Happy 2013! We wanted to give you an overview of the major special events coming to the Walt Disney World resort this year to help as you plan “When to Visit.” These special events (as well as some of the smaller events) are listed on our crowd calendar, which is another great tool for planning your vacation. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be looking at the special events at SeaWorld Orlando and Busch Gardens, and Universal Orlando.
Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend
Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend usually takes place the first weekend in January. In 2013, the dates were January 10-13. It is a full weekend 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 theme parks. Traffic around the theme park area is 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 next year’s race weekend Jan. 9-12 begins on April 9.
Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend
Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend usually takes place the last weekend of February each year. It will take place February 22-24. Inspired by the Disney Princesses, this event is designed with women in mind. Weekend events include the Disney Royal Family 5K, runDisney Kids’ Races, Disney’s Fit for a Princess Expo, and the headlining event, Disney’s Princess Half Marathon. The half marathon takes place in Magic Kingdom and Epcot. Traffic around these parks is affected by this race.
March – May
Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival
Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival is an annual event at Epcot each spring. In 2013, Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival takes place March 6-May 19. Highlights of this special event include more than 100 topiaries throughout Epcot (more than 75 are Disney character topiaries), Flower Power Concert Series every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and designer presentations from HGTV stars and Epcot gardening experts. This year, guests can visit the Land of Oz, an interactive play area as well as circus-themed midway based on the Disney film “Oz The Great and Powerful.” Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival is included with regular admission to Epcot.
Flower Power Concert Series Lineup
March 8-10 Mickey Dolenz of The Monkeez
March 15-17 Chubby Checker & The Wildcats
March 22-24 The Guess Who
March 29-31 Nelson
April 5-7 The Turtles featuring Flo & Eddie
April 12-14 Paul Revere & the Raiders
April 19-21 The Village People (new!)
April 26-28 The Orchestra, Featuring Former Members of ELO and ELO II
May 3-5 Tommy Roe (new!)
May 10-12 Herman’s Hermits starring Peter Noone
May 17-19 Starship starring Mickey Thomas
HGTV & DIY Network personalities scheduled for appearances and sessions*
March 8-10 Chris Lambton, “Going Yard”
March 15-17 Chris Grundy, “Cool Tools”
March 22-24 Egypt Sherrod, “Property Virgins”
March 29-31 Brandon Johnson, “My Yard Goes Disney”
April 5-7 Meg Caswell, “Meg’s Great Rooms”
April 12-14 Jason Cameron, “Desperate Landscapes,” “Man Caves”
April 19-21 Sara Peterson, editor, HGTV Magazine
April 26-28 Carter Oosterhouse, “Million Dollar Rooms”
May 3-5 Casey Noble, “Design on a Dime”
May 10-12 Dan Faires, HGTV.com’s “DanMade”
May 17-19 David Bromstad, “ColorSplash,” “Design Star All-Stars.”
* Subject to changes
May – June
Star Wars Weekends (Disney’s Hollywood Studios)
For four weekends in May and June, Disney’s Hollywood Studios hosts Star Wars Weekends. The 2013 dates are May 17-June 9. 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. This special event strongly effects the crowd levels at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Stars Wars Weekends is included with regular theme park admission.
(See the full list of scheduled celebrities for 2013 here.)
(See pictures from Star Wars Weekends 2011 here.)
(Watch a video of the opening Character Processional here.)
(Read helpful tips for attending Star Wars Weekends here.)
June – July
Sounds Like Summer Concert Series (Epcot)
Sounds Like Summer Concert Series takes place every summer at Epcot. Dates for 2013 have not yet been released. In 2012, the event was held June 10-July 28. Every night at the America Gardens Theatre, guests can sit back and listen to some of the world’s greatest tribute bands. In 2012, artists included Hotel California – A Salute to the Eagles, Mike DelGuidice & Big Shot – The Ultimate Billy Joel Show, Slippery When Wet – The Ultimate Bon Jovi Tribute and 2U – A Tribute to U2. 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)
Night of Joy is a contemporary Christian music festival that takes place each September at Magic Kingdom. This year, the event is September 6 and 7. During the event, there are live performances by music superstars across a variety of genres included rock, pop and gospel. Featured artists in 2013 include Skillet, Newsboys, Michael W. Smith and Steven Curtis Chapman, TobyMac, MercyMe, Francesca Battistelli, Britt Nicole, for KING & COUNTRY, We As Human and Jamie Grace. Night of Joy is a separately ticketed event and is not included with regular admission to Magic Kingdom.
