I just returned from Walt Disney World, where I ran in the half-marathon. Let me say right up front that I was really worried that I wouldn't make it. I had not done as much training as I would have liked in the month leading up to the race because of all the blasted cold weather and tons of snow in Virginia.
That being said, I did finish and it was one of my proudest Disney moments. If you're thinking about the half-marathon (or the full), I strongly encourage you to go for it! It is an amazing experience! I will have a more detailed post about my half-marathon later this week.
Now for this week's tip, and I'm afraid that it's a bit late, now that the weather is starting to warm up.
While I was at WDW with my family and many good friends, we all were flat out FREEZING the entire time, especially while waiting at the start of the half-marathon. At one point, it started snowing. Yes, I said SNOW. While I was trying to stay warm at the start, my wife and kids were standing along the side of the road in the sleet and snow in front of the Contemporary.
What surprised me the most was how many people took the warmer Florida weather for granted. Sure, the temperatures often get into the upper 70's and even 80's during this time of year, but just as often, the mercury can dip into the 40's or even 30's. Of course, last week it was in the mid-20's, which created all kinds of problems, especially for orange growers.
So what do you do when it's this cold outside? First (and here's where that planning word comes back), you must check the forecast before you head to Orlando. Don't assume that the Sunshine State also is a warm state. Here are a few resources to check the weather forecast:
If you happen to get caught in the parks when temperatures get chilly and you're not prepared for it, you need to re-think your touring strategy, especially if it's a bit windy as well. For sure you want to think twice about attractions that expose you to the cold air. The following attractions may not be a good idea:
- Magic Kingdom: Splash Mountain, Astro Orbiter, Big Thunder Mountain, Dumbo, Aladdin's Magic Carpets, Barnstormer, Tomorrowland Speedway, The Tomorrowland Transit Authority and maybe the Jungle Cruise and the WDW Railroad
- Epcot: Test Track (sure most of it's inside, but it can get extremely cold during that 62+ mph lap outside in an open-air car)
- Hollywood Studios: Backlot Tour, Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular, Beauty and the Beast on Stage, Jedi Training Academy, Honey I Shrunk the Kids set
- Animal Kingdom: Kali River Rapids (you're insane if you ride this in cold weather), Expedition Everest, Primeval Whirl, Triceratops Spin, Boneyard and most of the trails
As you can see, your best park to visit when it's cold is Epcot. That's because most attractions are inside and, therefore, are heated. The one caveat to Epcot is World Showcase. Most people do a lot of walking around the pavilions, which means staying out in the cold and wind. The park to avoid the most when it's cold is Animal Kingdom. Just about everything is outdoors, so there are not many options to get out of the cold.
As a general rule, try to follow some of the same tips as rainy days in a park -- go from covered location to covered location and try not to linger outside. This is especially true when it's cold. It's a lot harder to warm up from being cold than to dry off when it's hot but rainy.
Finally, it's important to dress in layers. Don't just put on a huge bulky sweater and head out for the day. Instead, put on a shirt, a sweater and a coat. If you're in an attraction, store or restaurant where it's warm, you can take off the coat and still be properly dressed.
Oh, and don't forget that Walt Disney World has plenty of places to get a hot cup of coffee or hot chocolate!