Family Travel

Yes, Disney World in the Summer is Miserable—But Here’s Why You Should Go Anyway

plus, tips to beat the heat (as best you can!)

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disney world in summer"
disney world in summer
Source: @homeoftheharveys
Source: @homeoftheharveys

There are three words that best describe a trip to Disney World during the summer: crowded, hot, and sweaty. With many families choosing to visit the parks during summer vacation, combined with the sweltering heat of Orlando, it may sound like a nightmare to visit during the dead of summer.

And from personal experience, let me just say—yes, it can be miserable. We took my daughter on her first visit to Disney in late August when temperatures reached 98 degrees by 9 a.m. It was boiling hot, and by mid-morning, we were all a little bit miserable. But, it doesn’t have to be that way, especially this summer at Disney World.

That’s because this summer is set to be a really exciting one for the parks, with enough newness coming that you may just be able to overlook the temperatures. On top of that, we have a few expert tips to make the most of the Most Magical Place on Earth with the sweltering heat. Read on to discover why you can still plan a vacation to Disney World in the summer.

What’s coming to Disney World this summer

Typically, the summers are a time when you can expect heat and crowds at the park without a lot of newness to note. But that’s not the case for summer 2024 at Disney World. This is a summer of change at the parks, with a new ride and attractions to experience, as well as ways to celebrate throughout the season. 

New Rides and Attractions

Tiana’s Bayou Adventure

At Magic Kingdom, we’ll be getting a brand new ride when Tiana’s Bayou Adventure opens on June 28. The new ride is themed to The Princess and the Frog and will be a flume attraction replacing the previous Splash Mountain. On the ride, you’ll join Princess Tiana and alligator Louis through the bayou for a Mardi Gras celebration. The attraction will feature music from the film, as well as original numbers, with both new and returning characters. Plus, you can expect that iconic 50-foot drop at the end! 

CommuniCore Hall & Plaza Opening

Over at EPCOT, the new CommuniCore Hall & Plaza will open on June 10. The area will be home to a new Mickey & Friends meet and greet, along with providing a space for families to relax and cool off (a must for summer). Plus, from June 10 to September 6, you can experience the limited-time show “¡Celebración Encanto!” which will run several times throughout the day. 

Country Bear Musical Jamboree

While Disney has not revealed an exact date, at some point this summer, the new Country Bear Musical Jamboree will debut. The reimagined show will bring back the iconic Country Bears to Frontierland in Magic Kingdom, but now they will sing new, reinterpreted Disney tunes in different genres of country music.

Various Celebrations

Over at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, the park will be celebrating a major anniversary: 30 years since the 1994 release of The Lion King. From June 10 through September 6, the park will celebrate with new merchandise, special menu items, and character experiences. 

For fans of The Lion King, both young and old (hi, me), this is a must-do in the parks and a great way to celebrate the beloved film.

After Hours Events

Disney After Hours

Disney After Hours is a separately ticketed event that gives guests access to the parks after they have closed to the general public. While these kicked off in early 2024, they’ll be continuing throughout the summer! Your ticket gives you entry into the park a few hours before its closure and three hours after it’s closed. During the event, you can expect shorter wait times, character meet-and-greets, and unlimited complimentary snacks at select locations throughout each of the parks. For crowded summer days, the cooler weather and smaller lines can be tempting!

H2O Glow After Hours

Another after-hours event for the summer is taking place at Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon water park! Requiring a separate ticket, H2O Glow After Hours is a three-hour event from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. on select evenings through the end of August. The event includes access to water park attractions and entertainment (including Disney characters), with food and drink available. It’s a great way to cool off and enjoy a part of Disney World you don’t normally get to visit.

Courtesy Disney

Ways to beat the heat in Disney World

Yes, the sweltering heat of the summer in Disney World can feel unbearable. But there are absolutely ways to make the most of it while you’re there, including items that can help cool you down or tips for beating the heat.

Use the best cooling items for Disney

Wondering what to wear at Disney World in the summer? I’m here to tell you all sense of vanity needs to go out the window. Facts are facts: You will get hot and sweaty, so wearing breathable clothing and bringing items with you that can help you stay cool is going to be key.

First and foremost, don’t even think about skipping out on sunscreen. Make sure you’re applying it at the beginning of the day and reapplying throughout so you don’t get burned (these helpful stickers will give you a reminder when you need to reapply). Plus, breathable hats for you and the kids offer built-in shade.

Keeping cool is also a lot easier with something like a neck fan or cooling towel. Outside of Disney World, I couldn’t imagine being caught dead wearing a neck fan, but when I’m sweating buckets in Magic Kingdom, all thoughts of looking presentable have already gone out the window. Similarly, cooling towels can be helpful when wrapped around your neck. These magic towels immediately cool when wet with water, so you can continue using them throughout the day.

Finally, if your kids are in strollers, opt for one with a large visor. There’s a reason Baby Jogger City Mini’s are one of the go-to stroller rentals around Orlando, they’re durable, recline, and have an extended shade to keep little ones protected from the sun. Bonus tip for littles: Pack swimsuits as there are plenty of interactive water attractions where they can play and cool down.

