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Amusement Park and Theme Park Attire - What to (and What Not to) Wear

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Travel agents say it best - wear comfortable clothing and shoes at the theme or amusement parks. That's simple enough, but which clothing or shoes are really comfortable to wear on a day you're going to ride several attractions, especially if you're going to get wet on some river rapids ride?

The most common clothing I've seen in the first few theme and amusement park trips were the mundane shirts and shorts (with fanny packs). Nowadays, people go beyond the usual ensemble - some too macho and some too skimpy. On cooler days, most of them wear light jackets or sweatshirts and jeans - not much of the usual theme park attire, isn't it?

While amusement and theme parks are usually in business for the summer, there are a growing number of year-round ones. (I'm not counting indoor ones!) Good examples of perennial theme parks are the ones located in Central Florida. There, falls and springs are mild, winters are cool (albeit sometimes cold), and summers are as hot as an overheated sauna.

To know how to dress for the parks, consider those seasons and pick out appropriate clothing. If you don't know what I mean, see my below pointers on the right clothes to wear.

Going Beyond "Wear Comfy Shoes"

Travel experts and I agree with this rule - wear comfortable shoes at the amusement or theme parks. Why? Almost all the parks are paved with concrete or asphalt, which are both hard surfaces that can hurt your feet. Besides, even spending a half-day can be exhausting considering the distances between rides, shows, and shops you have to cover by foot.

Experts say that sneakers are best, but you'll feel very uncomfortable wearing them with socks once you experience a ride that soaks you to the core. Of course, you can go to the park with less soaking problems with flip-flops, which are common footwear since recent years. Not only you will risk plantar fascitis, but you will lose them on rides that will let you dangle your feet. (Think inverted coasters and drop tower rides!)

I agree with the sneakers part, but only on theme parks with no water rides. But if going to ones with them, I suggest that you wear water shoes. They allow you to ride whatever you want without much foot trouble, especially if doing a water ride and a drop tower on the same day.

As a bonus, most of them have proper arch support and proper cushion and you can wear them without socks. I have worn them on parks that have water rides and have felt like I blended in the sneaker crowd without the discomfort of wet feet in socks!

This Youth Didn't Get the "No Adult Costumes" Policy at WDW, Eh?


Again, the most common theme or amusement park tops are the T-shirts, from solid colors, those bearing the names of turismos (especially the Brazilian tour groups) or school groups, to those with images of mascots of the park or its licensed characters. But any top that is neither too restricting nor baggy is perfectly fine at the parks.

But if the weather makes the park into a huge heating system that overheats, wear sleeveless tops. (I really don't care if it shows a bit of midriff, but I want mine covered.) On water rides, I found it fairly common for overzealous girls to take off their camisoles, revealing their bikini tops. That's just too much for me, since I know that it's an amusement or theme park, not a water park. If you want to wear your upper half of your swimsuit, please keep your flutin' top on!

In cold weather, it's best to wear light layers of clothing. Once the weather gets a bit warmer, you can progressively take them off (but keep that top on). If it's cool, feel free to wear a light sweatshirt or a mere shirt.

Oh, and I strongly suggest to you that you don't wear costumes to the parks (unless it's a Halloween event that allows you to do so), especially as an adult at any Disney Park. Unless you want to face ejection like one UK mother did in 2010, you don't want to confuse other patrons whether you're a costumed character or not.

Also, you would ruin your costume it it's trapped within the gears of a ride or if it's soaked. If you really want character, wear a T-shirt with your favorite characters and move on. Please keep the images or wording clean - anything with profanity or naked girls are not family-friendly amusement or theme park attire!

Whilst taking a picture at Disney's Animal Kingdom, I model one of the ideal examples of good theme park clothing: sleevelss top, brimmed hat, water shoes and shorts.

Whilst taking a picture at Disney's Animal Kingdom, I model one of the ideal examples of good theme park clothing: sleevelss top, brimmed hat, water shoes and shorts.

