Confession: We’re total theme park freaks around here. Being Florida residents for the better part of the year, we especially like to spend time at Walt Disney World and Universal Studios in Orlando. We’re annual passholders who try to go as often as possible — we prioritize splurging on these passes over other things throughout the year, so we gotta get the most bang for our buck! And since our friends and family know how much we go, anyone in our social circle planning a trip tends to pick our brains for advice. One of the top questions we get asked, hands down? What to wear to Disney World. This makes sense because (1) Florida is a unique climate, and (b) seeing all of the Disney posts online may lead you to believe that everyone who goes to Disney decks their family out in matching Disney shirts.
In full disclosure, we are a family that sometimes coordinates our Disney shirts. Guilty as charged! However, we don’t do it every trip, and honestly, there are plenty of Disney-goers who don’t do it at all. If that’s not your thing, don’t feel like you have to go to the extra effort. Save your energy for schlepping around the park all day long for days on end. If wearing the matching Disney shirts is worth it for the ‘Gram, go for it. The most important thing we’ve found in our Disney park experience is that you should wear what makes you feel most comfortable.
With that in mind, here are a few tips, general outfit ideas, and even a few pieces of clothing you might want to “add to cart.”
What To Wear To Disney World: 3 Top Tips
1. Familiarize Yourself With Florida Weather
Earlier this month, one of my close friends from New York City took her daughter to Disney for the first time. I warned her that it would be far hotter and more humid than she was accustomed to from the Northeast, but it still took her by surprise. During her trip, she texted me something to the effect of, “You did not adequately prepare me for the fact Florida in August is like the seventh circle of hell.” And, well, it’s true. As someone born and raised in the South, I can deal with heat and humidity pretty well — but late summer in Florida is tough no matter where you live. It’s a whole different beast.
How do you dress to accommodate the weather? I recommend finding a good news station local to Florida and frequently checking its weather forecast leading up to your trip to gauge what the temps will be like during the time of year you’re there. If you visit anytime between April-May-ish to September-October-ish, expect it to be pretty darn hot and humid (averages temps in the 95-degree range with a heat index up to 110 degrees), with July and August being the hottest months. Even in Orlando’s quote-unquote “cooler” months, you can have sweltering days. We did Universal over Christmas one year when it was still in the upper 80s/low 90s. Another thing to be mindful of is that Orlando lies in a humid subtropical climate zone, meaning afternoon and evening thunderstorm activity is a regular occurrence.
Summer visitors should either buy ponchos and pack ‘em, plan to buy them in the parks, or pack a change of clothes — ’cause you’ll probably get caught in a shower at some point during your visit.
If you plan to visit during the winter/dry season, I recommend layering! You could wear sweat-wicking yoga pants with a short-sleeved Disney shirt and toss a cardigan in your bag. Or you could wear shorts and a Disney tank and tie a sweatshirt around your waist. You get the picture, right? It’s all about layering clothes in a way that suits your personal thermostat. I get cold easily, so I usually wear jeans and a tee for winter visits along with a cozy cardigan. My husband, who’s like a human heater, always wears shorts and a t-shirt.
2. Prioritize Comfort
Listen, ultimately, you should wear whatever the hell you want to Disney. It’s your vacation, and you certainly paid enough for it to call the shots. Speaking from the perspective of a parent who typically does Disney with two young children, I recommend cute but primarily comfortable clothes. Your kids will have you running all over the place, waiting in obnoxiously long lines to ride something for the fifth time in a row, and perhaps (depending on their age) even convincing you to hold them at the end of a very long day when you’re waiting in the hordes for the ferry to spirit you back to the parking lot.
Plus, and I literally can’t emphasize this enough, it’ll probably be super-duper hot. You’ll sweat in places you didn’t know you could sweat. Florida humidity has a way of opening up every pore. So, if you’re just going for the photo opp and don’t plan to play all day, sure, wear the super-frou-frou whatever. But if you’re going to do the whole Disney experience, make sure whatever you choose is something you’ll be happy running around and sweating in for hours on end.
3. Always Break in Shoes Before the Big Disney Day
You’ll hear about as many arguments about the best shoes to wear to Disney as there are people who go to Disney. You’ll hear tons of people recommend the following brands of shoes: Teva, Oofos, Sanuk, Keen, Crocs, Chaco, Brooks, and Adidas. I’m a big believer that these sorts of things are highly subjective — what feels fantastic to one person might not feel so hot to the next. There are just so many factors that play into each person’s individual preferences.
I always wear flip flops because, well, I literally always wear flip flops. I never get blisters, and my feet don’t hurt even after 25,000 steps in the park. On the other hand, my husband cannot wear flip-flops to the parks. He’d be in so much pain by the end of the day that he’d have to be off his feet for the following 48 hours. He typically reaches for his Nike sneakers.
What I do definitely recommend is making sure whatever shoes you choose have been broken in before your trip. I made the mistake of wearing a new pair of Chucks for the first time to Magic Kingdom once, and my feet paid the price for it.
Disney World Outfit Ideas
Classic: Shorts and T-Shirts
Easy Breezy: A Romper, Dress, or Skirt
Theme Fiend: Disneybounding
Pure Comfort: Athleisure-Wear
Cooler Temps: Pants or Long Sleeves