Once Tad and Lily are off from school, more often than not that means heading down to The Most Magical Place on Earth. Nothing says summer vacation quite like a trip to Disney World! Traveling during this busier time takes a little extra preparation to have a toadally awesome visit, and we're here to help you walk through it!
Overview of Disney World in the Summer
Summer is the classic season for theme parks as lots of froggies visit during this hoppin' time. If your frog family is also making the leap, you'll want to plan ahead to maximize your time.
Make sure you have your tickets ready to go and have your Park Pass reservation for each day. Some parks, such as Disney's Hollywood Studios may book up first, but no matter what park you have to start in, you can always park hop after 2 p.m. with a Park Hopper ticket. Outside of making your park pass reservations, make sure you use the My Disney Experience app to help plan your trip — and even use your phone as your ticket with MagicMobile!
You can still have an amazing time even when there are more frogs in the pond, so to speak. But it does mean you need to have a plan! We're sharing our best tips and insight so you know what to expect during the summer at Disney World.
Summer Crowds at Disney World
Summer is when students of all ages are off from school and is prime vacation season. It is one of the busiest times to visit besides Thanksgiving and Christmas time. There will be no avoiding the summer crowds, with peak crowds hoppening during the week of the Fourth of July. With so many frogs visiting during this time of year, a trip to Disney World requires a little more planning and expectations, but don't worry — a magical trip is still toadally do-able!
The good news is that park hours are typically longer in the summer to help with the crowds, so we highly recommend getting there early, taking a break in the afternoon and then coming back to the parks in the evenings for as long as your little ones can handle it. If your family members aren't early birds, an alternative option is to take advantage of the later extended park hours when crowd levels really drop off.
Be sure to check our Crowd Calendar for daily crowd levels and recommended parks, especially do so if you are visiting Disney World during the summer.
Summer Weather at Disney World
I won't sugarcoat this — it's HOT in the summer. Temperatures have an average high in the 90s with high humidity. Packing the essentials, such as sunscreen, sunglasses and lightweight clothing, is a must as one of the ways to beat the heat. You'll want to make sure to drink more water than you think, especially if you're not used to such humidity, and take lots of A/C breaks.
Disney World may reside in the Sunshine State, but it also rains. A LOT. Afternoon rains are basically a daily occurrence during the summer so you'll want to be ready for a sudden shower. It’s a good idea to pack a few ponchos because storms can move in very quickly. But the good news is that it generally rains for only an hour or two (usually in the afternoons or early evenings) and then the clouds clear up — and it cools down a bit! Be prepared to adapt to the weather — afternoon showers are a perfect time for an indoor show and you may want to do your favorite outdoor rides in the morning as they will close for weather. Here are all our tips for a rainy day at Disney World.
Summer Events at Disney World
There's a variety of special events to enjoy throughout the summer at Disney World.
Disney World's 50th Anniversary
For those traveling to Disney World in summer 2022 — lucky you, you're visiting during the 50th anniversary! Enjoy new entertainment, specialty food and drink, merchandise and other fun EARidescent extras. Plus, the new Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind attraction debuted May 27 at EPCOT for an out-of-this-world adventure! It's truly a great time to make a trip and enjoy everything this special celebration has to offer.
Fourth of July
Speaking of celebrating, those visiting during Independence Day can experience an epic patriotic firework display with a special Fourth of July nighttime spectacular at Magic Kingdom. No one does fireworks as grand as Disney does! The show typically hoppens on both July 3rd and 4th for more flexible plans. The American Adventure Pavilion at EPCOT will often have special offerings as well.
In years past, summer was the one season of the year that an EPCOT festival generally wasn't hoppening. With festivals now running longer, there's only a short gap between EPCOT International Flower and Garden Festival (through July 4, 2022) and the EPCOT International Food and Wine Festival, running this year from July 14 to Nov. 19, 2022. That means more opportunities to try the delicious festival food!
Disney H2O Glow After Hours
Looking for a cool way to experience the water parks? After a two-year hiatus, Disney H2O Glow After Hours is back at Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park! The separately ticketed event will be held after hours every Saturday night from May 28 to Aug. 27. The tadpole-friendly evenings feature DJ dance parties, specialty food and drink, and a chance to enjoy your favorite water attractions glowing at night! Check out our guide to H2O Glow After Hours for all the hoppin' details.
Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party
Who's ready for a spooky summer? (Or should we say, not so scary ... ) I know, I know ... Halloween in a summer guide? At Disney World, Halloween is a whole season, and this year, the celebration begins with Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. This separately ticketed event runs on select nights from Aug. 12 to Oct. 31. For those sneaking in one last trip before school starts, consider adding on this frog-favorite after-party!
Tips for Visiting Disney World in the Summer
1. Have Your Tickets and Park Reservations Sorted Ahead of Time
Before anything, you'll want to make sure to purchase your tickets in advance. You don't want to lose crucial minutes sorting your tickets at the park entrance. Lucky for you, Undercover Tourist offers hoppin' deals on Walt Disney World tickets! Once you buy and link your tickets, you must also book your Disney park pass reservation for each day. You can only enter with a valid ticket AND park reservation, so be sure you have both squared away before you leave!
2. Consider Purchasing Disney Genie+
You'll also want to decide if you want to purchase Disney Genie+. For $15 a day, per person, Disney Genie+ lets you choose available times to skip the standby line for a variety of rides and experiences using the Lightning Lane entrance. Most attractions are included in the service, though some can be purchased separately as individual Lightning Lane selections. Perfect for this summer, the following rides have moved from individual Lightning Lane selections to Genie+ options until Aug. 7: Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway, Frozen Ever After, Expedition Everest and Space Mountain. (As of May 31, Remy's Ratatouille Adventure has moved from an individual Lightning Lane selection to an offering on Genie+, as well.) So there are even more possible ride options for the same price!
