FAQ Orlando

What to wear in Orlando theme parks

Mickey Mouse Donald Duck haircut Orlando Magic Kingdom

White shirts are good. Matching Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck haircuts even better.

If you spend a day at Disney’s Magic Kingdom, you’ll see at least one woman in high heels. This article isn’t for her because I suspect she can’t give up fashion for comfort. For the rest of you, think of theme parking as a rigorous physical challenge – it actually is for most – and prepare accordingly. Here’s what the smart, well-dressed theme park Orlando commando wears this year and every year:

• Nix dresses and skirts. You’ll be crawling into rides, running to catch a monorail, and sitting on curbs to watch parades. Don’t let the world see your undies.

• Cargo pants. Yes, they’re ugly, but the “cargo” part means they have a lot of pockets. If you rely on purses, backpacks, or fanny packs, you must 1) carry it all day, 2) stand in line and allow security to rifle through it before entering any park, 3) store it some place when you go on rides, and 4) worry about someone stealing it. A family in cargo pants can carry a complete picnic lunch without breaking a sweat.

• Gallon or sandwich-sized plastic bags. Many rides include water and summer afternoons are infamous for evil thunderstorms. Taking small plastic bags and store wallets and phones inside.

• Good shoes. Think of it as a five-mile hike. (It literally may be, such as trying to tour both Universal parks at one time.) If you look in your closet and don’t see anything appropriate for a five-mile hike, buy new shoes and break them in before travel.

• White cotton shirts in summer. The Orlando sun beats down from mid-June through September. Cotton breathes and white deflects heat. At the least, steer clear of dark-colored shirts that absorb heat. Also think twice about the synthetic shirts that say they whisk sweat away. They do, but the fabric isn’t as comfortable and they tend to smell faster – good for a one-hour gym workout; not so good for 16 hours close to loved ones.

• Layers of clothing in winter. An ideal combination might be a T-shirt covered by a button shirt covered by a sweater or light jacket. As you take things off, tie them around your waist. On rare occasion, however, temperatures drop close to freezing. If visiting from a cold region, don’t say, “It’s Florida” – wear a coat. If the projected high temperature back home one day was 48 degrees and you planned to spend 80 percent of the day outside, what would you wear?

• Ponchos or umbrellas. In summer, it rains. Stop at a dollar store and buy a few cheap ponchos or umbrellas. With cheap ones, you can wear them once and throw them out, and foldable umbrellas can be stored, albeit a bit awkwardly, in cargo pants. While every Orlando theme park sells ponchos and umbrellas, they’ll cost more.

• Head covering. In summer, consider some kind of portable shade. Some women walk around under full sun with an umbrella, but straw hats can also do the trick.

• Sunscreen. In the summer, at least one tourist per park has a sunburn so bad that it hurts to look at them. Theme parking is particularly hard on the back of your neck.

• Chapstick and eye drops. You’ll be outdoors most of the time, so think of it more like camping than a trip to the Louvre. Stick them in a pocket of your cargo pants.

• Extra pair of socks – maybe. Select rides – mainly a few at Universal’s Islands of Adventure – soak guests, and ponchos/umbrellas tend to protect the upper body at the expense of the feet. Many visitors keep going after soaking their socks and shoes, but a determination to trudge on usually dies after a few hours.

• First-aid kit. Consider drugs for a headache and perhaps a few Band-aids. While these can be purchased inside the parks, they don’t come cheap.

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