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Chef Mickey’s in the Contemporary Resort is considered by many (including myself) to be one of the best Disney World restaurants for kids. It’s been a long time since we’ve been to Chef Mickey’s, and it was before I had this blog, so I wasn’t […]
In my post about the best Disney restaurants for first time visitors, I recommended the 50’s Prime Time Cafe in Hollywood Studios even though our personal experience was not that great (because our waiter was not that great).
I still wanted to give 50’s Prime Time Cafe the proper praise that I think the restaurant deserves (after all, the people at the nearby table with a different server were having a great time).
So I asked my friend Gini over at MickeyIsLife.com to do a guest post review of her own experiences there.
By the way, if you’re heading to 50’s Prime Time Cafe and want to avoid having the lame experience we did, when you arrive ask the host for a good server who “really gets into it.”
Unless, of course, you don’t want a server who’s going to play around you … in which case, I suggest you eat somewhere else. (More on that later.)
And now, here’s Gini!
The 50’s Prime Time Cafe is a family-friendly diner that takes you back in time. Located in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the restaurant is known for its old decor, which serves as a fabulous throwback to the 1950s.
Open for lunch and dinner, the vintage joint offers reservations for those who’d like to skip the line (it can get quite busy sometimes!). Planning ahead is easy—just use the My Disney Experience app!
The American eatery is a blast from the past with its retro theme. Not only are there old school TVs scattered throughout (be sure to watch the black and white clips!), but each table is designed to resemble “mom’s kitchen” from the 50s. Did I mention that the floor is covered with black and white tiles?
The theme extends to the staff as well; most waiters and waitresses will be sarcastic and sassy—50s style. If anything, they play the part well. Many will be happy to pull out all of their “tricks” so that you can enjoy the experience.
A sense of humor is highly recommended!
Where is the 50s Prime Time Cafe?
The 50’s Prime Time Cafe is one of the many restaurants at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Located in Echo Lake, a themed land that features a small oval-shaped lagoon, it sits between the Tune-In Lounge and the Indiana Jones Adventure Outpost.
The restaurant is open from 11:00 am to 9:15 pm on most days; they close early at 9:00 pm on Fridays and Saturdays. As far as their lunch menu goes, it runs until 3:15 pm. From there, they serve dinner until closing.
Know what day you’ll be visiting? You can look up their hours for that day on the Disney website.
Is the 50s Prime Time Cafe Quick Service or Table Service?
The cafe offers table service. In other words, you get to sit down and enjoy the meal that’s brought out to you by your waiter. You might not feel that they’re your waiter, though—after all, they’re in character. Some of them might even refer to you as their cousin! Don’t worry, it’s just part of their role play.
Just sit back and have fun with the experience!
Is 50s Prime Time Cafe on the Disney Dining Plan?
The Disney Dining Plan is available for those who are staying at a Walt Disney World hotel. Essentially, it’s a prepaid meal plan that allows guests to budget their dining costs in advance.
There are three types:
Disney Quick-Service Dining Plan
Standard Disney Dining Plan
Disney Deluxe Dining Plan.
You’ll be happy to know that the 50’s Prime Time Cafe does accept two of them—that is, the Standard Disney Dining Plan and the Disney Deluxe Dining Plan.
In both cases, it will require one credit. (you get one of these per night during your stay at the resort).
The 50s Prime Time Cafe Rules
Once you’re seated at your table, your waiter will let you know about “Mama’s Rules”.
These rules include:
– No elbows on the table
– No cellphones (that didn’t stop me from sneaking in a few photos, though!)*
– Use your manners at all time
* Note: Your waiter won’t hesitate to call you out if they see you on your phone! Just something to keep in mind, you know?
