What to wear to a theme park when it’s hot in summer

There’s no getting around it, unless there’s a crazy cold front, if you’re heading to an amusement or theme park in the summer, it’s going to be hot and you’re going to sweat. You’re also very likely to get wet.

Family Travel Tips: What to wear to a theme park (especially when it's hot this summer!)

While the kids are easy to dress (we love dressing them in bright tie dye because you can’t miss them).

what to wear to a theme park summer

Big met Scooby & Shaggy at Universal Studios during Family Forward. Shaggy complimented both is tie-dye shirt and his shaggy hair. The hair I had nothing to do about; the tie-dyes we try to encourage because they’re bright, making it easier to find the kids in a crowd.

Dressing yourself is a bit harder. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • You’re going to get wet on rides like log flumes and river rafts and, likely, not have a towel or a chance to dry off*
  • You’re going to be taking on high elevation thrill rides as well as, possibly, flipping upside down (if you’re a daredevil)
  • You’re going to be hot

Family Travel Tips: What to wear to a theme park (especially when it's hot this summer!)

Learn more: Universal Studios child swap makes big kid rides family-friendly

What to wear to Amusement or Theme Parks

Flip Flops and Running shoes

flip flops and running shoes that are perfect for a theme park

Don’t even bother with heels. Even on our nights out, I stuck to flip flops (which felt a little inappropriate with a strapless dress, but when in theme parks, anything goes.) I switched running shoes and flip flops, every other day. Last year, I wore my Sanuk Yoga Mat flip flops, and they were perfect. This year, because it was the day before we left for our trip that I realized they’ve been worn and loved a little too much, I ran out and purchased Under Armour Marbella flip flops which are Memory Foam flips. On non-flip flop days, I wore my Under Armour Toxic running shoes, which I’ve been wearing since I received them as samples this spring (as a part of the #WhatsBeautiful ambassador program.)

Favorite Gym Skirts and Dry-Wicking Tops

This is my biggest and best advice, grab your most favorite skirts from the gym, and you’ll be set. Honestly, even if you’re going to be there for a week, you can really make do with just 2 or 3 skirts. These skirts are uber-comfortable (underwear is built-in!), are skorts so that we don’t have to worry about the skirt flying up, are made for movement and water–be that sweat or splashes. They dry super fast, so they’re ideal for log-flumes and river rafts and you can wash them in the sink and they’ll be dry about 24 hours later if you hang them in the shower. I brought two and felt perfectly dressed every time I wore them. In fact, I even wore one home on the plane.

what to wear to amusement parks (Where you get to meet celebs like Homer and Marge!)

I never thought Marge and Homer would be so tall! (at Loews Hotels’ Royal Pacific at Universal Studios.) This is one of my favorite theme-park tips: gym skorts–light weight, fast drying and they have the shorts/underwear built in. Ultra-comfort and easy to wash in the hotel.

For shirts, I had a few favorite light-weight t-shirts from both Lilly Pulitzer and Under Armour (I’m a #What’sBeautiful ambassador). My skirts were gray and black, so I could mix and match with any top. I didn’t wash my tops in the sink.

See more of our pictures: Our Super hero family

Light-weight shorts and t-shirts

And by light-weight, I mean really light weight. I found a v-neck t-shirt at Old Navy that was perfect, and stuck to tank tops that were cute but uber-comfortable. I hardly bought anything new for this trip because I wanted to wear only what I’d been comfortable in all summer.

what to wear to an amusement park -- the key is comfort and light clothing in the summer

Also at Family Forward, we “met” a Transformer (this thing is HUGE). I wore my favorite orange shorts that are light and flexible from Ann Taylor and an Old Navy vintage V-neck tee (which is only $6.50! click the picture for the link). Little’s in a sporty outfit, complete with a tennis skort for comfort and ease.

Shorts were a big thing for me. I picked my most light-weight that also felt loose in all the right places. I had no interest in sweating down there!

