Any visit to Walt Disney World Resort is a time to celebrate. But depending on specific seasons or what special events may coincide with your plans for an upcoming trip, you may opt for even more magical endeavors. From public festival events that are open to all and are even included with regular Park admission to special ticketed events that cost extra but are all well worth the experience, Disney World is known for presenting a whole host of regularly occurring premium engagements. Here’s a look into some of the most well-known event extras and special engagements Disney World Parks are known to play host to regularly.
Disney After Hours
Presented as late-night ticketed engagements, these ongoing events allow Guests three additional hours at one of Disney World’s participating theme parks following public closure for that evening. Since such happenings are only open to a select number of participants at a time, one of the best things about Disney After Hours is that you get to enjoy many otherwise high-demand attractions with more reasonable or reduced wait times. You’ll also get to enjoy a host of complimentary sweet treats and snacks exclusives, like popcorn, ice cream, and even some beverages. Characters are also present for these events, ready to meet and mingle with adamant fans and allow you more premium picture-taking opportunities.
The two Disney World Park locations currently offering Disney After Hours on select dates include Disney’s Magic Kingdom Park and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. While the event doesn’t officially start until the Park’s closing time, Guests with tickets may begin entering as early as 7 p.m.
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H20 Glow After Hours
Like the other Disney After Hours experiences, these are special ticketed events that allow participants extra fun long into the night. Held onsite at Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park, H20 Glow After Hours engagements run during the summer months and are presented on select Saturdays.
Attendees enjoy premium perks and benefits throughout the evening, including shorter wait times for popular water park attractions, complimentary snack and drink options, Character interactions, and even the chance to rock out during a live DJ dance party. Again, those with tickets are allowed early arrival well ahead of the official start time for the event.
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A tradition that started in 1994 with the very first Walt Disney World Marathon, runDisney events have continued to grow considerably through the years in both popularity and in what such events entail. You now have multiple different Disney venues sporting courses and opportunities, as well as different ranges in marathons, half-marathons, 10Ks, 5Ks, races designed for children, and even multi-race options. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or just someone looking to have a good time, runDisney events all provide great experiences to consider. The series of ongoing races is an annual occurrence that usually begins the first full weekend in January.
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Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party
Magic Kingdom Park has been presenting a lighter-sided, more family-oriented Halloween bash on location within the Park since 1995. As an ongoing seasonal tradition, the event generally runs from mid-August through the end of October as a special ticketed “party” engagement held on select nights following the closure of the Park to the public.
Like Disney After Hours, attending Guests experience reduced wait times and a host of other perks that come with being at a private engagement. But since this is more or less a “party,” there are also several exclusive experiences to take note of as well. These extras include in-Park trick-or-treating, stage show entertainment, and Character Meet and Greets with your favorites decked out in their Halloween costumes, no less! There’s also a special parade procession—the Boo To You Halloween Parade and the Not-So-Spooky Spectacular.
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Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party
Magic Kingdom Park is known for hosting another popular party on location, also presented as a private ticketed engagement. In fact, this festive folly actually started back in 1983 and has only grown over the years as a beloved tradition. It’s none other than Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. The event runs from early November through the end of December and is also presented on select nights following public Park closure. In addition to Guests getting to experience rides and attractions without the usual crowds, cookie and hot chocolate compliments are available at various locations. And that’s just the start!
Again, you have a full-blown party that brings forth several extra special experiences. These include various entertainment and dancing parties, Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration stage show, Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks Show, and Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade. Your favorite characters are all onsite for the event, and even Santa himself makes an appearance.
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EPCOT International Festival of Holidays
The Epcot International Festival of the Holidays is a massive seasonal celebration occurring annually between November and December. Spanning the entire setup of the World Showcase, the festival embraces the diverse cultural traditions and holiday celebrations of many nations and creeds from around the globe. Highlights during the event include pop-up kitchens, storytellers onsite within the various national pavilions, and even a nightly Candlelight Processional that includes a retelling of the Christmas Story by a celebrity narrator, an accompanying choir, and an impressive 50-piece live orchestra. The EPCOT International Festival of Holidays is included with regular admission to EPCOT for all Guests to enjoy.
EPCOT International Festival of the Arts
In many cases, the conclusion of the holiday season marks the start of a bleak, somewhat uneventful winter season. But that isn’t the case at Walt Disney World Resort. Since 2017 EPCOT has been presenting its latest in an impressive lineup of festival celebrations—the EPCOT International Festival of the Arts. It is, essentially, a creative celebration of all things artful. This includes the visual arts, performing arts, and culinary arts, respectively.
While this festival experiences a much shorter runtime than EPCOT’s other presentations, there is so much packed into all the artistic offerings. You have fantastic Food Studios throughout the Park—a highlight to the culinary arts, the Disney Broadway Concert Series ongoing at the America Gardens Theatre, a host of family-friendly activities, daily Animation Academy events where you can learn to draw Disney Characters, and even opportunities to watch excellent onsite artists work live at bringing masterpieces to life.
This is just a sampling of the action-packed event, which runs through February 20. Again, like other EPCOT festivals, this experience is provided to the public with regular admission to EPCOT.
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EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival
This well-known festival has been a beloved staple since the mid-1990s. Essentially, it is an annual springtime tradition and, as the name suggests, a celebration of floral beauty. But it also welcomes in a series of other well-loved activities and events, including various outdoor kitchen setups laden with delightful food flight samplings, special activities and exhibits for kids, and a series of other fun follies. This is also the time when you can enjoy the Garden Rocks Concert series at the America Gardens Theatre. And if nothing else, this is when all those impressive topiaries, done up in the likeness of your favorite Disney Characters, really dominate the scene.
The EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival runs between March and July—the prime of the growing season. As you probably guessed by now, this event comes included with regular admission to EPCOT.
EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival
This may be, hands down, the most popular of all EPCOT’s annual festival events. First inaugurated in 1995, what we now know today as the EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival has a long and storied history. It has grown considerably since its earliest years, standing out as much more than simply a celebration of international cuisine mastery and refined wines from around the world. It is now a mega event that spans from mid-summer through November. Furthermore, the myriad of family-friendly offerings makes it a mutually well-loved engagement for all ages to enjoy.
Even trying to recount all the versatile events and activities comprising of the EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival would be an extensive process indeed. Just know that it’s a big deal at Disney World and enjoy the fact that attending it comes at no additional cost than what you pay for regular Park admission.
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While all of the EPCOT festivals highlighted here come included with regular Park admission, certain extras featured throughout each event do entail an additional premium. These include food and merchandise purchases, special seminars, and other engagements. Just the same, every event extra offered at Walt Disney World Resort is always worth the additional expense. You are, after all, paying for magical enhancements that you can never really put a price on.