Disney World’s Summer 2024 Mystery Event?

Walt Disney World is planning a mystery celebration for Summer 2024. We’ve been speculating about the likelihood of a new special event at EPCOT for the last several months, and now there’s at least partial confirmation of something happening via a casting call for Encanto entertainment.

Our suspicions of this began back when Walt Disney World announced the start date of the EPCOT Flower & Garden Festival (now underway) but not the end date, which was a red flag to us that something was up. Then came the end date of May 27, which added further fuel to the fire.

The EPCOT Flower & Garden Festival concluding on Memorial Day is really notable, as last year’s event ran until July 5, which has become the common end date (within a couple of days) in the post-reopening era. The 2024 EPCOT Flower & Garden Festival is over a full month shorter than the event during any of the last 3 years. This is a big deal.

I probably don’t need to spell out the why of that, but just in case, EPCOT festivals are a cash cow for Walt Disney World. Food and (especially) alcohol have healthy margins. No big surprise given that the booth menus aren’t exactly cheap. However, we have anecdotally noticed in the last couple of years with both Flower & Garden and Food & Wine (by far EPCOT’s two longest festivals) that food booths have been less popular at the end of Flower & Garden and during the first month of Food & Wine, after the initial opening rush.

Given all of that, we strongly suspected that Walt Disney World was seeing guests get “festival fatigue” and there were diminishing returns from running the same event for multiple months. Basically, that the events wore out their welcome at around three months, and there wasn’t value in extending the festivals beyond around 90 days.

Although Walt Disney World sees a steady stream of fresh tourists for the duration of these events, EPCOT festivals are fueled by locals and repeat visitors–and those groups aren’t visiting in sufficient numbers to justify the longer events.

On top of that, progress on CommuniCore Hall has slowed to a crawl. That new festival venue has been nearing the finish line since last fall, but was unable to open alongside the rest of the World Celebration Gardens and Luminous in December.

CommuniCore Hall conceivably could have been done by January for Festival of the Arts or this month for Flower & Garden Festival, but Walt Disney World made the deliberate decision to hold it back. That was purposeful, and had to have a reason behind the delay. (Meanwhile, Tiana’s Bayou Adventure has been full steam ahead–making more progress in a week than CommuniCore Hall does in a month.)

Consequently, our prediction is/was that Walt Disney World would introduce a brand-new summer festival for June through August 2024 by further scaling back both Food & Wine and Flower & Garden to allow for the new event. We believe the plan is to make the grand debut of both that new summer festival and CommuniCore Hall all at once. That’d actually be pretty savvy and splashy on Walt Disney World’s part.

Enter the latest development, which is that Disney Auditions posted a new Encanto casting call for Walt Disney World on March 5, 2024. For this, Disney Live Entertainment is accepting local talent host submissions for a new experience celebrating Disney’s animated film, Encanto. This new limited-time offering will be performed live at the Walt Disney World.

The casting call indicates that guests will join Mirabel and friends from the mountains of Colombia in a festive celebration. It’s seeking two high-energy male or female hosts with infectious personalities who can sing and tell captivating stories, have likable personalities and comedic flair. (Looks like I’m out.) Bilingual skills are a plus. 

Here’s the monologue to be performed for auditions:

¡Hola! Welcome to una celebraciòn, where the energy is high, the excitement is contagious, and the fun never stops! Mi nombre es *insert your name*, and I am thrilled to be your host para esta noche.

Tonight, we are going to take a journey together. Un viaje filled with mùsica, dance, laughter, and maybe even a few sorpresas along the way. I am joined by un grupo increíble of talented performers ready to dazzle you with their performances and leave you speechless.

¿Pero sabes cuál es la mejor parte? You get to join in on the fun! Asi que prepàrense to clap your hands, sing along, y bailar like no one is watching- porque esta noche is all about celebrando la alegria of live entertainment! We want to see smiles on your faces, hear you cantar at the top of your lungs, y sentir su energia as we get this fiesta started!

Submissions will be accepted through March 18, 2024. Potential in-person callbacks will be held April 7, 2024 in Orlando. Timing-wise, this is pretty much perfect for entertainment scheduled to debut sometime in June 2024.

Obviously, this could be for any number of offerings at Walt Disney World. Maybe it’s for a new Cinderella Castle daytime stage show. Perhaps it’s a new sing-along replacing (or in addition to!) the Frozen one at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. It’s a longshot, but it’s possible that Walt Disney World wants to get a jumpstart on the Tropical Americas transformation at Animal Kingdom by having a stop-gap Encanto show there.

