Our guide to July 2021 at Walt Disney World offers a free crowd calendar, when to visit & avoid, weather, new attraction openings & closures, and Independence Day events. Plus info & tips for summer season at Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios. (Updated June 23, 2021.)
If you’re planning a Summer 2021 trip to Walt Disney World, be aware that there are many changes and cutbacks. That’s the bad news. The good news is that Walt Disney World has largely returned to normal in several key ways, with most health safety protocol being relaxed dramatically or ending entirely. Face masks are now mostly optional and physical distancing has been dropped.
This will allow Walt Disney World to significantly increase attraction efficiency and attendance…but the latter has not really occurred yet due to staffing shortages. This is despite massive amounts of pent-up demand, which means crowds are being artificially limited for now. This could change in the coming weeks, which would throw a monkey wrench into July 2021 crowd calendars for Walt Disney World…
In any year, 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.”
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.
While visitors who travel to Florida in July are rewarded with slightly below-average crowds, the weather is still a considerable issue…’
JULY WEATHER AT DISNEY WORLD
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.
JULY SPECIAL EVENTS AT WDW
The big thing is 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.
In a normal year, “Disney’s Celebrate America” fireworks display is 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.
The bad news is that those special Fourth of July fireworks will not be shown in 2021. The good news is that fireworks are returning to Walt Disney World on July 1, 2021 with Happily Ever After at Magic Kingdom and Epcot Forever. Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom will not have nighttime spectaculars in July 2021.
For this reason, we highly recommend purchasing Park Hopper tickets. Read about what to expect and why in our 2021 Guide to Park Hopping at Walt Disney World.
One way or another, the beginning of July 2021 will have special events. In an effort to draw locals will things are still temporarily abnormal and tourism remains down, Walt Disney World has already announced that the 2021 Taste of EPCOT Flower & Garden Festival will last longer than normal by over a month–through July 5, 2021.
In terms of other seasonal events, the France pavilion at Epcot will offer a very minor celebration of Bastille Day on July 14. Nothing around which you should plan a trip, but it’s neat to stop by to see. Other than that, it’s “Diet Epcot” season in Epcot, which means that July is one of the few months per year without a festival.
It’s not really a seasonal event, but July is typically the month of the year when hours at Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach are longest. We love both of Walt Disney World’s water parks. You can read why in our Typhoon Lagoon FAQ & Tips post and Blizzard Beach FAQ & Tips post. (Note: Typhoon Lagoon is still closed as of Summer 2021.)
We highly recommend arriving early or late. If you go after 4 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. You’ll find earlier closings at Magic Kingdom than what we’ve seen in years past, but this is at offset by Animal Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios now closing later thanks to their big additions of Pandora and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, respectively.
JULY REFURBISHMENTS & NEW ATTRACTIONS
For an idea of what’s going to be closed in July 2021, check the Walt Disney World Refurbishment Schedule. Not everything will be listed on that until a few months before July, and even then, it doesn’t fully cover the construction all around Walt Disney World–just attraction closures.
The most noticeable construction impact at Walt Disney World this year (and next year, for that matter) is the massive reimagining at the front of Epcot, which will eliminate Future World and replace it with 3 new neighborhoods. This project has already kicked into high gear, and will continue through at least 2022.
This unprecedented overhaul has led us to address the question Should You Visit Epcot in 2021? in a dedicated post. For most people, the answer will be yes, but it’s still worth going in with a realistic view of just how bad construction will be.
At EPCOT, nothing new will be debuting before or during July 2021. Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, Space 220, and Harmonious all will open this fall for the World’s Most Magical Celebration. See our Ultimate Guide to Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary for more details.
Outside of Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios has two attractions that will still be fairly new come Summer 2021. Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, both of which will be over a year old by that point, but are still very popular. The latter is literally the best Walt Disney World attraction in decades–better than Avatar Flight of Passage.
JULY 2021 DISNEY WORLD CROWD CALENDAR
There’s no color-coded July 2021 crowd calendar to start this because that’s reductionist and doesn’t give you the full picture of Walt Disney World attendance trends. Moreover, WDW crowd calendars are less reliable due to how Disney manipulates attendance patterns, staffing, closures, and ride capacity. It better serves readers to offer an explanation in terms of what to expect crowd-wise this summer at Walt Disney World.