The 50’s diner offers six different types of appetizers:
Beer-battered Onion Rings
Fried Herb and Garlic Cheese (served with apples, grapes, and raspberry sauce) Chicken Noodle Soup
Cousin Amy’s Iceberg Lettuce Wedge
Grandpa’s Crab Cake (with bacon and chili sauce)
I was feeling a little under the weather that day so I opted for a bowl of chicken noodle soup. As much as I’d hate to admit it, there was nothing spectacular about the dish. It tasted exactly like what I’d eat at home—I suppose chicken noodle soup will be chicken noodle soup no matter where you are, hah!
Entree-wise, they have:
Chicken Pot Pie
Blue Plate Special (more about that in a minute)
Personally, I went for Aunt Liz’s Golden Fried Chicken (because you can never go wrong with fried chicken, right?). It came with a scoop of garlic mashed potatoes, gravy, and corn. (see photo above.)
My first impression was that it came with a lot of chicken—”there’s no way that I can finish all that!” I thought.
The fried chicken was flavorful, yet not to the point of being too salty. While the meat was slightly dry, it was nothing a little gravy couldn’t fix.
Being the small eater that I am, I got pretty stuffed after eating two large pieces (don’t forget, there were the sides as well!). What did I do with the rest? I offered them to the BF, who happily devoured them.
Note: Don’t worry if you can’t make it to the restaurant for dinner. Their lunch and dinner menus are pretty much the same!
As with most Disney restaurants, the 50’s Prime Time Cafe does offer a few vegan options:
Cousin Ryan’s Vegetable Lasagna—Order it without cheese.
Spaghetti (unfortunately, the vegetarian meatballs are not vegan, as they are made with eggs)
I have heard mixed info about whether or not you can get vegan ice cream (made with either Tofutti or Rice Dream). Some people say you can get ice cream, but not milkshakes. Some people say they’ve gotten both, some people say they no longer offer either one. So you might want to call ahead and ask.
The 50’s Prime Time Cafe does have allergy-friendly offerings. Do note, however, that you’ll have to ask for the special menu. It covers the top 8 common allergens (gluten/wheat, milk/dairy, egg, soy, peanut, tree nut, fish and shellfish.
They’ll be happy to work with you as long as you let them know about your allergies!
One of the great things about the restaurant is that they have several options for kids under the age of 9.
They offer three types of kids’ appetizers:
Chicken Noodle Soup
Children’s entrees include:
Grandma’s Macaroni & Cheese
Grandpa’s Grilled Chicken
Aunt Betty’s Chicken Tenders
All the entrees come with two sides (green beans and carrots, mashed potatoes, corn, fruit salad, cupcake) and a drink (milk, water or apple juice).
They also have a specialty drink for kids that’s served in a cool-looking souvenir Character Cup—one that comes with a glowing clip-on light!
The 50’s Prime Time Cafe boasts a variety of desserts, including
Dad’s Favorite Chocolate-Peanut Butter Layered Cake
Ice Cream Sundaes
Mom’s Brownie (everybody’s favorite!)
Unfortunately, we didn’t get a chance to try the brownie (mainly because I was too full from the soup and chicken), but judging from how fast the people next to us ate it, it must have been pretty darn good!
If I ever go back, I’ll be sure to save some room for dessert.
The 50’s Prime Time Cafe has two types of milkshakes on their menu:
Standard Milkshake (Chocolate, Vanilla, or Strawberry)
Peanut Butter & Jelly Milk Shake
They are Big.
And they are Good.
Blue Plate Special
Aside from their regular entrees, they also offer a Blue Plate Special. As per their menu, it’s a “healthy seasonal alternative with all the fixings.” Just keep in mind that they’ll charge you the market price.
Some examples of the Blue Plate Special are:
Braised Pork Shank
The 50’s Prime Time Sticker
Once you’re done your meal, your waiter will give you a nice little souvenir to take home—a 50’s Prime Time Cafe sticker. Be sure to ask for one if they forget to give it to you (sometimes they’re a little busy)!
50s Prime Time Cafe or Sci-Fi Dine-In?
When people are making their Disney dining reservations, there are often two similar restaurants they have trouble deciding between.
