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 2019. Outside of the busy July 4th holiday, expect moderate crowd levels until mid-July, and then a summer surge. At Epcot, moderate crowd levels should continue for most of the month due to the lack of a festival…
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.
Unfortunately, this does not mean that July is the perfect time to visit Walt Disney World. 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.
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. 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 9 or 10 p.m. nightly.
In terms of 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.
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. (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 that, the “new” things will be Toy Story Land (which will be a year old come July) and Pandora – World of Avatar (which will be two years old), the latter of which has retained its massive popularity despite having debuted a couple of years ago. Read our Ultimate Guide to Pandora – World of Avatar for tips and tricks on doing this new section of Walt Disney World!
In terms of other attractions, check the Walt Disney World Refurbishment Schedule. Just a heads up: that might be a bit deceptive in terms of actual construction work. This year, there’s going to be a lot of ongoing construction throughout Walt Disney World, and will be for the next several years.
While Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is the big project right now, and it finishes in Late 2019. Major projects at Magic Kingdom and Epcot won’t be finished until 2021. Some of this won’t be visually noticeable, but other projects will have a much greater impact.
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 2019. 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!
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!