Any trip to Walt Disney World is special in itself, but there are certain times of the year that really make you say WOW!  In fact, I’d be willing to say that some Walt Disney World special events are worth a trip on their own.  Here are a few of my family’s favorite Disney World special events.

Star Wars Weekends

Mid-May to mid-June brings the Force to Disney’s Hollywood Studios!  To be completely honest, I had planned to avoid the hoopla completely when our spring trip last year coincided with this big event.  My gramma convinced me to at least take a morning to experience it, especially since my little Disney geek had just started getting into Star Wars.  We decided we’d head to the Studios on our first morning.  Gramma knows best!!  We had such a blast!  With tons of special characters, merchandise and entertainment, there’s never a dull moment.  Each weekend hosts different celebrity guests from the Star Wars franchise.  I admit to being a lukewarm Star Wars fan (Star Tours being my main exposure), but we had a fantastic time and intend to return to this fun event.


Get Park Wise: This event is very popular and very crowded.  Fans start lining up in the wee hours of the morning for celebrity autographs.  Parade routes are filled well before the parade begins.  This is an event where you definitely need to do some pre-planning.  Figure out what your must-dos are, and make those priorities for the day.  Anything else will just be a galactic cherry on top!

Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival

Fall is my favorite time to visit Walt Disney World!  Crowds are lower, weather is milder and special events are plenty!  One of my favorite events is the Food and Wine Fest at Epcot.  Featuring more than 30 international marketplaces boasting (mostly) fantastic eats and tempting drinks for just a few bucks each, the festival has something for every palate.  The Eat to the Beat concert series offers the sweet sounds of some favorite bands from the last few decades.  Celebrity chefs, tasting events, demos and short seminars (for an additional fee) round out the just over six week event.


ŸGet Park Wise: Although fall does bring in fewer crowds than summer, this event pulls in a lot of locals.  If you can, steer clear of Epcot during the weekends, especially opening weekend of the event (which starts on September 27 this year).  Lines are long, crowds are thick and people imbibe frequently.  Not a great combination.

Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party

This one is kind of a cheat since the other two events are included with theme park entry (aside from anything you choose to purchase, obviously), but it also happens to be my personal favorite event of the year at Walt Disney World.  It’s not a cheap night out for a family, but it is so worth it for us!!  The party takes place on select evenings in September, October and November from 7:00 P.M. to 12:00 A.M.  Magic Kingdom is transformed into a Halloween wonderland with trick-or-treating, rare characters, dance parties and, of course, a special parade and fireworks.  This is also one of the few events where adults are able to don costumes in the parks, and some of them go all out.  If you’re looking to splurge on something during your fall trip, this is it.  We often attend a couple parties per trip because it’s just that much fun!


ŸGet Park Wise: With so much to do at the Halloween party, there’s no way you can do it all.  However, party guests have typically been able to enter the park at 4:00 P.M. with their party tickets.  Use this time to hit any rides or grab an early dinner so you don’t waste your party time.  Around 6:00, we usually line up for our most coveted meet and greet of the night (usually Jack Sparrow or the Seven Dwarves).  Save trick-or-treating for the end of the night when a lot of families with younger ones are headed back to their rooms.

Holidays at Walt Disney World

This is a cheat, too, since it’s not one specific event but a whole slew of holiday fun.  From mid-November through early January, Walt Disney World is decked out in her holiday best and offering up a lot of special activities for her guests.  From the storytellers in Epcot to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party to the amazing Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights, there’s something to do every day of your trip.  On top of fun in the parks, the resorts are decorated to the hilt with some lobbies featuring (theoretically) edible displays and larger-than-life Christmas trees.  I’ll delve deeper into the holidays in another article, but I would’ve been remiss not to mention them when waxing poetic about our favorite Walt Disney World events.


Get Park Wise: Get into the holiday spirit, but try to avoid going during the actual holidays.  Christmas and New Year’s week is the most crowded and expensive time of year at Walt Disney World.  Shoot for the first week of December when crowds and prices are lower.