In the case of 50’s Prime Time Cafe, the obvious “comparison” is with Sci-Fi Dine-In, because
1) They are both in Hollywood Studios;
2) They both have a unique theme;
3) They serve similar types of food
I’ve never been to Sci-Fi Dine-In (and neither has Jen), but it seems to get pretty good reviews (for people who like a themed restaurant and are not expecting fine dining).
So which to choose if you can only do one?
As usual, Disney expert Tom Bricker nails it when he says:
The question is whether your party is primarily introverts or extroverts. If you have a bunch of introverts, or people who simply want to decompress and be left alone while eating, 50’s Prime Time Cafe is a bad idea. The ‘relatives’ serving you won’t break character if your party isn’t into it, either. They still pick on you and insist you clean your plate (etc.), and we’ve witnessed some awkward encounters at adjacent tables that inexplicably didn’t ‘get’ the concept through their entire meal.
Extroverts and older guests who were children of the 1950s through around the 1970s tend to love 50’s Prime Time Cafe. It’s a situation where you get out of it what you put into it, and the interactions can be a hoot if you roll with them and engage in a bit of banter with the servers …
By contrast, Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater is the ultimate restaurant for introverts or decompressing. Not only is the entertainment entirely passive (and the service low-key as Cast Members stay ‘out of the way’ of the movies), but you are seated in rows of a car, meaning you pretty much only have to interact with one person for the duration of the meal. For extroverts or families with kids, this seating arrangement can be a definite downside–it’s the most common complaints we receive about Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater.
50’s Prime Time Cafe Recipes
Want to pretend you’re at 50’s Prime Time Cafe even after you come home from vacation? Just push play on one of these classic TV shows and put together one of these recipes:
Fried Chicken Recipe
This recipe for Aunt Liz’s Golden Fried Chicken includes wheat flour, soy flour, and non-fat dry milk.
This copycoat recipe for meatloaf is made with beef and pork and topped with a glaze or ketchup, brown sugar, Dijon mustard, and Worcestershire sauce.
Video — PB&J Milkshake Recipe
If you’re interested in making more recipes from Disney restaurants, be sure to check out these cookbooks:
Mickey’s Gourmet Cookbook: Most Popular Recipes From Walt Disney World & DisneylandChef Mickey: Treasures from the Vault and Delicious New FavoritesCooking With Mickey and the Chefs of Walt Disney World
Final Thoughts on 50’s Prime Time Cafe
There’s just something special about eating at a ’50s themed restaurant so I would definitely come again given the chance! There are plenty of other dishes that I’d like to try (I’m eyeing their crabcake appetizer), not to mention their desserts.
One thing to remember, though, is that your experience depends largely on your waiter—some are more “immersive” than others. We were lucky in that ours was super fun and interactive!
In any case, anyone who’d like a blast from the past should go check out the 50’s Prime Time Cafe. Even if you’re not from the ’50s, you’ll have lots of fun—I guarantee it. And anyway, who can say no to American comfort food?
Gini has been a Disney fan for as long as she can remember. Enticed by the magic, she makes an effort to visit the parks at least once a year. When she isn’t planning her vacation, she enjoys playing with her five-year-old husky and working on her blog, Mickey Is Life.
Click here to follow Gini on Instagram.
I love trivia, especially when it comes to behind-the-scenes, entertainment-related things. (It kind of drives my kids crazy sometimes.) For example, did you know that some of the names considered for the Seven Dwarfs included Awful, Blabby, Deefy, Dirty, Gabby, Gaspy, Gloomy, Hoppy-Jumpy, Nifty, and […]
A few months ago I wrote a round-up post where I had various Disney bloggers vote on their favorite quick service meals in Disney World.
While several different restaurants got a lot of love in that post, Animal Kingdom’s Satu’li Canteen was one of the most popular choices.
