How to Plan a Great Disney World Vacation in the Summer
By Betsey Rhames
Ask anyone who knows anything about Walt Disney World and they will tell you, “Don’t go there in the middle of the summer!” Why not? Because it’s hot and crowded. And when I say hot, I mean really hot (90+ degrees combined with 80% humidity). And when I say crowded, I mean really crowded (long lines in which you can wait more than an hour). Add to that the sudden summer thunder storms that will get you twice as soaked as anyone on Splash Mountain and the conclusion is obvious, don’t come to Disney World in the summer.
The local experts are all agreed. They say with somewhat arrogant confidence, “Do Disney World in the Spring, it’s lovely,” or “come visit in October, the weather is perfect,” or, “plan your vacation for early December, there are no lines whatsoever.”
“Yeah, right,” you say, “no problem.” But, actually, it is a problem because summer is the only time for most families to plan a Disney World vacation. That is the time when the kids are out of school. Unless your children are geniuses and their school is very lenient, it is a bad idea to take them out of school long enough to go to Disney World. This fact is, of course, the reason why it is so crowded during the summer.
Well, I’m one Floridian who says, “come on down,” even in July! You’ll have a great time because despite the problems mentioned above, nobody handles crowds and lines better than Disney. You only need to do two things in order to make your trip pleasurable. First, prepare yourself for the weather and second, make a plan to beat the crowds.
Preparing for the rain and hot, humid weather is simple:
1. Carry a poncho and/or umbrella.
2. Dress in light comfortable clothes; definitely no denim.
3. Plan on buying cold treats during the day like ice cream and frozen lemonade.
4. There are also several rides and shows in air conditioning; visit these in the hottest time of day (also good places to keep dry).
5. You may even choose to bring a water misting fan to keep cool (especially at Animal Kingdom where there are fewer air conditioned attractions).
Your personal plan to beat the crowds will take a little more effort. Most people who go to Disney World just “wander” from one attraction to the next in order. They may skip things that don’t interest them but generally move clockwise or counter clockwise around the park. This seems logical, it saves wear and tear on the feet, but it creates long lines at the more popular attractions. Understanding where and when the lines build up is the key to creating your own itinerary. With this knowledge, you will definitely add a lot more walking to your trip by crossing the park and backtracking a few times each day. However, with this strategy, you can cut down the time you spend in line considerably.
It would take a book to include all the information you might need to cut down your time in lines (actually, there are several good books available on this subject), but some of the best tips are these:
1. Arrive at opening time and do the favorite rides first (by an hour after opening, lines at certain rides are unreasonable).
2. Get a fast pass (an appointment for later in the day that allows you to skip to the front of the line!).
3. Actually leave the park early in the afternoon (when it’s most crowded) and return early in the evening (when many people are leaving).
4. Do the most popular rides during the parades, the lines are usually much shorter then.
Some people balk at the idea of following an itinerary on vacation. They believe it stifles the fun of being spontaneous. However nothing stifles fun more than spending hours in line and then staring at the guide map trying to decide, “what should we do next?”
Being prepared for the Florida weather and a well-thought out plan with some built in flexibility will allow you to have a wonderful vacation to Disney World even at the height of summer.
Betsey Rhames (http://www.bestdisneyplans.com) is a Florida resident, wife and mother of four. She is a big fan of Walt Disney World and has been visiting there for the past 30+ years; first as a teenager and now as a mom.
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