Since Disney doesn’t release official attendance numbers, crowd calendars use things like school schedules, airport traffic statistics, hotel pricing & occupancy, etc., as proxies for crowds. We use these to forecast attendance, and the resulting “feels like” crowds. Wait times usually align with attendance levels, but not always. In short, predicting wait times via Walt Disney World crowd calendars is an imperfect science. Hopefully that makes sense!
Additionally, and as covered in our “Summer Isn’t Peak Season at Walt Disney World” article, July is no longer one of the busiest months of the year at Walt Disney World. This is not to say it’s off-season at Walt Disney World during July (it definitely is not), just that the beginning of the month is no massively crowded. It’s still summer vacation season, and this much is evident. Nevertheless, you’ll find the parks busier in October than in July in a normal year.
However, Summer 2021 is shaping to be anything but normal. After a year of being stuck at home, Americans are making up for lost time and vacationing at unprecedented levels. Demand for Disney is through the roof, and if no park reservation system were in place, crowds would be massive every single day of July 2021.
The “problem,” at least from the perspective of forecasting July 2021 crowds, is that Walt Disney World does have a park reservation system in place, and is using it to artificially limit crowds. Consequently, many dates are already sold out for Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and many more will be as July draws nearer. Even fully booked, crowds should be much lower than during a normal July.
That is, unless Walt Disney World increases its attendance limits and releases more reservations. Disney has been doing this gradually, but not to a significant degree. At this point, that’s due much more to ongoing staffing shortages than anything else. Walt Disney World has gone on a hiring blitz and brought back the College Program, so this problem is starting to work itself out. Accordingly, it’s possible that Walt Disney World will release a ton more reservations for July 2021, effectively “opening the floodgates.” Or not. Even a few weeks out, it’s impossible to predict when that’ll happen.
Walt Disney World’s approach to releasing more Park Pass reservations will have a massive impact on wait times and attendance levels. If Disney stays the course and continues on its current trajectory, every park will be around a 3/10 or 4/10 on the Walt Disney World crowd calendar for July 2021. If Disney “opens the floodgates” and stops artificially limiting attendance, organic demand will push those levels to 8/10 or 9/10 for much of the month.
Our expectation–and the assumption made in the below forecast–is that Walt Disney World will continue gradually increasing reservation availability throughout July 2021. This middle of the road approach is what’s most likely to happen, but you should know that there are no guarantees. Crowds could end up being shockingly low if more reservations aren’t released, or sky-high if the capacity cap jumps to 90% (it’s currently around 40%).
With all of that in mind, expect July 2021 to be slightly above average for crowds. Expect high crowds in the first full week, beginning on July 1, 2021 and continuing the entire week thereafter.
This will be particularly pronounced in the evenings at Magic Kingdom and, to a lesser degree, Epcot. That’s because more guests will Park Hop to Magic Kingdom and Epcot for fireworks, since those are the only two parks that will have nighttime spectaculars in July 2021.
The weeks that follow will get progressively better on the July 2021 crowd calendar, but you’re still looking at moderate to high crowd levels. Even if Walt Disney World continues to gradually increase Park Pass availability, it’s a safe bet that most days will be fully booked at most parks. As more reservations are added, so too will operational efficiency, as more entertainment, dining, etc., returns and hours are extended. Accordingly, increased attendance and efficiency should come close to cancelling one another out.
In other words, pretty much all dates will be close to the same on the July 2021 crowd calendar, with Magic Kingdom and Epcot being noticeably busier than the other two parks at night due to fireworks returning.
JULY PRICING & DISCOUNTS
While special offers for Walt Disney World are usually weak for summer, there are actually a higher than average number of deals. With that said, there are room-only discounts available for booking that cover travel dates for early July 2021. Some of the savings are actually pretty good–better than a normal year, which is almost certainly because bookings are still down for 2021.
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 Guide for 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? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment of July? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback—even when you disagree with us—is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!