Your Disney packing list should be the same year round, right? Isn’t Florida always hot and humid?
Nope! Winter weather in central Florida can actually get quite cool, even below freezing. Packing for Disney World in the winter requires a few modifications to your summertime Disney packing list.
In this blog post, we’ll talk about the few packing list changes you should make so you’re prepared to visit Disney World in winter.
Winter Disney Packing Tips
The anticipation may get the best of you and packing far in advance may work other times of the year when the weather is more predictable, but don’t pack too early if you’re visiting Disney World in winter. Weather can be drastically different from week to week and even day to day.
Check the weather forecast several days before your trip so you will know what to expect. Winter weather can range from mornings below freezing to afternoons in the low 90’s … all in the same trip!
You’ll likely need warmer clothing, outerwear, rain gear, comfortable sneakers and more. And remember that the winter sun sets early so you’ll want to be prepared for longer dark evenings as well.
Packing clothing for Disney World in winter
- light jacket or sweater
- winter hat and gloves for cold mornings
- HotHands warmers
Dress comfortably for cooler winter days at Disney World. For me, this often means jeans with a long-sleeved t-shirt on days that will barely reach 70.
Days that start below freezing and only reach the 50s are also not unheard of. Remember that you’ll be spending lots of time outside at Disney World, sometimes standing in outdoor lines. Even if you’re used to cold weather at home, don’t underestimate the chill in Florida! It’s always a good idea to toss a warm winter hat, gloves, and Hot Hands warmers into your suitcase.
Even on warmer winter days, the mornings will be cool so dress in layers. Plan on a light jacket or sweater over a short-sleeved tee. That way, you’ll be prepared for the morning and can put your jacket in your backpack for the rest of the day.
Prepare for Rain at Disney World
While Florida rain in the summer typically shows up in the form of brief afternoon downpours that are gone as quickly as they arrive, winter rains are usually longer, lighter events. When we visit Disney World in January and February, there has always been one full day of light rain on every trip while the rest are dry.
While I don’t recommend ponchos for expected summer rain (they’re uncomfortable, too open to keep you very dry, and then you’re stuck with a large, wet piece of plastic when the rain stops), it’s always a good idea to toss a few lightweight, disposable ponchos into your backpack for water rides in the winter. There’s a reason why Splash Mountain wait times in January can be just 5 minutes all day long while they are over an hour in the summer! A lightweight, single-use poncho will save your clothes from getting drenched on a cool day. Then, when you exit the ride, pass your ponchos along to an unprepared family still waiting to ride instead of throwing them away!
Instead of a poncho, pack a rain jacket. You’ll be much more comfortable for all-day rain in a jacket and it’ll keep you much drier than a poncho. My Sierra Designs lightweight jacket is perfect for Disney World because it folds up very small into its own pouch so I easily toss my wet rain jacket into my backpack when the rain stops without getting everything else in the bag wet!
And don’t forget your umbrella! Again, choose one that’s compact so it’s easy to store if the rain stops.
Disney World Shoes
Your feet will probably appreciate comfortable sandals at Disney World in the summertime, but keeping your feet cool usually isn’t as much of an issue in winter. I recommend sticking with your most comfortable footwear, usually sneakers since you will be walking a LOT at Disney World!
My favorite Disney World sneakers are Adidas Lite Racer running shoes which, unfortunately, are no longer available in the cute Spaceship Earth pattern. Still, I highly recommend the standard variations or your favorite, broken-in sneaker in any brand.
My other go-to’s for an entire day at Disney World are standard Converse Low Tops which are even available in a Mickey-esque dot print.
If you’re looking for a Disney look, comfortable Toms canvas slides are available in Disney themes.
No matter what shoes you choose, always bring at least two pairs of shoes in case one gets wet or unexpectedly causes blisters. And, speaking of blisters, always have bandaids and blister pads in your park backpack for emergencies!
Sun Protection at Disney World
Even in the winter and on overcast days, sunburns are a concern. No matter the weather forecast, always wear sunscreen. I always wear an SPF lip balm as well.
The sun can be brutal, even on cool winter days, so be prepared with sunglasses and a hat.
Ready for the dark?
The days are shorter in winter with the sun setting before 6:00 PM in January. Disney is prepared with carts selling an assortment of light toys that seem to appear out of thin air as soon as the sun goes down.
Be prepared with a few much cheaper glow sticks or necklaces of your own from a dollar store to keep the kids happy and to help you track of them in the crowds after dark.
Ready for heat?
Despite all this talk about cooler days, cold winter weather in Florida doesn’t last all season like it does further north. If you’re visiting for a week, you’ll likely experience both cool and warm days so don’t leave all of your hot weather wear home.
We visit Disney World every winter. Every year, there have been both cold days and also days when it is warm enough to swim. Don’t leave your swimsuits home and don’t forget your hand-held fans!
Disney packing necessities
There are a few more items that you don’t want to forget no matter when you visit Disney World.
Always keep a phone charger with you in the parks. You’ll be on your phone to make those additional FastPass+ reservations, check your PhotoPass photos, and dining reservations. You don’t want to be caught with a drained battery!
I always keep a few snacks in my park backpack. Hungry kids are cranky kids. Hungry adults are also cranky adults! lol! I always have a few Zbars for the kids and LARA bars for myself in my park backpack. Cashew Cookie is my favorite. 🙂
Hand sanitizing wipes are a necessity. Unlike sanitizing gel, the wipes can also be used to clean off a table or wipe messy mouths.
And always stay hydrated and ward off headaches. We always have a refillable water bottle (get free ice-cold water from any quick service restaurant) and I keep chewable headache tablets for the kids at all times. My older son is particularly prone to headaches in the winter when cold fronts roll through which usually happens while we’re at Disney World. Chewable tablets are super convenient to keep in your park bag.
What else is on your Winter Disney packing list?