A note from Mommy Frog: After a temporary closure due to COVID-19, Walt Disney World Resort is slowly beginning to reopen! Walt Disney World Resort will reopen its theme parks in phases, starting July 11 for the general public! Magic Kingdom and Disney's Animal Kingdom will be the first parks to open in this phased reopening, followed by EPCOT and Disney's Hollywood Studios July 15. For more details about park openings and procedures, read our blog post, which we will continue to update with the latest news.
Due to new health and safety measures in place, Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at Magic Kingdom and H2O Glow Nights at Disney's Typhoon Lagoon are canceled this year. However, it's not all bad news! A modified "A Taste of EPCOT International Food and Wine Festival" will begin once EPCOT reopens July 15 and continue through the fall, as the longest running EPCOT festival in history.
If you're ready to hop back into the magic, you can now book Walt Disney World Resort hotels for 2021! It's a great time to lock in savings for vacations starting Jan. 1, 2021. More dates and hotels are being added, so if you don't see your dates, please check back! And starting June 28, you can purchase Walt Disney World Resort theme park tickets for 2021 too!
Festivals. Concerts. Food. (That's our personal fave!) It seems like there's always one occasion or another to visit. Events are some of the biggest reasons to visit Walt Disney World Resort! While some of Disney World's special events fall during what was once considered more "off-peak" times in spring and fall, others hoppen during very busy times. Many of the Disney World events have become so popular that they bring more people to the parks! Here is the full schedule of Disney World events in 2020 to help you plan your visit.
For those of you who have already picked your dates, this post also serves as a guide to what will be hoppening while you're there. You'll find all of the Disney World 2020 events on our Crowd Calendar. You can also see crowd levels and park recommendations on the days that events are taking place. Of course, we know it can be difficult to know what to expect in 2020 due to COVID-19; we have a whole post discussing what the crowd levels at Disney World may be like once it reopens to the public.
We update this post throughout the year as new event details are released and dates are added. Be sure to bookmark this page if you've got a trip coming up to stay up-to-date on all of the exciting events to come!
Guide to Walt Disney World Special Events in 2020 and 2021
JANUARY AND FEBRUARY
Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend — Jan. 6-10, 2021
The Walt Disney World Marathon 2021 Weekend will feature Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge, Dopey Challenge, runDisney Kids Races, Walt Disney World 5K & 10K, Walt Disney World Half Marathon and the headlining race, the Walt Disney World Marathon. The runDisney Health & Fitness Expo will take place, Jan. 6-9, 2021. The courses of the longer races take runners through all four Walt Disney World Resort theme parks.
Disney races are some of the Disney World events in 2020 and 2021 that will bring in heavy crowds. Crowd levels are usually affected by the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend since the event brings in thousands and thousands of runners and spectators each year. Traffic around the resort is also affected by the Walt Disney World Marathon. When visiting during this special event, expect travel time between the Disney parks to take longer. Registration opened on May 12, 2020, and the majority of the races have sold out already. We have a separate post on what to expect at the Disney World Marathon if you want to start planning!
EPCOT International Festival of the Arts — January to February 2021
This new-ish EPCOT festival (it debuted in 2017) has quickly become one of our favorite EPCOT events! The festival celebrates visual, performing and culinary arts. There are usually gallery exhibits, living statues, artist appearances and much more that take place during the festival. The Disney on Broadway Concert Series inside the America Gardens Theatre offers nightly performances.
EPCOT International Festival of the Arts is typically included with admission to the park, but there are separately ticketed events within the festival itself if you are looking for additional experiences such as culinary classes or art workshops. Here is our full guide to EPCOT International Festival of the Arts if you're planning a trip during this time next year.
Disney After Hours
On select nights, guests can stay after park closing in this separately ticketed event to experience Magic Kingdom or Animal Kingdom after dark. Your event ticket includes admission to the park beginning at 7 p.m., though the events themselves begin a few hours later once the park officially closes. Ice cream, popcorn and select beverages are also included in the cost of admission.
Currently, there are no Disney After Hours events scheduled, but Disney often releases new dates in batches throughout the year. Check back in later to see if dates have been added!
Disney Villains After Hours (Magic Kingdom) — Select nights from Feb. 7, 2020, until July 2020*
Disney Villains took over Magic Kingdom during this uniquely themed After Hours event last summer, and it made its wicked return in 2020. Guests have exclusive access to Magic Kingdom for three hours after normal park operations. Your favorite fiends plot to take over the universe during the stage show, Villains Unite the Night, in front of Cinderella Castle, and Maleficent the Dragon makes special appearances throughout the evening.
*Some dates have been affected by the COVID-19 park closures.
Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend — Feb. 18-21, 2021
Inspired by the Disney Princesses, this event is designed with women in mind. Weekend events will include the Disney Princess 5K, Disney Princess Enchanted 10K, runDisney Health & Fitness Expo, Disney Fairy Tale Challenge and the headlining event, the Disney Princess Half Marathon. The half marathon takes runners through Magic Kingdom and EPCOT. Traffic around the parks is typically affected by this race every year. Registration opens June 16, 2020.
MARCH - JULY
EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival — March to June 2021
As the second event in the lineup of the EPCOT festivals, EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival blossoms each spring. This festival features more than 100 topiaries spread throughout the park. There are an abundance of food offerings at the outdoor kitchens scattered around World Showcase and Future World to enjoy while admiring the character topiaries. Popular kitchens include the locally-grown Florida Fresh, the Citrus Blossom and the Honey Bee-stro.
Guests can also delight in the hundreds of butterfly species residing at the festival's screened butterfly house. The festival concerts take place at America Gardens Theater every night during the event. EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival is included with regular admission to EPCOT. This is one of the most colorful and popular Disney World events!
