Our guide to July 2023 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 July 9, 2023.)
July is usually the height of summer vacation at Walt Disney World and the time when summer storm season intensifies. Generally speaking, July is a month for people who have no better alternatives. It’s summer vacation season, a time when school is out of session and parents with young children and teachers head to the parks in full force.
With that said, if you have a trip planned for July, the sky is not falling. For one thing, “a rainy, crowded day at Walt Disney World is better than a perfect day at home.” For another, July 2023 is proving to not be nearly as bad as the last couple of years–see the ‘July 9, 2023 Update’ section below…
Normally, July is a literal perfect storm of weather and crowds. Walt Disney World’s primary demographic is families, and on average, they vacation about halfway through the summer break. Although school schedules in some districts have changed and Disney has raised peak season pricing on tickets & hotels, summer is still the busy season at Walt Disney World.
This has shifted around in recent years, but it’s still generally true–and we’ll cover the typical crowd dynamics over the course of the summer season in this July 2023 crowd calendar.
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% vs. 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?”
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 and Epcot both have special fireworks shows for the Fourth of July.
“Disney’s Celebrate America” fireworks display is shown at Magic Kingdom on both July 3 and July 4. We highly recommend seeing Celebrate America on July 3. If you’re unable or unwilling to brave the crowds in Magic Kingdom, a great place to view it to see the full scale of the fireworks is outside the park at the Ticket & Transportation Center.
The reason we recommend seeing Magic Kingdom’s Independence Day fireworks on July 3 is because you can only see the EPCOT Forever fireworks with the “Heartbeat of America” finale on July 4.
The beginning of July will have other special events. The 2023 EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival already ended its run on July 5. (If you’re already looking ahead to 2024, don’t be surprised if that event ends earlier next year–possibly in June.)
After that comes a festival-less gap, during which the park will briefly become “Diet EPCOT.” But not for long. The 2023 EPCOT International Food & Wine Festivalwill begin before the end of the month, on July 27, 2023. This is the biggest, longest, and most popular event of the year at Epcot. (It’s also our least favorite and the most lacking in substance, but people love it.)
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.
JULY REFURBISHMENTS & NEW ATTRACTIONS
For an idea of what’s going to be closed in July 2023, check the Walt Disney World Refurbishment Schedule. The good news is that there aren’t many attractions that are currently closed. The bad news is that calendar doesn’t fully cover the construction all around Walt Disney World–just ride closures.
EPCOT is starting to look better in Summer 2023, but it’s far from finished. The massive reimagining at the front of EPCOT that has resulted in half the park being a veritable dirt pit will be winding down, and more of these walkways are now open. Still, it isn’t all finished, so expect to encounterconstruction walls between at least now and October 2023.
On the plus side, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, Space 220 Restaurant, Creations Shop, Club Cool, Connections Cafe, and more all have now debuted.
Another alternative for Cosmic Rewind is buying line-skipping access via the Individual Lightning Lanes. Those posts explain the free and paid options, their pros & cons, and everything else you need to know. Suffice to say, do not just show up to EPCOT expecting to join the standby line–as there isn’t one.
Then there’s the biggest addition to Magic Kingdom: TRON Lightcycle Run. This is the newest major attraction at Walt Disney World, having officially opened in April. This works very similarly to Cosmic Rewind; see our Virtual Queue Strategy Guide for TRON Lightcycle Run for details, tips & tricks for success, and more.
There is considerable overlap between the virtual queues for the two rides, so you probably only need to read the VQ guide for TRON Lightcycle Run and can apply those same “lessons” to both. Unlike Cosmic Rewind, we don’t expect this virtual queue to be retired before 2024.
Beyond that, there are several attractions that have not yet opened and likely won’t until Summer 2023 or later. The most pertinent of which is Moana’s Journey of Water at Epcot, which officially opens in Late 2023, but could have a surprise early opening. (It’s been almost finished since spring break.)
For an overview of what else is on the horizon, see What’s New & Next at Walt Disney World in 2023 & 2024. Nothing else is likely to debut this summer. All of the remaining projects that’ll debut this year are at EPCOT, and the timeline for those is all “Late 2023” or “later in 2023.” In both cases, that means October through Christmas 2023.
JULY 2023 DISNEY WORLD CROWD CALENDAR
There’s no color-coded July 2023 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 wait times and the resulting crowd levels. In short, predicting wait times via Walt Disney World crowd calendars is an imperfect science. Hopefully that makes sense!
There are other wrinkles that make predicting summer crowds at Walt Disney World difficult. One is the tension between pent-up demand and the pre-closure trend of summers being less busy. (See “Summer Isn’t Peak Season at Walt Disney World.”)
As covered in that article, July is no longer one of the busiest months of the year at Walt Disney World–or at least, it wasn’t from 2017 through 2019. That’s not to say it was off-season at Walt Disney World in July during those years (far from it!), just that the beginning of the month is no longer massively crowded. It was still summer vacation season. Nevertheless, the parks were busier in October than in July during those years.
Typically, the first week of July–the one encompassing Independence Day–would be far and away the busiest week of the month. Crowds would gradually decrease after that, dropping slightly with each subsequent week. However, that is not how Summer 2023 has played out so far…
July 9, 2023 Update: Based on wait time data from the last several months coupled with the normal trajectory of summer crowd levels, it now appears increasingly likely that the last week of June was the peak of the summer season. Wait times rose gradually between the week before Memorial Day and the last week of June, and have steadily dropped in the last two weeks–including Independence Day.
Even late June was not busy, with 5/10 crowd levels across all of Walt Disney World. Given the trend-line, our expectation is weekly crowd levels in the 4/10 and below range for the remainder of July 2023. (Those are weekly averages, with daily crowd levels of 1/10 to 6/10.) It’s possible that another slight spike could occur in the next couple of weeks, especially as Walt Disney World has gotten more aggressive with discounting, and pricing is more favorable.
With that said, the worst crowd levels are still likely to be below-average and be fully finished by July 20. Expect crowd levels at or under 5/10 between now and July 14, 2023. Crowd levels at or under 4/10 are likely July 17-21, 2023. For July 24-28 and July 31, 2023, expect 3/10 to 4/10 crowd levels.
Some days, especially Mondays and Tuesdays, could spike to 6/10 or perhaps even a rare 7/10 at Magic Kingdom or Disney’s Hollywood Studios. It’s unlikely that any individual day will surpass 8/10 crowd levels, barring incredible weather or atrocious attraction breakdowns.
For the remaining weekends in July 2023, expect 1/10 to 3/10 crowd levels. If you’re wondering why Saturday and Sunday attendance forecasts are lower, see the ‘Wonky Weekends at Walt Disney World’ section of our recently updated Best & Worst Days to Do All Parks at Walt Disney World in 2023for a discussion of this dynamic. (This is a new trend as of this year.)
Expect all of these trends to continue into August 2023, which will likely be slower than this month. That’s par for the course, as schools start going back into session mid-month, and fewer families are inclined to take summer vacations in the couple of weeks heading back into school. The result is typically that crowds continue to taper off throughout August before bottoming out in September. Expect the same dynamic in late summer and early fall. It’ll be interesting to see just how low crowds can go in the off-season!
All of this is fairly consistent with the last couple of months at Walt Disney World. If you’ve been following our recent crowd reports, you’re likely already aware that numbers nose-dived after Easter, with the slowest 6-week stretch at Walt Disney World in 2 years prior to Memorial Day. Wait times have increased since then, but it has not been busy.
There have been several 7/10 days this summer season WDW-wide, and also a handful of days when Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios hit 8/10. No park has had a 9/10 or 10/10 day so far this summer, though.
Before you get excited about these “unprecedentedly” low crowd forecasts for the remainder of Summer 2023, a little context is appropriate. For starters, crowd levels are calculated on a rolling basis relative to the most recent 365 days around them. They are not anchored to 1971 or 1993 or 2008 wait times–that would be absolutely useless from a practical/planning perspective.
Meaning that 2023 crowd calendars are relative to last year when pent-up demand was still running strong at Walt Disney World. If you look back to 2018 or 2019, the current crowd levels are still below-trend…but not way below average. Looking back even further, pretty much every single day in 2023 would be 10/10 if we used 2008 or earlier as the baseline.
Point being, if you last experienced Walt Disney World in the post-reopening period, or even in 2017 or during the Great Recession, your baseline expectations and experience probably would be different than someone who visited during holiday weeks during the last year or when pent-up demand was really running hot.
Not only that, but a ‘low’ crowd levels does not mean that in absolute terms. Even on 1/10 days, the parks will not be veritable ghost towns (for the most part) allowing you to do snow angels on the ground. You will see rides with 60-90 minute posted wait times. You will encounter areas of congestion. “Uncrowded” at Walt Disney World means something different than it does at the American Dream Mall or Wyoming in The Last of Us. The most popular rides, especially during the middle of the day, will still have long lines.
For example, going from a 10/10 crowd level to a 1/10 crowd level means you might encounter a 65-75 minute average wait time for popular rides–such as Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Peter Pan’s Flight, Slinky Dog Dash, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, and Avatar Flight of Passage–as opposed to 90-120 minute wait times. Since those numbers are averages, it also means higher peaks and lower lows. Below-average crowd levels does not mean every attraction is always a walk-on!
Another specific problem point is Happily Ever After. Unfortunately, congestion is the not-so-new normal for fireworks at Magic Kingdom. For the sake of illustration, let’s say that there are–on average–40,000 people in Magic Kingdom towards the end of a busy night.
On a slower day, let’s say the number is 20,000 people–half the number of a busy day. Now let’s assume that 10,000 people fit on or around Main Street USA. It’s a simple math problem. Regardless of whether it’s a slow or busy night, the number of people wanting to see Happily Ever After exceeds the capacity of the viewing areas on and around Main Street.
Finally, expect there to be day-to-day and park-to-park variance for the remainder of July 2023. This is beyond the scope of this crowd calendar, and will largely end up being driven by ride breakdowns, maintenance issues, and weather.
If it’s a really hot or rainy day, Floridians will largely avoid the parks, which can reduce crowd levels. If it’s an unseasonably dry or cooler (by Orlando in summer standards) day, Floridians will flock to the park. If several attractions experience downtime, that will cause wait times to balloon everywhere else. All of these are more random variables, but they collectively can move the needle on crowd levels considerably.
JULY PRICING & DISCOUNTS
While special offers for Walt Disney World are usually weak for summer, there’s actually an above-average number of deals for Summer 2023. Not only are there more discounts available than is typical for this time of year, but the percentage savings are also higher than normal.
Normally, Walt Disney World has something of a captive audience during the summer months as many families can only visit then due to school being out of session. Disney only offers discounts in order to fill hotel rooms and entice more guests to visit. They don’t really need any extra incentive for the summer, as that’s when people are most inclined to travel to Florida, even in the face of the weather we mentioned above.
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!