Planning Your Disney Itinerary: In Summer

Summer is here, and Walt Disney World is entering one of its most popular seasons: summer. While I believe that you can have a great trip anytime of year with proper planning and preparation, here are some tips specifically for summertime itineraries.

Plan for longer hours – Walt Disney World is more crowded during the summer, and Disney responds accordingly by scheduling longer park hours than other times of year. Parks like the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom will have some of their latest closing times during the summer. Check park hours carefully with your itinerary, because hours vary day to day (and so do Extra Magic Hours). For those of you taking afternoon breaks (which I highly recommend), longer hours make it easier to spend the afternoon resting and the cool evening exploring the parks.

Arrive early – I know I recommend this all the time, but it is just, if not more, important in summer than at any other time of year. If you arrive at park opening, you will not only see the lowest crowds of the day, but you will also see the coolest temperatures of the day. Take advantage of this time. If you’re not a morning person (like me), make room for an afternoon nap.

Relax in the afternoon – The afternoon is both the busiest and hottest time of day in Florida. I always recommend retreating from the long lines by going back to your resort. Visit the pool or have some downtime in your resort room. Do something that will let everyone cool off and unwind, because although the parks are fun, it’s a lot of walking in the heat. Everyone will feel refreshed and ready to head back to the parks in the evening.

Plan some cool-down time – Outside of a longer afternoon break, be sure to give yourself some time to rest throughout your day. Stop by some indoor, air-conditioned rides or shows when it starts to get hot in the late morning and afternoon. (Good choices include MuppetVision 3D, Hall of Presidents, Carousel of Progress, Mickey’s Philharmagic, Festival of the Lion King, It’s Tough to be a Bug, Haunted Mansion, or one of the three films at Epcot’s World Showcase). Find a shady spot and take a seat with a Dole Whip, or let the kids play at the Casey Jr. Splash ‘n’ Soak Station for a while (bring an extra set of clothes for them). Take little breaks, drink plenty of water, and remember that avoiding overheating is a better way to stay in the magic than trying to see everything.

FastPass the water rides – When the heat reaches its peak, I often start thinking how nice it would feel to get soaked on Splash Mountain or Kali River Rapids. Of course, many other guests are thinking the exact same thing. In the summer these two rides usually have lines of over an hour most of the day, particularly in the afternoon. If you want to ride one of these outside of just after park opening, reserve a FastPass and skip the hot line to get your water ride fix.

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Elizabeth lives in Kansas City with her wonderful family. She enjoys long walks, happy thoughts, and Disney magic! Elizabeth first visited Disney as a child, and when she prepared to visit Walt Disney World as an adult, she foolishly thought she may have ‘outgrown’ Disney. Happily, Elizabeth was proven wrong – but she also realized how good planning can make such a difference for a successful vacation! Elizabeth became her family’s go-to resource for Disney planning. Now she dedicates her planning skills to helping others with their own magical vacations as a Disney travel specialist. She will plan your trip as if it were her own. Her blog,, has tons of advice on how to plan your next Disney trip, including trip planning instructions, sample itineraries, dining tips, and more. Visit her on Facebook or Twitter for more planning tips and theme park news.

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