We generally recommend using Genie+ the most if you're visiting Magic Kingdom or park hopping. Though with summer crowds, we highly recommend it for all of your park days. Minimally, we suggest purchasing at least one of the individual Lightning Lanes to enjoy short waits for popular rides such as Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind.
3. Get an Early Start
Our single most important tip is to arrive early, especially during summer. Arrive at all parks before opening and ride your popular attractions in the first hour or two before the lines get too long. Be sure to double-check the park opening times (which you can see on our Crowd Calendar) because they can and do change.
If staying on property, Disney has introduced the Early Theme Park Entry benefit. Disney Resort hotel guests and guests of other select hotels have a 30-minute early entry to any theme park, every day. This is crucial for saving time for popular attractions such as Avatar Flight of Passage and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance.
Arriving early also helps with parking, if you plan to drive, as the parking lots fill sooner during peak seasons. You don't want to lose valuable park time waiting in a long line at the parking toll plaza, so try to head over ahead of park opening. Trams have returned to Magic Kingdom parking to help with the otherwise long walk to the Transportation and Ticket Center, as well as Animal Kingdom's parking lot. The two other parks do not currently have trams, but they are confirmed to return sometime this year.
4. Follow Our Park Plans and Download Our App
We recommend at the very least that you have an idea of which attractions you want to visit in the parks and know what you want to prioritize. We offer park plans for all of the Disney World, Universal Orlando Resort and SeaWorld Orlando theme parks so that you can experience the most in-demand attractions with the shortest durations first. Download the printable park plans from our site before you go, or use our app to follow or customize our plans! You can also use our free app for iPhone to check wait times for rides nearby instead of having to traverse the park.
5. Pack with Purpose
Head into summer well prepared with these essential items! Make sure to bring sunscreen, sunglasses and/or a hat to protect from the sun. Stay cool with a hand-held fan and lightweight clothing. It can also rain often, so we recommend bringing your own rain ponchos so you don't have to buy the pricer ones in the parks. Be sure to bring a refillable water bottle to stay hydrated and save some money (did you know you can get free cups of water at any quick-service restaurant?). Finish out your essentials with a portable phone charger, as you will be using the My Disney Experience app a lot throughout the day, which can drain your battery.
6. Avoid Dining During Prime Times
Unless you've made advanced dining reservations, the restaurant crowds can be as busy as the attraction lines, especially in the summer. You'll find the shortest lines during "off-peak" hours, for example, before 11 a.m. or after 2 p.m. for lunch. Just remember to adjust your breakfast and snack times accordingly so no one gets "hangry."
Oh, and just because you didn't make a dining reservation ahead of time doesn't mean you can't while you're on vacation! Check for openings on the days of your visit for last-minute openings due to other people's cancellations. In the My Disney Experience app, you can even check for dining reservations "now" to see if anything is available, or join a Walk-Up list!
Did you know that you can plan your Mobile Order in advance? That's right! You can create your order and even select a pickup window as soon as you enter the park. For popular stops such as Woody's Lunch Box, which book up quickly, this is even more important. Select locations require mobile ordering, so be prepared to place your order before heading to the restaurant.
7. Review Your Safety Plan
Crowds + tadpoles = sky-rocketing anxiety levels for parents. Review safety scenarios such as "what happens if we get separated?" beforehand as a family. Take a look at Lily's tips for not getting lost at Disney for more hopful hints.
8. Take a Break from the Parks
If you or your little ones are completely frazzled by the hot afternoon, take a break from the parks completely. Let the kids have a swim or a nap and then decide if a trip in the evening — perhaps to the resort's entertainment and shopping areas such as Disney Springs or Disney’s BoardWalk — might be in order. We love factoring in one full afternoon for just pool time. If you're staying at Disney's Beach Club, Disney's Yacht Club or Disney's Art of Animation Resorts, you might want to plan even more pool time for your tadpoles. You can easily spend a whole day at Stormalong Bay or any of the three Art of Animation pools.
Another great way to cool down is heading to the water parks. Disney's Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon each offer splashtastic attractions with raft rides, surf pools, lazy rivers (Mommy Frog's favorite), kids splash areas and more! (Currently, Blizzard Beach is closed for refurbishment.)
9. Allow Time for Entertainment and Characters
We highly recommend seeing the many parades, characters and fireworks that Disney has to offer. You can see all showtimes in the My Disney Experience app by heading to the map feature, where you can filter by ride wait times, characters, entertainment and more. This is super hopful for seeing when a character will come out, as well as how many shows are performing for the day. The Festival of Fantasy parade returned to Magic Kingdom this past spring, so you can enjoy an epic lineup of fantasy characters (often with two showtimes per day for extra opportunities)!
The perfect way to end the day at Disney World is with fireworks! At Magic Kingdom, enjoy the new show "Disney Enchantment" with fireworks and projections on Cinderella Castle and all the way down Main Street, U.S.A. At EPCOT, head to World Showcase for "Harmonious," the largest nighttime spectacular ever created for a Disney park. Check out our guides on the best spots to watch Disney Enchantment and Harmonious!
10. Be Flexible with Plans
With large crowds and high temperatures, it's easy to start to feel overwhelmed on a summer trip. We recommend taking a deep breath along with a 10-minute reset. Grab some water and shade, rest the feet and adjust plans if needed. If you have to cut something short or go to a different park than you planned, don't sweat it. It’s about quality, not quantity.
Remember, there will be lots of frogs also visiting Disney World, but as long as you have reasonable expectations and a flexible plan, your family will have a magical vacation!