by: Kelly Stilwel
Those of us who live in beautiful Bradenton have so much to be thankful for. Year-round sunshine, beaches, great restaurants and even a 90-minute drive to the most magical place on Earth, Walt Disney World. Families from all over the world visit Disney, to the tune of an average of 58 million people per year. That makes Disney World the most visited vacation resort in the entire world! When you’re planning a trip to the Parks, it’s always fun to schedule your visit around one of the many
festivals. With so many to choose from, it’s just a matter of choosing your favorite and heading to the Walt Disney World website to get your tickets. Now through April 1, 2023, you’ll also be able to experience Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary Celebration. The weather is perfect in winter and early spring, so start planning!
And if that’s not enough Disney fun, on January 1, 2023, Disney 100 Years of Wonder
begins, celebrating the 100th year of Disney as a company. BIG surprises will be in
store for the entire year, so you really want to start booking now if you’re planning to go. Do keep in mind that weekends and holidays are more crowded. Though most people have jobs and kids with school schedules, any time you get the chance to go during the week when it is not a national holiday, take it and run!
*As of this moment, all dates in red are tentative until Disney World releases their 2023 calendar. Check the Walt Disney World website before making plans.
January 13 – February 20
EPCOT International Festival of the Arts
You can’t pick a better time than this to visit the Parks weather-wise, unless we get a rare cold spell. Even then, there is something magical about being bundled up at Disney World in Florida!
The Festival of the Arts gives guests the opportunity to meet and greet Disney artists, see their work and even purchase pieces to take home. In addition
to artwork, the Disney chefs go all out in creating culinary works of art.
Other events during this festival are chalk artists, a paint-by-number mural guests can help complete, The Disney on Broadway Concert Series and lots of special merchandise like Figment’s Popcorn Bucket that sells out as quickly as it’s offered!
March 1- July 1
EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival
The EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival is such a beautiful celebration, with over 100 topiaries, including adorable character topiaries that get more imaginative every year. The colors are gorgeous with floating gardens and beds of colorful blooms everywhere you look. You can even take classes and purchase festival items to make your gardens come to life at home.
Take a stroll through the Butterfly House where hundreds of real-life butterflies flutter around. Pick up Spike’s Pollen Nation Exploration scavenger hunt guide (extra charge) and see how many plants you can find. A special prize awaits when you get that last sticker and show your booklet completed!
The Outdoor Kitchens will show off Disney World’s culinary best, where you can purchase small bites, cocktails, beer and wine from around the world.
Finally, you might want to book your visit around the popular
Garden Rocks concert series. Pop stars old and new play at this event, and you may see your personal favorite on the list. Past performances include Blood, Sweat & Tears, The Guess Who and Little River Band.
As always, special merchandise will be available that can only be purchased at this event.
July 13-November 18
EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival
A favorite festival of many, the EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival takes place in the summer and fall months. For foodies, this is the ultimate exploration of flavors from around the world. From the Alps to Morocco, you’ll find mouthwatering dishes from six continents.
In between eating all that deliciousness, kids of all ages will enjoy Remy’s Ratatouille-inspired scavenger hunt. Purchase a map and start exploring! Once you’ve completed the booklet, pick up your festival keepsake. New events are added all the time, so pick up your free guidebook as soon as you arrive.
As with all festivals, special merchandise will be available that can only be purchased at that event.
November 24-December 25
EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays
There is no better way to celebrate holidays around the world than to attend this
amazing and festive event.
Delight in the Christmas decorations throughout the Park. There’s really nothing like it to get you into the holiday spirit! Holiday Kitchen will be full of delectable savory and sweet treats. And speaking of treats, you won’t want to miss the Holiday Cookie Stroll. Purchase five cookies during the month-long stroll and you’ll get a specialty treat when you show your Passport!
