Heatwave-Beating Tips for Staying Cool at Theme Parks this Summer

Wondering how to deal with the summer heat during your theme park vacation?  Like many families, we traveled to Orlando’s theme park capital in mid-August, and, while it certainly is hot, there are ways to keep your cool.  Our friends at SeaWorld and Busch Gardens theme parks have shared these top tips for staying cool at theme parks this summer.  Take a look, plan ahead, and have a great time with your family in the parks.

Discovery Cove

Author’s family cooling off in Discovery Cove’s lazy river in August

From SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment

It’s summer, and it’s hot.  Stay cool during your theme park vacation with some obvious – and not so obvious – heat-beating tips.

The obvious:  wear a hat, apply sunscreen and drink lots of water.  Some theme parks, like SeaWorld San Diego offer refillable water stations to help keep guests hydrated.   Schedule your day to visit popular attractions as soon as the park opens or later in the evening.  Many theme parks stay open late in the summer, allowing for plenty of cooler hours to see and do everything.  Quick queues can help minimize the amount of time spent standing in line.  Or find an attraction – like Busch Gardens Tampa Bay’s new Cobra’s Curse – that has sections of its queue line wind through air-conditioned comfort.  And schedule in-door activities, like shows and lunch, during the hottest part of the day if possible.

Cobra’s Curse

Cobra’s Curse, image courtesy Busch Gardens Tampa


SeaWorld and Busch Gardens parks are designed with loads of opportunities to relax and chill, watch a show or walk around the parks at your own pace.  Within each of the parks, there are unique finds that help guests celebrate the cool.

SeaWorld Orlando’s Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin is by far the coolest spot in any theme park.  Guests are transported to the icy home of over 200 Adelie, king, rock hopper and gentoo penguins, and their 30-degree habitat offers a welcome respite from the Florida sun.  Spend time at the slightly warmer (but still refreshingly cool) underwater viewing area and watch how these flightless birds soar underwater.

Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin

photo by Jason Collier © 2013 SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.


Discovery Cove is consistently ranked one of the top amusement and water parks in the world by TripAdvisors Traveler’s Choice awards.   The all-inclusive day resort is where guests can swim with dolphins, rays and tropical fish, and swim in fresh and saltwater lagoons, winding rivers and a resort-style pool with waterfalls, keeping guests cool even on the hottest days.

Discovery Cove

Let’s face it, Texas can get hot in the summer.  The newest place to cool off and still enjoy the outdoors is Discovery Point, an immersive new realm at SeaWorld San Antonio, featuring signature swims with Atlantic bottlenose dolphins, beluga and sea lions (available with a paid reservation).  Guests can also observe dolphins from all new underwater viewing areas, and cool off in the newly renovated Explorer’s Reef aquarium.

Discovery Point

Discovery Point, image courtesy SeaWorld San Antonio


Sometimes getting wet is the only answer.  New at SeaWorld Orlando and San Antonio – the Summer Soak Party.  Families can take a break from the sun under playful sprinklers and rain curtains.  DJ’s and dancers keep things cool, and ice-cold culinary surprises are available.

Journey to Atlantis at SeaWorld Orlando, San Antonio, San Diego is part water ride, part roller coaster and all thrill ride, plunging guests into the middle of a clash for the lost city of Atlantis. Riders encounter spine-tingling thrills and steep, fast drops that will leave them drenched (and cooled off.)  Non-riders can also get soaked watching friends and family’s final splash down.

Stanley Falls at Busch Gardens Tampa cools off guests on an exciting flume-style ride with a drenching 40 foot drop to the base of roaring Stanley Falls.  At Busch Gardens Williamsburg, get soaked as a leisurely boat ride through the ancient ruins of Pompeii suddenly turn explosive, or climb aboard the Roman Rapids and race along currents of white water, dodging drenching waterfalls.

Also at SeaWorld San Diego, whirl, swirl, splash and crash through playful rapids and foaming whitewater on Ship Wreck Rapids.  Rio Loco at SeaWorld San Antonio cools down riders in a circular raft as it bobs and bounces through twists, turns and drop-offs.

Air-conditioned shows provide welcome relief from the heat, so make sure to grab a seat early.  There are plenty of options to choose from, including Pets Ahoy! (SeaWorld Orlando, San Antonio), Pets Rule! (SeaWorld San Diego) and Opening Night Critters (Busch Gardens Tampa) featuring the talents of a menagerie of dogs, cats, birds, rats, skunks, pot-belly pigs, and other animals performing a series of uproarious and amazing skits in an air-conditioned theater.  Most impressive is the fact that nearly all of the fabulous four-legged celebs were rescued from animal shelters before they found their fame.

Also at Busch Gardens Tampa, Iceploration delivers just what the name implies. It’s the parks biggest ice show ever, combing world-class skaters, larger than life puppets, amazing costumes, original music and animal stars.  The Moroccan Palace Theatre is transformed with over four tons of ice to create the Iceploration stage, and is a great setting for guests to cool off.

"Iceploration" at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, photo courtesy of Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

“Iceploration” at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, photo courtesy of Busch Gardens Tampa Bay


At Busch Gardens Williamsburg, London Rocks at the iconic (and air conditioned) Globe Theater is a musical journey that explores the roots of rock-n-roll.

London Rocks at Busch Gardens Williamsburg

London Rocks at Busch Gardens Williamsburg, photo by Scott K. Brown, ©2014 SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


Finally, rejuvenate in air-conditioned comfort at indoor dining experiences.  Take in a panoramic view of giraffe, zebra and herds of antelope at Busch Gardens Tampa’s Serengeti Overlook Restaurant.  Sharks Underwater Grill at SeaWorld Orlando offers guests a unique dining experience with floor-to-ceiling underwater views of swimming sharks in an upscale, full-service restaurant.

Whether it’s little known splash zones, icy attractions, or air-conditioned queue lines, there are plenty of ways to beat the heat at theme parks this summer.

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About Dave Parfitt

Married, father of two girls, and living in the heart of the Finger Lakes. I'm a runner with a PhD in neuroscience and a passion for travel.