What to Expect at Disney World in the Winter

Do you have a vacation to Walt Disney World planned for the coming winter? As winter will be here soon, I think many of us who live in the “north” relish the idea of visiting sunny Florida in the winter…after all, who doesn’t love the idea of getting away from all that snow and ice for a few days, especially if you’re going on a Disney vacation!

But…..before you pack your shorts, sandals and swimsuits, I need to let you in on a little secret:

Baby, it can get cold in Florida in the winter.

Like in-the-30s-cold….Like winter coat, scarf, and gloves cold.

This is not to say that you will have cold weather like this on your winter Disney trip, because you may not. And it certainly does not mean that there is no chance of jumping in the pool during your December trip! I have had glorious 80 degree days in Florida in the winter. I have also experienced 25 degree nights that are, well, absolutely frigid.

So, you just need to be prepared. Plan for it, and then no matter what, you’ll be ready!

With that in mind, here are my top ten tips for being weather-prepared on your winter Disney World vacation:

  1. Know what is realistically “cold” for you and for your family. This is truly all relative: you hardy souls from Minnesota may have no problem wearing shorts at Disney when it’s in the 40s. Those of us who think that 75 degrees is darn near perfect on the other hand should be prepared…
  2. Pay close attention to the weather forecasts before you leave home. Most folks are familiar with Weather.com and Accuweather.com, but I actually like to check the National Weather Service, as well as a local news station, to get a more detailed picture. Because I have learned, the hard way, that temperatures in the 50s may seem pretty decent if it is below 0 back home and there’s 3 feet of snow on the ground….but those 50s can be brutal if there is a biting wind that goes along with it. (And as a former Cast Member told me once: that humidity that Florida is so famous for in the summer becomes just plain dampness in the winter.)
  3. Think layers. The temperature swing can really be extreme, and if you are going to the parks early in the morning or will be staying late into the evening, you will need more warmth than during the afternoon high temperatures. Don’t want to carry all that around with you? Then…
  4. Get a locker. It actually took me two winter trips to realize that this was honestly the best solution, because no one wanted to lug around the coat/sweatshirts all day long while we didn’t need them. If you’re trying to justify the cost of a locker, consider that it is less than what you will pay if you need to buy everyone in the family a new sweatshirt because they are turning blue because no one wanted to carry around all those coats.
  5. Think about bringing a lightweight blanket if you will have little ones in a stroller: tucking them in all nice and cozy is a great way to keep everyone warm and happy, with minimal fuss and outwear. Cold children are sad children. (Blankets also work well if you will be sitting around waiting for the Candlelight Processional or Fantasmic.)
  6. Boat rides are *very* cold first thing in the morning/at night….and the inside (ie: heated) seats fill first.
  7. When buying tickets, think long and hard about getting that Park Hopper Plus option, as the winter months are when both Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon close for maintenance. While both are not closed at the same time, keep in mind that you really can’t guarantee that it will be warm enough for you to want to take advantage of going there. It might be….and it might not too. If you really hope to go swimming, take your swimsuits and plan to use your hotel pool: it’s free, so if it’s too cold to swim you won’t be out any money.
  8. Yes bring a winter coat. Yes you might need it. Bring gloves and scarves too. Unless you want to buy them at Disney World….because just like those ponchos that Disney sells like crazy when it rains, when the temperatures dip into the 30s, Disney WILL be ready to sell you scarves, gloves and sweatshirts. And they’re not cheap.
  9. Just like when it’s so hot in the summer that everyone gets miserable and can benefit from a break, so it goes when it is very cold: a break inside *heated* shops and attractions can do wonders for everyone’s frame of mind. Breaks are good at Disney no matter what time of year!
  10. Walt Disney World sells hot chocolate. It is delicious and highly effective. 🙂

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