essential Tips for Surviving, sorry, Enjoying the Orlando summer.


1) Pack light, in every sense. 

You really don’t need to bring a lot of clothing for this holiday. Shorts and T-shirts are very much the order of the day, and there’s hardly anywhere that requires any kind of formal attire. Everyone here knows the basics of the weather, and informal is the most definitely the style du jour. If you stick to loose-fitting, 100 per cent cotton clothing, that will also be to your advantage in this climate as it breathes better than any man-made apparel and will help to keep you cooler.

Make sure you have good, supportive footwear (canvas shoes are a great investment, for example), but avoid the temptation to wear flip-flops during the day as feet are more susceptible to sunburn (and harder to reach to apply sunscreen to!), and be sure to wear a hat with a brim for most of the time. High-factor sunscreens, ideally of SPF 50 or higher, are also essential and must be applied regularly throughout the day.


2) Drink water. Lots of water.

We cannot stress this enough. We have lost count of the number of people we have seen in the theme parks being attended to for sunstroke by the in-house first aid team. In most cases it is just a question of dehydration, but it is SO easy to forget your water intake during the day when you are dashing from attraction to attraction. The experts say you should drink AT LEAST 2-3 litres of water a day at this time of year (depending on your body weight; more weight = more water), and it’s vital to keep that in mind.

All the parks provide water fountains, and it’s a good idea to bring water bottles with you and keep filling them up as you go. When it gets especially hot – and the temperature can hit 100F/38C at times – the parks will usually have free cups of iced water in the counter-service restaurants, so don’t be afraid to ask for a cup. All full-service restaurants provide ice water usually the moment you sit down.


3) Get in the A/C at regular intervals.

Remember your hotel room or villa? That cool oasis is on offer in every shop, restaurant and indoor attraction wherever you go in Orlando. Floridians LOVE their A/C and make sure it is on offer universally, to the point of having it turned up to Arctic levels in places (this is the only time you are likely to need a sweater or jacket in Florida at this time of year!). In mid-afternoon, with the temperature hitting the max, seek out the indoor attractions and, especially, the shows where you can sit down and soak up the cool for a while. Places like the Carousel of Progress at the Magic Kingdom, the Bourne Stuntacular at Universal Studios and Festival of the Lion King at Animal Kingdom are all ideal for this purpose.


4) Don’t freak out at the forecast.

When you look at the 10-day weather forecast for Orlando and it says “50 per cent chance of thunderstorms” every day, don’t start thinking you’re going to be rained out. The heat and humidity provide ideal conditions for regular thunderstorms from May to October, but these are rarely prolonged and can be extremely localised. Hot air rises and moves inland from both coasts, and tends to stage a bit of a battle over Central Florida each afternoon, but, while these can be really intense, with a LOT of thunder and lightning, they are often gone in an hour, with the sun returning almost immediately (hence it leads to a lot of memes about the weather!).

Do take a lightweight coat, rain poncho or umbrella with you for the theme parks; you may well need them at some stage, but only for a short while. And, with lightning around, make SURE you get indoors or under cover. Florida is often dubbed the Lightning Capital of the World for a good reason, and it’s not something you take chances with. Like the rain, it will gone relatively quickly, though.


Florida summer weather meme about the weather changing from rain to sun


OK, that’s our essential advice for the summer. Just remember that we have at least FIVE months of it (May-October), and November can be pretty warm, too! It’s nothing to be overly worried out. Just, as Scar would say in The Lion King: Be Prepared.

Have you experienced a typical Orlando summer? What are YOUR essential tips for this time of year? Tell us about them on the friendly Attraction Tickets Community Facebook page, on Twitter or Instagram.


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Orlando , Expert View Column