Theme Parks in the Summer Heat: How to do it Safely
We are headed to Orlando in the hottest part of summer, and my son doesn’t handle heat and humidity very well. Poor planning on our part? Maybe. But we have a few tricks up our sleeves, and when those run out, we can always head back to the resort and hang out in the pool or in the air conditioning. Heat exhaustion and other heat illnesses can become very serious very quickly (heat stroke is life threatening!), so check the Mayo clinic website to watch for the signs of heat exhaustion, and pack wisely for your trip.
So what’s in our bag of tricks??
A spray fan or two. These are cheap if you buy them at Walgreens or CVS or any other convenience store before you enter the parks… like less than $10 for sure. However, there are usually branded ones for sale once inside the parks for $20 or more per fan and they usually throw in a free bottle of water. As far as branded souvenirs go, it’s not a bad purchase. Much more useful than the magnets and mugs and other things that become useless luggage weights.
Spray fans are great because they not only have a battery-operated fan to cool you, but they also spray mist into the fan to cool the air even further. The downside is that they are battery-operated, and the batteries wear out fast. Be sure to bring extras with you because buying them inside the park is possible, but expensive.
I did find a new misting water bottle that I’m bringing with me to try. This is a water bottle with a mister on it. No batteries, and no fan, but it sprays a fine mist to help keep you cool and it has a convenient spout for drinking water out of the bottle. For kids, it’s a lot more fun to drink from the spray fan, but since the spray fans aren’t made for that, they could be leaching chemicals into the water – especially in the heat. This misting water bottle is made for drinking out of and is BPA free, etc. We will bring both to compare. For extra cooling power, add ice to the water bottle. You can’t freeze the water in the bottle, but you can certainly load it with ice, and that is exactly what we will be doing.
A daypack with built-in water bottle system. Backpacks are always better than purses at theme parks. I do have a cross-body bag that I like from SportSac (super light-weight), but I’m often jealous of my husband’s daypack. It’s much more secure while on rides and just more comfortable while walking through the parks. This one in particular has a built-in water bottle system, like the kind that runners use, but slightly bigger. It holds 2 liters of water and has a bite tube so you can just grab the spout and take a sip. No fumbling with the water bottle cap, or fishing it out of the backpack, etc. I’m hoping that if I keep ice in the reservoir that it will keep the backpack carrier cool as well. We shall see. It’s also bigger than just the water holder, so I can carry what I would normally carry in a daypack: camera, wallet, snacks, frozen juice boxes, etc. This one also has two mesh pockets on the outside that I will use to hold a misting water bottle and a spray fan. I’ll be my own walking water park! 🙂
Little Red Flyer clip-on umbrella – bringing it back. This is the one that fits on a stroller or wagon. It has round, safe spokes so I don’t hurt people and a clip so I can just clip it to the backpack. I will likely get vetoed on this one to be honest. I’m not above looking like a dork for the sake of comfort, but that’s not likely true for a 4th grader. Image is everything for the next few years. Although I could threaten to wear one of those umbrella hats. 😉 For sure I will bring a folding umbrella, although likely just the standard purse-sized one. Bonus feature: the umbrella can add a little personal space which can help reduce the surrounding body heat while in a crowd.
We also have super light-weight heat-wicking hats to help shield us from the sun. Ours are the Nike dri-fit tennis hats, and I highly recommend them. Be sure to get the light colored ones to reflect heat rather than the dark ones that absorb heat. You can get them wet to keep your head even cooler – which is the most important part of your body to keep cool.
Snap-cool towels – we decided against the Frog Toggs because of weight. As you can see, the list is long and we don’t want to be loaded down, especially since water can get heavy. The ones we chose are lightweight towels with mesh so Husband or Son can wrap one on his head like a bandana, we can drape them on our necks, or even on our back to cool from the backpacks (if the ice doesn’t work), or any number of ways to use them. They weigh next to nothing, and work really well to bring body temperatures down.
Little folding camping stool. Kids can get so tired and hot waiting in crowded lines and sometimes they just need to sit. The concrete can be too hot and carries the risk of fingers getting stepped on. My son is too old and too heavy to be held, not to mention we don’t need to add to his heat with our body heat, so the little folding camping stool is going to be very handy, I can tell. I chose the smallest and lightest one that I could find, and it fits right inside the outside pocket of the daypack. Not only does it keep his body off the ground for better air circulation, but it allows him to rest whenever he needs to. You can see the size of this one relative to water bottles, etc. in the top photo of this post.
Of course, if even this doesn’t help, we will rent a stroller once inside the park. They are mostly all shaded (if not we’ll have the umbrella, remember?), and are big enough for up to middle-school aged kids. The strollers are also made of water-resistant material, so they can sit in the shade, spray fan themselves while using the snap-cool towels and drink water or Gatorade to re-hydrate, and that should help you keep them cool enough to get them to air conditioning before danger sets in. (Please, please do view the signs of heat-exhaustion and recommended treatments from the Mayo Clinic website. Kids can dehydrate faster than teens and adults and easily be pushed beyond their limits.)
Hot weather clothes. You have to dress for the heat. I am always amazed at those who can wear jeans when it’s 90 degrees and humid. Blows my mind. Since we will be going in and out of water parks, we will be wearing swimsuits. Husband and Son can just wear swim trunks and sweat-wicking shirts, but as a mom, the options aren’t as abundant for me. I found a swim dress that I will try but the bottoms are not attached so I’m not sure how that will work. I also found some not-so-tight-fitting board shorts that match a tankini I have. But I will likely have to stick with my tankini suit with either a cover-up skirt or shorts for the actual walking around and riding rides part of the day. Fashion designers out there… any way you can design some suits that us modest women can wear while walking around away from the pool??
When packing for your own summer theme-park trip, there are a few things to consider. Although we don’t hike, really, we basically pack as though we are going hiking. Things must do double-duty and be lightweight, shoes must handle water and lots of walking – on pavement which is harder on your joints than trails – and we need our hands free as much as possible (for eating and taking pictures, you know). Yes, purchasing all of these things was an investment. But we can use each of them over and over again in any hot-weather situation: camping, sporting events, hiking, even the beach!
Do you have a few must-have tricks for visiting the theme parks in summer? Share them in the comments below!