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Disney World Special Events for 2015-2016

by Mommy Frog on October 1, 2015

Disney World special events 2015

The special events are some of the biggest reasons to visit the Walt Disney World Resort. While most of Disney World's special events have traditionally fallen during off-peak times, many of the special events are a major draw. They are a reason to visit in and of themselves, and they do affect crowd levels!

We wanted to give you an overview of the major Disney World special events 2015 to help you plan When to Visit. This post also serves as your guide if you are visiting when a Disney World special event is taking place. These special events (as well as some of the smaller events) are listed on our crowd calendar, so you can see crowd levels and park recommendations on the days events are taking place. Special events are listed in the order that they begin throughout the year. Some of this year's dates have not been announced, but we'll add them here as soon as they are!

Disney World Special Events 2015


Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend

Disney World Special Events 2015 - Walt Disney World Marathon 2015

Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend takes place the first weekend in January. In 2016, the dates are Jan. 6-10, and the races will be held Jan. 7-10. It is a full weekend (and then some) of races, including Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge, Walt Disney World 5K & 10K, Walt Disney World Half Marathon and the headlining race, the Walt Disney World Marathon. Disney's Health & Fitness Expo also takes places throughout the weekend. The courses of the longer races take runners through all four Walt Disney World Resort theme parks. Crowd levels are strongly affected by the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend, which brought in a reported 70,000 runners (not counting spectators) in 2015. Traffic around the theme park area is also affected by the Walt Disney World Marathon. If you visit during this special event, expect travel time between the Disney parks to take longer. Registration for the 2016 race opened on April 28. 


Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend

Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend 2016 takes place Feb. 18-21. Inspired by the Disney Princesses, this event is designed with women in mind. Weekend events include the Disney Royal Family 5KDisney Enchanted 10K, Disney's Fit for a Princess Expo, and the headlining event, Disney's Princess Half Marathon. The half marathon takes runners through Magic Kingdom and Epcot, and traffic around the parks is affected by this race. 


Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival

Disney World Special Events 2015 - Mrs. Potts in France

Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival is an annual event at Epcot each spring. In 2016, it takes place March 2-May 30 - an expansion of 90 days. In 2015, Anna and Elsa from "Frozen" joined more than 100 topiaries spread throughout the park. Outdoor food and beverage marketplaces, "outdoor kitchens," are returning again and will be scattered around the World Showcase. Botanas Botánico, an outdoor kitchen between France and Morocco, made its debut in 2015 with dishes such as Cachapas with Farmer’s Cheese, a sweet yellow corn pancake, and Seafood Ceviche with shrimp, scallops and grouper with mango and avocado. Guests were also amazed by the hundreds of butterfly species residing at the festival's screened butterfly house. Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival is included with regular admission to Epcot.

Epcot Flower Power Concert Series 2016 Full Lineup has not yet been announced.

(Watch the sights & sounds from the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival here.)

(See Tinker Bell's Butterfly Garden.)

(Read more about the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival.)

Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend - The Dark Side

Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend 2016 takes place April 14-17. This race weekend is inspired by Darth Vader and the storm troopers of Star Wars.  Weekend events include the Star Wars 10K, Star Wars 5K, Star Wars Dark Side Challenge and the runDisney Kids Races, as well as the half marathon. Registration for the events opens on September 22!


Star Wars Weekends (Disney's Hollywood Studios)

Jedi Mickey and Minnie

Disney's Hollywood Studios plays host to the very popular Star Wars Weekends. The dates for 2015 were May 15-17, 22-24, 29-31, June 5-7 and 12-14. The event celebrates the legendary Star Wars Saga and the animated television series The Clone Wars. The 2015 host was James Arnold Taylor (Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels) who appeared every weekend. Highlights included a Character Processional through the park, Star Wars character meet and greets, Disney Characters in Star Wars themed outfits, autograph opportunities from Star Wars celebrities and much more.

