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 January 22, 2021.)
If you’re planning a Summer 2021 trip to Walt Disney World, be aware there are many changes and unknowns. A lot has been cancelled, cutback, or changed at Walt Disney World following the reopening of the parks, and that will remain the case for the foreseeable future. While we’re hoping much more returns over the course of the year, it remains to be seen to what degree things are normal in July 2021. As this point, we don’t even know whether there will be fireworks for July 4, 2021.
Accordingly, this guide covers a normal July at Walt Disney World, plus commentary about how this year will likely differ. That should make this a useful resource for those planning or debating trips for July 2021 and July 2022, and will provide the former group an idea of what they’re missing and how it’ll impact their Walt Disney World vacation for better or worse…
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.
As we’ve covered in our “Summer Isn’t Peak Season at Walt Disney World” article, peak season crowds haven’t been showing up to the parks until mid-July the last few years. We expect the same to hold true in July 2021. Outside of the July 4th holiday, expect moderate crowd levels until mid-July, and then a slight summer surge.
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 longer peak season in terms of crowds. It is still summer vacation season, and this is especially evident both around the Fourth of July and during the last two weeks of the month. Outside of those times, you’ll find the parks (Epcot, especially) busier in October than you will in July. Our July 2021 crowd calendar below will cover this in more depth.
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.
As a reminder, it’s not yet known whether there will be Fourth of July fireworks in 2021. We think it’s about 50/50 at this point, but a lot could change. For more on special entertainment, read our Celebrating Independence Day at Walt Disney World post.
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.
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. 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, there’s a reasonable possibility that three new things will debut by July 2021: Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, Space 220, and Harmonious. Our expectation is that 2 of the 3 open by Summer 2021, with the other starting October 1, 2021 for Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary. Our Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure Opening Info post covers potential opening dates; the rationale applies to all three, not just the rat ride.
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. Suffice to say, 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. For years, this approach worked and made crowd calendars reliable. Walt Disney World attendance followed an identifiable pattern that tracked with the aforementioned proxies.
Unfortunately, wait times no longer reflect actual crowds because of the aforementioned manipulation. We can still forecast attendance, but not the resulting wait times. This is like the difference between the actual temperature and the “feels like” temperature, but with crowds. The latter are what most of you likely care about (the “feels like” crowds), but it’s more difficult to predict wait times via Walt Disney World crowd calendars. Hopefully that makes sense!
July 2021–the entire month–will likely be above average for crowds. As we noted at the top of the post, summer crowds have waned in recent years, a phenomenon for which we have a ton of interesting theories, none of which are fully corroborated but all of which are beyond the scope of this post.
Essentially, the distribution of summer crowds at Walt Disney World is like a Bell Curve. This means that early June 2021 and mid-August 2021 are the best times to go from a crowd calendar perspective during what’s traditionally considered summer vacation season. July is more or less at the top of the bell.
At the very peak of this curve will be the first full week, beginning on Saturday July 3, 2021 and continuing the entire week thereafter. The previous week (beginning June 27, 2021) will be the second-worst week of the month. However, if Walt Disney World cancels Independence Day fireworks, those crowds will drop dramatically–but not entirely.
The weeks that follow will get progressively better on the July 2021 crowd calendar, but you’re still looking at relatively crowd high levels. If we used a numerical scale, that first full week would be a 9/10 and dates thereafter would be in the 7/10 or 8/10 range.
Other spikes will occur on Independence Day, weekends, and other events that draw crowds to Orlando. In other words, pretty much all dates are close to the same on the crowd calendar. If you must visit Walt Disney World during the summer (and we don’t recommend it unless you have no other choice due to school schedules or something else) choose on the basis of weather or something else.
Epcot is by far the least busy park at Walt Disney World during the summer months, and that should hold true for July 2021. However, it won’t be as pronounced this year as in previous years thanks to all of the new additions. If it’s open by then, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure will likely spike levels to around 6/10, which isn’t terrible, but far worse than Diet Epcot has been the last few years during the summer.
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!