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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