September – October
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. Event highlights include Mickey’s Boo-to-You Halloween Parade, Happy HalloWishes Fireworks, Villains Dance Mix & Mingle Castle Stage Show, trick-or-treating throughout the park and Disney characters dressed in Halloween costumes. Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party is not included with regular admission to Magic Kingdom; it is a separately ticketed event. It is recommended you purchase tickets in advance; it is common for nights to sell out.
(See pictures from Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party 2012 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.)
2013 Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party Dates
September: 10, 13, 17, 20, 24, 27 and 29
October: 3, 4, 6, 10, 11, 14, 17, 18, 20, 22, 24, 25, 27, 29 and 31
September – November
Epcot International Food & Wine Festival
Epcot International Food & Wine Festival takes place every fall at Epcot. This year, the festival runs Sept. 27 through Nov. 10. The festival features more than 25 international marketplace kiosks, which will offer tapas-sized portions of regional specialties as well as recommended wine and beer pairings. Another event highlight is the Eat to the Beat! Concert Series, which will feature internationally acclaimed artists. Epcot International Food & Wine Festival is included with regular theme park admission.
Eat to the Beat! Concert Series
The Go-Go’s: Sept. 30-Oct. 1
Edwin McCain: Oct. 10-11
The Manhattan Transfer: Oct. 12-13
Spin Doctors: Oct. 31-Nov. 1
Christopher Cross: Nov. 2-3
Other performers include The Pointer Sisters, Smash Mouth, Boyz II Men, Sister Hazel, Air Supply, Hanson and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy (dates not yet listed).
Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend
The Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend usually takes place 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.
November – December
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. Event highlights include 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 decked out in their holiday finest as well as complimentary cookies and hot cocoa. Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is not included with regular admission to Magic Kingdom; it is a separately ticketed event. It is recommended you purchase tickets in advance; it is common for nights to sell out.
(Highlights of Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party 2012)
(Read the Frog Family Guide to Mickey’s Very Christmas Party here.)
(Experience the Sights & Sounds of the Christmas Party here.)
2013 Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party Dates
November: 8, 11, 14, 15, 17, 21 and 22
December: 1, 3, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 13, 15, 17, 19 and 20
November – January
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 massive seasonal 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.
(What to expect at the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights)
(Experience the Sights & Sounds of The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights here.)
(Watch the lights “dance” to holiday music here.)
Festival of the Masters (Downtown Disney)
Festival of the Masters is held one weekend each November at Downtown Disney. Festival of the Masters is an open-air art festival featuring 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.
(Watch a video of the 2011 Festival of the Masters here.)
November – January
Festival of the Seasons (Downtown Disney)
Festival of the Seasons is a special event held each winter at Downtown Disney. Festival of the Seasons offers live entertainment, festive decor, fun photo ops and much more. 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.
November – December
Holidays Around The World – Candlelight Processional (Epcot)
Holidays Around The World – Candlelight Processional is a special event that takes place each winter at Epcot. Holidays Around The World features Storytellers such as The Monkey King in the China Pavilion and Father Christmas in the United Kingdom Pavilion who recount holiday customs from their countries. 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 the Holidays Around The World – Candlelight Processional here.)
(Watch highlights of Holidays Around The World here.)
(Watch the Candlelight Processional here.)
Related: Special Events at Universal Orlando
For more help in deciding when to visit, check out our crowd calendar, refurbishments and closings page, and seasonal packing lists. You’ll find more resources for when to visit inside our Planning Page!