Heading to Orlando this winter and wondering about packing for Disney World in January? Visiting Florida theme parks can be tricky this time of year, offering all different types of weather throughout a week, or even a day! However, overall, January is one of my favorite times of the year to plan a Walt Disney World vacation. The crowds are lower, the holidays are over, and it is a great place to kick off the new year!
It is a good idea to pack a little bit of everything when you are visiting Disney parks in the winter months, because purchasing a new wardrobe while there can be quite pricey. It could be warm, cold, wet or somewhere in between in Orlando in January. Keep reading to find out my best tips on what to pack on your next winter trip to the Magic Kingdom (and beyond!) Here are a few important questions to consider.
Is January a good time to go to Disney World?
January is a great time of year for a Disney vacation. Aside from the crowds around MLK weekend and Walt Disney World half marathon weekend, there are generally less people and shorter lines to content with during January. The crowds have dissipated after the holiday season and school is back in session for most families. When we visited last year, during the winter, we loved flying out of a snowstorm in the Midwest to the sunny skies of Florida. It is a perfect way to fight any winter blues post holidays.
Is Disney World too cold in January?
January is a cooler month for Florida weather, but it still Orlando, so “cooler” is a relative term. Be sure to check the winter weather forecast as your trip approaches. My favorite weather app is Dark Sky. Be sure to enter “Lake Buena Vista” as your address instead of the Orlando area, as that is the address for most of Walt Disney World Resort.
The average temperatures for central Florida range from 51 degrees Fahrenheit to average high temperatures of 74 degrees Fahrenheit during the days of January. Some warm weather days are still possible. There are fewer rainy days in January. Typically, cold weather is very rare in central Florida unless unusual cold fronts come through.
I would still suggest parking some rain gear for rainy days, like a poncho or waterproof sandals. However, your odds are stormy days are slim. The spring and summer months tend to be more of a rainy season in the sunshine state than the winter months. Be sure to include a light jacket and long pants for early mornings or evenings when the temperature tends to drop. Hot weather tends to be rare, so you may or may not want to wear shorts. It really depends on your personal comfort level.
What should I carry in my backpack to Disney World?
Clothing Layers: When you are prepping your park bag for Disney World in January, it is a great idea to think about packing some layers for cold days. Consider wearing a light jacket or sweatshirt in the early mornings with a lighter t-shirt or long sleeve shirts underneath in case warm weather comes in the afternoon. It may or may not be shorts weather, so double check the forecast before you head out.
If you are planning to stay for the evening shows or take advantage of late park hours, be sure to pack a sweater or light jacket if the temperature drops. Even if it is shorts weather in the amusement parks during the day, a lot of people are surprised when the “cold weather” hits in the evenings. Be prepared in January!
Rain Gear: Remember to throw some rain gear into your bag because you never know when showers may appear at Disney World. On my last trip, I had to purchase a very expensive rain jacket with the Disney logo because I left my poncho in the hotel room. Never again!! Consider packing a lightweight poncho, a foldable rain jacket, and/or an umbrella to help you navigate through the parks.
Rain Gear for Stroller: If you are bringing a stroller, remember to pack a stroller cover. Your stroller will remain parked outside of most rides, attractions and dining locations. Cast members often move strollers, so even if you park it under cover, it may not stay that way. Remember to cover your stroller during chances of rain to protect it and keep it usable for the entire day.
Change of Shoes: Of course, during a Disney vacation, you will want to remember to wear comfortable walking shoes for a lot of walking. If you will be daring the water rides, like Splash Mountain at Magic Kingdom or Kali River Rapids at Animal Kingdom, be sure to consider swapping your sneakers for easy dry sandals or flip flops so your feet stay dry for the rest of your trip. No one likes soggy socks! Sometimes these water rides are down for maintenance in the winter, so be sure to check Disney’s website to make sure you know what is open.
Plastic Ziploc bags: Easy zip bags are handy to have in the Disney parks. You may need them to dole out snacks, pack up leftovers, or even tuck away wet garments.
