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Our Step-by-Step Summer Park Plan for Walt Disney World

by Leap on June 27, 2023 Orlando

Summer Park Plan Disney World - Pinterest ImageIt's summertime, which means many families are heading down to the Most Magical Place on Earth! Planning is very important for a Disney vacation, so we've created this summer park plan for Disney World so you can know how to maximize your park days during one of the busiest seasons.

While summer isn't necessarily our top recommendation for the best times to visit Disney World, we are also aware that there isn't always a lot of flexibility. Whether you're a teacher, you don't want to take your kids out of school or it's the only time that schedules align, sometimes summer is the only option. No worries! You can still have an awesome vacation with a little bit of preparation.

Summer at Disney World brings higher crowds and temperatures, so it's important to have a plan. While we have park plans for all major theme parks, we often find that you'll want to shape your day a little differently during the summer. For instance, getting a lot done in the mornings and evenings while cooling off in the afternoon. Our summer park plan at Disney World walks you through how to schedule your day, though, of course, you'll want to supplement your own priorities and must-do experiences.

Be sure to also check out our other summer guides for all the hoppin' tips:

Without further ado, let's hop right into our summer park plan for Disney World!

Summer Park Plan for Disney World

1. Consider Purchasing Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lanes

You'll want to think about purchasing Disney Genie+, which allows you to select attractions and bypass the standby line, utilizing the Lightning Lane entrances. There are also some rides not included with Genie+ that you can purchase as individual Lightning Lane selections, such as the new TRON Lightcycle / Run.

With longer lines in the summer, paying to ride, say, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance may be worth it in your book. The time saved could mean getting on another ride or two. You can choose how you want to purchase each day, so you can pick and choose depending on which park you are going to and if you have any must-do rides. (Did you know Undercover Tourist offers discount theme park tickets? Consider putting those savings toward Genie+!)

Virtual queues are also a free option, as select attractions may not offer traditional standby lines, so you'll need to join the virtual queue or purchase an individual Lightning Lane.

2. Rope Drop Popular Attractions

Summer Park Plan Disney World – Ride photo from Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

Getting an early start is a great way to maximize your time at Disney World. "Rope dropping" is arriving at the parks just prior to park opening so you can head over to your first attraction. If staying on-site at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel, be sure to utilize Early Theme Park Entry, which provides 30 extra minutes at any theme park every day!

Wait times will only go up, so the early frog really does get the worm. Rope drop is a great time to ride popular attractions such as Space Mountain, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Flight of Passage, Frozen Ever After and more.

3. Utilize the Morning Time

Crowds will continue to roll in throughout the morning, so try to get as much done as possible in those first three hours. Plus, it's only going to get hotter! Try to do outdoor attractions before the afternoon rain, as attractions such as Slinky Dog Dash, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Test Track will close for weather.

4. Eat Lunch

Summer Park Plan Disney World - The Crystal Palace card with Winnie the Pooh and friends

Let's be honest — it's a lot easier to get #hangry when it's hot out. For quick-service meals, we recommend mobile ordering just before you want to eat, so you can then head over to the restaurant and not have to wait in such a long line.

To help cool off, consider booking an advance dining reservation for a late lunch at a table-service restaurant. You get to be inside during the worst of the heat and can enjoy a sit-down meal. Perhaps even book a character dining location so you can also efficiently meet characters at the same time!

5. Head Inside for the Afternoon

When the afternoon rolls around, beat the heat (and rain) with indoor experiences. Here are some of our top indoor rides and shows, most of which also have indoor queues (we'll note if most of the queue is outdoors).

