People often ask me what time of year they should visit Disney Parks, and my first answer is always to visit during the winter holiday season. Next up I recommend Epcot’s Flower and Garden Festival, one of my absolute favorite special events. Usually my tips then transition to the times of the year when guests have the opportunity to take advantage of special savings offers. Finally, absolutely last, I talk to them about visiting the parks in the summer.
As someone who grew up above the Mason-Dixon, the thought of Florida in the summer is enough to make me crank up the AC, but the truth is that visiting Walt Disney World Resort during the summer offers extra magic and heaps of pixie dust. My family has popped on down to the World during the summer months a couple of times, and we’ve loved the festive atmosphere and hot summer nights. This summer Walt Disney World has more magic in store for guests than ever before, and this may be the year that the summer months slide up the ranks in my recommendations. In case riding Splash Mountain on a warm evening and then enjoying a cool Dole Whip is not enough to convince you, you might want to take a look at…
1. Disney’s Festival of Fantasy Parade
I’m a sucker for a good parade. Strike up the band, roll out some floats, and I’m happy as a clam. Add an opportunity to slow down and take a breather in the middle of a busy day in the parks, and I’m even happier! After months of anticipation and sneak peeks of stunning, imaginative floats, the Festival of Fantasy Parade has now hit Main Street in the Magic Kingdom. Even if you think you know what it means to witness a Walt Disney World parade, you’ll still be blown away by this celebration.
2. Harambe Nights at Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Fans of Disney’s Animal Kingdom know that when the sun goes down, the wild adventure ends for the day. This summer from June 7th through August 9th, guests will have the opportunity to attend a special ticketed event during the evening hours inside Disney’s Animal Kingdom. The street party will celebrate the twentieth anniversary of The Lion King and include appetizers, buffet stations, beer, wine, and specialty drinks. Hakuna matata, baby!
3. Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
After years of anticipation, the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train attraction in the Magic Kingdom‘s New Fantasyland opened to all guests on May 28th. I admit completely that I have been stalking this ride ever since I first learned of the upcoming New Fantasyland expansion plans. I stood in long queues for Dumbo the Flying Elephant just for the chance to nab construction pics and even had a hard hat tour of the attraction as it was being built. Last month I had the chance to ride the mine train, and trust me, it was worth the wait.
4. The Return of Festival of the Lion King
I am not above busting out in the opening chant from “Circle of Life,” so you can imagine that I’ve always enjoyed the “Festival of the Lion King” show at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. The show was recently on hiatus, but this summer it returns, now in an all-new theater within the Africa section of the park. The show is set to re-open in June.
5. Enhanced MyMagic+
A year ago I was excited to learn about the MyMagic+ system at Walt Disney World, including the Disney MagicBand‘s, one of my favorite aspects of the innovative system. Had you asked me last fall when my family took full advantage of MyMagic+ during our vacation, I would have told you that clearly the plan was complete, the ideas come to fruition. MyMagic+ enhanced our Disney experience so much that I couldn’t imagine it getting any better. And then Disney made it better. The MyMagic+ system has now rolled out across Walt Disney World Parks and Resorts, and watch for more information here soon regarding the exciting updates.
6. Star Wars Weekends
If you’ve ever wished you were Han Solo, or let’s be honest, married to him, then you probably already know about the legendary Star Wars Weekends at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Back for five consecutive weekends, this special event brings a galaxy far, far away to Disney Parks with special entertainment, evening fireworks, celebrity appearances, and parades. Grab your light saber and pop your hair into those side buns. The galactic event wraps up on June 15th, so use warp speed to get there now.
7. New Additions to Downtown Disney
I have to admit that I tend to spend my time at Disney Parks actually in the parks, enjoying the rest of the Disney magic far less than I possibly should. The fact is that Disney has much to offer outside of the theme parks and attractions. This summer one of those offerings, Downtown Disney, is kicking it up a notch with new boutiques. And caffeine lovers rejoice! Downtown Disney now features two Starbucks locations. Order me a chai. I’ll be right there.
8. Sounds Like Summer Concert Series
If you’ve ever been to Epcot during the summer, you may have stumbled across a live band performance or two. The Sounds Like Summer concert series fills World Showcase with fan favorites all summer long as cover bands play hits from such chart-topping groups as U2, Journey, and Bon Jovi. These evening show times ranging from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m. each evening bring guests another opportunity to grab some amazing food and a beverage, sit back, and enjoy the festive atmosphere of Walt Disney World in the summer months. Even a hot weather fearing northerner like myself thinks it’s worth a little heat to enjoy these great events.