Autograph book and Sharpie: If meet and greets are an option for your trip, don’t forget to include an autograph book to your Disney packing list. A Sharpie retractable marker will be handy for quick character signings.
Portable charger: Bring along a portable charger for your phone. Though the My Disney Experience app is invaluable for your trip, it will also quickly drain your battery. The good news is the app will keep you updated on all park hours, special events, character meets, dining reservations, and your park plans. The bad news is you do not want to be without your phone for an extended amount of time. You can purchase chargers in the parks, though they will most likely be pricier than what you can find on Amazon.
Refillable water bottle: Of course, you will also want to include a refillable water bottle in your park bag. Though you may not have as many hot days, Disney World parks require a lot of walking and you will easily become dehydrated. Keep drinking water throughout your trip to ensure having the best time! You may find water fountains throughout the park, but another great way to get more water is to just swing by a quick service dining spot and ask for a free cup of ice water!
Snacks, Candy and Gum: If you are looking to save some money or prevent meltdowns, consider packing some snacks, candy and gum. Gum is not sold in the Disney parks, but it can help entertain an older child or adult who needs a little pick me up. When packing snacks, remember to leave behind items that can easily melt or spoil, just in case it gets warm in your park bag.
Moleskin/Bandages: Blisters can be inevitable with so much walking, so be sure to include moleskin or bandages in your park bag. First Aid stations are available in every park, in case you need additional help.
Medications: I usually pack medications that prevent headaches, soreness and upset stomach for everyone in our family. No one wants to feel badly at the most magical place on Earth! Again, First Aid is available, as well as medical staff, if needed.
Gloves, coats and hats: You may not need all of these items in January, but if the temperature does get cooler, you may want to have these in your park bag to stay comfortable. Always check the weather forecast before you head to the parks.
Sunglasses/hats/sunscreen: The sun is still very present in Orlando in January. Be sure to protect your eyes and skin in all types of weather.
Do I need layers in Orlando in January?
Layers are key at Disney World in January. Consider the following clothing items for your Disney World packing list:
- quick drying shorts
- comfortable long pants
- breathable and easily drying t-shirts
- shirts with long sleeves
- light jackets
- spirit jerseys
- packable umbrella
- lightweight poncho
- comfortable shoes (tennis shoes and waterproof sandals)
- quick drying socks
- swim cover up, goggles
- park bag
Can you swim at Disney World in January?
Another reason that traveling to Disney World in January is so awesome is that you can often still swim in January! When you are booking your hotel room, be sure to check to see if the hotel pool and hot tub will be open during your Disney trip. If you have some warm days during your trip, it is a great way to get away from the chaos of the Disney World parks.
Remember that pool hopping from resort to resort is not allowed, so pick a resort that offers some great swimming pools. Value resorts do not have water slides, so if that is important to you and/or your children, consider a moderate or deluxe resort. Most of the time, towels are available at the pools and can be returned upon leaving the pool deck. You can call your specific resort to double check before completing your packing list.
Our personal preferences are to make some great dining reservations and take a break from the parks with a swim day. We relax at the hotel and then head out to one of the great Disney Springs restaurants for dinner. It is the best way to relax in the middle of a trip. Some may find the water a bit chilly, but our friends from the northern states always take advantage of being able to swim in the middle of January!
Are Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon open in January?
When you are considering a trip to Disney World in January, check the schedule for the water parks. Generally speaking, one of the water parks will be open while the other may be closed for maintenance. For instance, currently Typhoon Lagoon has reopened while Blizzard Beach is closed for the winter. Check the Disney World website for current park hours and any special events at the water parks. If you are lucky enough to have some warmer days ,it is a great time of year to take advantage of lower crowds in January!
Thanks for reading my favorite things to pack for Disney World in January. Be sure to read for more tips for your Disney World or Disney Cruise Line vacation and sign up for my newsletter for a complete packing list!