Walt Disney World’s calendar has a ton of festivals, celebrations, and special or seasonal events, from Halloween and Christmas Parties to Marathons to a Food & Wine Festival. To help you plan the best time to visit, we’ve assembled this list of some of the biggest seasonal events that enhance standard year-round offerings.
There are seasonal events pretty much every time of year except the very beginning of the calendar year and the middle of summer. No matter when you visit, you’re going to be at Walt Disney World during something special; it’s a good idea to consult our special event resources before picking your vacation dates to see which event is most appealing to you.
The biggest event of the year, by far, is the holiday season. If you’re thinking of a November or December vacation, start by reading our Ultimate Guide to Christmas at Walt Disney World. There’s so much happening during the Christmas season that it’s simply too much to list each individual element here.
Here’s our breakdown of the major seasonal events at Walt Disney World around which you might want to plan your vacation…
For most of the beginning of the year, Magic Kingdom is not decorated for any particular holiday or special event. About the only exception is Easter, for which there are some minor decorations, special entertainment, food, and character meet & greets. We cover this in our Guide to Easter at Walt Disney World.
Beginning in mid-August and gaining momentum in September and October, Magic Kingdom gets decked out for Halloween and begins offering its seasonal hard ticket event. Read our Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party Review & Tips for thoughts on that.
We mentioned the holidays above, but we’ll reiterate that again here. Magic Kingdom is the heart of Walt Disney World’s holiday celebrations. Our favorite thing is the Magic Kingdom’s special event—read about it in our Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party Review & Tips.
Once the calendar turns to January, the Epcot International Festival of the Arts will again return. That’s the park’s newest special event, and our favorite event of the year at Epcot. It’s a real ‘sleeper’ hit. We visited for Festival of the Arts several times this year and absolutely loved it.
Following Festival of the Arts, the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival runs from the spring to early summer. Once this ends, the park is ‘festival free’ for most of the months of June through August.
Epcot’s annual fall foodie fest is the park’s biggest event of the year. Read our Guide to the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival to prepare for that park’s colossal celebration.
After that, the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays kicks off in mid-November as a replacement event themed to holiday traditions around the world. We’re big fans of this, and really enjoy the comforting savory snacks and decadent desserts offered during the Christmas season at Epcot.
Note that this just is a listing of the major events that occur throughout the year at Walt Disney World, pretty much all of which occur at Magic Kingdom or Epcot. Unfortunately, the big events that used to occur at Disney’s Hollywood Studios (including Star Wars Weekends and the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights, among other things, have all been retired). Outside of a small-scale celebration on Earth Day and a slowly-expanding holiday entertainment lineup, Disney’s Animal Kingdom has never done much in terms of seasonal events.
With that said, there are many other minor festivities throughout the year. Other smaller seasonal events occur all around Walt Disney World, including in the resort hotels and Disney Springs, plus Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom theme parks.
We cover all of these in our monthly guides to Walt Disney World…
If you’re wondering about other special events and other things that might be happening during your trip, consult our in-depth monthly guides that cover everything from anticipated crowds over the course of the month to weather and more:
- January at Walt Disney World
- February at Walt Disney World
- March at Walt Disney World
- April at Walt Disney World
- May at Walt Disney World
- June at Walt Disney World
- July at Walt Disney World
- August at Walt Disney World
- September at Walt Disney World
- October at Walt Disney World
- November at Walt Disney World
- December at Walt Disney World
If you’re considering when you want to visit, you should definitely read each of these months, as other variables come into play for planning which we simply cannot account with a basic look at crowds. Our Best & Worst Months to Visit Walt Disney World post ranks each of these months to give some context to the individual posts, too.
As you likely read in our “When to Visit Walt Disney World” guide, these events can impact crowds. Since these events (besides the aggregate of the Christmas special events) are mostly celebrated in a single park, the crowd impact of each event is most felt in that particular park. However, the special events bring additional visitors to Walt Disney World, causing crowd levels to spike a bit when each of these events occur.
Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!
If you are a Walt Disney World veteran, are there any other smaller events that you would you add to this? Which do you think are the best events? Do you agree or disagree with our advice? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!