Bottoms Line

Bottoms are a must for the amusement and theme parks, but which ones are suitable? Obviously, between the latter reaches of spring and the early days of fall, shorts are required. But I suggest that you wear Bermuda shorts - they are family-friendly enough for a day, especially if patrons include a lot of kids.

But if you want to wear the so-called "short shorts," please wear them that are hemmed at least 2 inches from the buttocks - no one needs to see your full bum showing! Oh, and writing on the bum-end of shorts is OK, as long as it is not too provocative. (I suggest having no writing on bottoms.)

Oh, and if days are cooler, feel free to wear jeans, but I suggest that you wear nice ones with no holes or long hems. If it's really cold, I suggest that you wear sweatpants - they keep your legs warmer than jeans.

Hats? What Hats?

Besides 30+ SPF sunscreen and sunglasses that block UV rays, hats are a must. To effectively block the sun out of your face (and neck, if possible), wear a wide-brimmed hat (preferably a hat with a wide brim all around it). If you are wearing a character hat (providing that it's wide-brimmed at least in the front) where people tend to do the same thing, by all means do it.

But if the hats that look like characters are expensive for you or if they don't give enough sun protection, just decorate a bucket hat with them - they not only give you the "theme park look" for less, but they also effectively defend your face and neck from cancer-causing UV rays.

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What if it Rains?

Face it - rainy days can happen in the parks, and they cause more than ride closures and canceled outdoor entertainment (firework displays, parades, etc.). It's pretty awkward to bring an umbrella around for one of those days, especially if weaving through huge summertime crowds.

The best way to deal with them without ever heading home is to wear rain ponchos. The parks sell them for a hefty price (because they need to make a profit and they have those cute characters on them), but you can buy your own at your corner store for much less. If you want to see the characters on your shirt through one of them, wear a transparent, colorless one.

Handy Manny and I know how to dress for cool weather at Disney's Hollywood Studios: long pants, T-shirt, and sweatshirt.

Handy Manny and I know how to dress for cool weather at Disney's Hollywood Studios: long pants, T-shirt, and sweatshirt.

Baggage for the Parks

Years before September 11, 2001, parkgoers used to go to the parks, whether they brought their bags or not, without further restrictions than the admission check-ins. But nowadays, those with bags have to face security to get their bags checked. This is especially toilsome if you bring a backpack containing a change of clothes in case you are going to that river rapids ride.

Of course, there's no need to ditch your bag in the car out of fear of security check-ins. Fanny packs are quicker for the guards to look for because they are smaller. You can use them to hold change, money, and even park tickets/passes.

As for backpacks, remember this rule: less load (especially with changes of clothes and water bottles) and wide straps. Following it prevents back problems that can keep you off certain rides.

Before you ask the parks whether they each have a dress code, I would say that all of them have them. You see, they cater to both adults and children of all ages, and by wearing clothing that is safe to see for the latter, you and they can enjoy your days with less pain. It's all about planning which clothing is right for a place where people have fun.

After all, comfortable clothing in the parks means much more than sneakers, T-shirts, and shorts.

What Do You Usually Wear to the Parks?

Rick on February 10, 2013:

I wear boxers, a t shirt, and athletic slides without socks because they are comfy, can get wet, and look good. The problem is they fall off easily

AnonomusI on February 04, 2013:

I am a guy. I am very daring so I wear short boxers with large lag holes,a t shirt and crocs. Some times on roller coasters I leave my crocs on. I wear them with the strap up. If you do what I do be careful how you sit and avoid staff members

AllSuretyBonds on July 27, 2011:

Never thought of water shoes! Great idea!!!

talfonso (author) from Tampa Bay, FL on June 28, 2011:

Thanks, Liza! I loved your link to what to wear at a park!

styleblueprint on June 03, 2011:

We just wrote an article about some things NOT to wear - where did all these short, short, shorts come from? XOXO Liza

talfonso (author) from Tampa Bay, FL on August 06, 2010:

Hahahahah - as long as it doesn't expose her whole booty to the world when she bends, it's fine!

eshaw from Huntsville on August 05, 2010:

i find a loose skirt on a woman is great hahahahah

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