The Candlelight Processional is always a favorite activity, where celebrity narrators tell the Biblical tale of the Savior born in Bethlehem. This is another event you may want to plan your trip around so you can see your favorite narrator. Past celebrities have been Josh Gad, Cal Ripken, Jr. and Angela Bassett.
Kids will love Olaf’s Scavenger Hunt, where they go on a festive quest for holiday traditions.
Everyone will enjoy the holiday music performed by the JOYFUL! Ensemble, as well as the storytellers at the different pavilions. Pick up your schedule of events when you arrive for details.
As you can see, there is a Festival almost all year at EPCOT, but there are quite a few additional events at other Disney Parks you might want to plan around, too.
Easter Egg Hunt at EPCOT
This is the only chance you’ll get to meet Mr. & Mrs. Easter Bunny at Magic Kingdom Park. You’ll also be able to see the Easter Procession Main Street featuring Mr. & Mrs. Bunny along with Daisy Duck, Bambi, Thumper and more.
The Resorts also celebrate Springtime by showing off their very best larger-than-life Easter eggs. It really is a must see! Of course, there will be fun Easter themed snacks, as well. Finally, on special dates, guests will be able to hunt for Easter eggs in EPCOT Park.
Love dressing up Disney-style? This is your chance to show off! We love people watching on Dapper Day. And though you may see guests dressed in vintage threads all year long, this is the time to really see Dapper Day participants stepping out in style like no other day of the year!
Star Wars Day May the fourth be with you on this celebration of all things
Star Wars. Expect to see some surprises at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, as well as special galactic goodies you can only get around this time of year.
August 9 – October 31
Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party
Unquestionably one of the most popular events, Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at Magic Kingdom is fun for kids and adults alike. This is the time to dress up and trick or treat Disney style! No need to bring a bag as you can pick up your free tote and stop for treats at select locations throughout the Park. The Boo-To-You Parade brings out dressed-up Disney favorite characters. You never know who might be added so don’t think you’ve seen it all, even if you’ve been over and over again throughout the years!
Of course, special snacks only offered during this party will be available throughout the Parks, as well as merchandise only found at Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. One of the most attended events is the Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular. The Sanderson Sisters, Oogie Boogie and other favorite villains put on the show
of shows to celebrate the spooky season. You’ll want to get your spot early for this one.
Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party only takes place on select nights and often sells out, so get your tickets for this separately ticketed event as soon as they’re available.
November 7 – December 21
Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party
Those who love all things Christmas will want to visit during this holiday event. The
Parks are decked out with stunning Christmas trees, garland and snow flurries! You’ll also find special culinary treats you can only experience during this Christmas party.
The Very Merry Christmas Parade is always a favorite, and kids will want to see their favorite characters dressed up for the holidays at character meet and greets. (What a great time to get that holiday photo!)
Special treats are given out for free at this event, so be sure to pick up your guide when you arrive. Past treats have been molasses cookies and apple cider at Lunching Pad and a chocolate chip cookie and eggnog at Diamond Horseshoe.
You never know what the culinary geniuses at Disney will come up with, so make sure to check out all the treat stops! If you’re planning to be in the Parks during this time, get your tickets for this separately ticketed event in advance as it does sell out.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need a special ticket to get into the EPCOT Festivals at Walt Disney World?
You don’t! All four Festivals at EPCOT are included in your admission.
Is food included in the ticket price at EPCOT Food & Wine Festival? This is a common question about the Food & Wine Festival. Food and beverages are not included with your admission ticket. However, small portions of the special festival dishes are available at festival kiosks throughout the World Showcase so you can try a lot of different flavors from around the world.
Do I need a special ticket to get into Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party or Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas?
You do need special tickets to both events. The Parks close for these events, so even if you are spending the day at the Park, you will need a special ticket to stay when the event begins. Typically, you are allowed entrance into the Park at 4 p.m. for a 7 p.m. start to the party, but this is subject to change. You’ll see details for these events on the Disney World website.