Believe it or not, today is officially one month until the 4th of July and is the time that many Disney fans start to contemplate whether they want to make a patriotic visit to the Mouse. Visiting Disney on or around Independence Day can be a really great time to get a big dose of Americana done Disney-style. However its also one of the busiest times of year with crowds often reaching capacity. With this in mind, we’re giving you a bit of time to prep over the next 30-days with our 7 tips for visiting Disney World during the 4th of July.
1. If you can, do Magic Kingdom fireworks on July 3rd. Let’s be honest, the big draw during Disney’s Independence Day celebrations are the special Celebrate America fireworks that the Magic Kingdom runs each year. Last year the fireworks ran at 9pm on both July 3rd and July 4th. For guests who will be at the parks during both days, definitely consider taking in the fireworks a day early. What you’ll find is typically a kinder, gentler crowd. Also, Summer Florida thunderstorms can come out of nowhere and can occasionally catch guests off guard. Should you attempt to see the fireworks on the 3rd and should it be cancelled due to bad whether, you can still try again the next day. You can’t say the same for the people who waited until the 4th.
2. Look for Mickey and Friends in Patriotic Costume. If you find yourself at Epcot on or around the 4th of July, keep a careful eye out as you near the American Adventure. Mickey, Goofy and Donald have been known to don their Patriotic finery and make the rounds. Meeting them makes for a fantastic Independence Day themed photo op that you won’t want to miss.
3. Magic Kingdom isn’t the ONLY park to do fireworks. If you want to really beat the crowds that gather on 4th of July, why not ditch the Magic Kingdom entirely and head on over to Epcot for their evening fireworks display. Last year, the theme park ran its usual IllumiNations fireworks on 4th of July but finished it off with the patriotic Heartbeat of Freedom, a 5-minute 4th of July-themed closer. It maybe doesn’t pack the punch of Celebrate America but its a much gentler approach to the holiday.
4. Arrive at the parks as early as possible. 4th of July weekend is one of those times during the year where if you’re planning a visit to the theme parks (especially the Magic Kingdom) plan on getting there before the parks even open. It is not uncommon for the theme parks to reach capacity on or around the 4th of July. As tempting as it may be to have that lie-in or enjoy a leisurely morning breakfast, it may mean getting shut out of the parks for the rest of the day due to closures. Traffic on 4th of July itself can be pretty unyielding which means that if you can’t get in earlier in the day, the odds of getting in as we get closer to the evening fireworks is pretty slim.
5. Dine at off-peak periods. With the parks as busy as they are on 4th of July weekend, it does take some careful strategizing to make sure that your not spending all of your time pushing through crowds or waiting in line. One simple fix when planning out your park day is to try and schedule in dining at different time from the heaving masses. This usually means very early or very late lunches 11am or 2pm and early or late dinners (4pm or 8pm). The restaurants will be noticeably less crowded.
6. Stake out your fireworks viewing location well in advance. It kind of goes without saying but the 4th of July fireworks crowds can be a bit of a ruthless bunch. Die-hard Disney visitors will position themselves in their fireworks viewing location hours before the first firework can be seen. Guests waiting that long (and trust me, they’ll be a lot of them) don’t take kindly to guests showing up at the last minute. Your chances of being able to get a good spot by showing up right beforehand is pretty slim. Instead take your cue form the pros and just tell yourself you’re going to have to wait in line for a while to get that nice view. I recommend at least an hour before showtime. Also, when picking a spot for the fireworks, you don’t want to be too close to the castle. Pick a spot further back for the full magical effect.
7. Be on the lookout for special 4th of July events. Those looking to splurge this 4th of July, will want to be on the lookout for special fireworks viewing opportunities across Walt Disney World Resort. For instance, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa has already announced that they will be holding a special ticketed event. The cost will be $120 (plus tax) for adults and $59 (plus tax) for ages 3-9. The event will take place at the hotels marina with views of the Magic Kingdom. Grilled steak and shrimp will be served along with alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Reservations are now available for the Floridians 4th of July festivities and can be booked at 407.WDW.DINE.
We think there’s a lot to love about visiting one of America’s most iconic holiday destinations during 4th of July, but if you do be safe, stay hydrated and be patient. The temperatures will be hot and the crowds big. Follow a few of our quick tips and hopefully your Independence Day at Disney will come off without a hitch.
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