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!
Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend
Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend takes place the first weekend in January. In 2015, the dates were Jan. 7-11, and the races will be held Jan. 6-10 in 2016. It is a full weekend (and then some) of races, including Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge, Disney Family Fun Run 5K, 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 will open on April 28.
Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend
Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend takes place Feb. 19-22. Inspired by the Disney Princesses, this event is designed with women in mind. Weekend events include the Disney Royal Family 5K, Disney 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
Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival is an annual event at Epcot each spring. In 2015, it takes place March 4-May 17. This year, Anna and Elsa from "Frozen" will join 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, will make its debut 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 will also be 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 2015 Full Lineup
March 6-8 - Gin Blossoms "Hey Jealousy"
March 13-15 - Pablo Cruise "Love Will Find a Way"
March 20-22 - En Vogue "Free Your Mind"
March 27-29 - Starship "We Built This City"
April 3-5 - The Orchestra starring former members of ELO "Evil Woman"
April 10-12 - Village People “Y.M.C.A”
April 17-19 - Jon Secada "Just Another Day"
April 24-26 - The Guess Who "These Eyes"
May 1-3 - Taylor Dayne "Tell It to My Heart"
May 8-10 - Little River Band "Lady"
May 15-17 - Herman's Hermits starring Peter Noone "I'm Henry the Vill, I Am"
Star Wars Weekends (Disney's Hollywood Studios)
Once again Disney's Hollywood Studios plays host to the very popular Star Wars Weekends. The dates for 2015 are 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. Highlights include 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. Star Wars Weekends strongly affects the crowd levels, so we recommend skipping this park on these days if you are not a fan! Stars Wars Weekends is included with regular theme park admission.
Full Star Wars Weekends Lineup is not yet available.
While 2015 dates have not been announced yet, the Sounds Like Summer Concert Series takes place every summer at Epcot. 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.
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. Night of Joy is a separately ticketed event and is not included with regular admission to Magic Kingdom.
Full 2015 Night of Joy Lineup is not yet available.
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 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.
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.
The Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend takes place on Nov. 7 and 8— over the last weekend of Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. The event combines the magic of a runDisney race with the festivities of the Food & Wine Festival.
Festival of the Masters (Downtown Disney)
Festival of the Masters is held one weekend each November at Downtown Disney. 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.
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 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.
Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party 2015 dates have not yet been announced.
Holidays Around The World - Candlelight Processional (Epcot)
Holidays Around The World - Candlelight Processional takes place each winter in Epcot's World Showcase. 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.
(Disney's Hollywood Studios)
The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights is a special event held each winter at Disney's Hollywood Studios. This massive display features millions of lights perfectly synchronized to music. The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights is included with regular admission to Disney's Hollywood Studios.
Festival of the Seasons (Downtown Disney)
Festival of the Seasons is a special event held each winter at Downtown Disney. It offers live entertainment, festive decor, fun photo ops and the opportunity to meet Santa. There are holiday carolers, costumed stilt walkers and street performers and a holiday dance party with a deejay. Festival of the Seasons at Downtown Disney 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.
Tags: Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, Star Wars Weekends, Epcot Sounds Like Summer Concert Series, Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party, Night of Joy, Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party, The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights, Festival of the Masters, Epcot Holidays Around the World & Candlelight Processional, Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend, Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend, Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon, Disney's Festival of the Seasons
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