Since I’ve never eaten at Satu’li Canteen myself (and since I was “busy” hanging out at the beach in St. Augustine with my family last week), I asked my buddy Nicole to write a guest post reviewing Satu’li Canteen and sharing why she, too, considers it to be one of the best quick service restaurants.
Hi there, guys! My name is Nicole Graber from The Disney Journey. Jen asked me if I could tell you all about one of my favorite Quick Service restaurants in all of Disney World.
Satu’li Canteen reached favorite restaurant status because of the excellent food quality and the variety of options for people with gluten sensitivities like myself.
Satu’li Canteen is a Quick Service restaurant located in the Pandora area of Animal Kingdom. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner only, opening at 10:30am and staying open until park closing.
Guests are able to use Disney mobile ordering through the My Disney Experience app, which can be a real time saver. Satu’li Canteen is an ideal place to grab an early lunch after a busy morning spent enjoying rope drop at Animal Kingdom.
Is Satu’li Canteen on the Dining Plan?
A meal at Satu’li Canteen uses one quick service credit if you are on the Disney Dining Plan.
It also offers some snack credit options, including two desserts (which we’ll talk about shortly) and several drink options.
Unfortunately, there are no discounts for Annual Passholders or Disney Vacation Club members.
Restaurant Atmosphere and Theme
As with all other aspects of Pandora, the theming of the
restaurant is top notch. The basic idea is that the facility is a former RDA
mess hall that is now owned by Alpha Centauri Expeditions and allowed to
embrace the Na’vi culture.
The building itself is quite large and fits a good number
In addition to this, there is substantial covered outdoor seating as
well. There are fans outside to cool you down in the hot weather, and heaters
built into the ceiling that throw a surprising amount of heat in the cooler
Following Pandora’s overall theme of environmental
conservation, Satu’li does not have lids for their cups, uses paper straws, and
uses real plates and flatware. While this is great in terms of conservation and
keeping a smaller footprint, it has the secondary bonus of creating a dining
experience that is a step up from “fast food”.
Satu’li Canteen Menu
The food offerings at Satu’li Canteen are truly unique. You will not find another restaurant around that has similar food. The bonus of Satu’li Canteen being a newer restaurant is they seem to have planned the menu with food allergies in mind.
Create Your Own Bowl
The basic idea behind the majority of the menu options at
Satu’li Canteen is to create your own bowl. As such, you choose a protein, a
base (i.e. potatoes, rice, etc.), and a sauce. This allows you to personalize
your bowl exactly how you want it, and also gives you a lot of different
combinations to try out on all those return trips to Disney World you’ll end up
The type of protein that you pick will be the determining
factor in the overall price of your meal. You have a choice of beef, chicken,
shrimp, tofu, and a beef and chicken combo bowl. The combo bowl is the most
expensive, with the chicken and tofu bringing up the rear as the cheapest
The bases give you the opportunity to make vastly
different meals. If you are a meat and potatoes type of person, you can try the
red and sweet potato hash. For those who like salads, there is a hearty salad
base. Rice lovers can gravitate towards the rice and beans. And finally, noodles
round out the four base options.
There are 3 different sauces to choose from to top off the meal:
1) Charred green onion vinaigrette;
2) Black bean vinaigrette; or
3) Creamy herb sauce.
If sauce just isn’t your thing, you can always opt to go without sauce as well.
As you can see from these combinations, Satu’li Canteen offers up some of the healthier food options in any of the parks. Considering this a Quick Service restaurant, that is very impressive.
Satu’li Canteen Menu Changes
Once upon a time, there were other menu options, but those have since been removed. There used to be an entrée size version of the cheeseburger steam pods. Also, there was a shrimp and noodle bowl.
While this second option is no longer directly stated on the menu, you can make your own version if it via the create your own bowl using shrimp as your protein and noodles as your base.
Satu’li Canteen Breakfast
At one point, Satu’li Canteen offered a scrumptious looking breakfast menu. However, this was pretty short lived, officially ending in September 2017, lasting only a few months. Let’s face it, during breakfast hours, anyone who is in Pandora is trying to get on Flight of Passage, not eat breakfast.
