July is the height of summer vacation at Walt Disney World and the time when summer storm season intensifies. There’s really no way to sugar coat it: July is for people who have no better alternatives. With that said, if you have a trip planned for July, the sky is not falling. As we’ve said before, “a rainy, crowded day at Walt Disney World is better than a perfect day at home.” (This post was last updated June 18, 2017.)
For starters, you might wonder why July is bad. It used to be because July was a perfect storm of crowds and weather. Now, it’s just the storms (literally). Due to changes in school schedules in some districts coupled with higher peak season pricing on tickets & hotels, and a lack of seasonal events, crowds at Walt Disney World have decreased dramatically during the summer in the last couple of years.
This is not to say it’s off-season at Walt Disney World during July (it definitely is not), but it’s no longer peak season in terms of crowds. In fact, you’ll find the parks (Epcot, especially) much busier in October than you will in July. Unfortunately, this does not mean that July is the perfect time to visit Walt Disney World. Far from it…
While visitors who travel to Florida in July are rewarded with slightly below-average crowds, the weather is still a considerable issue. The humidity is at “intense back-sweat” levels whenever the sun is up. On the plus side(?), that back-sweat will usually be washed away by the daily afternoon showers, which could be a 20-minute occurrence or could last the better part of the evening. Welcome to July in Florida.
If you think we’re exaggerating, let’s start by taking a look at the weather. July is the hottest month of the year with average high temperatures above 90 degrees every single day of the month. Average lows and highs range from 74 to 91 degrees. As demonstrated by the “comfortable” band on this page for July, 27% of the time, the weather is in “hot” (85-100 degrees) territory. If there is any silver lining in this, it’s that July has a greater percentage of “comfortable” weather than August (20% v. 15%)…so those hours of the day when you’re in your hotel room asleep in air conditioning, it’s actually not too bad outside!
Then there’s precipitation. Unless you’re homies with Zeus, it will rain during your July trip. It’s not a matter of “if”, it’s a matter of “how often and much how?” Especially later in the month, Florida is starting to get into the heart of hurricane and storm season, so you should be prepared for that. You’re average daily chance of some amount of precipitation in July ranges from 67% to 71%. I’m no mathematician, but that says to me it’s a small miracle if it goes 2 consecutive days without any rain.
In addition to our standard Unique Items to Pack for Disney (forget bringing the cheap 10-packs of ponchos that we normally recommend–pack this Olaf raft to get around the parks in style! 😉 ), we recommend reading our Tips for Beating Summer Heat & Humidity post for ideas on things to bring, and ways to minimize the affect of unpleasant summer weather during your vacation.
While it’s not all rainbows and sunshine at Walt Disney World (although you can see both after a storm!), it’s not total doom and gloom, either. Particularly when it comes to park hours. Let’s start with two of our favorite, underrated places at Walt Disney World: the water parks. You can read why we love them in our the Typhoon Lagoon FAQ & Tips post and Blizzard Beach FAQ & Tips post. Suffice to say, they’re awesome.
July is typically the month of the year when their hours are longest, with some nights being extended up 8 p.m. We highly recommend arriving early or late. If you go after 5 p.m., virtually everything will be a walk-on most days. Also, going on a rainy day is a great way to avoid crowds…and who cares about getting rained on when you’re at a water park? (It always amazes me when the water parks–inexplicably–clear out during storms.)
In the four main theme parks, July is also a month when park hours are (typically) longer. For 2017, you’ll find earlier closings at Magic Kingdom (typically 10 p.m.) than what we’ve seen in years past, but this is at least partially offset by Animal Kingdom closing at 10 or 11 p.m. nightly (plus Extra Magic Hours) due to the debut of Pandora – World of Avatar.
Speaking of new attractions, Pandora is definitely the major draw for Summer 2017. You can read our Ultimate Guide to Pandora – World of Avatar for tips & info on that. That covers FastPass+, rope dropping the land, Extra Magic Hours, and all kinds of other strategy. There are other minor entertainment additions, namely at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, this summer, which is also expected to open Toy Story Land in time for Summer 2018 (if you’re planning farther ahead).
In terms of seasonal events, there’s obviously Independence Day at the beginning of the month. That first (long) weekend will be especially busy as a result, but those crowds will be rewarded with some of the best fireworks shows of the year. Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios each have special fireworks shows for the Fourth of July. (Check out our Tips for Photographing Fireworks post to take your great photos of these shows!)
“Disney’s Celebrate America” are shown at Magic Kingdom on both July 3 and July 4. The other parks only do their Independence Day fireworks on July 4. We highly recommend seeing Celebrate America on July 3. A great place to view it to see the full scale is outside the park at the Polynesian or Ticket & Transportation Center. For more on special entertainment, read our Celebrating Independence Day at Walt Disney World post.
Aside from Independence Day, there’s not much in the way of special entertainment during July. In Epcot at the France pavilion, there will be minor entertainment for the celebration of Bastille Day on July 14. Nothing around which you should plan a trip, but it’s neat to stop by to see. Another thing to note is that there won’t be Star Wars Weekends in 2017–as that has been cancelled indefinitely.
While special offers for Walt Disney World are usually weak for summer, there are actually a higher than average number of deals. There’s nothing like Free Dining, but there will be some room-only discounts available for July 2017. There are some restrictions on dates, but you can save 20-30% at many resorts (with even better offers if you’re an Annual Passholder or Florida Resident).
In terms of pricing, July has higher than average rates. One-day park tickets are most expensive during this month, with most of July being “peak” season (read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post for multi-day ticket recommendations to avoid having to deal with seasonal pricing). Hotels aren’t quite as bad, as it’s the “Summer” pricing season for them most dates; overall, hotel rates are slightly above average, outside from the dates around Independence Day.
Even with below-average crowds, you’ll still want a solid itinerary for touring the parks. July is also a safe bet when it comes to seeing the new entertainment and attractions at Walt Disney World, and the longer hours. There’s also upside in the inclement weather: it clears out the parks. If there’s heavy rain for over an hour (and you follow our tips to stick it out), you’ll be rewarded with a far less-crowded park after the rain stops.
Many guests are not prepared for heavy rain, and a heavy rain in early afternoon can mean significantly lower crowds the rest of the day. It’ll also cool down the parks a bit. From an objective perspective, July is one of the worst months of the year, but it does have upside and if you’re forced to visit during the summer due to your school or vacation schedule, you should not hesitate to do so. You’ll still have a good time!
Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guidefor everything you need to know!
Do you agree that a rainy day at Walt Disney World is better than a perfect day at home? Do you like July at Walt Disney World? If you’ve visited in July, do you have any tips to add? Share any questions, tips, or additional thoughts you have in the comments!