You’re at Disney in July. Let’s Beat the Heat!
On July 3rd, 2023, the planet Earth recorded its hottest day on record.
Now, I wasn’t around for the glory days of Mesopotamia or the Indus Valley, but I’m willing to believe this data.
Remarkably, the record didn’t even last 24 hours. On July 4th, meteorologists recorded an even hotter day than July 3rd.
Not coincidentally, Walt Disney World crowds weren’t as significant as expected for the holiday week.
For example, we caught some stunning crowd shots on July 5th. But these shots are anecdotal.
In reality, Disney theme parks will be overflowing with guests for the next few weeks. Meanwhile, the temperature won’t get much cooler.
So, you’re at Disney in July. Let’s figure out how you can beat the heat.
Know the Indoor Rides at Each Park
Walt Disney and his Imagineers were smart people. They understood that they had purchased swampland for cheap in Central Florida.
That real estate didn’t cost much because nobody else wanted it.
The conventional wisdom at the time was that Florida was too hot for development.
As usual, Walt Disney proved everybody wrong, but alas, he tragically didn’t live long enough to witness his success.
Instead, his Imagineers carried on in his name, building four of the best theme parks in the world in the heart of former swampland.
Since all the park planners knew the deal, they intentionally designed several indoor attractions as a respite on a sunny day.
I’m referring to attractions like It’s a Small World and Mickey’s PhilharMagic at Magic Kingdom and Living with the Land and Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros at Epcot.
At Disney’s Animal Kingdom, It’s Tough to Be a Bug! and Festival of the Lion King do more than entertain. They allow you to escape the sun as needed.
Perhaps no park embodies this more than Disney’s Hollywood Studios, where show attractions are plentiful.
We’re talking about heartwarming experiences such as For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration and Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy.
Similarly, rides like Toy Story Mania! take place entirely inside, and I include the attraction line queue in that statement as well.
The List of Indoor Attractions
In short, know which attractions to target. Here’s a list for each park:
Disney’s Animal Kingdom:
- Avatar Flight of Passage
- Na’vi River Journey (outdoor line queue)
- It’s Tough to Be a Bug!
- Wildlife Express Train
- Many Activities at Conservation Station
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
- Celebrity Spotlight
- Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy (outdoor line queue)
- Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway (outdoor line queue)
- Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run (partial outdoor line queue but covered roof)
- Muppet*Vision 3D
- Red Carpet Dreams
- Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith (outdoor line queue)
- Star Tours: The Adventures Continue!
- Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance (outdoor line queue)
- Toy Story Mania!
- Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (outdoor line queue)
- Frozen Ever After (partial outdoor line queue)
- Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros
- Journey into Imagination with Figment
- Living with the Land
- Mission: SPACE (partial outdoor line queue)
- Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure (partial outdoor line queue)
- The Seas with Nemo & Friends (partial outdoor line queue)
- Soarin’ Around the World
- Spaceship Earth (outdoor line queue)
- Test Track (partial outdoor line queue)
- Turtle Talk with Crush
- Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin (partial outdoor line queue)
- Country Bear Jamboree
- Enchanted Tales with Belle
- Haunted Mansion (partial outdoor line queue)
- It’s a Small World
- The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (outdoor line queue)
- Mickey’s PhilharMagic
- Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor
- Peter Pan’s Flight (partial outdoor line queue)
- Pirates of the Caribbean (partial outdoor line queue but covered roof)
- Princess Fairytale Hall
- Space Mountain
- Town Square Theater
- Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid (partial outdoor line queue)
- Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress
Let’s quickly talk about the line queues before each of the attractions so that you’ll know what to expect.
When I list something as an outdoor line queue, that’s important information.
You will NOT beat the heat immediately by waiting on these attractions.
Instead, you’ll stand outside for a while before you enter the indoor section.
In some instances, like Haunted Mansion, you’ll know immediately that you’re indoors due to the wave of air conditioning that hits your face.
Sometimes, an attraction blurs the line a bit. For example, Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run involves an outdoor wait…but it’s covered.
So, as long as the line exists solely inside the building, you’ll cool off immediately.
I’d include attractions like Test Track and It’s a Small World in this category as well.
Technically, you’ll stand in line outside or in an open-air area that’s covered.
Still, you’ll quickly feel refreshed after you advance in the attraction queue, which makes them good places to chill a bit.
The Best Attractions to Beat the Heat
Over the years, Disney fans have gotten smarter about beating the heat, almost by necessity.
Central Florida has objectively grown warmer in the 21st century. So, we’re all adapting.
Part of the strategy for beating the heat is about avoiding the longest lines, especially outside.
Sometimes, you’ll find it’s worth the frustration for a particular ride, though.
Here are some Walt Disney World boat rides:
- Frozen Ever After (wet ride)
- Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Caballeros
- It’s a Small World
- Discuss Jungle Cruise
- Living with the Land
- Kali River Rapids (wet ride)
- Na’vi River Journey
- Pirates of the Caribbean
The ones I’ve designated as wet rides are the attractions where you’re likely to get splashed in the face with water.
We’re obviously missing a big one right now as Splash Mountain transitions into Tiana’s Bayou Adventure.
I highly recommend Frozen Ever After because it’s an E-ticket attraction that tells a great story.
Sometimes, you can ride the whole thing without getting a drop of water on you, but that’s okay.
You’ll spend most of the wait indoors, and the ride itself is quite chilly. It’s ideal on a summer day.
I’m a bit conflicted about Kali River Rapids, as it grows more crowded in the summer. Also, its entire wait occurs outdoors.
Some of the other options listed here and even the Animal Kingdom shows I mentioned might be better choices to cool off.
You’ll eventually cool off by riding Kali River Rapids, but you’ll probably get even hotter first.
When trying to beat the heat, you should definitely never wait more than 45 minutes for this experience during the dog days of summer! Choose a show instead.
Other Tips for Beating the Heat
You’ll find a few other ways to stay cool on a hot summer day. Most of them are thankfully indoors, too.
Disney theme parks host shops and restaurants seemingly every block.
An indoor restaurant with no wait is perfect on a scorching afternoon. In fact, I often double down on this strategy.
Table Service meals take a lot longer than Quick Service ones. So, I’ll usually book an Advanced Dining Reservation for a Table Service meal.
In doing so, I know I’ll be in an air-conditioned indoor setting for at least an hour.
My one word of warning here is that I’ve seen and done everything there is to do at the parks.
Those of you who haven’t might not enjoy spending this much of your park day sitting down for a meal…and Table Service restaurants aren’t cheap, either.
Another quick tactic is to find a splash zone, a place where you will get sprinkled with misting water.
Disney offers these solely to cool off guests. You’ll find them in New Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom and close to Test Track at EPCOT, among other locales.
Finally, never underestimate a store as an excellent place to cool off.
Scout out the ones with the best air conditioning and use them whenever you need a break!
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