June 19, 2024, 3:46 PM ·

After roasting in the Florida heat this month, I think it’s time to make a suggestion.No one goes on vacation to be miserable. Misery is what so many of us endure while making money. It’s not something we want to end up with after spending it – especially the amount of money that you have to drop these days on an Orlando theme park or Florida cruise vacation.

But misery is what too many of us now endure when visiting or traveling through Florida for summer vacation. Years ago, afternoon thunderstorms would reset the air every day in the summer, providing relief following steamy early afternoons. Time it right to be inside during the deluge, and you could enjoy a nice evening in pleasant conditions without getting drenched.However, climate change has disrupted those weather patterns, and too many days no longer see that relief. The result is misery for people visiting or working outside in Florida. Traditional advice about staying hydrated and wearing sunscreen is no longer enough. I guzzled enough water to need frequent bathroom breaks and slathered enough sunscreen that my ginger skin never turned even the slightest shade of pink. But I still ended up suffering the early stages of heat exhaustion while in Florida and The Bahamas.Staying inside for the duration of your visit means that you will end up missing much of what brought you to these destinations. So how can you protect yourself when spending the day outside at Walt Disney World… or walking to and from Disney’s new Lookout Cay on that half-mile unshaded pier to Lighthouse Point?
Yep, that’s a 10-minute walk in either direction. It’s gorgeous, but come prepared for the heat and sun.Here, then, is my suggestion. Get yourself a UV 50+ rated sun umbrella.The specific brand does not matter. Just make sure that it is completely opaque – ideally lined in black – and rated to provide at least 50+ UV protection. This umbrella will become your shield to protect you from the sun, providing shade wherever you walk, while also allowing your body to shed heat. Hats just trap that heat, without providing the scale of protection that a proper sun umbrella can.

Yes, you should be mindful of crowds. Don’t bring massive golf umbrellas into crowded spaces such as theme parks. Get yourself a collapsable, personal-sized umbrella and use it only when needed. Even then, take care not to whack the people around you. But get one, because water, sunscreen and a hat are no longer enough to protect people who are not acclimated to what Florida has become in the summer. That said, still do what you can to maximize the time you spend inside or at least under cover while visiting. Theme parks and other outdoor attractions can help by creating more indoor and shaded spaces for their new and refurbished attractions, while also installing more fans to help push air to cool guests before they overheat.
Bravo to Universal Orlando for having these around during my latest visit.Do not give me any excuses about big, powerful fans being “bad show.” Yeah, I know that they can conflict with an immersive design, but last I checked “safety” came before “show” in Disney’s Five Keys. Visitors should consider bringing handheld or neck-mounted personal electric fans along with their UV umbrellas, too.I know that a lot of theme park fans have given up on summer vacations to Florida. That’s why the winter and spring break seasons have become so much more popular at Walt Disney World in recent years. The early summer weather is much cooler at Disneyland in California, too – though the heat will arrive in Anaheim eventually, making fans and UV umbrellas a smart move there, as well.I just want theme park fans to enjoy their vacations. Not everyone has the means to visit a place like Disney when the weather is ideal. So allow me to suggest a couple of accessories that I believe can help make your trip more comfortable, and less miserable. Shop for those UV umbrellas and personal fans before your next vacation.* * *
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