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It's chilly in Orlando today: Here's what to do at Disney World when it's cold

Feb. 21, 2020
10 min read
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When you think Florida, you probably (rightly) think shorts, t-shirts and hot weather. But, that isn't always true. Take today -- it's windy and brisk in Orlando with unseasonable lows forecasted to dip into the 40s. It's probably not what anyone imagined when they originally booked their Walt Disney World spring break vacation. Uncooperative weather can be a disappointment, though some may argue a little cool is better than August temps. TPG previously shared how to have a great day at the parks in the rain. Now, we have tips for cold weather theme park days, too.

So, while the chilly weather adds a bit of a wrinkle into your touring plans, you can still have an amazing day at Disney World. Here's how.

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Get some gear, if you need it

You probably packed things like bathing suits and swim goggles and shorts for your Disney trip. And, usually, all those things are necessities -- especially if you're staying at a resort such as Disney's Polynesian Village that has an amazing pool area.

(Photo by Matt Stroshane, photographer/Walt Disney World)

But, if temperatures take a nosedive, you may need to augment your wardrobe with some sweatshirts and -- gasp -- maybe even hats and gloves if it gets cold enough. Of course, packing those things in advance will save you money, but weather can be hard to predict in advance. Or, you may have just hoped for a warm-up to avoid checked bag fees. For those reasons and others, you may find yourself in Florida unprepared.

To maximize your time at Disney, just bite the bullet and buy those extras on-site. Each resort has a variety of shops or visit the Disney Springs shopping, dining and recreation complex for more shopping options. If you want to save a bit, you may want to head to the nearby outlet shops -- there's even a discount Disney outlet there.

If the weather forecast predicts a cold snap, act fast since everyone else will have the same idea about buying a few clothing items to help keep their family warm. It's especially important to be Johnny on the Spot if someone in your family requires a hard-to-find size.

Shop at Disney Springs. (Photo courtesy of David Roark, photographer/Walt Disney World)
Shop at Disney Springs. (Photo courtesy of David Roark, photographer/Walt Disney World)

And, don't worry, if the day miraculously warms up, you can rent a locker at the theme parks to store those extra layers.

Related: TPG's ultimate guide to Walt Disney World

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Book a character meal

You may not have previously booked a meal with the characters but plans can change. Sometimes in Florida, the day can start out cold but warm up... or vice versa. So, if you find yourself trying to spend some time indoors on a chilly day, pull up the My Disney Experience mobile app and book breakfast, lunch or dinner with the characters.

You'll find options in the theme parks and at certain Disney resorts so you may even decide not to use a ticket to the parks on a cold day at all and instead find things to do elsewhere on property.

Storybook Dining at Artist Point (Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

The cold weather may work to your advantage if you weren't originally able to book the most sought-after character meals in advance. Cinderella's Royal Table is a hot ticket and, especially during peak seasons like Christmas and spring break, it's difficult to snag a reservation. On a cold day, some travelers may decide to avoid the park altogether and may cancel their reservations -- which you can now snap up.

Alternatively, look for character meal reservations at some of the lesser-known venues. Some of our favorites include:

You won't even need park tickets that day to enjoy any of those options.

Related: The best restaurants in Walt Disney World

Resort-hop and shop

Even if it's not cold during your trip, we recommend carving out some time to board Disney's monorail and resort-hop from the Contemporary to the Polynesian to the Grand Floridian.

Related: When are Disney World monorail resorts worth the price?

Monorail to Disney's Contemporary Resort (Summer Hull / The Points Guy)

If you have to pick one park, choose Epcot

If you have to pick one Disney World theme park to visit on a cold day, go for Epcot. Almost all of its rides are indoors, so while you'll need to weather the great outdoor in between attractions, you can spend plenty of time inside as you explore the building with Soarin' the Land, etc. From there you can head to American Adventure and other country-specific pavilions like Mexico, Norway, France, Japan and Canada.

Related: How much does a Walt Disney World vacation cost?

Epcot (Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

Go to a show or indoor attraction you've missed in the past

Each Disney World theme park is jam-packed with rides, shows and attractions and it's nearly impossible to see it all in one trip. Even if you've been to Disney World several times in the past, we bet there are things you've passed up in favor of hitting your favorite rides again instead.

On a chilly day, it might be the right opportunity to check out some indoor shows and attractions instead of freezing on an outdoor thrill ride like Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

So, for example, in the Magic Kingdom, you could check out Mickey's PhilharMagic in Fantasyland or Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor in Tomorrowland. If you're spending the day at Disney's Hollywood Studios, you could see the Voyage of the Little Mermaid or Frozen Sing-a-Long shows, both of which are indoors. Much of the line for Millennium Falcon: Smuggler's Run is indoors, or at least covered, so that's an option, too. At Epcot, you'll find new shows at various pavilions, such as the new Beauty-and-the-Beast sing-a-long.

Related: What's new at Disney World in 2020

(Photo by Summer Hull / The Points Guy)

We recommend that you avoid Animal Kingdom when it's unseasonably cold. Most of the park's best features are outdoors. In cold weather, some animals may even make themselves scarce. If you have to deal with one cold day on your trip, you can easily tackle it at one of the other above theme parks and leave your exploration of Animal Kingdom for another day.

Related: Is Disney Club level worth it?

Book a spa or beauty treatment, or go to the gym

Spa treatments may not be top-of-mind when visiting Walt Disney World but the complex is home to many incredible spa facilities, including a Mandara Spa at the Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel. Senses has spa outposts at both the Grand Floridian and Disney's Saratoga Springs while Animal Kingdom Lodge has its Zahanati Massage & Fitness Center. At Disney's Yacht Club, look for the Ship Shape Massage Salon.

Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge (Photo by Summer Hull / The Points Guy)

And, here's something fun -- especially if you've got tween or teen girls in your group. Book a Character Couture session at one of four on-property salons, including The Salon at Disney's Grand Floridan, the Salon by the Springs at Wilderness Lodge, La Vida Salon at Coronado Springs Resort and Ship Shape Salon at the Yacht & Beach Club Resort. According to Disney, "express your style with professional, one-of-a-kind beauty looks inspired by iconic Disney characters."

Services include:

  • Hairstyle of your choice, like braids, updos and cascading curls: $60 for kids 12 and younger; $75 for adults
  • Makeup application (subtle or dramatic): $40 for kids 12 and younger; $50 for adults
  • Add on nail polish application for $15 for kids 12 and younger; $20 for adults
  • In-room services are available for $25 per person extra

Book your appointment by calling 1-(407) WDW-GLAM.

Guests can take their Disney style to the next level with Character Couture makeovers. Inspired by any character a guest chooses, these fully customizable makeovers include sophisticated hairstyles, intricate makeup and nail designs. Character Couture packages are available at select Disney resort hotel salons and spas across Walt Disney World Resort. For reservations, call (407) WDW-SPAS. (Photo courtesy of Walt Disney World)
Book a Character Couture beauty package. (Photo courtesy of Walt Disney World)

Bottom line

If you've got the right cold-weather gear, just try to brave a cold day at Disney World and tackle the best options, which are Epcot, the Magic Kingdom and Disney's Hollywood Studios. You may actually find crowd levels to be a little below normal so you can snap up those FastPasses and visit as many attractions as you can.

And, there are so many things to do beyond the theme parks that you will have no trouble filling a day without setting foot in one of the parks. Here are some of our favorite restaurants at Disney World if you're in the market for an indoor (warm) leisurely meal.

Have you been to Disney World when it's cold out? What was your strategy to get the most out of the day? Comment below.

Featured image by Matt Stroshane, photographer

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Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

    60,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $250
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees