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Top 10 Tips for Visiting Disney World this Summer

Updated on August 18, 2014

Tips to Help You Get the Most from your Summer Vacation to Disney World.

Here's what you need to know to make your Disney World summer vacation the best trip ever! Summer is such an amazing time to visit Walt Disney World. The days are long and the theme parks are open even longer. School is out and lots of people head to Disney World during the summer so crowds are something you need to plan for....heat and lightning can be factors too. Don't worry though, we've compiled a few tips to help you have an incredible Disney vacation.

Click Here for Disney World Crowd Information, Special Events & Ride Closures during your vacation

All photos are my own unless otherwise noted. (c)Stephen Johnson.

Tip 1: Book Your Hotel and Dining Reservations As Soon As Possible

The Early Bird gets the best rates and the best seats.

Disney doesn't offer "Last Minute Deals" because it creates a staffing nightmare since they have to staff hotels, restaurants, theme parks, and transportation. Disney gives the best rates to the people who book their Disney World vacation packages early with the best promotions and discounts often released 6 months or more in advance of arrival. Booking early also helps you get your first choice of Disney Hotel and room category.

Disney Dining Reservations can be booked up to 180 Days Prior to Arrival. Popular locations like Cinderella's Royal Table, Ohana, and Chef Mickey fill early so booking early gives you the best shot at getting your first choice in restaurant and dining time.

You can book FASTPASS+ reservations up to 60 days prior to arrival if you have a Walt Disney World Resort vacation package that includes tickets.

Standby Waiting Sign at Space Mountain in Disney World
Standby Waiting Sign at Space Mountain in Disney World

Tip 2: Have good Disney World theme park touring plans.

We are convinced that everyone can benefit with good theme park touring plans. During busy times, a good plan will absolutely keep you ahead of the crowds and out of the lines - our clients typically wait less than 20 minutes for rides, even thrill rides and headliners. During less crowded times, a good plan factors in shorter park hours and fewer performance times. But the most important benefit of a good plan is that everyone gets to ride and see the things that they are looking forward to because everyone's priorities are included in a plan that tours the parks efficiently and effectively.

Entrace of Animal Kingdom Theme Park
Entrace of Animal Kingdom Theme Park

Tip 3: Arrive at the Disney Theme Parks at least 20 minutes prior to park opening!

FASTPASS+ Reservation Tips

The parks are at their least crowded in the first hour or two of the day. It is so much better to arrive early and take a mid-day break than to arrive late and get in line behind everyone else. During summer months, it is great if you can get to the parks at least 30 minutes prior to park opening - giving you time to get through security and get near the entrance but 15 - 20 minutes will do. The

As soon as the theme park opens, immediately experience these attractions using the stand-by line:

- Disney's Animal Kingdom / Expedition Everest

- Disney's Hollywood Studios / Toy Story Midway Mania

- Epcot / Test Track, followed by Mission Space.

- Magic Kingdom / Enchanted Tales with Belle

Note about Epcot There is a rollercoaster simulation attraction called "Sum of all Thrills" in Innoventions, it has a very low guest capacity and lines build almost immediately- if that attraction interests you, do it first thing and then immediately proceed to Test Track & Mission Space. Remember that Test Track closes for heavy rain and lightning so keep an eye on the sky!

If you don't get to the park at park opening, you will want to try to get FASTPASS+ reservations for those attractions, The FASTPASS reservations will all probably be completely distributed by noon for these attractions. Remember that there is no extra cost for FASTPASS+, it is included in the price of admission. Guests who purchase their tickets in advance can make FASTPASS+ reservations up to 30 days prior to arrival. Guests with tickets staying at an official Walt Disney World Resort hotel can make FASTPASS+ reservations up to 60 days prior to arrival. Guests purchasing tickets at the gate can go to FASTPASS+ kiosks inside the park to make their FASTPASS+ reservations.

If you were able to ride the above attractions at park opening - try to get FASTPASS+ reservations for these experiences:

- Disney's Animal Kingdom / anything you want

- Disney's Hollywood Studios / Toy Story Midway Mania, Star Tours, Voyage of the Little Mermaid, Tower of Terror or Rock-N Roller Coaster

- Epcot / Soarin' and any others you want

- Magic Kingdom / Peter Pan's Flight, Big Thunder Mountain, Splash Mountain, or any others.

Minnie Mouse at a Disney Character Breakfast
Minnie Mouse at a Disney Character Breakfast

Tip 4: Avoid early morning Character Breakfasts

I don't want you in a restaurant when the crowds are low, just to leave and get in line when the crowds are getting long and the day is getting hot. Get a late (brunch) seating or, better yet, book Character lunches or Dinners - you'll enjoy the lower morning crowds in the parks and then sit down to eat when you're ready for a break. Remember that character breakfasts are now confirmed with a credit card and subject to a $10 per person "no show" penalty - another big reason to avoid early morning reservations.

Why you should avoid Extra Magic Hours at Disney World
Why you should avoid Extra Magic Hours at Disney World

Tip 5: Avoid Extra Magic Hours like the plague during peak travel times

Extra Magic Hour(s) are times when a Disney World theme park opens an hour early or stays open two extra hours for anyone who stays at one of the official Disney World Resort hotels. Disney has over 30,000 hotel rooms which means that during Extra Magic Hours, too many people are being pointed in the same direction at the same time. The Extra Magic Hour park will be the most crowded park of the day so go to a less crowded park and enjoy more attractions without having to arrive painfully early or staying so late that you'll be too exhausted to get to the next day's park before park opening.

There is one exception to this recommendation and it only applies if you have Park Hopper Tickets - some young adults and teens really love being at the Disney parks until the wee hours of the morning. If this sounds like you, enjoy the evening extra magic hours but know that you'll be crowded and know that you'll be tired the next day. Do you have the water park option? Then go to a water park after your late night at Disney World - a late arrival at a water park won't be a problem, just plan on riding the most popular attractions closer to the end of the day when the crowds are thinning.

This information is especially important for anyone not staying at a Disney World hotel! You really don't want to arrive at a Disney theme park at park opening just to find that Disney hotel guests have been forming lines for a whole hour so it is really important that you know which park has Extra Magic Hours on each day of your visit so that you can visit that park another time. You can get that information by clicking

Tinker Bell Float in the Main Street Electrical Parade
Tinker Bell Float in the Main Street Electrical Parade

Tip 6: Disney's Main Street Electrical Parade Tip

Disney's Main Street Electrical Parade (nighttime parade) at the Magic Kingdom will have 2 parades on certain nights. If you can stay up later, the second parade is always a lot less crowded than the first one. Frontierland is the least crowded place to watch this parade but it isn't a good area to see the Wishes Fireworks.

Want to see the afternoon Festival of Fantasy parade? Here's a viewing tip: Watch the parade near the Emporium Gift Shop & the Fire Station near City Hall on Main Street. This part of the park is not crowded mid-day and you get to see the characters twice - once as they approach and then a second time when they turn and wave before exiting the park

Fantasmic at Disney's Hollywood Studios - Boat with Disney Characters
Fantasmic at Disney's Hollywood Studios - Boat with Disney Characters

Tip 7: Tip for Fantasmic! at Disney's Hollywood Studios

Fantasmic! at Disney's Hollywood Studios will have 2 performances on certain nights and the latest performance will always be the least crowded.

Try to book a Fantasmic Dining Package - with this package, you'll dine earlier in the day at either Hollywood & Vine, Mama Melrose, or The Hollywood Brown Derby and you'll receive a voucher giving you guaranteed seating in a reserved area at Fantasmic! later that day. This packages fill early so book your reservation as soon as possible by calling Disney Dining at 407-WDW-DINE

Disney's Hollywood Studios Theme Park
Disney's Hollywood Studios Theme Park

Tip 8: Heavy Crowd Warning - Avoid Magic Kingdom and Epcot on The 4th of July

Go to Disney's Hollywood Studios or Animal Kingdom Instead.

Avoid Magic Kingdom and Epcot on any major holiday - including July 4th. These parks will be crazy busy those days. Animal Kingdom or Disney's Hollywood Studios will be less crowded.

