Epcot Flower & Garden Festival 2015 Guide


The 2015 Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival runs March 4 to May 17, 2015 at Walt Disney World. This guide covers our tips & tricks for experiencing the highlights of the Flower & Garden Festival, as well as what to expect from the new for 2015 offerings. Actually, as of right now, it doesn’t sound like a whole lot has changed for 2015. The “Outdoor Kitchen” food kiosks return for 2015, and we wouldn’t be surprised to see a couple more added, making this like a mini Food & Wine Festival.

Aside from the snacking, Epcot’s Flower & Garden Festival offers Walt Disney World guests the ability to enjoy expert-designed flower and garden displays, Disney character topiaries, the “Garden Rocks” live music concert series (formerly Flower Power concert series), special programs and seminars by HGTV (the main sponsor), DIY, and Epcot expert gardeners. Most of the offerings for Epcot’s Flower & Garden Festival are included with theme park admission to Epcot.

Because most of the event is basically a “plussing” of Epcot at no additional charge, we highly recommend it. Whether you’re a first time guest or a seasoned veteran of Walt Disney World, visiting during Epcot’s Flower & Garden Festival is a great idea. Epcot is at its most beautiful during Flower & Garden Festival. (Disney often uses the #EpcotInSpring and #EpcotInBloom hashtags to promote the beauty of Flower & Garden Festival, and hashtags never lie! ;) ) Really, though, the park smells and looks wonderful, and there are a lot of unique offerings, displays, and photographic opportunities.

While Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival used to be our favorite time to visit Epcot, the prices have skyrocketed, as have the crowds of drunks. Flower & Garden is a nice time to visit for lower crowds, and you can still enjoy some of the snacking (albeit to a lesser degree) without the headache of the crowds and lines. In general, many of these spring dates of Epcot’s Flower & Garden Festival are great times to visit Walt Disney World (consult that guide to avoid the busy weeks).

Thinking a visit to Flower & Garden Festival might be for you? Then keep reading this guide for our ins and outs, and top picks for the festival!

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Star Wars Weekends 2015 Tips & Tricks

Star Wars Weekends 2015 are held May 15-17, May 22-24, May 29-31, June 5-7, and June 12-14, 2015 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Walt Disney World. This post covers when to visit, our tips for visiting, and more. Star Wars Weekends are geared towards all things Star Wars (from Episode 7: The Force Awakens, to Star Wars Rebels to merchandise like “Her Universe” to the animated TV show, Star Wars: The Clone Wars). Celebrities who have played a part in the Star Wars expanded universe are in attendance, there’s a special parade, shows, and every day ends with fireworks. It’s a lot of fun whether you’re a hardcore Star Wars fan or just a fan of fun (we fall into the latter camp).

If you’ve been to Walt Disney World countless times (and it’s probably not a bad assumption that you have if you’re reading this blog), you might be looking for ways to see the place a-new. One way to to find new experiences is to visit during a seasonal festival or weekend event. One such weekend event is Star Wars Weekends, held in May and June at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

This post has been updated for 2015 to reflect changes to Star Wars Weekends, including the return of the character meals, potential tie-ins with Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, as well as new strategy and tips. It also reviews the extensive changes that occurred last year. We attended Star Wars Weekends last year on the weekend of May 23, 2014, and did everything that was new for last year.

With those housekeeping notes out of the way, let’s take a look at what Star Wars Weekends have to offer, whether they might be for you, and how to make the most of your time at the event. We’ll start with why you should visit, and then cover the best weekend for Star Wars Weekend, and move on to other strategy from there…

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When To Visit Disney World in 2015

People often ask, “when is the best time to visit Disney World?” Some days and times of year are better to plan your trip to Walt Disney World. The least crowded times of the year are typically after Labor Day until the week before Thanksgiving, early December, the entire month of January and early February, and late April. That said, nowadays especially in 2015 now that New Fantasyland is complete and ‘Frozen Frenzy’ is at its peak, there really is no “slow season” at Walt Disney World.

Crowds should not be your only consideration when planning when to visit Walt Disney World. There are some great seasonal events, such as the Halloween and Christmas seasons, Food & Wine Festival, runDisney, and other fun events. You may also be constrained as to when you can visit by school schedules, vacation time, and other factors. Add to that weather and various other considerations, and when to visit Walt Disney World isn’t as cut and dry as visiting in late September, early December, or February when crowds are low.

Of course, choosing which days to visit Walt Disney World is just one aspect of planning a trip. To make sure you tackle everything, make sure you read our Guide to Planning a Walt Disney World Trip, which covers all of the essentials.

