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Though central Florida is blissfully insulated from snowstorms and blizzards, that doesn’t mean that theme park visitors are completely protected from the cold. As the temperatures get down to the 30s and 40s during the winter months at Walt Disney World, a number of changes will take place at the resort that effect what guests are able to experience.

1. Ride downtime increases

Though dark rides as well as attractions that are fully housed indoors won’t see any adverse affects from the cold, rides that are fully or even partially outdoors can suffer from increased downtime or even closure when temperatures get close to freezing. One attraction that is particularly susceptible to the cold weather is Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, which can suffer from slow-moving trains when the weather is cold. This effect can not only damage the ride experience, but also hampers the ride’s control system as well, which results in an automatic shutdown and a full safety reboot. 

2. Walk around characters sport alternate attire 

Though indoor characters like those you might meet at the Princess Fairytale Hall are unaffected by the cold weather (though Queen Elsa might make a few extra quips!), the characters that you see in outdoor locations (particularly around Epcot) will sport “winter wear” looks that include capes, coats and other cold-weather appropriate clothes. Some guests actually prefer these cold weather outfits, so if you are looking to get pictures with characters like Belle and Snow White in slightly different attire, make sure you head out to the parks while the weather is still chilly!

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Don't even think of going to Disney's Animal Kingdom on a very cold day unless you don't like animals very much. One cold December day I think I saw a total of 4 animals on the safari. Animal Kingdom, the most beautiful of the parks but intolerable in the heat and a ghost town in the cold.

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