How to Navigate Walt Disney World in the Summertime ~ A local’s perspective

Walt Disney in the summertime. What can I say? It’s hot! Disney World’s peak time used to be summertime but as people realize just how hot it can be in Central Florida, many fans have opted to visit during the winter months where the weather in Florida can be glorious. But for locals, it’s hard to get Lightening Lanes for popular rides and even just a hotel room on property for that matter. It’s tempting to see lower waits and hotel discounts in summer and pass it up. So, we brave the heat and go when crowds are less. But we need the make the time there valuable and magical. Below are some of my ideas for making the most of your summer stay at Walt Disney World.

Ride the indoor rides like Little Mermaid

I recently went to the Magic Kingdom on a Saturday in June and in the middle of the day. I will be quite honest, I struggled with the heat and I live in Florida! There are some parks that have more tree coverage (Animal Kingdom) and some where the sun can just beat you down (Hello Hollywood Studios and MK – Frontierland/Tomorrowland). During this trip, we decided to stay on property for a night at Pop Century Resort so we left early and headed to the hotel pool. The heat was taking it out of me, several rides were down, and frankly, I was getting a little cranky in the heat.

Our plan was to skip the main parks the next day and head to Typhoon Lagoon and so did everyone else! It was packed. I’ve never had to park so far from the entrance which seemed like we were parking in Disney Springs.

Try going to a water park like Typhoon Lagoon

The trip felt rushed and as I stated above, hot. I feel like we didn’t make the most of our time and even forfeited our coveted Tron Lightcycle virtual group time (b/c we weren’t in the hot park). But, we live here and can visit whenever we want, right?

Having said this, next time we will have a better plan for the summer heat. While the above 1 night stay may be good if you are not going to a water park and the temps are cooler, I don’t recommend it for summer. The next trip will include a 2 night stay so that we have time to relax, escape the heat, and enjoy more of what Disney World has to offer.

Check out some of the shaded trails at the resorts

The best option, in my opinion, is to arrive on a Friday night around 5:00 to the resort hotel. This time should ensure that your room is ready and you can go straight there without checking your bags. Using online checkin via the My Disney App is super simple and I would recommend it. Prior to arrival, check Disney Genie + and reserve any lightening lanes or ride reservations at this time for later in the evening.

After you’ve settled in your room, plan to take a few minutes to explore the hotel and grab some dinner at the restaurant or food court. At this point, Annual Passholders can go to any park of their choice, so plan to head to the park of your choice around 6:30-7:00. Another thing to keep in mind with Florida summers is that is can usually rain in the late afternoons and you won’t want to get soaked. If you are in the park though, stay. The rain is a good thing in that it cools everything down and you can be at the front of the line for the outdoor rides once it opens back up. By the evening, things have cooled off, the sun is going down, and there may be nice breeze. The parks can be very pleasant at this time. Plan to spend some time at the parks until closing and head back to the hotel for a good night’s rest.

Go to the parks at night

Don’t rush to leave during a rain storm. Let it pass. It’s cools everything off and you can get in line quickly after rides reopen

The next day would consist of a park in the morning, until the heat gets too intense, and then back to the hotel for a swim or a rest. This time could also include a massage at one of the Disney spas or a nice lunch at Disney Springs. I also like checking out different resorts so maybe a quick trip to one of the deluxe resorts for a drink and stroll around the grounds. If you do decide to go to lunch at a hotel or in Disney Springs, I recommend making reservations in advance. This is a good time to relax, cool off, and plan your evening. I have personally fallen victim to too much over planning and have felt at times, that I am running through the parks to make lightening lane times or dinner reservations on time. The point of the relaxed afternoon, is to relax. Don’t rush. Give yourself time to enjoy the resorts, Disney Springs, the pool, the spa, the gardens. At some resorts, you can take a carriage ride or a boat ride. That might be a nice option as well. There are many options outside of the parks to choose from.

Ahhhh…. the hotel pool

Hang out and relax at the Disney Beach

That evening, your choices are open to visit another park, maybe check out the Drawn to Life Cirque Du Soleil show at Disney Springs or Hoop De Doo Revue. This will require some planning and reservations but there is more to do at Disney than just the theme parks. Besides, when you are local and can visit the theme parks anytime, it might be a nice change to do some other activities at the resort. Most hotels have a marshmallow roast and poolside movies. There is also mini-golf at Fantasia Gardens and Fairways and fun activities at Disney’s Boardwalk. This past trip, my son and I decided to just relax and ride the Disney Skyliner from Pop Century to Epcot. We didn’t even go into Epcot and just turned right around and rode it back. It was breezy and relaxing and that was all we wanted to do.

Roast marshmallows at your resort in the evening

Ride the Skyliner in the evening, over and over again

On your final morning, you may want to check out another park and sneak in some lightening lane passes in the morning. Check out for hotels is usually 11:00 so you can always just pack your bags and leave them in your car or with baggage services or try to make it back to the hotel prior to check out time. It’s up to you but you will want to take advantage of Sunday mornings in the park and prioritize those rides, parades, or character meets given that you can snag some reserved times once Disney Genie opens for hotel guests at 7:00AM.

Snag early Lightening Lanes on Sunday morning

Regardless of how much heat you can handle at Disney World, there are a few thing you should always remember to do such as :

  • Wear sunscreen
  • Eat cool treats. Indulge in those Mickey bars and icy drinks
  • Wear lightweight clothing that dries quickly
  • Plan to ride those rides with an indoor queue and AC
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Take frequent breaks
  • Invest in the neck fan
  • Leave before you get too overwhelmed and cranky from the heat

    There are many options to try at the Walt Disney World resort that can help you beat the heat. Again, some of this requires some planning. So, yes, you can have a fun, relaxing time at Disney World in the summer without rushing around in the heat. The good part about this is that if you didn’t see something or ride something that you wanted, remember…. you’re a local. You can come back next weekend and ride it then!