With that said, let’s take a look at when you should and shouldn’t visit Walt Disney World… (more…)

December 2014 at Disney World

December at Walt Disney World is all about Christmas. It’s everywhere, with decorations, entertainment, merchandise, food, and more. However, celebrating Christmas isn’t the only good reason to visit during December. Early December is also a good time to visit thanks to weather that is typically good (albeit cold at times), with relatively low crowds. All bets are off come the week leading up to Christmas through the remainder of December, when Walt Disney World becomes insanely busy, making it one of the worst times of the year to visit unless you know what you’re doing.

If you’ve already read our November at Walt Disney World post, you know some of the upsides of visiting Walt Disney World this time of year. The big difference between November and December in terms of events is that all of the Christmas offerings are in full swing by December, and that weather can be cooler (or downright cold) and the last two weeks of December are insanely busy.

In terms of crowds, one of the worst kept secrets is that the first two weeks of December are two of the slowest of the year. Well, this used to be the case. The “secret” has gotten out, not just thanks to savvy locals and Disney Vacation Members, but also due to Disney itself offering more discounts to lure people and groups down at this time of year. The result is that the beginning of December is still a good month to visit for low crowds (check out our When To Visit Walt Disney World post for the best and worst months of the year), but it’s not as good as it used to be. This is especially true if you happen to be at the same resort or park as the Pop Warner and National Cheer & Dance Championship attendees. This year, the event is December 6 – 13, 2014; we’d highly recommend not staying at the All Star Resorts during this time (an even better option is to visit prior to them arriving or after they leave). (more…)

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party 2014 Tips

Walt Disney World ResortMagic KingdomMickey's Very Merry Christmas PartyFireworks at the conclusion of the Celebrate the Season stage show during Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party! For more Disney Christmas content, check out: http://www.disneytouristblog.com/tag/christmas/

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is a special hard ticket event held in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World. For 2014, the party will be held on select nights in November and December on the following dates: November 7, 10, 13, 14, 16, 20, 21, 30; December 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11, 12, 14, 16, 18, and 19. After December 19, the party entertainment will be available to all day guests (and included in theme park admission), but waiting until Christmas week also means going during the busiest time of the year, and when rooms and dining are most expensive.

What’s new for 2014? Well, it should come as no surprise that Frozen-mania has spread to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. Not only is there the , but the Frozen characters are also in the parade at the Christmas Party, too. There’s also the ‘A Frozen Holiday Wish’ Cinderella Castle lighting show, but this occurs every night, not just party nights, so we won’t be covering it here. (Read our Ultimate Guide to Christmas at Walt Disney World for more info on that and everything else that Walt Disney World does for Christmas.) Beyond that, the characters at the dance parties in Frontierland and Tomorrowland have changed, as have a couple of meet and greets. The big news in terms of meet & greets this year is that Jack Skellington appears as Sandy Claws! There’s also a rumor that Olaf from Frozen will be meeting guests for the first time at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, but he was not meeting the general public at the first party. We will keep you posted if this changes.

This post covers our Christmas Party tips, updated for 2014, based upon our experiences attending the party for the last six years. The Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party 2014 schedule is now set, with parties starting in early November and continuing through December! Ticket prices will vary for 2014 based upon whether you purchase in advance or on the day of, are a child or adult, and whether you have an Annual Pass, Disney Vacation Club membership, or some other affiliation that entitles you to a discount. In any case, the event is not cheap, starting at $62 for children with advance purchase on select nights and exceeding $70 for adults on the “Premium” night! To purchase tickets, visit Disney’s Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party page.

That said, if you’re visiting Walt Disney World in November or December, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is an absolute must-do! But more on that later. First, let’s provide an overview of the events to those who haven’t been.

Overview



Here are the things that Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party includes, that are unique to the parties (at least for November 7th through December 19th):

  • Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmastime Parade (view our parade photos)
  • A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas Show
  • Celebrate The Season Stage Show
  • Character Dance Parties (usually in the Golden Horseshoe and Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe)
  • Holiday Wishes Fireworks
  • Disney character Meet and Greets with characters dressed in their holiday attire
  • Complimentary cookies and hot cocoa
  • Snow on Main Street

It’s worth noting that after December 19, 2014 through the remainder of the holiday season, the standard daytime parade in the Magic Kingdom becomes Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade, and the Holiday Wishes fireworks are shown nightly. This entertainment is arguably 75% of the draw for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, but in exchange for not having to pay extra to see these things, you will face some of the worst crowds of the year after December 18th. If you want the best of both worlds, there are some other tricks you can use to avoid crowds during Christmas and New Year’s Eve weeks. So obviously there’s a trade-off!

Now that we’ve set forth what entertainment you can expect at the parties, let’s give you some more details, tips, and our review of whether Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is worth the money… (more…)