Our guide to July 2020 at Walt Disney World includes a free crowd calendar, when to visit & avoid, weather, new attraction openings & closures, Independence Day and other events. Plus info & tips for summer season at Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios. (Updated January 2, 2020.)
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 2020. 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 2020 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 2020 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.
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.
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.
Villains After Hours will occur for (at least) the first two Friday nights in July 2020. We aren’t huge fans of upcharge events, but as you can read in our Villains After Hours Review, Tips & Info post, we had a blast at this event last year, and it’s a great way to experience popular Magic Kingdom attractions with minimal waits.
Beyond that, Walt Disney World often does a minor summer celebration that often ties into the big summer film release (which will probably either be Soul or Jungle Cruise–the latter would be the logical fit for the parks given that it’s based on the Magic Kingdom attraction).
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 2020 REFURBISHMENTS & NEW ATTRACTIONS
For an idea of what’s going to be closed in July 2020, 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 project that will have the most noticeable impact on the guest experience 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 to gain momentum in Summer 2020 with more work.
This unprecedented overhaul has led us to address the question Should You Visit Epcot in 2020 or 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.
The good news is that three new films and two new restaurants will debut in early 2020 at Epcot. Additionally, a huge expansion to the France pavilion that includes the family-friendly trackless dark ride, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, will almost certainly have opened by July 2020. No date has been set, but it’s targeted for “Summer 2020” (which usually means Memorial Day).
Outside of Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios has two attractions that will still be fairly new in July 2020. Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway opens this spring, and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance debuted late last year. The latter is literally the best Walt Disney World attraction in decades–better than Avatar Flight of Passage.
JULY 2020 DISNEY WORLD CROWD CALENDAR
There’s no color-coded July 2020 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 2020–the entire month–will 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 2020 and mid-August 2020 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, 2020 and continuing the entire week thereafter. The previous week (beginning June 26, 2020) will be the second-worst week of the month. The crowds in both weeks will be exacerbated by the release of Free Dining for Summer 2020, which doesn’t include the rest of the month.
The weeks that follow will get progressively better on the July 2020 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 2020. However, it won’t be as pronounced this year as in previous years thanks to all of the new additions. 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.
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? 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!