Disney recently announced Star Wars weekend will not be returning in 2016 due to the construction of the all-new Star Wars Land at Disney's Hollywood Studios.

(Watch a video of the opening Character Processional here.)

(Read about the top 10 things not to miss from the Star Wars Weekends here.)


Sounds Like Summer Concert Series (Epcot)

Sounds Like Summer Concert Series takes place every summer at Epcot; this year the dates were June 7 through July 25. Every night at the America Gardens Theatre, guests can sit back and listen to some of the world's greatest tribute bands. There are typically three performances on each night the event takes place. Sounds Like Summer Concert Series is included with regular admission to Epcot.

Sounds Like Summer Concert Series 2016 Full Lineup has not yet been announced.


Night of Joy (Magic Kingdom)

This contemporary Christian music festival takes place each September at Magic Kingdom with this year's event being held Sept. 11 and 12. Disney released details that the event will be expanded for 2016; concerts will be held in indoor and outdoor venues at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, but guests will still get admission to Magic kingdom during the event to access attractions and more. Dedicated transportation will be provided from Magic Kingdom to the Sports Complex. Night of Joy is a separately ticketed event and is not included with regular admission to Magic Kingdom.

Full 2016 Night of Joy Lineup has not been announced yet.


Disney World Special Events 2014 - Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party

Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party (Magic Kingdom)

Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party takes place at Magic Kingdom on select nights each fall. The party's biggest highlights are watching Mickey's Boo-to-You Halloween Parade, Happy HalloWishes Fireworks along with trick-or-treating in the park and meeting the Disney characters dressed in Halloween costumes. The 2015 dates are September 15, 18, 20, 22, 25, 27, October 1-2, 4, 6, 8-9, 12-13, 15-16, 18, 20, 22-23, 25, 27, 29, 31 and November 1. The party is not included with regular admission to Magic Kingdom and requires a separate ticket. We recommended purchasing tickets in advance, since these parties do sell out.

(Watch a video of the sights & sounds from the party here.)

(Watch a video of Mickey's Boo-to-You Halloween Parade here.)

(Watch a video of Happy HalloWishes Fireworks show here.)

(Read tips for attending Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party here.)


Epcot International Food & Wine Festival

Disney World Special Event 2015 - Epcot International Food & Wine Festival

Epcot International Food & Wine Festival takes place every fall at Epcot. This year's dates are Sept. 25 through Nov. 16. The festival features more than 25 international marketplace kiosks, which offer tapas-sized portions of regional specialties as well as recommended wine and beer pairings. Guests can also spend time sharpening their culinary and beverage skills in seminars and partake in special dining experiences with celebrity chefs for an additional charge. Included with admission to the park is the Eat to the Beat! Concert Series, which features acclaimed artists. Epcot International Food & Wine Festival is included with regular theme park admission.

There will also be the "Eat to the Beat" concert series during this year's festival. Here is the full 2015 lineup:

Sept. 25-27 - David Cook

Sept. 28-29 - Wilson Phillips

Sept. 30-Oct. 1 - Christopher Cross

Oct.2-4 - Starship

Oct. 5-7 - Smash Mouth

Oct. 8-9 - The Pointer Sisters

Oct. 10-11 - 38 Special

Oct. 12-13 - Rick Springfield

Oct. 14-16 - Sugar Ray

Oct. 17-18 - The S.O.S. Band

Oct. 19-21 - Air Supply

Oct. 22-23 - Fuel

Oct. 24-25 - Tiffany

Oct. 26-28 - Dennis DeYoung

Oct. 29-30 - Jo Dee Messina

Oct. 31-Nov. 1 - Everclear

Nov. 2-4 - Boyz II Men

Nov. 5-6 - Sister Hazel

Nov. 7-9 - Big Bad Voodoo Daddy

Nov. 10-12 - Hanson

Nov. 13-14 - Maxi Priest

Nov. 15-16 - Chaka Khan

(Our Top Ten Dishes from the 2014 Food & Wine Festival)

(Watch our video of the Festival sights &  sounds)

(Kid-Friendly Dining at the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival)


Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend

The Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend takes place on Nov. 6 and 7. The event combines the magic of a runDisney race with the festivities of the Food & Wine Festival. 