This could just be a matter of me seeing what I want to see, but I think this is for EPCOT. Between my already strong suspicions of a summer festival coming to the park and the focus on culture in the monologue and casting call, I think this is going to weave together an authentic Colombian celebraciòn with characters from Encanto.

As for what this theoretical EPCOT summer festival featuring Encanto could be…how about simply a summer festival?! The 2024 EPCOT Summer Festival might sound lazy or too easy, but I think that’s what Disney should do. Summer festivals are common in Europe, Asia, and even the United States. If you narrow the name, it starts to exclude the countries of World Showcase that don’t do or celebrate that thing.

When it comes to Colombia, the obvious candidate is a carnival. The only problem with that is carnivals are primarily a winter thing, not summer events. However, there is Bogotá Carnival every year in early August. Not only that, but it’s not hard to envision Walt Disney World offering a carnival-like celebration with vibrant street dancing, music, and masquerade parades.

Even if it’s not called carnival, it could evoke the spirit of the event–and would “feel right” for summer in Florida. (It could also be a test for a permanent pavilion concept–there have been plans for carnival in World Showcase for years.)

My hope and expectation are that this would not simply be EPCOT’s Encanto Festival. To the contrary, I think/hope/expect/pray that the Encanto street party/show/whatever would be one component of a much larger event, sort of like Viva Navidad at Disney California Adventure. Although that street party features the Three Caballeros, it’s still very much a cultural event (and absolutely fantastic). Very similar idea here with carnival and Encanto.

It wouldn’t need to stop there. If the 2024 EPCOT Summer Festival is to be, it could include a ton of stuff in different countries. There could be celebrations for Bastille Day in France, Dragon Boat Festival in China, Summer Solstice in Norway, Independence Day in America, and various other music and fire festivals around the world–plus other events I’m probably forgetting or don’t know about.

I’m admittedly biased to this idea because it would also mean celebrating my favorite event, which is Matsuri in Japan. This is an event in various cities, with the highlight being Gion Matsuri in Kyoto. For several years, Tokyo Disneyland did an excellent event called Natsu Matsuri (literally translates to Summer Festival) that melded authentic culture with characters. It would be awesome to see something like that, but expanded across the entirety of World Showcase.

As noted above, food & beverage have been huge for EPCOT over the years, sustaining the park even as it stagnated. While it’s entirely possible that the Flower & Garden Festival shortening is simply a repeat of last year with Walt Disney World cutting dates due to diminishing returns, my money would be on a brand-new event that “solves” both that issue and sustains elevated food & beverage spending that EPCOT enjoys during its other events. Disney loves fresh revenue streams!

Anyway, I think that’s the perfect idea and hope it happens. With CommuniCore Hall finally opening this summer (hopefully?), a new event would be the perfect way to commemorate that addition, too. Given how open ended ‘Summer Festival’ is, Disney could weave some sort of tech expo or something futuristic into the front half of the park, too. Ample opportunities to do something fun that would resonate with tourists and locals, while also being in the ‘edutainment’ spirit of EPCOT Center.

Festival of the Arts is EPCOT’s newest festival and also its best. So I’m confident that Walt Disney World could create something excellent. Just please not another “Incredible Summer” that brings super heroes and/or Pixar characters to EPCOT. That ain’t it, Disney. By contrast, a cultural celebration featuring the characters from Encanto…now that could work. I’m sure it’ll elicit groans from the “no characters in EPCOT!” crowd, but that ship sailed long ago. Marrying Disney characters with culture is very obviously the compromise solution and path of the park going forward.

Finally, and it should go without saying, but this post is entirely speculative and wishful thinking. Well, aside from the Encanto casting call–so we know at least some sort of celebration is coming to Walt Disney World this summer. Personally, I really hope it’s for a new festival at EPCOT. That park could definitely use a boost during the summer months and this is the perfect solution.

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Are you excited for the possibility of an EPCOT Summer Festival, or think we’re getting carried away with speculating? Think a carnival celebration featuring characters from Encanto would be a good addition to EPCOT, or does it belong in Magic Kingdom or the Tropical Americas at Animal Kingdom? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing feedback about your experiences is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!

18 Responses to “Disney World’s Summer 2024 Mystery Event?”
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