Learn more: Packing for a week at Disney

Maxi Dresses

If you’re not a thrill seeker, a maxi dress may work for you. They’re extremely comfortable and move with you, rather than feeling constricting. But, if you like crazy roller coaster rides, I’d steer clear of these. I’m just so afraid of my clothing getting caught or getting in the way. I’d hate to feel like I have to keep my skirt down on rides–especially those where you are riding with nothing below you.

what to wear disney universal summer

I like to travel in maxi dresses, and we flew in and then when right to the parks. It was SO hot on our first day. The boys are wearing matching Reebok Play Dry shirts–they both got dressed around 3:40 am and threw sweatshirts on top. We didn’t realize they matched until we were in Florida. But they loved these light-weight stay dry shirts as often as possible.


what to wear theme park summer

Little and me on It’s a Small World at Disney. I hiked my skirt up on rides like this so that it didn’t get as wet. Little wore a skort this day–so easy!


what to wear pack universal

That’s my husband about to ride *alone* on the Dragon’s Challenge at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studio’s Islands of Adventure. I wouldn’t want to wear a maxi dress on this ride–there’s nothing below you. Come to think of it, I wouldn’t want to wear flip flops, either.

Learn more: Yes, you CAN get a sitter at Disney World

Will you need a nice dress?

At a theme park vacation, you probably won’t. In fact, the night we got a sitter and went out to Emeril’s Tchoup Chop (so delish!) I stayed in my park clothes. But I’d always pack one dress, just in case there’s a special occasion…

what to wear amusement park

after all, you just never know when Prince Charming will say “take my arm, please.” (at Cinderella’s Happily Ever After dinner at the Grand Floridian, Disney World.)

mom of 3 and wife living in the Philadelphia suburbs, Julie is a former elementary school teacher and a Public Relations manager. She is the owner/editor of Julieverse, a merchandiser with Chloe + Isabel (jewelryverse.com) and founder VlogMom and Splash Creative Media. A marketing strategist and freelance education and parenting writer by trade, Julie attempts to carve out time to enjoy playing with her kids, PTO, cooking and exercise.

© 2013 – 2016, Julie Meyers Pron. All rights reserved.


  1. says

    Spending the weekend with my family in Kenya safari last month.Thus we put on the cool and light dresses for Safari. It is genuinely cool and comfotable in summer.Thanks for sharing this valuable article.

  2. says

    Hey Julie, I appreciate the interesting ideas you’ve provided to use when visiting a theme park. I usually wear casual outfits and flip flops whenever I plan to visit theme park with my wife and kids. It’s very comfortable to wear outfits simply.

  3. says

    Hey great share….

    Theme are always a great place to have fun in the summer. These are perfect summer trip ideas to fit every budget. It’s a family vacation you’ll never forget. Thanks for sharing these amazing dressing yourself tips.

    Thanks for posting this article. Keep sharing more…

  4. Michele says

    I am currently planning for a trip in August. I too want to be as comfortable as possible. I was wondering what style skort you like from Athleta? Your link above goes to the website but I was wondering what particular style/s you like best.

    Also do you recommend any certain brands from Target or Dick’s?

    Any help/input you can offer would be MUCH appreciated. Thank you so much for all your tips.

    • says

      Sadly, I can’t recommend any of the fitness clothing at Target. If you’re only going to wear them a few times, they’re fine (in fact, I do think that some of the clothing I wore in Disney and Universal is from Target’s fitness line). But if you’re also buying for fitness, they just don’t hold up and hold form and elastic to the many wears and washes. Dicks, etc., host a lot of different brands. It’s definitely worth trying a few of them on. It’s really true that you get what you pay for; many of the less expensive lines wear like Target’s — not strong enough for a long term commitment. Brands like Lucy are fashionable, comfortable and, in my experience, are holding well.

      Athleta skirts are great because they have so many different styles and they pack so well. If you’re more comfortable in a longer skirt, definitely consider the Ribbon Skirt — it’s easy to move in. http://rstyle.me/n/btpwwwghae In regards to the skirts with the shorts attached (aka skort), the swagger looks to be a great skirt: http://rstyle.me/n/btpwy2ghae, as does the Everyday http://rstyle.me/n/btpw3aghae and the Wear About http://rstyle.me/n/btpw49ghae

      In fact, I just added the last 2 to my cart! Have a wonderful vacation!


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