There were murmurings that breakfast would be offered seasonally, specifically during very busy times like Christmas and Easter. However, I have not seen any reports of this so am unable to verify whether or not this is true. Considering the lack of information, I’m guessing this never happened.
Satu’li Canteen Kids’ Menu
The kids’ menu is more varied than the adult menu, likely to accommodate the picky palates of most children. The kids are able to order kid size versions of the protein bowls if they so choose, but they also have the opportunity to have cheeseburger steam pods, cheese quesadillas, and hot dogs wrapped in dough.
The more traditional meals come with vegetable chips and grapes on the side. The create your own bowls do not come with any other sides.
Best Disney Restaurants for Kids
Satu’li Canteen Desserts
The menu at Satu’li Canteen is rounded out by a couple of
dessert offerings, one of which is VERY Instagram friendly.
The most popular dessert is the Blueberry Cream Cheese Mousse. This is perhaps the most colorful and prettiest dessert I have ever seen.
However, if chocolate is more your thing, then look no
further than the Chocolate Cake. This cake has a crunchy cookie layer with
banana cream topping. But don’t be fooled, this looks like no other chocolate
cake you’ve ever seen.
Satu’li Canteen Allergy Menu
One of the things I like best about Satu’li Canteen is
how easy they make it for people with food allergies to enjoy their delicious
food. As soon as you enter the restaurant there is a cast member there to hand
you the menu. Simply ask for an allergy friendly menu and they have them right
there for you to peruse.
The allergy menu for Satu’li Canteen is quite detailed for the top 8 food allergies. You will find a wide variety of options to choose from because of the different combinations you can make. I promise, you won’t be disappointed.
Satu’li Canteen Gluten Free Menu
In terms of gluten free options for the entrees, all of
the protein choices are available as an option, and all the bases except
noodles are gluten free. From there you can choose from 2 of the sauces: creamy
herb dressing or charred green onion vinaigrette.
I’m not going to do all the math of exactly how many
choices this gives us, but you choose from 4 proteins, 3 bases, and 2 sauces.
For those of us who are gluten free, having this many options is a game
The removal of the boba balls is the only thing necessary to make this combination bowl gluten free. I have no idea what is in the boba balls that makes them a gluten risk, but I’m OK with the absence.
Satu’li Canteen Review
In the past year I have eaten at Satu’li Canteen 4 times
over the course of 3 trips, so clearly, I’m a fan. On the 3rd trip
to Satu’li I forced myself to get a slightly different bowl just for the sake
of trying something else for blogging purposes, but then went right back to my
usual by the 4th trip, because it’s just that good.
Chopped Wood Grilled Chicken Bowl
The favorite combination for my family so far is the
Chopped Wood Grilled Chicken bowl with red and sweet potato hash base with the
creamy herb sauce. All of this is then topped with a slaw, and for those who
can eat gluten, boba balls.
Between the Chicken and the Beef bowls, I prefer the chicken.
I think the flavors of the base and sauce blend better with the chicken than
with the beef.
Slow Roasted Sliced Grilled Beef Bowl
The quality of the beef is very good, nice and tender,
not overcooked, which is always a risk when ordering beef from what is
essentially a fast food restaurant. You can see from the picture that there is
still a nice amount of redness to the meat, which is how I prefer my beef.
My only potential criticism for both the beef and chicken
bowls, and I’m assuming all of the others, is regarding the quantity of the
sauce that is put on the bowl. As someone who loves sauces and rarely seems to
have enough, I found that they are very liberal with their sauce application.
For me this is fine, though even I would say that it
would probably taste better with just a little less sauce. The flavor of the
creamy herb sauce is great, but it is strong. As a result, it can overpower
some of the other awesome flavors in the dish. If you are someone who tends to
like less sauce on things, I would highly recommend that you ask for the sauce
on the side or specify that you only want a little.
