Sigh. It’s summer. And we sincerely, desperately want to tell you how to beat the heat.
But we can’t.
Not because we don’t want to share our own hacks…
But because you really can’t beat the heat in Orlando, Florida.
You can only cope with it.
As you no doubt know, summer has started.
The first day of summer is already over.
That means the theme parks are even more crowded than ever.
And here in Central Florida, that means 90+ degree days.
The heat goes on and on.
And with crowded conditions, it’s even worse.
So a lot of sites will tell you how to beat the heat.
When you buy your Disney Orlando tickets or Universal Studios Orlando tickets or even outside of Orlando, at LEGOLAND or other theme parks…you won’t beat the heat.
No matter how far you get within driving distance of Orlando.
But have thought about what athletes do to not beat…but cope…with the heat?
We have their hacks.
And others, too.
Some are common sense like drinking and eating. But others may surprise you.
Like eating spicy food.
None of this is necessarily complicated.
At the blazing hot climate during the Australian Open tennis tournament, for instance, tennis star Maria Sharapova puts an ice pack on her head.
Simple. But effective.
Why don’t you try the same?
That’s something you might see at theme parks as well.
No, you don’t work there.
And you’re almost certainly not an athlete. Or see yourself as one (few of us do, which is why we fantasize about it.
So did you ever wonder how someone like Muhammad Ali (better known in younger years as Cassius Clay) did to keep in winning shape?
No, he didn’t do it by eating hot dogs.
Or by regularly visiting theme parks.
But consider the experience of someone else.
That is writer George Plimpton. He did get into a boxing ring with a world champ named Archie Moore.
The writer survived. Barely.
Non-athletes can also endure heat
So again, finding out how athletes cope with heat might help us all…at least as a start to dealing with the everyday heat you’ll find this summer in Orlando.
Some of what they do, at times, is surprising.
For example, eating hot spicy food.
More on that later. But for now:
The biggest reminder anyone always mentions to keep athletes cool: stay hydrated.
So park-goers, take heed:
Either bring your own water (cheaper).
Or plan on spending some of your money on park-bought water bottles.
Of course, it does not have to be water.
Other drinks such as Gatorade or imitations also acceptable.
How much water? A lot.
Why is that?
Because you will sweat. We all do.
Think of your body like an air conditioner.
When it heats up, your internal air conditioner turns on. You sweat.
So you need to refill the tank. With water or something else to drink.
Water is most often mentioned for obvious reasons: It’s usually available at theme parks for free. And even when you buy it, it’s less costly than soft drinks or coffee (drinks to avoid when facing hot weather anyway, because they dehydrate you).
To emulate athletes, drink your fluids a couple of hours before you get to the park. A fair portion is anywhere from 12 ounces or more.
Remember our reference to gas tanks? When you go a long auto trip, you often fill up the gas tank.
The same principle applies to water: fill up before you leave. And keep the water coming.
If you are feeling thirsty, you are already starting to see signs of dehydration.
And speaking of drinks…
Those common “slushies” or iced drinks found just about anywhere are good to have even before you get to the park.
Studies have shown that athletes consuming them before running could keep going longer with more of a comfort level than others who drank only water.
Why avoid caffeine? It acts as a diuretic by forcing water out of your system. The last thing you want now.
Drink your coffee later in an air conditioned environment.
Keep the right mentality
Or stay cool-headed.
Studies have shown that cyclists maintained their performance intensity and rode longer when they believed the temperature was lower than it really was.
Tell yourself it is not that hot. This is a mental trick. Worth trying, if you can do it.
Being fit also helps your ability to handle heat, studies show.
Short breaks are fine but even longer also helps, studies show.
The reason: it takes a while for your overheated body temperature to return to normal.
“When the plant takes moisture up from the soil and exhales it though the leaves, you have an evaporative cooling,” said Stan Cox, a plant breeder and author of a book called “Losing Our Cool: Uncomfortable truths About Our Air Conditioned World.”
What you eat is important. Try hot foods.
If you're already sweating, why would you want to sweat more? Professor of food science at Penn State University Luke LaBorde offers this answer: eating spicy food increases blood circulation and makes you sweat. So you'll feel cooler as the sweat dries.
Hot peppers are good for you
Dr. Oz explains that the capsaicin in hot peppers encourages your body to sweat more without raising your body temperature.