What are your favorite special events at Disney World?  Any favorite tips for tackling them?

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  • tofubeast

    Love most of the events you mentioned! I haven’t been to MNSSHP yet, but will be there this October. Sure we are going to love it too. Already have our costumes picked out.


    -As an AP holder, I didn’t feel like I was wasting a park day by going to MK on the days of the MVMCP. MK was way less crowded on those days until the party ticket-holders started to come in after 4pm. I’ll be doing the same for the Halloween parties this year.

    -If you want certain MVMCP/MNSSHP merchandise, buy it early on the party night as some of it ‘sells out.’

    -Spend a relaxing day during the holidays and check out the deluxe resorts as they are all so beautifully decorated for the season.

    -I wish I had allotted more time for the Holiday Storytellers in each of the countries in the World Showcase at EPCOT. Will definitely do so during a future visit during the season.

    • We usually use our party days as a down day before heading in around 4:00. We’re AP holders, too. Maybe we’ll try this route next time!

      Great tips!!

  • gboiler1

    We will be enjoying Mickey’s Halloween Party for the first time this October as well. Really we are coming in for that and one other day at the parks before heading back home to Illinois. We’ll be there at 4pm and have to do some thinking about our touring plan for the night but are excited for the experience.

    • You’ll love it!! We’ll be there in October, as well, and we already have costume ideas in the works. Have fun!

  • My top three favorite WDW special events are:

    – Food and Wine Festival
    – Flower and Garden Festival
    – Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party

    • We were there during Flower and Garden this year, and I wish we would’ve been able to spend more time really exploring the special offerings. We tend to be holiday (October and December) visitors, but I’d definitely like to really see what Flower and Garden has to offer.

  • Big D

    I’ve only been to the Christmas events. The Osborne lights really are the most amazing thing I’ve seen at any Disney park. I was lucky enough to stay at the Boardwalk during Christmastime, and they really do a great job decorating the resort for Christmas. We also took a walk around the Ft Wilderness campgrounds, and some of the people there have some incredibly elaborate Disney / Christmas decorations for their RV’s. I did the Christmas part at the Magic Kingdom but didn’t really think it was worth the money. There was a special parade and fireworks, and the lines were a little shorter, but overall I could have done without it. I would love to try the Halloween party someday though.

    • tofubeast

      I so agree with you re: Osborne lights. It is so stunning. I had a huge grin on my face.

    • We were at the Boardwalk this past December, and you’re absolutely right! I fell in love with the garlands dripping in ornaments. Gorgeous! Fort Wilderness is also really neat to see at the holidays. I always wonder if they decorate for Halloween, too. We’ll have to check that out this year.
      While we always do the Christmas party (I’m a special event sucker, what can I say?), the Halloween party definitely offers more bang for your buck.

  • longears

    My most recent trip to Disney World was during the Food and Wine back in 2011. It was the worst trip I’ve had to the parks. Epcot was crowded (which I could deal with) but there were the “teams” drinking their way around the world. I had my toes run over by two strollers, and a wheelchair (luckily no injury) and had alcohol spilled on me three times. The most interesting was the loud, off color “singing” in several of the bathrooms (I heard several verses to A Pirates Life that I don’t think were authorized). The last night I saw at least two dozen uniformed security cast member surrounding the Pub in Epcot to ensure that the patron inside didn’t cause problems on their way out of the park.
    I felt like I was at the local fair not a Disney park.

    • We were there that year in October. We didn’t experience anything like that, but I don’t doubt it. So sad when so-called adults can’t control themselves.

  • StevenW

    I prefer the Halloween Party at Disneyland. It’s the only event when you’re guarranteed to get something back in LARGE QUANTITIES.

    • We’re talking about Disney WORLD special events this week, but thanks for stopping by to comment.

      • StevenW

        You’re welcome.