“Teylu” All Beef Hot Dog Wrapped in Dough
Both of my kids chose to get the hot dogs wrapped in
dough. They really enjoyed the hot dogs, even requesting to go back to Satu’li
Canteen for lunch on our second Animal Kingdom day.
For kids, the presentation of the hot dog is pretty
interesting and novel. The dough the hot dog is wrapped in is a nice golden
brown, while remaining soft and fluffy. But whatever it was they liked about
it, both of the kids ate the whole thing, so that’s a win in my book.
The chips that come with the hot dogs were also a nice
touch instead of the standard French fries. They are made with a mix of potato
varieties and are pretty darn tasty. Because I absolutely had to sample them,
for the sake of blogging, of course!
Blueberry Cream Cheese Mousse
And finally, we reach perhaps one of the most unique and
Instagram worthy foods around: The Blueberry Cream Cheese Mousse. Even though I
couldn’t eat this, I ordered it for my hubby and the kids simply because I
wanted to take pictures of it and hear their opinions. They were totally on
board with being the guinea pigs on this one.
It appears that the only thing which makes this not
gluten free is a thin layer of cake at the very bottom. This is a real bummer.
If they had just left that part out, more people could enjoy it.
So here it is! Feast your eyes upon the Blueberry Cream
Pretty cool looking, right?
So … did it taste as good as it
When I asked my husband how it was, he said he liked the passion fruit
curd the best. Granted, both of us tend to like lemon curd, so this isn’t
surprising, but perhaps not a ringing endorsement for the dessert as a whole.
In the end, it seems like the Blueberry Cream Cheese Mousse was a decent dessert, but taste wise not one to go out of your way to get.
However, I would still suggest you get it, simply for the novelty of the dessert itself. Let’s face it, it just looks cool.
Satu’li Canteen Copy Cat Recipes
Do you want to get a feel for what the food at Satu’li
Canteen tastes like from the comfort of your own home? Here’s a video I found that shows you how to make the grilled beef bowl. The recipe is Whole 30 compliant, paleo, low-carb, and gluten free!
Grilled Beef & Sweet Potato Bowl with Chimichurri Sauce
Final Thoughts on Satu’li Canteen
It’s no surprise to you by now that I am clearly a fan of
Satu’li Canteen and encourage everyone to give it a try. The pickiest eaters
will no doubt be turned off by the rather unique choices here, but you might
end up surprised by how much you like it.
On top of the food just flat out tasting good, the
portion size that you get with each bowl is huge. With the prices coming in at
around $13-$17 a bowl, that makes Satu’li Canteen a good value for your money.
The quality of the food and the sheer amount of it makes this a very filling
meal, which is key in my world. And when you combine the value with the ease
that Mobile Ordering offers, it’s a win-win.
Nicole is a mom, a Disney lover, and a social worker all rolled into one. Her passions for planning Disney trips and helping people collided to create the blog, The Disney Journey. The goal of The Disney Journey is to help people plan the ultimate Disney vacation, without the stress and anxiety. Come follow the Disney Journey on Facebook to stay up to date on the latest happenings.
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Staying cool — and keeping your kids cool — is at upmost importance during your Disney, not only for your comfort and sanity, but also for you and your family’s health and well-being. Here at 7 ways to heat the heat and not let the Florida sun ruin your vacation.
1. Don’t Go to Disney World in the Summer.
Yeah, I know. some of you are rolling your eyes at me right now. I don’t say this to be snarky, but to make sure you re-think the obvious first.
If you haven’t already scheduled your trip yet, is there any other time that could work for your family? Personally, I would do anything in my power to avoid going to Disney World in June, July, or August — not just because of the heat, but also because the crowds are usually worse during those times. I remember literally dripping sweat the last week in September as I stood near the entrance of Epcot with my girls waiting to get Daisy Duck’s autograph and thinking, “If it’s this hot now, I can’t imagine what it must be like in July.”