Check out the sights and sounds of EPCOT's Flower & Garden Festival below!
Star Wars Rival Run Half Marathon Weekend — Mid-April 2021
Star Wars Rival Run Half Marathon 2021 Weekend features iconic rivalries from "Star Wars." Weekend events include the Star Wars 5K, Star Wars 10K, Star Wars Rival Run Challenge and the runDisney Kids Races, as well as the headlining half marathon. Registration opens July 14, 2020. Start perfecting using the Force (maybe it can help you punch it to beat your best race time?).
AUGUST - DECEMBER
Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party (Magic Kingdom) — CANCELED in 2020
Note: Due to the new health and safety measures, Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party has been canceled for the 2020 season.
One of the most popular Disney World events is Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. It takes place at Magic Kingdom on select nights each fall. The party's biggest highlights are watching Mickey's Boo-to-You Halloween Parade, Disney's Not So Spooky Spectacular fireworks show and Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular. The party features trick-or-treating in the park and Disney characters dressed in Halloween costumes. The party is not included with regular admission to Magic Kingdom and requires a separate ticket. We recommend purchasing tickets in advance since these parties do sell out ... but we're hoppy to say that you can purchase your tickets from your favorite frogs! If you're thinking about going, check out our guide to Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party for all of the spooky-fun details.
EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival — July 15, 2020 to Fall 2020
This year, the EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival is debuting earlier than ever on July 15, 2020! It will continue through the fall. If you're looking for Disney World 2020 events with plenty of food and drink, this is one of them! 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 spend time sharpening their culinary and beverage skills in seminars, too. There are also opportunities to partake in special dining experiences with celebrity chefs for an additional charge. This a major event, and we recommend using our EPCOT Food & Wine Festival guide to help you make the most of it!
The Eat to the Beat! Concert Series will not be held due to being unable to accommodate physical distancing, but other musical acts and entertainment, such as Mariachi Cobre and JAMMitors, will be available to enjoy. EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival is included with regular theme park admission.
Get a taste of the EPCOT International Food and Wine Festival with our sights and sounds video below.
Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend — Nov. 5-8, 2020
The Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend combines the magic of a runDisney race with the festivities of the Food & Wine Festival. Races include the Disney Fall Feast 5K, Kids Races and the Half Marathon. Half-marathoners and Disney Two-Course Challenge participants can celebrate at an exclusive post-race party at the Food and Wine Festival. You can find more event and registration details on the runDisney site.
Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party (Magic Kingdom) — TBD (generally November to December 2020)
One of our favorite Disney World events, Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party, is a special event held on select nights each winter at Magic Kingdom. The party runs from 7 p.m. until midnight. The big highlights from this event are Mickey's Once Upon A Christmastime Parade, Mickey's Most Merriest Celebration castle stage show, Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime fireworks and 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 because it is common for nights to sell out. Get your party ticket, and check out our guide to Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party so that you can get in on all of the holly jolly fun too!
While Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party is a separate event, there are still many festive holiday Disney World events in 2020. Each one brings merriment with the right touch of Disney. Let our complete guide to Disney World holiday events be your holiday planner! (Consider it our gift to you.)
Epcot International Festival of the Holidays (EPCOT) — TBD (generally November to December 2020)
EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays takes place each winter. Storytellers from many of the countries, such as La Bafena at the Italy pavilion, recount holiday customs from their respective countries. Guests can also have their picture made with Santa and Mrs. Claus at the American Adventure Pavilion! There's also seasonal food from each country available for purchase. Buon appetito!
The Candlelight Processional is performed three times nightly. The show tells the story of Christmas with a celebrity narrator, accompanied by a 50-piece orchestra and mass choir. Much like other EPCOT festivals in 2020, EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays is included with regular admission to EPCOT. We have tips on all of these festivities (and yes, the food, too) in our full guide!
Holiday Celebrations at Disney's Animal Kingdom — TBD (generally November to December 2020)
In 2019, Animal Kingdom rang in the festive season with more holiday decorations and entertainment than ever before. Discovery Island featured life-size puppets of winter animals such as reindeer, penguins and polar bears that interacted with guests, accompanied by serenading musicians. In Asia, the theatre district was decorated in celebration of Diwali, the festival of lights in India. The Tree of Life had special holiday awakenings, as well. Hopfully, we'll see these adorable puppets return in 2020!
Holiday Celebrations at Disney's Hollywood Studios — TBD (generally November to December 2020)
Debuting in 2017, Sunset Season's Greetings lights up Tinseltown as snow falls and dazzling projections light up the Hollywood Tower Hotel to tell special holiday tales from your favorite characters. This show takes place intermittently throughout the night. Be sure to stick around until the end of the night for the Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! fireworks spectacular!
Holiday Celebrations at Disney Springs — TBD (generally November to December 2020)
Holidays at Disney Springs is a special event that replaced Festival of the Seasons at Downtown Disney (the previous name for the entertainment area). It offers live entertainment, festive decor and fun photo ops. Holiday carolers, Toy Soldier stilt walkers and street performers make random appearances, and a live DJ hosts a dance party for all ages.
Holiday decorations include the Disney Springs' Christmas Trail, a trail of trees decorated and themed as Disney characters. You also have the opportunity to meet Santa at the end of the Christmas Tree Trail. Holidays at Disney Springs is a free Disney World event in 2020.
We hope you found this list of Disney World 2020 events hopful as you plan your visit. By now you've realized that the parties, festivals and events are some of the best reasons to visit! If you are looking for more tips, check out the When to Visit Orlando page on our Orlando Planning Timeline!