You have decided to go over Independence Day to Walt Disney World. You know that it is summer time in Florida and the parks will be crowded. But, like my family, you go anyway. Maybe it’s the only time you can go. Maybe you didn’t think it through because your home country doesn’t celebrate America’s Independence. Or, like my family, you just love it. There are several reasons we love going over the 4th of July holiday.
The fireworks are spectacular. Disney’s nighttime shows are already amazing, but they really go all out on the 4th of July. Magic Kingdom usually has them both on the July 3rd and 4th. (Always double check to make sure you don’t miss them!) Epcot does them on July 4th. Seeing everyone in red, white, and blue brings out patriotism and love for the USA.
Before you go, here are a few things to be aware of and tips to help you get through it with the best experience possible.
1.It’s crowded. Disney is always crowded during holidays and Independence Day is no different. There are years where the parks are at capacity. In our last 4 years going over the 4th of July we have not had an issue getting in, but keep in mind in can happen. You will bump into people, be bumped into, get stuck in a crowd, and be close to a lot of people. If this is something you cannot handle, then try to stay away from Magic Kingdom and Epcot these days. If you do decide to go keep bags to a minimum. Having a lot of stuff to haul around gets tougher the bigger the crowd. We also opted to skip the stroller and carry the kids. They would get hit in the face with other people’s bags and arms and was hard to maneuver. It is usually a mad rush to get out of the parks as soon as the fireworks end. While you will not be allowed to ride anything, you can slowly stroll out of the parks. You are either going to be waiting in line to exit or you can take your time and enjoy the parks at night.
2. Arrive early. Very early. We try to arrive around 3ish. In Epcot we like to be near Italy, but anywhere you can see the center of the lake is a good spot. In Magic Kingdom we like to find a spot on the grass. For the first hour or two one of us will take the kids on a ride then we will swap while the other one saves our spot. Once 5 hits we grab dinner-either something we brought in the park or something close and eat it in our spot. We try to get our last bathroom break in by 7 since it gets increasingly harder to get back to your spot as it gets more crowded. Cast Members start to limit the amount of people coming in and out of Main Street around this time. We bring lightweight things to keep us occupied. Card games, light-up items, and small toys work well.
Getting a good spot means giving up your afternoon and evening to enjoy the park. You have to decide what is right for you-having a good view of the fireworks or enjoying all the park has to offer.
3. It will be hot. It’s Florida in July. There isn’t much to do about this. Make sure you are dressed for the heat. Sunscreen, hats, and lightweight clothes help. You, and everyone around you, will probably smell by the time the night is over. Stay hydrated. Make sure you are getting enough water. The last thing you want is to overheat in a crowded park.
4. It will likely rain. It is hurricane season in Florida. July is still early in the hurricane season, but it does mean rain. Almost daily rain. Some showers last only for an afternoon while others stay all day. Forecasts do a great job of letting us know about how long the rain will last, but we don’t usually know this until that day or the day before. So, always prepare for rain. Bring ponchos, umbrellas, stroller covers, and possibly an extra change of clothes. I put everything in my park bag in individual Ziplock bags to try and keep things dry. We also don’t bring anything we don’t mind getting wet. Because we drive we also have a towel and change of clothes in the car.
The rain can also postpone the fireworks. We have had them postponed several hours. In our experience, if you wait it out you won’t be disappointed.
5. It will be a late night. By the time you and the hundreds of other guests leave the parks it will late. Magic Kingdom takes longer since many guests need to get back to Tickets and Transportation. The monorail and ferry boat all run as efficiently as possible, but there are so many guests it takes time. Holidays bring more people so the buses to the hotels take longer. Keep this in mind when planning for your next days activities. You may not want to schedule a breakfast at 8am knowing you won’t get to your hotel until after midnight.
My family will continue to visit Walt Disney World over the Independence Day holiday. We love the fireworks so much it is worth it for us. With a little patience and pre-planning you can have a wonderful time.