Festival of the Masters (Disney Springs)

Festival of the Masters is held one weekend each November at Disney Springs. The open-air art festival features more than 150 award-winning artists. There are a number of activities for children and families throughout the weekend. Festival of the Masters is free to attend. The event was cancelled last year due to Disney Springs construction, so it is unsure if it will be returning for 2015.

(Watch a video of the Festival of the Masters here.)


Disney World Special Events 2015 - toy soldiers

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party (Magic Kingdom)

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party is a special event held on select nights each winter at Magic Kingdom. The 2015 times are 7:00pm-12:00am on November 8, 10, 12-13, 15, 17, 19-20, 29 and December 1, 3-4, 6, 8, 10-11, 13, 15, 17-18. The big highlights from this event are Mickey's Once Upon A Christmastime Parade (watch the video), Holiday Wishes fireworks (watch the video), Celebrate the Season Castle stage show (watch the video), and a magical snowfall over Main Street, U.S.A. There are also plenty of opportunities to meet your favorite Disney characters, some of whom are decked out in their holiday finest. Cookies and hot cocoa are included with admission to this separately ticketed event.  It is recommended you purchase tickets in advance; it is common for nights to sell out.

(Read the Frog Family Guide to Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party here.)


Holidays Around The World - Candlelight Processional (Epcot)

Disney World Special Events 2015 - Epcot Holidays Around the World - Santa

Holidays Around The World - Candlelight Processional takes place each winter in Epcot's World Showcase; this place the dates are Nov. 27 through Dec. 30. Storytellers from many of the countries — such as The Monkey King in the China Pavilion, Father Christmas in the United Kingdom and Pere Noel in France -- recount holiday customs from their respective countries. Guests can have their picture made with Santa and Mrs. Claus at the American Adventure Pavillion. The Candlelight Processional is performed three times nightly and retells the story of Christmas with a celebrity narrator accompanied by a 50-piece orchestra and mass choir. Holidays Around The World - Candlelight Processional is included with regular admission to Epcot.

(Read more about why we love Holidays Around The World - Candlelight Processional here.)

(Watch highlights of Holidays Around The World here.)

(Watch the Candlelight Processional here.)


The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights

(Disney's Hollywood Studios)

The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights is a special event held each winter at Disney's Hollywood Studios; this year the show takes place on Nov. 6 through Jan. 3, 2016. This massive display features millions of lights perfectly synchronized to music. Disney announced that this year is the finale of this event after a successful run at Disney's Hollywood Studios. The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights is included with regular admission to Disney's Hollywood Studios.

(What makes the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights so special)

(Watch the lights "dance" to holiday music here.)

Holidays at Disney Springs

Holidays at Disney Springs is a special event held each winter; this event replaced Festival of the Seasons at Downtown Disney since the transformation to Disney Springs. This year's dates are Nov. 16 through Dec. 30. It offers live entertainment, festive decor, fun photo ops and the opportunity to meet Santa at a new location across from Ghiradelli Ice Cream and Chocolate Shop. There are holiday carolers, Toy Soldier stilt walkers and street performers and a holiday dance party with a deejay. Holidays at Disney Springs is free to attend.

We wanted to provide you this overview of the Disney World special events 2015, because the parties, festivals and events are some of the best reasons to visit! You will find more resources and tips for planning your Disney World trip inside our Orlando Planning Guide

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Keep hopping, Mommy Frog!
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Brittany Davis Mar 6, 2015 at 5:50 a.m.

