I’m planning on some long, hot, crowded days at DL and DCA with kids. Retreating to the hotel is not an option. I know to seek out indoor attractions like Animation Academy and Pirates in the afternoon. But what should we AVOID?
In other words, what are the worst outdoor queues or experiences in the midday sun? We’ll have genie+ and we’re planning to knock out Fantasyland and Pixar Pier during rope drop on our two days in the parks. What else should we do early or late in the day when it’s cool?
The small and unshaded queues for most of Fantasyland (especially Casey Jr, Storybook Land Canal Boats, Matterhorn and while they are shaded, the lines are so compact and close to people that I highly dislike doing them in the midday heat, Peter Pan, Alice, Snow White, Mr Toad’s and sometimes Pinocchio’s are also ones we avoid until it’s cooler. Astro Orbiter and Autopia are also ones I refuse to do midday with no shade cover. Rise of the Resistance if you’re spilling into the overflow outdoor unshaded queues before the caves is another one I avoid (so you’ll want to go when it’s posted 60 min or less).
Also, while Pirates is almost 15 minutes indoors, the majority of the line, especially midday, is outside the ride exterior and only the last 5 or so minutes of your wait will be indoors. And depending on where the sun is you might have an extra 5-15 minutes of the line immediately outside the ride with some shade but the majority if the likely likely 45 min will be in the sun with the crowds of New Orleans Square shuffling around the queued ropes. So Pirates is actually one we do only with 20 min or less wait. I’d rather head up to Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, it’s a small world (they built a dedicated queue with lots of good shade trees nearby so it’s much cooler) or any other mainly indoor attraction.
In DCA, Monsters Inc standby when it’s over 30-40 min is in a brutally hot, unshaded pavement reflecting heat area so I would avoid that. The Pixar Pal-Around (non-swinging side) is also hot, unshaded, pretty much all pavement reflecting heat. But the swinging side does seem to get more cover/shade so if you’re ok with swinging then that’s less bad. Jumpin’ Jellyfish, Golden zephyr, Goofy’s Sky School and Inside Out Emotional Whirlwind all have outdoor queues that have little to no shade but are doable if their lines are on the shorter end. Goofy’s has an LL with Genie+ and the LL is not only short but is shaded so definitely recommend using an LL for that one.
Some of my favorite places to escape midday crowds and heat are Animation Academy (as you mentioned), Mickey’s Philharmagic, Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, Tiki Room with a Dole Whip, a couple of loops on the railroad, a turn around the Rivers of America on the Mark Twain on one of the lower two decks, (do not get on the Sailing Ship Columbia because that is a heat reflecting all sunny deck). We also spend a lot of midday time shopping and sitting down in AC restaurants. Golden Horseshoe in DL and the Doc Hudson side of Flo’s are 2 of our favorite AC heavy respites.
Fantasyland and Pixar Pier is a good start. Tough question since the vast majority of the lines are outdoors (unlike WDW) since the weather is generally nice.
Lolabear got most of them but a few other uncomfortable ones that come to mind - Haunted Mansion, Jungle Cruise (mostly shaded but very tight), Finding Nemo Subs, and Big Thunder Mtn.
A nice spot to rest if you can find a seat is Sonoma Terrace. It’s outside but shaded with nice chairs for lounging.
Good callout on the ones I didn’t include! I was trying to limit to the ones that were most brutal, since so many do have outdoor queues.
And your mention of Sonoma Terrace reminds me, another great place to escape to that’s indoors and close by is the Grand Californian Hotel lobby. One callout, if you go to the lobby, you will have to redo security to re-enter either DCA or head to Downtown Disney, but if that’s not a huge hassle for you (can be for us with a double stroller and all the bags for all the things for the people that we tend to carry with us), it’s a great place to relax.
The Hearthstone Lounge and Craftsman Bar & Grill are both excellent places to sit down and enjoy some food/beverages if you want your rest time to double as a meal/snack. Also the lobby has a fireplace area, beautiful architecture and sometimes a piano player so all around a great place to lounge and rest midday.