Having said that, I know a lot of families don’t have the luxury to consider non-summer vacation times. And heat is almost guaranteed to be at least somewhat of an issue no matter when you go. So let’s move on to:
2. Wear Oool Clothes
What you wear to Disney World can make a huge difference.
Over the years, I’ve discovered that I like wearing dresses in the Disney parks. They are cooler than shorts — certainly cooler than denim shorts — allow for more air flow, and I feel prettier in them. That may sound silly, but hey, if I’m going to have my picture taken all day long, I don’t want to be wearing something that I feel dumpy in.
Find a cotton sundress, dress it up with some cute Disney accessories, and you’ve got a cute, comfortable outfit for the day!
Women’s Sleeveless Knee Length Flared Tank DressSummer Floral Midi DressesWomen’s Sleeveless Casual Swing Flowy SundressesWomen’s Summer Casual Sleeveless Floral Printed Swing Dress with PocketsCasual Sleeveless Mini Printed Vest DressCasual Plain Short Sleeve Simple T-Shirt DressCold Shoulder with Pockets Casual Swing T-Shirt Dress
Another reason why I prefer dresses is that they go nicely with sandals. To me, sandals are a better choice to shoes because they breathe easier, are less prone to cause chafing, and you don’t have to worry about your socks getting sweaty or soggy.
These are the sandals I’ve worn on my last three Disney trips, but I would also recommend any of the ones below:
The Best Women’s Sandals for Walking in Disney World
3. Find the Best Places to Cool Off in Each Park.
Fortunately, there are plenty of opportunities to get wet at the Disney parks. Some involve you getting wet (sometimes very wet), while others are just a nice place to sit in an air conditioned building.
Best Places to Cool Off in the Magic Kingdom
WedWay Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover — Take a relaxing tour through Tomorrowland. It’s almost guaranteed there won’t be a line, and if you want, you can ask the Cast Member if you can stay on and ride it a second (or third) time.
Mickey’s PhilharMagic — A 3D film starring Donald Duck and featuring songs from some of your favorite Disney movies.
Casey Jr. Splash ‘N’ Soak Station — This is a circus-themed water play area in Fantasyland, next to Pete’s Silly Sideshow. You might want to be prepared by having bathing suits and/or extra clothes for the kids in your Disney backpack, because your kids might, in fact, get soaked. Restrooms are conveniently located nearby.
Splash Mountain — If our family had to vote on our favorite ride in Magic Kingdom, I think this would be the winner. It’s fun, it’s peaceful, and the drop at the end gives you a great view of the park and is exciting without being terrifying. You may get a little wet … or a lot wet!
Totem Poles in Adventureland — My kids had a great time playing at these one year, and even made a couple friends. Another plus is that it’s right by Aloha Isle, so you pick up a Dole Whip or Dole Whip Float, which I highly recommend.
Best Places to Cool Off in Epcot
Club Cool — This is a must if you have a soda fan in your family. It’s an air-conditioned kiosk in Future World that has unlimited samples of Coca-Cola products from different countries.
Epcot Splash Pad — An oval splash pad on the main path from Future World to the World Showcase that has both leap frog and vertical fountains. It’s likely your kids will get drenched, so again, be prepared with extra clothes. (If you need plastic bags for your wet things, just stop inside a souvenir shop and ask for a large plastic Walt Disney World Resort Bag.
The Land Pavilion — Spend some time indoors, ride Living with the Land and Soarin’. If you’re hungry, grab a meal or snack at Sunshine Seasons, which has a great selection to choose from.
Best Places to Cool Off in Animal Kingdom
Kali River Rapids — The line for this can be long, but if you have an afternoon Fastpass, it’s a great way to cool off. Warning: depending on your luck, you may get absolutely drenched on this ride. Some people like to ride it wearing rain ponchos.
Festival of the Lion King — Located in Africa, this 30-minute, Broadway-style show is filled with songs, acrobatics, and puppetry.