We are visiting Disney World the week of Oct 11-17 during the Epcot food and wine festival. We aren't really planning on participating in the festival much, but will Epcot be insanely crowded because of it? Is there any way around it or a best day to go? I'm just wondering how much the festival affects regular park-goers during that time. Thanks in advance!

FrogBlog Mar 6, 2015 at 1:26 p.m.

Hi Brittany,

Expect the weekends to be pretty crowded. If you go during the week and head to Epcot in the morning, it will be less busy. The festival is a ton of fun and a great way to sample different flavors from around the world!

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

sue Mar 24, 2015 at 2:30 p.m.

How do I find out about the entertainment at Epcot EAT TO THE BEAT 2015?

FrogBlog Mar 24, 2015 at 9:40 a.m.

Hi Sue,

The lineup has not yet been announced. Stay tuned!

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

ria328 Apr 6, 2015 at 2:30 a.m.

Has Osbourne Family lights been officially confirmed fir 2015?? I had heard that it was possible it wouldn't be happening this year???

FrogBlog Apr 7, 2015 at 10:43 a.m.

Hi there,

That rumor has been around for several years now. The 2015 dates have not yet been confirmed.

Keep hopping!


Steve D Apr 25, 2015 at 9:30 a.m.

Can I purchase special events tickets from undercover tourist. If so, how?

FrogBlog May 8, 2015 at 8:03 a.m.

Hi Steve,

Most of the special events are included with regular park admission, so yes, we offer tickets! We also expect to offer tickets for select dates on Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party and Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party later this year.

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Cindi G May 9, 2015 at 9:38 p.m.

We are planning a girls trip to Disney over Hallowen. Are we allowed to wear costumes in the Disney park on Halloween? I read somewhere that adults were not allowed. Do you know if this is true or not ?

FrogBlog May 10, 2015 at 8:35 a.m.

Hi Cindi,

You can wear costumes to Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party at Magic Kingdom. There is more information about the dress code in the parks here. Generally, Disney does not want guests to confuse you with a princess or other character.

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Dan May 24, 2015 at 2:39 a.m.

We are going to Disney World June 5 to July 11. Do you know of any special event going on besides the concert series?

FrogBlog May 26, 2015 at 11:49 a.m.

Hi Dan,

During the summer months, there are fewer events at Disney World, but it's possible something will crop up!

Mommy Frog

Jason Worgull Sep 1, 2015 at 10:36 a.m.

Hello. Will Disney Studios be extremely crowded Nov 6 on the opening night of the Osborne Lights? Have been thinking of staying another night to check it out, but still kind of iffy being the first day and on a Friday...

FrogBlog Sep 1, 2015 at 9:12 a.m.

Hi Jason,

That weekend is also the Disney Wine & Dine Half-Marathon, so I would expect it to be fairly busy. You can check out your dates on our Crowd Calendar.

Keep hopping!


Jason Worgull Sep 1, 2015 at 10:50 a.m.

One more question. Does the "snow" always fall during the light show or just during the ceremony? Thanks so much!

Candice Sable Sep 3, 2015 at 1:38 p.m.

What impact do you expect the new Star Wars half marathon to have on the parks? My husband would love to run but I'm hesitant about the crowds. Thanks!

FrogBlog Sep 3, 2015 at 11:15 a.m.

Hi Candice,

The marathons always bring in more people, and they do sell out. I think it would be tremendous fun even with the extra people. May the force be with you!

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Jennifer leingang Sep 14, 2015 at 3:40 p.m.

How will the new Star Wars Half Marathon event affect crowd levels at the parks over that weekend??

FrogBlog Sep 15, 2015 at 8:37 a.m.

Hi Jennifer,

Races always impact crowd levels, bringing more people to the parks and making the hotels more crowded.

Keep hopping!


Darlene Oct 2, 2015 at 4:11 p.m.

Do you guys have tickets available to Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party? I need to buy my Disney tickets for our vacation starting November 20th, and would prefer to get all of the tickets through Undercover Tourist!

