Updated for 2016!
It’s hard to think of every item you need to bring on a Disney World vacation. There are packing lists floating about the Internet ranging from luggage and park bags to food for the room and toiletries. Many first time visitors, new to long hours at Disney parks or new to Orlando itself, often wonder what to wear to Disney World in the late fall, early winter. Come on, now, is there really a winter in sunny Florida?
One of my most miserable, did I mean to say memorable, Disney trips has nothing to do with characters meals or riding Space Mountain using an actual printed Fastpass. Our family went to the Magic Kingdom one warm day in early December. We were sweating, and not because we were running back and forth to Fastpass machines. It was hot! By nightfall however, the temperature dropped, and there we stood – FrEEzInG – in shorts and short sleeves. I’m talking about teeth chattering, huddled around and hugging each over, jumping in place freezing.
This is Florida, right? What happened to those balmy warm breezes?
This chart from weather.com shows that the high temperatures from October until February (74 to 85) only vary by 11 degrees. The low temperatures from the same time period (52 to 66) only vary by 14 degrees.
But when you are looking at days and nights that can change as much as 22 degrees in one day, will your luggage really be prepared for hot days and cooler nights?
So we asked our Cheapskate Princess Facebook Fans what they recommend, and we’ll break it down for you month by month.
Beka, ” In October, shorts and tees are fine or capris, with long-sleeved tees or a light jacket would be fine for night.”
Jessica, “I went in October last year and we were hot in shorts and tanks or tees every day, maybe a light jacket for fireworks.”
November (sliding into December)
Charissa, “We’ve only been in Nov. or Dec. and have always been lucky with the weather. We bring shorts, capris and t-shirts, with a hoodie or sweater for evenings or early mornings.”
December (sliding into January)
Rebecca, “When I first visited from Illinois at the end of December/beginning of January, I wore t-shirts, capris and had a light jacket for evenings. So I honestly think it depends on where you are coming from! But also watch the weather forecast; our “winter” may be nothing compared to those up north, but we have had some chilly winter days, so really layers are best! I’d honestly suggest pants with a t-shirt and sweatshirt/jacket.”
Shea, “I have been in December a couple of times and in February this year. I usually wear capri pants and t-shirts. I always bring a jacket or sweatshirt but rarely use it. The one time I wore jeans to the park during the day in mid December, it was a big mistake and I was burning up.“
Robin, “I have been in early Dec. for Pop Warner. Check the weather for that week! Some years it’s warm and others are cold. I have had to purchase a scarf, gloves and a hat at Disney World, and it is not cheap! Think layers and jackets. Pack well. I remember in 2009, it was in the 30’s one night. The next year, I did not even need a jacket.”
Tanya, “For winter, I bring jeans and capris, and t-shirts with a light jacket. I wear the jeans or capris in the morning, and the t-shirt with the jacket. When it warms up, the jacket goes around my waist, ready to put back on in the evening after the sun goes down.“
Heidi, “We went last January and went from a high in the 80s the first day we got there to the temperature going down each day and by the 5th day the high was only in the low 50s! I’m glad we were prepared for every season!”
Karla, “We wear sweat pants with shorts under them, a t-shirt and a sweatshirt, but when the sun goes down, it’s gets very cold. So depending on your blood, you might need a jacket.”
Bring a Variety of Clothes
Randy, “I always pack my WDW hoodie from 2000 and my WDW full zip polar fleece. Bring a pair of jeans. Make sure you have shorts because Oct-January in WDW is still warmer than central IL during that time!”
Crystal, “I suggest taking a variety of clothing options. During our trip the second week of December 2010, my Disney husband, who is always hot, swore he didn’t need more than one pair of pants or anything long-sleeved. I decided maybe he was right and only packed one or two long-sleeved shirts for the rest of us and about the same in pants. I made sure everyone except him had a sweater. Needless to say, they had what we were told were record lows that week – I want to say 33. We had to buy hats, scarves, blankets, sweaters, and my Disney husband was even freezing in layers. Thank goodness for our DVC room with a washer and dryer, or we would’ve had to buy more!”
Dianna, “The weather can vary from day-to-day, but I would say generally for me it’s t-shirts, jeans and a lightweight Disney hoody if it’s chilly. When it’s freezing, swap the Disney sweatshirt for a hoody.”
Layers, LaYeRs, LAYERS!
Erika, “Layers!! I always get cold at rope drop and fireworks, but midday is usually comfortable. For me, layers of t-shirts, fleece, and socks works best.”
Leslie, “Layers! It can get cold after dark but days could be like summer to “Yankees.”
Melissa, “Layers. The evenings are quite cool and the afternoon in the sun is warm. There can be a difference of 15-20 degrees in a day, so dress in layers so you can peal off or put on. I like one of the layers to have a hood. Wear long lighter weight pants for all day. My teens like a jogging pant that they can push up during the day and pull down at night. And of course bring good walking shoes.”
Tori, “Layers. Early winter usually I bring an equal mix of shorts, jeans and capris then pair them with t-shirts with a sweatshirt. The weather can be very unpredictable. In the winter I usually bring more jeans and capris, but I still wear t-shirts and sweatshirts. I also bring a jacket and gloves and hats, which is not too hard to do since I have to wear them to the airport!”
Florida Residents give their Two Cents…
Addison, “Being a Florida resident currently in Nashville, I know what those “cold” Florida winters feel like! And believe me they are cold for us when you factor in wind! Every winter trip we took, we ALWAYS brought clothes for both circumstances: Warm and Freezing your butt off weather. We could usually survive with shorts and a HUGE jacket, and a few hot chocolates! But in the case that you just rode Splash Mountain and the sun went down, you might want to bring jeans, a long-sleeves shirt and a jacket.”
Tammy, “I live in Florida, and we’ve been known to be down right cold here. We go to Disney EVERY February every year and 2 years ago the high for our trip during the day was 52* and it got down to 28* in the park that night! Disney doesn’t sell very much warm clothes. If you can find them, you’re going to shell out a big bill to pay for it! We also have something down here call humidity; everyone knows about it in the summer, but we have it in the winter too, and just like summer where it feels a whole lot hotter than it actually it, in winter it feels a whole lot colder than it actually is. My family says 50* here feels like their 30*’s. So bring clothes for every season and dress in layers.”
So if you get anything out of our fan’s advice, it’s obviously layer your clothing. Florida can be pretty warm during the day and drop down into outright COLD at night. Those warmer layers may be somewhat of a pain to have during the day, but come night-time, you’ll be glad you have them.
If you need more advice for planning purposes, visit our Vacation Tips page using this link.
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Amanda Major is the creator of cheapskateprincess.com. She remembers her first visit to Magic Kingdom like it was yesterday, because she had a ham sandwich tucked in her shorts pocket. The whole family snuck in their lunch; you can’t make that kinda stuff up. 40 years worth of trips to Orlando later, she is still trying to save money on vacations.
Amanda is a Disney Vacation Club Member and Annual Pass holder. Her amazing husband, band director Carl Major, plus three teen children and two dogs keep her busy. Amanda teaches Leadership to high school seniors in the almost-coastal town of Foley, Alabama. Read about her cheapskating local vacations with this link. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, walking somewhere, or paddling a kayak. Life is indeed a blast.
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