One of the first questions any family has to ask themselves when planning a Disney Orlando vacation is when they want to visit. Summer is often the top choice of families with school-aged children and there are many reasons to travel during summer months. In fact, some of the rides are actually better in summer than they are in the off-season. Read on to see which rides are better in summer than the rest of the year.
1. Magic Kingdom’s Splash Mountain
Splash Mountain has the steepest drop of any ride on Disney World property and it’s also the most likely to get you soaking wet. This in and of itself is enough reason to love it during hot summer months, but it’s also a ride that’s actually shut down for several months of the year. One of the longest dark rides in the parks, and some would say with some of the best theming, it’s worth riding and summertime is the best time to do so in a Disney Orlando vacation.
This ride is often closed down before the park closes for the night. As a result, it’s best to get to this one mid-day and then ask the ride operator when it’s closing for the night. It’s not uncommon for a rider to get through with this ride and want to immediately go through again so be sure you know when the cutoff is each night.
2. Animal Kingdom’s Kilimanjaro Safaris
This incredible safari experience is like nothing else in the parks. While most rides and attractions bring to mind fantasy and magic, this is real life – real animals in their real habitats. Guests hop into a safari Jeep-like vehicle with another dozen folks and let their experienced safari guide drive them through the wonders of the African landscape. Posters installed inside the vehicle picture each of the dozens and dozens animals that may be seen on the ride.
This is a wonderful, unique ride at any time of year but the best times to see it are when the animals are in site. During cooler, winter months, you may see only a few animals. In the summer almost all animals are active – especially right at park opening and around sundown – and riders can experience jaw-dropping things like giraffes crossing the road just feet in front of them.
3. Magic Kingdom’s Jungle Cruise
Fans of groan-worthy puns won’t want to miss the Magic Kingdom’s Jungle Cruise, which takes riders down a river that’s based on the Amazon, Nile, and Mekong at once. Cartoon-ish animatronic animals are found along the way and your skipper – aka boat captain – has an entire repertoire of corny jokes that make riders laugh while they’re rolling their eyes.
Riders who’ve only experienced this ride during the day are missing out. The river lights up at night and a more ominous, yet still very safe, vibe descends. When you pair this eerie nighttime ride with the warm temperatures of summer, you’ve got the perfect time to experience the Jungle Cruise.
4. Animal Kingdom’s Kali River Rapids
Anyone who wants to get off a ride soaked to the bone is going to love Animal Kingdom’s Kali River Rapids. It’s the only raft ride outside of the water parks and though it doesn’t soak every single rider, those who do get sprayed get soaked. Some people choose to wear ponchos so they can experience the ride without the risk of being soaking wet.
We recommend riding this one in the summer months just as the heat is at its worst – in the midday. The water will cool you right off and help you enjoy the day in the sun. Those with phones and other electronics don’t need to worry – Disney has them covered with free lockers near the ride entrance. Just stash the things you don’t want to get wet before you hop on the ride. While it can have longer lines during the summer, it has one of the best ride queues in all four parks, which makes even a long wait feel bearable.
5. Ellen’s Energy Ride
Far from being the most popular ride in Disney World, Epcot’s Ellen’s Energy Ride is actually a great choice during hot, summer months. The ride itself takes 45 minutes and meanders through various locales, including a land full of dinosaurs, and stops regularly so guests can watch dated videos featuring celebrities like Ellen DeGeneres and Bill Nye.
What makes it a great ride for summer months is that all 45 minutes of it are located in wonderful air conditioning. What’s more, there’s almost never a line for this ride. When you need a break from the heat, and a chance to sit down comfortably for three-quarters of an hour, Ellen’s Energy Ride is a great option.
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