FrogBlog Oct 2, 2015 at 2:32 p.m.

Awww, Darlene, we'd love for you to buy all of your tickets through us too. Unfortunately, we will not be getting party tickets this year :( You'll have to go through Disney directly for that one.

Keep hopping!


Disney addict Oct 4, 2015 at 1:14 p.m.

Hello, do you know if Disney Springs will do anything special such as trick or treating for the kids on Oct 31, 2015? Thank you!

FrogBlog Oct 14, 2015 at 9:49 a.m.

Hi there,

We haven't heard yet whether there will be trick-or-treating at Disney Springs. We hope so!

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Dallas Oct 7, 2015 at 1:04 a.m.

We will be visiting Magic Kingdom on Nov 13 and just realized that this is one of the dates for the very merry Christmas. Will we be able to stay until park closing without the extra ticket? This is a first visit for one of the girls and we had planned to see the fireworks. Thanks

FrogBlog Oct 7, 2015 at 9:35 a.m.

Hi Dallas,

You would need to leave when the park closes for the party at 7 p.m.

Keep hopping!


Ilene Oct 7, 2015 at 8:13 a.m.

I have a timing and logistics question. We want to see Osborne lights, but also want to see Fantasmic. I made reservations for dinner at Brown Derby for 540p, without thinking about Osborne. I'm thinking it will be impossible to have a leisurely dinner, then see Osborne, then check in to Fantasmic by 8p. What do you think? we don't want to be sprinting from one place to another with a 4 year old and an old lady (me, sort of) in tow! IF I can change my dinner reservations (it's not available at the moment), how much time should I REALLY allow?

FrogBlog Oct 14, 2015 at 10:02 a.m.

Hi Ilene,

This depends on which date you will be in the park. If it is an Extra Magic Hour night, you can visit the Osborne lights after Fantasmic! The Osborne lights begin at dusk and usually continue until about an hour after park close. I would allow at the very least 20-30 minutes to walk through the Streets of America to see the lights dance, navigate the crowds, and take some photos.

Keep hopping!


Bri Oct 11, 2015 at 11:27 p.m.

Can we buy tickets for only the light show? Do not want to go during the day etc but only to see the lights. We don't want to pay for a whole day if so what are some options and prices

FrogBlog Oct 14, 2015 at 12:17 p.m.

Hi Bri,

Unfortunately, no, you would need regular park admission to see the lights.

Keep hopping!


Kayla Oct 27, 2015 at 8:03 a.m.

Hi, just realized we will be in Disney during marathon weekend. We don't hve any ADR's for Saturday or Sunday morning, but should we avoid certain parks those days? Our plans were to do Epcot Saturday AM around 10am, and magic kingdom at night. We planned to spend all day Sunday at Hollywood studios, also getting there around 10am.

FrogBlog Nov 2, 2015 at 7:09 a.m.

Hi Kayla,

Our crowd calendar provides recommended parks each day that can help you with these questions. After you decide, definitely go ahead and book your ADRs!

Keep hopping!


TicTacToe Oct 29, 2015 at 5:39 p.m.

I am planning to go in 5-7 Nov. Any advice or should I wait a couple more weeks? I am more interested in parades and celebrations.

FrogBlog Oct 30, 2015 at 9:36 a.m.

Hi there,

Your dates are good as far as parades and celebrations are concerned, but you would need to adjust the dates if you wanted to visit Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party. Keep in mind that that weekend is fairly busy because of the Wine and Dine Half-Marathon.

Keep hopping!


Heidi Simpson Nov 20, 2015 at 3:48 a.m.

We are planning a trip to Orlando Dec 26-Jan3. Can you please let me know what activities are going on at Disney during this time. Thanks!

FrogBlog Nov 20, 2015 at 11:18 a.m.

Hi Heidi,

There are a ton of holiday happenings during this time. Check our Guide to Disney World during the Holidays!

Keep hopping!


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