Hydration!It shouldn’t be so hard to stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water throughout the day, hot or cold, rain or shine. There are drinking fountains throughout the park—every park—and they work! So even if you don’t want to buy overpriced bottles of water, flavored or otherwise, there’s always the fountain. That’s because staying hydrated is good for you. You know this! And you always know when you’ve fallen short: depletion takes the place of stamina and even your tongue starts lagging behind. Yet it’s not always easy to know your body is thirsting with thirst, and that’s a big part of the problem.

So, we’ve had our problems with that. We’d set out with the best of intentions: we’d buy an overpriced water bottle early and pace ourselves. We would’ve gotten two, but only Amy’s backpack could accommodate a bottle. So not only did we have just the one bottle, but we’d almost finish it and then start nursing, like the last drink of the night that you wish would last forever, because in truth, we got penny-pinching. If we make the bottle last just that much longer, we could get one less bottle and save a little more than we’d overspent. What happened to the fountain? We could’ve refilled our bottle or leaned over and drank. The refill, we concluded, was just too unromantic—and mostly too warm. We’d avail ourselves of the fountain, just not often enough to prove sufficient.

Eventually, our track record of failure was too long to ignore and we got serious:

  • We each needed our own water bottle!

To this end, Mark got a new backpack. Now there’d be no excuse.

  • We needed to drink regularly throughout the day!

There were two viable solutions as far as we could see:

  1. Accept that you’re going to overspend on hydrating beverages and drink as you would if you weren’t paying anything at all (You’re responsible for your own brainwashing or hypnosis techniques.).
  2. Take advantage of our backpacks’ built-in water bladder feature. Confession: The first thing we did when we got our backpacks was remove the water bladders and hide them in the closet. Mark thought we should just get rid of them since were never going to use them, and Amy found an innocuous place to stow them. Then one day at DCA, a guy sucking water from a hose stemming from his backpack triggered in us the same thought: “Hey, maybe that could work for us, too!”

For our next trip to the Disneyland Resort—in July—we opted for both. Mark would buy and drink, drink and buy. Amy would fill her bladder halfway with filtered water and freeze overnight, then fill the rest of the way in the morning before setting out,

It took Amy about 40 minutes to configure the bladder hose to coordinate with her camera strap. Also, the filled bladder added rather significantly to the weight of the pack. Who’d’a thought? Mark gave her plenty of room to back out and leave the bleedin’ bladder behind, but Amy wouldn’t hear of it. She was her father’s daughter and she was going to see the experiment through. No matter what.

Spoiler Alert

Mark got through two bottles admirably then rested on his laurels. Amy and the hose were not playing well together, and her brilliant idea to keep both her back and water cool with the ice that would melt steadily throughout the day was also falling short of really great: the first sip from the hose would be nice and cold. But then, all the water sitting dormant in the section of hose exposed to the sun was a sudden mouthful of 80 degrees! And then the ice water quickly followed. To limit the experience only to cold water, the hose would have to be emptied before each sip, and that’s when Amy remembered how much of a naturalist she isn’t. There was a reason we removed the bladders the second we got home with our new backpacks. And Mark was right: we should have gotten rid of them altogether.

So, in our post-game analysis (over drinks) we noted our successes and failures: Mark demonstrated that it is possible to maintain hydration through purchasing freedom, and Amy put the final nail in the coffin of any potential value of the backpack bladder, which we hope to never say or speak of again and are almost sorry we did at all, but are better for knowing through experience. [NB: To all who enjoy the camping experience and incorporate the aforementioned piece of equipment with success, cheers!]

The Next Level

From all the data and field experience we’ve amassed, a conclusion was reached: Water is not enough.

However: neither is only one approach to hydration.

Our last WDW trip taught us to always have a packet of flavored electrolyte powdered drink mix in our backpacks. While the parks carry such beverage options, the selection is limited and may not be to your liking; and of course, they cost slightly more than a bottle of water. We sport orange Gatorade, tried and true. We also have on hand another powdered drink-mix solution reserved specifically for dire circumstances: Pedialyte. Yes, the drink mix for kiddies in need of quick and serious rehydration. But seriously, it is serious. And for those who consume more than a legally safe-driving amount of alcohol, the distasteful taste of Pedialyte will be worth its almost magical hangover-reducing electrolytes.

A revised plan was therefore determined:

  1. We’ll accompany our morning coffee with juice or a fruit-flavored-drink, depending on where we’re having our morning coffee.
  2. We’ll enter the park already armed with—or we’ll immediately purchase—a couple bottles of water. Amy’s will be put in Mark’s backpack pocket for easy access and vice-versa. That way we can easily access our water instead of having to ask the other person to retrieve it—because it’s hard to reach behind yourself to pull out a water bottle.
  3. We’ll reserve our powdered electrolytes for the afternoon when energy levels tend to drop to their lowest—and we’ll each have our own instead of sharing one!
  4. We’ll take a salty snack break to encourage—if not force—healthy hydration, possibly with our powdered Gato mix. We’re not big soda drinkers because of all the sugar, but any beverage containing water will hydrate, including coffee and tea.
  5. We won’t neglect our water intake after leaving the park and switching to a cocktail mentality—we’ll maintain a 1-1 ratio!!!

Armed with a plan—and best intentions—again…

So off we go, to the hot and humid WDW in September, where Amy will quickly wilt into a puddle of perspiration while Mark’s healthy adaptability will belie his body’s need to hydrate. But hopefully, with all our other sun- and heat-reducing measures, we’ll be successful in our next mission to the extent we’ll be able to maintain a consistent energy level and agility and will wake feeling healthy and refreshed and ready for another energetic day at the park. Stay tuned…!