Disney’s Special Events: The Best and the Brightest

Fireworks being blown off during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

Throughout the years Disney has created a fairly long list of special events that guests love to look forward to each year. Almost every month of the year at Disney brings a new event or celebration for us to enjoy. Several of these events have become so popular that guests keep coming back to see them year after year and plan their vacations around them. Here is a list of some of the best of Disney’s special events that you can experience throughout the year.

Disney Marathons

disney marathon medals from past years events

Each year Disney holds several running events throughout the year around the Walt Disney World Resort. These events do not require a park ticket but do each have their own registration fees. As these events tend to fill up quickly, there is an early registration period that Disney Vacation Club (DVC) and Annual Passholders can take advantage of. Check out the runDisney website for details and registration at https://www.rundisney.com. The Disney Marathons are:

  • Walt Disney World Disney Marathon – held in early January
  • Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend – held in mid-February
  • Star Wars Run Weekend – held in mid-April
  • Wine & Dine Marathon Weekend – held in late October/early November

International Festival of the Arts, Epcot
(mid-January – late February)

International Festival of the Arts at Disney's Epcot

A celebration of visual, culinary and performing arts, the Festival of the Arts brings Disney artist exhibits, workshops and seminars, musical entertainment and artistic dishes to Epcot each January. In addition to the special events held around the park, there is also a Disney on Broadway series held at the American Gardens stage bringing musical and Broadway talent to the stage. Guests can also book a Concert Series Dining Package for breakfast, lunch or dinner that guarantees you priority seating at one of the 3 concerts held on the day of your package. Concerts are included in regular theme park admission and are held at 5:30, 6:45 and 8:00pm. 

International Flower & Garden Festival, Epcot
(early March – early June)

International Flower & Garden Festival at Disney's Epcot

To commemorate spring, Disney holds this beautiful event each year bringing Epcot to life with thousands of flowers, topiaries, intricately designed landscapes and wildlife habitats. This event also offers special dining booths throughout the park and a Garden Rocks Concert series held at the American Gardens Theatre. Special Dining Packages with preferred seating are also available. 

International Food & Wine Festival, Epcot
(late August – November)

International Food & Wine Festival at Disney's Epcot

When Disney started the International Food & Wine Festival at Epcot back in 1995, no one could have imagined what a popular event it would become. This festival draws enormous crowds to Epcot during an otherwise uneventful time of year. Usually held between September and November, the Food & Wine Festival hosts over 30 special booths representing countries from around the world. Each booth offers guests a special menu of small dishes, wine and beer and a chance to experience authentic cuisine from the country. 

In addition to enjoying delicious food and drink from around the world, during the Food & Wine Festival guests can also enjoy free concerts at the American Gardens Theatre as part of the Eat to the Beat Concert Series.

Holidays At Disney

Some of Disney’s most special events celebrate holidays throughout the year. Here is a list of the best holiday events held at the Disney Resort.

Halloween & Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party

halloween at disney world with malificent and cruella

Beginning in August, guests will start to see Halloween decorations throughout the Disney World parks. Halloween, however, really comes to life at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party that takes place at the Magic Kingdom each year from mid-August to November 1st. Mickey’s Not So Scary is an after hours park event that floods the park with guests decked out in their best Disney (and non Disney) costumes. There are specially ticketed events as well like the Halloween Fireworks Dessert Party with a dessert buffet and prime viewing for the fireworks show and Cruella’s Halloween Hide-a-Way that serves hors d’oeuvres, beer and wine and offers guests with a great view of the Mickey’s Boo-to-You Halloween Parade.  

This special event is held from 7pm to Midnight on select days from August to November. DVC members and Annual Passholders both receive discounts on tickets.


christmas lights glowing brightly at the magic kingdom

Christmas may be the most special time at the Disney Resort. Most locations from the theme parks to hotels to Disney Springs will begin decorating for Christmas in early November and there are a large variety of special events at this time of year for the whole family. Here are a few of the most popular events.

Candlelight Processional, Epcot

Candlelight Processional at Disney's Epcot

Each year Epcot draws huge crowds to its Candlelight Processional event which features a celebrity narrator who recites the Biblical story of Christmas. The narrator is accompanied by a large choir and orchestra who perform traditional Christmas carols in between verses of the narration. While this is a religious event, anyone can join in and appreciate the beautiful music set to a candlelit arena.

There are usually three shows per evening, 5:00, 6:45 and 8:15pm and each show lasts approximately 40 minutes. As this is a very popular event it is recommended to line up early if you would like a seat at the American Gardens Theatre. While the Processional is not a separately ticketed event there are Dining Packages available that will guarantee you preferred seating.

The pavilions around the World Showcase at Epcot also decorate with traditional holiday decor at this time of year. Take a stroll around the world before or after the Processional to get into the Christmas spirit.

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

Fireworks being blown off during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

A specially ticketed event, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is a spectacular event after hours event that brings Christmas to life with a variety of special parades, shows and fireworks displays. There are several special viewing party options like Dessert Parties and Tony’s Merriest Town Square Party that guarantee you prime viewing spots for parades and fireworks shows. Each guest at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party receives complimentary cookies and hot cocoa which will warm you in the (potentially) cool evenings and put you in the Christmas spirit. 

This special event is held from 7pm to Midnight on select days in November and December. DVC members and Annual Passholders both receive discounts on tickets. While Disney has a large number of special events throughout the year, this is a short list of some of Disney’s special events. Check out this link for details, pricing and tickets for all of Disney’s Special Events. Do you have a favorite event to attend? What past events have you partaken in? Let us know by leaving a comment below!

Guest Author

Katherine Rand

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