Finding Nemo: The Musical — A 40-minute musical featuring original songs, vibrantly-colored puppets, and underwater special effects
Best Places to Cool Off in Hollywood Studios
Toy Story Mania — Once Rob and Rebecca were in Hollywood Studios together and ducked in here and got on line, having no idea what it even was, just to escape the heat. The queue is indoors, attractive, and entertaining, and the actually attraction (a 4D arcade game starring Toy Story characters) is really fun too.
For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration — A 30 minutes karaoke-style performance of songs from Frozen in an indoor theater. If you want to get a chance to catch paper “snow,” be sure to sit near the front. Also, be aware that this is not a meet and greet.
Voyage of the Little Mermaid — A 15-minute musical using live action, puppets, and movie clips.
4. Bring Frogg Togg Cooling Towels (yes, they really work!)
I discovered Frogg Togg Chilly Pad Cooling Towels two Disney trips ago, and now I would never go without one.
I like how, in addition to keeping me cool, the towel also gives me added sun protection for my neck, shoulders, upper back, and arms. (My Irish/Polish redheaded self needs all the help it can get.)
I don’t quite understand the physics of it, but the way the towel works is that you wet and then squeeze it out. It somehow stays dry to the touch, but as it evaporates, it gives off a cooling effect. Once it’s fully evaporated and doesn’t feel cool anymore, you simply head to a nearby bathroom or water fountain and wet it again.
On our last Disney trip, we only had two cooling towels and Rob decided to buy another on when we were at Animal Kingdom. It was a different brand, by Coolcore, and Rob said it definitely didn’t get as cool as the Frogg Togg towel did.
5. Drink Plenty of Water
Drinking water is really important at all times, but especially when you’re outside in the heat. If you haven’t already heard, you can get a free cup of ice water at any counter service restaurant. I personally prefer to take advantage of that rather than lug around water bottles for everybody, but the younger your kids are, and the the more of them you have, the less I would rely on that being your only means of having drinking water.
Try to stay away from caffeine and alcohol, which both have dehydrating effects. And sad as it is, sugar doesn’t do you any favors when you’re trying to stay hydrated, either. Water, water, water.
6. Visit the Pools and Water Parks
One of the best ways to beat the Florida heat is to have a smart schedule: Hit the park before rope drop, go back to your hotel for a nap and swim in the afternoon, and then head back to the park in the evening.
There’s also the option to spend the day at one of Disney’s two water parks, Blizzard Beach or Typhoon Lagoon.
We’ve never been to either water park (our vacations have never seemed long enough to fit it in!) but the general consensus seems to be that Blizzard Beach is little better for kids and more fast-paced, while Typhoon Lagoon has a better wave pool and more shaded areas.
Not sure which one to go to? If you’re using Disney transportation, just hop one whichever bus arrives first!
7. Bring a Misting Fan
We’ve never used one of these, but for a few bucks, it seems worth getting one to tuck into your Disney park bag if you’re going during the summer. If nothing else, it’ll give you something to distract you with a little while you’re waiting in line.
I’ve seen some people report being very happy with the O2COOL Carabiner Misting Fan, which is also available at Wal-Mart.
BUT I’ve also read some blog posts saying that it’s worth it to pay double to get the Disney Squeeze Breeze, the hand held pans that they sell at the parks. They claim that the O2COOL is a piece of junk and that they Squeeze Breeze, with the Disney characters on it, makes a nice souvenir.
If you’re like me and kind of obsessive about reading reviews before making a buying decision (or you just find it somewhat entertaining), you can check out the reviews for the O2COOL or read this discussion about various misting fan on DISBoards.
Now it’s your turn!
So what about you? Do you have a favorite gadget or piece of clothing that keeps you and your family cool? Do you have a “spot” where you like to duck into when the heat is getting you down? Which water park do you prefer, Blizzard Beach or Typhoon Lagoon? Let us know below in the comments!