Many people consider Walt Disney World to be the ultimate vacation destination – safe and sound. It is easy to feel that the biggest disaster that might befall you is to get to Space Mountain too late to secure a FastPass.

However, the heat and fast pace of a Disney World vacation can test the limits of your physical and mental endurance. If you do not prepare, heat illness is a real possibility – and a surefire way to ruin your vacation.

Yes, Disney’s Magic Kingdom is the most magical place on Earth, but in mid-summer it is also one of the hottest, muggiest, and most crowded places on Earth. Here are some tips to help you beat the heat and highlight the magic of your Disney resort experience.

Stay Hydrated

Staying hydrated during long hours at the Disney theme parks is the single most important key to staying healthy in even the fiercest of temperatures. Our bodies are terrific at regulating our internal body temperature no matter what the outside environment throws at us, but they need water to do it. Start drinking first thing in the morning, and continue to drink even if you don’t feel thirsty. Thirst actually indicates that you are already dehydrated, and it is more difficult to recover from dehydration that it is to prevent it.

The heat at Disney World can be intense.  Take precautions.

The heat at Disney World can be intense.  Take precautions.

Heat exhaustion is a mild form of heat illness, but it can rapidly develop into more serious heat stroke without proper care. The signs of heat exhaustion are abundant sweating and rapid respiration and pulse as your body has to work harder to distribute oxygen to your cells. Sweating is the body’s natural way of cooling down, but it also means that you are losing what moisture you have even more rapidly. The biggest sign of severe dehydration and heat stroke is when you stop sweating even in extreme heat.

Protect Yourself From the Sun

Prolonged sun exposure without any protection can also cause dizziness and a rise in body temperature. Moderate to severe sun burns as a result of shunning sun screen or clothing coverage sap your body’s resources. Burned skin is unable to cool itself, and you will lose moisture through the damaged areas. Burns also force your immune system to focus on healing rather than maintaining your overall health. In the long term, of course, severe suns burns or extensive UV exposure will increase your risk of developing skin cancer.

Limit Your Time in the Sun

While many attractions at Walt Disney World require waiting or riding in the open air, many others offer an escape from the heat and/or the sun. Plan to spend the hottest part of the day enjoying air-conditioned shows, indoor rides, or rides that offer a refreshing soaking such as Kali River Rapids at Animal Kingdom or Splash Mountain at the Magic Kingdom.

And don’t be afraid to take it easy during the midday heat, when crowds are often at their peak. Enjoy a luxurious lunch in a cool restaurant, or return to your resort for an air-conditioned nap or some relaxing pool time.

Although you might fear you will miss something by not seeing and doing everything there is to do in the most magical place on earth, with just a little planning and a lot of water, you can make the most of this special vacation.