Surviving Disney World’s July 4th

July 4th is one of the most fun holidays of the year — BBQ, fireworks, hot dogs, family time, burgers, Captain America, picnics… oh, now I’m hungry.

It’s also amazing at Disney World, with great food, great people… and perhaps the greatest fireworks displays you’ll ever see, happening both at Magic Kingdom and Epcot!

But a word of caution… July 4th is one of the busiest times of the year, and to add to that, it’s super duper hot. I mean, stinkin’ crazy the-floor-is-lava hot. So how do you handle being in the Magic Kingdom with 80,000 of your closest friends, with all of you sweating like a ninja in cashmere, crammed together to see roman candles light up the sky? Or at Epcot, with up to 100,000 of your closest friends, all gathered around the lake, watching IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth?

Never fear!  I have 8 great tips for you to remember while being at Disney World during July 4th!

(1) THE FLOOR IS LAVA

It’s Florida. It’s July. Put them together, and you have unbelievably hot circumstances.  Just expect it. When you book a trip over the July 4th holiday, then you need to go into the trip knowing it’s going to be incredibly hot and maybe worse, humid and hot. It will rain for a few minutes during the day, leaving air that feels like butter when you walk through it.  I mention this because if you can have the mentality that the heat will be crazy, you’ll be able to concentrate on other things. So set your expectations to the floor being lava and the sun melting you with its rays — don’t go there this week and be blindsided by the heat.

(2) WATER WATER WATER

Because of #1, its important to remember to continually drink liquids all day. I highly recommend water, but if you chug a Powerade here or there, it’ll work… you just need something to replace all the sweat you’ll lose walking around in the heat.  While I don’t necessarily like the taste of the Florida water that comes out of the fountains, it’s still better than nothing. You could even purchase a water bottle that has a small water filter on top to help with the water taste.  Or, just take some with you as you go into the parks (it’s allowed) — Remember that water is around $3 per bottle (Disney sells Dasani), and it can get expensive.

**DID YOU KNOW** —> Walk up to any food cart or counter service, and ask for a glass of water. If they have it available, they’ll give you a water cup for free! 

(3) FIREWORKS OVER TWO NIGHTS

Did you know that July 4th fireworks happens on July 3rd AND July 4th?  While both Epcot and Magic Kingdom will have different fireworks spectaculars, they will do the same respective shows on both Tuesday July 3rd and Wednesday July 4th.  This means you can plan to see one on one night and the other on the 2nd night, or just plan for one fireworks, and perhaps see it on Tuesday where the crowds aren’t quite as insane. They’ll still be super insane, but maybe not super DUPER insane.

(4) GET THERE EARLY

As I’ve already expressed here, the parks will be really, really busy… but that doesn’t mean you can’t have the time of your life while you are there, you just have to prepare for it. Because Toy Story Land at Hollywood Studios has just opened this past weekend, Hollywood crowds will already be big very early in the morning. Animal Kingdom early morning crowds are usually big because most people want to head to Flight of Passage over in Pandora. And of course, Magic Kingdom and Epcot crowds will start gathering early. I would say to get to the parks as early as you can — at least an hour, maybe 90 minutes.  If you are on property, I would also recommend taking a bus to Magic Kingdom (or calling a Minnie Van for shuttle service), because the line of vehicles to get into the Magic Kingdom is likely to be long and slow-moving. With kids, I know its difficult to get there earlier in the morning, so make it a point to prepare for it in the days before… can you get into the park after opening? Absolutely, but you’ll find that everything already has a line (and Magic Kingdom may close to capacity for an hour or two in the late morning — because of its size, Epcot is not likely to).

**DID YOU KNOW** The Magic Kingdom opens its gates early to allow everyone onto Main Street, up to Cinderella’s castle. At the posted opening time, the ropes will drop on the pathways leading to Tomorrowland, Liberty Square, Fantasyland, and Adventure/Frontierland.

(5) HIT YOUR FAVORITES FIRST AND EARLY

One of the huge advantages of getting into the parks as the gates open is that you can go straight to your favorite attraction and get in line immediately. Even with the most popular of attractions, like Flight of Passage, you’ll be on and off in a much shorter time than if you jumped in the line an hour or two after opening. So get your game plan together, and hit a ride first thing in the morning, the one that is most important to you.

You can also get these tips, as well as Disney news & pop culture on the latest Magic on a Dollar podcast, available on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher or the Podcast page at the top of this page

(6) FASTPASSES

Get your Fastpasses in order! If you booked at least 60 days ahead of time, then you would have had a chance to get your Fastpasses for the major attractions. But if you booked your trip later (or don’t even have Fastpasses for this week!!), then make them ASAP!!

(7) ODD MEALTIMES

Even when it’s not busy, most counter service restaurants will get very hectic for breakfast until after 9 or so, and most places for lunch will be full of guests between 11a and 1p, because that’s usually lunch time for many families. Even the dinner rush will start around 445p and go through 7p or so, so while everyone is eating, you can take advantage of the slightly lesser crowds by hitting some attractions.  When do you eat?  The off-times.  Save breakfast until after 930 or even 10, or eat lunch around 1030a, or wait until after 1, even 2 o’clock.  For dinner, try to eat well before 5p, or if you can wait until after 7 or 730, all the better. Hit the restaurants when they aren’t quite as busy, so you can get and out faster (this goes for counter service, because table service restaurants will require reservations)

(8) PLAN FOR THE FIREWORKS

What everyone is there to see… the fireworks! And Disney has some of the best in the world, far and beyond the best I’ve ever seen. As a result, people will start finding their spot hours ahead of time. The fireworks kick off at 9pm at both Magic Kingdom and Epcot, and there will be people planting their viewing area by 7pm and even 6pm or earlier.  You have to decide how important your viewing spot it — the castle itself becomes a projection screen to show amazing visuals full of Disney Magic while the fireworks are happening, and if you are on Main Street or behind the castle, you won’t be able to see. My suggestion is, get there around 7, plant your proverbial flag and hunker down. The sidewalks will be hot, so have something to sit on, and with the size of your family, you can take turns running for food, for bathroom breaks and more.  Remember that many 10s of 1000s of people will be watching the fireworks too, so make sure you hold your spot — be respectful, but be wary of those who will try to take over where you are sitting. (This sounds terrible, but it happens, even by the most well-intentioned people)

So there are some tips for you to survive July 4th!

INFORMATION

July 3rd Park Hours:

Magic Kingdom – 8am to Midnight (open until 2am for Extra Magic Hours)

Epcot – 9a to 9p

Hollywood Studios – 8a to 1030p (open at 7a for Extra Magic Hours)

Animal Kingdom – 9a to 1030p

July 4th Park Hours:

Magic Kingdom – 8a to 1a

Epcot – 9a to 9p

Hollywood Studios – 8a to 1030p (open at 7a for Extra Magic Hours)

Animal Kingdom – 9a to 1030p (open at 8a for Extra Magic Hours)