Florida is renowned for its sunny skies and balmy temperatures, and this can be true much of the year. In fact, to refer to “winter” in Florida may seem laughable, especially if you’re visiting from a northern state with cold winter temperatures. But don’t be fooled! Winter can still pack a wallop in Florida, and you’ll want to pack differently than you would during the rest of the year. Here are some tips for packing for a winter vacation in Walt Disney World.
1. Four Seasons in a Day
The most important thing to realize about winter in Orlando is that there can be a huge difference in the temperature from day to day, or even within the same day. You may be lucky enough to avoid truly frigid temperatures and snow during your stay, as these are not common – but don’t bank on it! It’s best to be prepared for all four seasons when heading to Walt Disney World between November and February. You can check the weather forecast in advance, but be prepared for Florida to throw some surprises at you. Rather than hoping for the best, it’s a good idea to pack a bit of everything – that way, you won’t have to run to Disney Springs to supplement your summer wardrobe with some pricey warmer options.
Even if you usually travel light in Walt Disney World, you’ll want to make sure you have a backpack or bag with you throughout the day. Sure, this means you’ll need to spend a few extra minutes having your bag checked when you enter the park, but it also means you’ll be able to pack extra layers that you might need when darkness falls and the weather cools down. Conversely, if you find the temperatures soar during the afternoon, you’ll have somewhere to put that extra shirt or sweater once you remove it.
You generally won’t need them during the day (although you never know when a particularly chilly or damp day might hit), but gloves are a great item to have with you, especially if you’re off to an early start or staying in the parks after dark. We like to bring gloves that are touchscreen compatible (also known as “texting gloves”), so you can still take as many photos as you like and stay in touch through social media while your fingers stay toasty.
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It may seem obvious to pack long pants during a winter trip, but you’d be surprised how many people pack only shorts when vacationing at the most magical place in the world! This might get you by during the summer, but you’re bound to run into cool mornings or evenings, so even if your shorts are fine during the day, you’ll probably need something warmer on hand. A great solution is pants that can be detached and converted to shorts – they might not be the height of fashion, but you can’t beat them for pure practicality!
You’re on vacation in Walt Disney World, so your idea of proper footwear might include sandals or comfy flip-flops to let your feet soak up all that Orlando sun. And we’re not saying don’t bring those – especially if you have a pool day at your resort planned! But if you’re heading to Florida during the winter, you’ll also need to think about covering up those toes. Sturdy, water resistant running shoes are a great go-to, because not only will they keep your feet warm and dry in case of inclement weather, but they’ll also serve you well as you rack up all those walking miles throughout the parks!
It can rain any time of year in Walt Disney World, of course, but during the summer, you’re less likely to mind getting a little – or a lot – drenched (judging from the number of guests we always see in line for Splash Mountain and Kali River Rapids, getting wet is often a highlight of a summer vacation to WDW). But it’s a different story in the winter. Temperatures won’t be as sweltering, and even if you do get a warm day, it can cool off remarkably quickly, so if you don’t have a poncho with you, you may find yourself miserably cold and wet for the rest of the day.
7. Heavy Sweater or Jacket
You might not need it every day, but it’s best to pack a jacket, light coat, or a heavy sweater (bonus points if it’s water-resistant) if you’re travelling to Florida in the winter. You can keep it with you if you’ll be out in the cooler evening weather, and this will free you up to wear more appropriate cooler clothes during the day, if it’s warm – just add the sweater or jacket when you need it. And trust us, you will definitely need it if you’re attending Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, or if you’re watching an evening fireworks show.
8. Don’t Forget the Summer Wear
Lastly, now that you’re prepared for the worst that winter can throw at you, don’t forget to pack for the best too! You’ll likely enjoy some lovely temperatures, especially during the middle of the day, and people are frequently comfortable in shorts, t-shirts, and other summer attire during this time. Make sure you bring your swimwear too – all the resort pools are heated to a very comfortable temperature (if you can brave the often not-so-pleasant air once you get out!).