Summer Park Plan Disney World - Journey of the Little Mermaid

Magic Kingdom Indoor Rides:

  • Under the Sea ~ Journey of The Little Mermaid (queue is partially outside)
  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
  • Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin (extended queue may be outside)
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • "it's a small world"
  • Peter Pan's Flight (queue is partially outside but covered)
  • Haunted Mansion (queue is outside)
  • Space Mountain (extended queue may be outside)

Magic Kingdom Shows:

  • Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress
  • Mickey's PhilharMagic
  • Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor
  • Enchanted Tales with Belle (wait is almost entirely outside)
  • Country Bear Jamboree
  • The Hall of Presidents
  • Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room

EPCOT Indoor Rides:

  • Spaceship Earth (queue is outside)
  • Soarin' Around the World
  • Living with the Land
  • Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros
  • The Seas with Nemo and Friends
  • Journey Into Imagination With Figment
  • Frozen Ever After
  • Remy's Ratatouille Adventure (queue partially outside)

EPCOT Shows:

  • Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along
  • Turtle Talk With Crush
  • Disney and Pixar Short Film Festival

Disney's Hollywood Studios Indoor Rides:

  • Toy Story Mania (queue partially outside)
  • Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway (queue partially outside)
  • Star Tours – The Adventure Continues (queue partially outside)

Disney's Hollywood Studios Shows:

Summer Park Plan Disney World - Lightning McQueen Racing Academy

  • For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration
  • Muppet*Vision 3D
  • Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage (outdoor covered theater)
  • Indiana Jones™ Epic Stunt Spectacular! (outdoor covered theater)
  • Lightning McQueen's Racing Academy
  • Disney Junior Play and Dance!

Disney's Animal Kingdom Indoor Rides:

  • Kali River Rapids (outdoor water ride to cool off)
  • Na’vi River Journey

Disney's Animal Kingdom Shows:

  • Finding Nemo: The Big, Blue and Beyond
  • Festival of The Lion King
  • It's Tough to be a Bug!

6. Meet Indoor Characters

Summer Park Plan Disney World - Ariel Meet & Greet

While there are lots of characters to meet throughout Disney World, most will be outside with an outdoor line, weather permitting. Here are some characters that meet indoors for a perfect afternoon experience:

  • Magic Kingdom — Mickey Mouse at Town Square Theater, Princess Fairytale Hall, Ariel at Ariel's Grotto, Pete's Silly Sideshow
  • EPCOT — Anna and Elsa, Joy, Vanellope
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios — Star Wars: Launch Bay, Mickey and Minnie, Olaf, Edna Mode
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom — Mickey and Minnie at Adventurers Outpost

7. Relax at Your Resort

Summer Park Plan Disney World - Big Blue Pool

Another option for the afternoon is to head back to your resort. Taking a break may seem counterintuitive to those who want to get the most bang for their buck at the theme park, but it can be a great way to reset and recharge before returning in the evening. Use the afternoon to take a nap, splash at the pool or participate in the many resort activities.

8. Return For the Evening

After recharging in the afternoon, the evening is a great time to get a lot done. Temperatures get a little more manageable after 7 p.m., and then especially as the sun sets. Hop on some rides, though keep in mind many shows and characters often have their last showtime by around 5 p.m. Be sure to check the My Disney Experience app earlier in the day so you don't miss out on any of your favorites.

9. Allow Time For Nighttime Spectaculars

Summer Park Plan Disney World — Happily Ever After

A perfect way to spend your park night is fireworks! You'll want to grab your spot for fireworks early — typically about an hour for Magic Kingdom and half an hour for EPCOT. Hollywood Studios offers two projection shows that don't require too much waiting, or you can head over to the frog favorite Fantasmic show. Doors open 90 minutes prior, and we recommend arriving at least 45 minutes ahead of showtime for a good seat.

10. Go All The Way to Park Close

Depending on the park hours, sometimes the park is still open after fireworks. As most people exit right afterward, nighttime offers slightly lower crowds. If your group is able to stay up a little later, rides are often at their lowest wait times. To really extend your day, you can hop in line right up until the park officially closes and still get to ride. This is especially optimal for popular attractions such as Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Flight of Passage and Rise of the Resistance.

Well, there you have it — our summer park plan for Disney World! How do you like to plan your summer day at Disney World? Let us know in the comments below!

Related: Hoppin' Tips for Visiting Disney World in the Summer

Related: When to Opt for a Disney World Water Park Visit

Keep hopping!

Keep hopping, Leap!
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Undercover Tourist is the leading supplier of online discount tickets to Orlando, Florida-area attractions, including Walt Disney World® Resort, Universal Orlando Resort™, SeaWorld® Orlando, LEGOLAND® Florida Resort and more.

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