You can see the Independence Day Fireworks at the Magic Kingdom on July 3rd and enjoy much lower crowds.

Tip 9: Go to Quick-service restaurants at non-standard times

During peak travel times, try to eat lunch around 11:00AM and dinner around 4:00 - 4:30PM; you'll enjoy shorter lines at the counter and have an easier time finding a table.

Special Note for "Be Our Guest" Restaurant in the Magic Kingdom This is a new "Beauty and the Beast" themed restaurant in the Fantasyland area of Magic Kingdom and reservations for dinner are filling 180 days in advance. The great news is that this restaurant is a "quick-service" location for lunch with no advance reservations accepted. The restaurant is hugely popular so lines of an hour or more often form at lunch. The restaurant typically opens at 10:30AM - we recommend that you eat a light breakfast and then at the entrance of the restaurant by 10:20AM so that you get in quickly and have your choice of the three themed choice of seating areas.

Tip 10: Book your Disney vacation through Build A Better Mouse Trip

Build A Better Mouse Trip gives you a better Disney vacation by taking the stress out of trip planning & providing theme park touring plans. We book directly with Disney so you never pay more than if you booked the reservation yourself and we provide lots of help and advice designed to take the stress out of vacation planning at no extra cost to you.

1) Help with selecting the right resort or hotel for your budget. We don't just book Disney resorts - we're happy to make reservations at other accommodations too.

2) Help with building a Best Days Itinerary - a daily schedule that puts you in the best park for each day of your trip

3) Help with dining reservations (subject to availability)

4.) At no extra cost to you, we will provide 1) a TouringPlans.com subscription, 2) Tour Guide Mike Subscription - or - 3) the newest edition of The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World when you book through www.buildabettermousetrip.com.

Contact us today to start planning your Disney Vacation:

Build A Better Mouse Trip Travel

Toll free: 877-815-6515

IllumiNations Fireworks at Epcot
IllumiNations Fireworks at Epcot

Special Advice for Disney World in June

June is the month with the most rain in Florida. Afternoon thunderstorms occur almost daily but they pass quickly and help cool things off. The Waterparks, certain rides and attractions will close - at least temporarily - if there is lightening in the area. For this reason, we recommend that you try to catch the earliest performance of " Lights, Motors, Action! Epic Stunt Spectacular" (usually at 1:20PM) at Disney's Hollywood Studios.

The first week of June can be an ideal time to visit Disney World as the crowds are lower because some schools throughout the United States don't release for summer break until mid-June.

Mickey Mouse in the Fantasmic Show at Disney's Hollywood Studios Theme Park
Mickey Mouse in the Fantasmic Show at Disney's Hollywood Studios Theme Park

Special Advice for Disney World in July

Crowds and temperatures are usually at their peak in July. It is especially important that you arrive before park openings and use a good touring plan. If you do, you'll have a great time at Disney World. If you don't, you should expect to stand in some long lines.

Watch small children for signs of dehydration, sunburn and overheating. Remember that heat is radiating up from the walkways, as well as coming down from the sun. Eat lunch in an air-conditioned location to rest and refresh yourselves. One advantage to peak crowds is that the Disney Parks are open late into the night so don't be afraid to take a mid-day break. A little nap and a swim in the hotel pool will help make a hot day magical again.

When Are You Going To Disney World?

When is your next Disney World Vaction?

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More great Disney resources...

The Unofficial Guide to the Disney Cruise Line
The Unofficial Guide to the Disney Cruise Line

Another great guidebook by the Unofficial Experts - we give this to everyone who books a cruise through BuildABetterMouseTrip.com

 
Sing Along Songs - Disneyland Fun
Sing Along Songs - Disneyland Fun

This cute video can help your little one know what to expect from a theme park and will let them relive the memories when you get home.

 

We'd love to hear about your plans. You can also share your best tips for Disneyworld in the summer.

Do you have any tips for summer trips to Disney World?

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      entertainmentev 5 years ago

      Fabulous tips! I will be using this guide when we being to plan out trip.