The 4th of July is a great time to visit the parks at Walt Disney World, but like any major holiday, big crowds are sure to pour in. I have a few key tips that will really come in handy at this time of year.
1. Plan For Weather on 4th of July
This tip can really apply year round but it is a major one if you’re visiting Disney in the summer. The months of June, July, and August are notoriously hot in Florida. If you’re flying in from out of town as we do, that humidity is going to slap you in the face the minute you step off the plane. It can make it tough to handle a full day in the park in the summer, my family and I always need a midday break.
Also, this time of year sunscreen is a must! Make sure you put on some good sunscreen, nothing will ruin your vacation more than a really bad sunburn. I think it’s best to apply sunscreen in the hotel before you head out to the bus, boats, or monorails.
If you’re driving I think it’s a good idea to apply sunscreen in the parking lot before you head to those trams. Don’t put this off and think oh I’ll just apply it later when I get inside the park; chances are you’re going to get swept up in the excitement of being at Disney and forget so do it before you pass the entrance gates.
First aid buildings at Disney
It’s a good idea to take the sunscreen with you and reapply throughout the day, don’t underestimate that Florida Sun, drink plenty of water and stay hydrated. Most of all remember where those first aid buildings are located inside each Park in case you start to feel a little bit of heat exhaustion.
At Magic Kingdom it’s in between Casey’s and Crystal Palace
At Epcot it’s located by the odyssey building in between test track and Mexico
At Hollywood Studios, it’s at the very front of the park on the left side right after the entrance gates
At Animal Kingdom it’s located nearby the Starbucks on route to Africa
Now while you have to plan for the Sun you also have to consider the rain. I hate to burst your bubble, but the summer months are part of the rainy season here in Florida every day at around 3 p.m. Now don’t let it discourage you because they do tend to pass pretty quickly but bring a poncho and if you can try to plan doing those outdoor coasters earlier in the day or later at night it’s best to save those indoor attractions for midday.
2. Plan For Extra travel time on the 4th
This time of the year is busy at Disney World. With schools out for the summer and families traveling for the holiday, it can mean heavy crowds. If you are driving a car, expect heavier traffic getting to the parking lots.
I think it’s best to take Disney’s transportation over driving especially at Magic Kingdom parking is at the ticket and transportation center. If you take a bus you’ll be dropped off right at the entrance to the park and bypass this completely and remember that minivans will also drop you off in this same location. Whereas a regular Uber or Lyft will drop you off at the ticket and transportation center whatever you decide to do, just plan accordingly.
3. Patriotic Shows and Special Events on the Fourth at Disney World
Make sure you enjoy some patriotic entertainment. All of these offerings are available year-round, but I try to make some extra time for these attractions especially for the fourth of July. It definitely gets me in the spirit of things and the good news is that Fast Pass Plus reservations are not required for any of these.
At Epcot, you can enjoy a condensed 30-minute version of our country’s history at the American adventure this show runs every 45 minutes usually from 11:15 a.m. all the way to 9 o’clock at night. If anything it’s a great break from all that walking in the World Showcase.
But if you really want to feel patriotic at Disney you should definitely plan a side trip to Liberty Square at the Magic Kingdom, this land was the Imagineers tribute to Walt’s passion for American history. His original concept for Liberty Street at Disneyland sadly never came to fruition but Walt’s brother Rory and the entire Imagineering department made sure that they could make those dreams a reality in Florida.
You can enjoy the Hall of Presidents and just like at Epcot get a condensed version of America’s history, but this time focusing on our presidents. There is a terrific section paying tribute to Walt’s favorite President Abraham Lincoln. This show runs at the top of the hour and every half-hour from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. and again it’s a great break from the Sun.
My personal favorite show to see here in this land is great moments in history with the Muppets. You get a little bit of history with a sprinkle of Disney fun and I mean who doesn’t love Sam the Eagle right?
There are two different versions of this show, one version retells a story of Paul Revere and his midnight ride, while the other reflects the signing of the Declaration of Independence. It doesn’t get much more patriotic than that. Performances during the week of 4th of July will take place up to eight times a day from 11:35 a.m. to 5:20 p.m.
4. Fireworks For 4th of July
No trip to Disney during Independence Day is complete without some fireworks. There are two different firework displays that celebrate America. One at the Magic Kingdom and a little tag at the end of illuminations over at Epcot.
Let’s face it Magic Kingdom’s display has been by far the more exciting of the two but it will be interesting to see what the new show coming to Epcot will do for the 4th of July in 2020. There is a way to catch both! Celebrate America a fourth of July concert in the sky will take place over Cinderella Castle on July 4th at 9:15 p.m. it is a must-see and one of the best firework displays that Disney puts on in Florida.
However in the past Disney has done a sort of dress rehearsal of the show on July 3rd, I say dress rehearsal but you can pretty much expect the same exact show the day before the 4th of July
also at 9:15 pm. Many guests may not know about this so it’s possible that the crowds for the show are a little less intense than the 4th of July. What I like to do it watch the show at Magic Kingdom on July 3rd so that you can watch illuminations on July 4th.
5. Dine With A View At Disney on the 4th
The best way to enjoy a show is by enjoying a fabulous meal with a view. If you’re planning a trip for the fourth of July next year in 2020 here are some dining tips.
Nothing is more patriotic at Disney than enjoying dinner at Liberty Tree Tavern. This won’t get you a fireworks view with dinner, but standing by the rivers of America after you finish your meal is not a bad place to enjoy the fireworks.
Liberty Tree Tavern transports you back to colonial America in the 1700s and offers a hearty meal filled with American comfort foods. If you want to dine here on the 4th of July in 2020 mark your calendars and make sure you make your reservation on January 6, 2020. This is when the 180-day window for dining reservations will open for the fourth of July.
There is however a way to get a slight edge over everyone else if you booked a week-long vacation for July next year. Let’s say it starts on July 1st, for example, you’ll be able to make dining reservations for your entire stay at 180 days before the first day of your trip. This is how people score those hard to get reservations ahead of everyone else so keep that in your back pocket.
Alternatively in 2019, Disney did introduce Woody’s roundup replacing the previous Mickey’s backyard barbecue dining event at Fort Wilderness. This new event takes place inside the Fantasia ballroom at the contemporary. Guests will enjoy an all you can enjoy barbecue buffet, meet characters from Toy Story and then be escorted outside to a special viewing area for the show. Now, of course, we don’t know if this one will return in 2020, but it’s highly likely. In 2019 it was priced at $149 for adults and $99 for kids.
If you really want a spectacular view with the terrific meal, book a reservation at California Grill for either July 3rd or 4th of 2020 and try to time it around 8 p.m. This fireworks display extends outside of Magic Kingdom and lights up the sky all around seven seas Lagoon. No other place on Disney property will give you a view like this one.
In my opinion, there are very few places in this great country of ours that put on a fireworks show like Disney. In fact, I would say it’s arguably the best in the country. That said, there is so much to see and do at Disney World that if you are planning a summer vacation, why not plan it around 4th of July and make the most of your time there!