Get a fan. Small ones are sold at all parks. But cheaper if you buy outside the park at dollar stores or almost anywhere else.
When it comes to drinks, more advice:
Freeze a drink the night before: Fill up a bottle of water half way and place it sideways in the freezer, so that way you will have a colder drink for longer
Real athletes like Muhammad, did not regularly go to theme parks. But if they did, they would take many of these suggestions from people who work there.
Here are some of their standard recommendation:
The most common one of all is perhaps the simplest to do:
Arrive early, preferably 15 minutes to a half hour before the park opens. Take time off, say from say noon to 3 or 4 in the afternoon. If possible, leave the park early.
Go back to your hotel or other room for a nap, a swim, or just relax.
Oops. You aren’t staying nearby?
Makes it harder. But try to find a place to rest for a few hours.
PS: a late lunch is a good idea. Or sit down for a long time with a cold drink or an ice cream.
Return later in the afternoon (after some kind of rest). Stay until the park closes or until you have had enough.
Let’s say you can’t skip the lines (true for most people except special pass holders and others). Try to avoid too many of these.
They will simply grind you down after a while.
A 30-minute limit is not a bad goal. Sure, not always possible. But use your judgment.
Consider that those two hour waits, one after the after, grinds you down physically.
Line-avoiding passes are good investments
Of course, those passes allowing you to get to the front of the line are generally worth the money.
Something not to do: sit around in the sun waiting for a parade or even an outdoor show.
We recommend going to shows and other events like fireworks at the last minute. Even if that means you will be losing out on the “ideal” seats.
Yes, no front rows may still be available. But this is a good way to skip one more line.
Besides, most seats at shows are at least OK to see what is happening.
Take breaks. Get out of the sun for a while.
Head for an air conditioned theatre that has a show or even sells merchandise.
Get off your tired feet as well for a half hour or so. And we don’t mean just sitting on one of those sometime uncomfortable metal benches. Find a comfortable place for a break.
Don’t forget: all parks have a lot of indoor attractions, too, even if they don’t always come to the top of your conscious mind.
Even a shop lobby can offer relief
There are also a lot of lobby areas to spend a few minutes (whether or not you wait for the show).
Train rides are another alternative for getting out of the sun for a while. Many take up to 20 minutes or even longer to make the trip. A good way to break up the day, too.
Get wet. Get on some water rides.
Yes, lines may be longer on hot days. But so what?
The result is worth it.
Try them later in the day. Or ideally, at night.
The later the better.
Just about all theme parks have water play areas or spouting fountains where kids (yes, and adults, too) can get wet.
So pack a simple bathing suit and keep a sealable plastic bag to store a wet suit after splashing.
It’s hardly a major way to cool off. But ice cream, frozen desserts, iced tea, etc., all taste better on hot days.
And do help to cool you off. At least for a while.Knott’s opts for an old and familiar GhostRider over a new thrill ride
Then, there’s sunscreen. It might not make you feel better immediately. But consider the impacts of sunburn.
And you’ll be pleased that you used sunscreen long before you started to get a sunburn. They are painful. And they don’t go away as quick as you want them to.
Of course, if you can afford it, staying at a park resort is a good way to cope with heat.
You get to the park through air conditioned comfort via bus or monorail or water transportation.
That alone beats walking to a car that has been baking all day in the sun.
Staying at Disney or other resorts also give you perks such as extra hour times.
Another option are cooling towels, such as tennis player Sharapova.
Sunburn, no…Goofy hats, yes
You simply wet the towel, and it activates some magical cooling agent that keeps you refreshed. A version of these can be found anywhere.Daylong ‘Ghost Town Alive’ show turns Knott’s into a Wild West improv stage
Hats may look silly to you. “Goofy,” particularly.
But not so silly when your head is baking in the sun.
Any hat will help (even Goofy).
Don’t like real hats?
Try a sun visor.
Use good judgment or take on a positive attitude. That means more than just denying that it is hot.
Don’t think “Yes, we’re here finally, and it’s costing a lot of money, and we’ll spend every minute doing something at the park. No matter what it is. We’ll keep busy.”
Take time for breaks. Any kind that suits you.
Whether it’s leaving the park for a while or staying there and simply sitting down to watch others.