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Skip the long lines with Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lanes

At Disney World, you have the option to “skip the lines” through the purchase of Lightning Lanes. There are two ways you can bypass the standby line: By purchasing an Individual Lightning Lane (available for some of Disney’s most popular attractions) or through the purchase of Disney Genie+, which allows you to make Lightning Lane selections throughout your day.

While both options can be pricey (with a per person, per day price that changes day-to-day), it may be worth adding into your budget to be able to get on as many rides as you can, allowing you to go in and out of air conditioning. This can be especially vital for rides that have mostly outdoor queues, such as Slinky Dog Dash or Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway. Instead of staying outside sweating, you can bypass the larger part of the wait by selecting them for Lightning Lane entry.

Take advantage of the water attractions

When it’s hot out, there is no more refreshing feeling than one of the many water rides at the parks. At Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Kali River Rapids is an excellent option to get soaked (and cool off!). Meanwhile, at Magic Kingdom, you’ll be able to enjoy the water flume ride Tiana’s Bayou Adventure when it opens in late June as well as the Casey Jr. Splash ‘N’ Soak Station in Fantasyland—a kids’ water play area inspired by the movie Dumbo.

When it comes to newer attractions, there may be no better stop than EPCOT’s Journey of Water – Inspired by Moana. The walkthrough attraction features different interactive elements of water, from waves that rise when you jump in front of them to a doorway of running water that opens up for you as you pass through. While you can avoid getting wet in this area, on a hot summer day, it’s a great spot to put the kids in bathing suits and enjoy cooling off. I know for my own toddler, this is an area where I get out the water shoes and a swimsuit and let her play to her heart’s content.

disney world in summer
Courtesy Disney

Make a reservation at a table service restaurant

Want some guaranteed A/C? Make an Advance Dining Reservation at a sit-down table service restaurant where you can cool off while grabbing a bite to eat. If you’re traveling with kids, consider making a reservation at one of the character dining locations at the parks and resorts, which let you dine with your favorite Disney characters. 

Not only will this be a great way to enjoy food (and possibly characters!), but taking a break from the heat with air conditioning is the perfect way to refresh for the rest of your day. 

Spend time at the pool 

Another way to beat the heat at Disney World is to spend some time at your resort. If you’re staying on property, especially consider taking a mid-day break to hang around at the hotel or cool off by the pool. 

With how much money park tickets are, it can be tempting to spend all day in the parks. But you want to try to avoid overdoing it in the parks, as pushing too much can lead to feeling miserable by the end of your day.

Staying at a Disney World hotel? Don’t forget the perks…

If you’re staying at a Disney World hotel (or at select off-property resorts), you’ll have access to Early Theme Park Entry, which gives you access to the parks 30 minutes before their official opening. While temperatures may still be high, these early hours mean you’ll be heading to the park during the “cooler” part of the day and with fewer crowds than you’ll find later on.

Additionally, if you’re staying at a Disney World Deluxe Resort, make sure to take advantage of Extended Evening Hours. Exclusive to guests of Deluxe Resorts, this perk gives you extra access to select parks on select dates throughout the week. For example, you can enjoy EPCOT or Magic Kingdom for an extra two hours once they’ve closed to everyone else. This gives you tons of time to enjoy fewer crowds and cooler temperatures once the sun has gone down.

Consider after-hours events

Another option to consider this summer is a Disney After Hours event, especially if you have older kids who don’t need to head in for an earlier bedtime. These separately ticketed events take place on select nights throughout the summer and early fall and give you access to the parks after they’ve closed to the public (and a little bit before). With limited capacity, that means you’ll be waiting in shorter lines and will also get to enjoy complimentary beverages and snacks throughout your night.

Now, these tickets are typically as much or more than a daily park ticket and will give you less time to spend in the park itself. However, there are two reasons it may be worth it:

  • If you purchase it in lieu of a day ticket, you can spend your time at Disney Springs or hang around your resort during the day and then knock out quite a few rides and everything else you’d like to do at night. 
  • And the second reason is to help beat the heat! Yes, it will still be hot even at night in the parks. But you will have avoided the particularly sweltering heat and sun that you’d get during the day and may have a more comfortable time once night begins.

Aim for a late August trip

If you’re taking a summer Disney trip due to scheduling, try and aim for a vacation that’s during the latter part of August. Florida schools typically have their summer breaks beginning in May and lasting through early August, which means those are the weeks you will have crowds from both in-state and out-of-state visitors. 

Now, by no means will a late August trip cool down the temperatures—quite the opposite in fact. But that being said, you will likely experience fewer crowds than you will find during late June and through July. So, yes, you’ll get sweaty and hot, but you also can avoid some of the longest lines and most crowds for a good trade-off!

So, yes, Disney World can get miserable with the heat and crowds of the summer. But don’t let that deter you from making the most of your trip. With so much planned to open this summer, the season is set to be a pretty special time to visit!

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