You may be surprised to learn that there are actually certain times of the year when Florida can get pretty cold. Check out USClimateData.com for the monthly temperature averages in Orlando to get an idea of what the winter weather at the parks may be like. Keep in mind as well, that charts like the one in the link above are just listings of the average high and low temperatures for each month, meaning that about half the days of the month are warmer or cooler than the degrees listed. In January for instance, the early morning or late evening hours in Orlando may be as low as the 40s.
Of course, how exactly the temperature will phase you has a lot to do with the temperatures that you’re used to. Coming from Massachusetts, we were a bit chilly during our last January trip, but it was jeans and sweatshirt weather for us. We couldn’t imagine wearing hats, gloves, and scarves, but plenty of other guests were so it’s all in perspective.
Having multiple layers on during the cooler months at the parks is one of the easiest way to stay comfortable while visiting the parks. Often times winter in Orlando means that the days will be warm and the nights will be cool, so this tip is especially helpful if you’re not planning on going back to your resort at all during the day. We usually plan on wearing jeans and t-shirts/sweatshirts, however occasionally I’ll wear dresses to the park and throw tights, leggings, and/or a jacket into our backpack in case the weather cools off later.
Eat around the weather
Staying hydrated while visiting the Disney parks is always important, and during the winter months having warm food and beverages throughout the day can be extra helpful. If you’re looking for ice cream or other cold snacks, we suggest doing so while the sun is out. Nighttime can then be saved for hot chocolate, soups, tea, and other warm snacks. Keep an eye out for certain dining locations with rotating menus as well, as many restaurants will serve warmer/comfort food dishes in the winter that are not always offered other times of year.
Pack for the weather
Packing for a trip based on the expected weather might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s definitely something to be aware of when traveling to the sunshine state in the winter. Since it will at the very least be on the more comfortable side of sunny and warm during the day, wearing layers as we mentioned before is probably the easiest way to dress for the weather. You’ll just want to make sure that you have the different layers already packed in your suitcase, otherwise you may find yourself buying sweatshirts, jackets, and maybe even hats and gloves in the parks.
Cold weather closures/differences in attractions
The only attractions that really close for cold weather will be the water parks. (Parks-plural assuming you’re visiting Walt Disney World either before or after one of them closes for the season. During the winter months the two water parks take the time to go down for annual refurbishments. Assuming the water parks are open, and you don’t mind visiting them in the winter, it can actually be a good time to do so since they will typically be very quiet then.
Other attractions around Walt Disney World do not necessarily close for cold weather the same way they may close for rain, high winds, or lightning, but it is worth noting that your experience on certain attractions may be much different in the winter. The most obvious differences would be in water attractions– Even a ride on Splash Mountain during a summer night will not be terribly uncomfortable as the weather is warm enough to offset your soaked clothes. In the winter however, this will simply add to how cold you feel and may not be the best idea if you don’t feel up for that. The same goes for Kali River Rapids, of course, and if you end up in the front row even Pirates of the Caribbean can cause the same problem in the winter.
Another difference we’ve noticed in the winter is that outdoor roller coasters, especially at night, can also make you feel even colder. We made the mistake of requesting the front row of Expedition Everest at night in January once, and we probably won’t be trying that again.Even as New Englanders who are more than used to winter weather, the wind hitting our faces during the outdoor portions of the ride with nothing to block it was not one of our best moments.
Consider outdoor wait times
Fantasmic! is about 28 minutes long, which even on a frigid Florida night probably does not seem like too much time to spend outside. Consider how early you’ll be arriving to the show, and factor in the hour in advance you may be waiting for the show to start when determining what to wear to an outdoor event. The same scenario could go for Wishes, Illuminations, the Tree of Life awakenings, and in some cases simply just waiting in attractions that have outdoor queues.
Comfort comes first!
If you find yourself needing to buy some extra gear to keep warm, don’t hesitate to do so! Buying a winter coat in a theme park certainly won’t make your bank account happy, but if the weather is becoming unbearable without it your comfort will be worth the cost! Another option to prevent this from happening is to take advantage of the locker rentals in the parks. Many guests do not bring adequate jackets and layers to the parks with them because they don’t want to carry them around. While locker rentals are not free, it will most likely work out to being less expensive than buying a set of jackets for the whole family, and it will keep you from carrying around a bag full of sweatshirts.