Hoppy 2014! The special events are one of the biggest reasons to visit the Walt Disney World Resort, especially during “off-peak” times when there are fewer crowds. We wanted to give you an overview of the major Disney World special events 2014 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. 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 2014
Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend usually takes place the first weekend in January. In 2014, the dates were January 8-12. 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 theme parks. Crowd levels are strongly affected by the Walt Disney World Marathon, which brought in a reported 70,000 runners (not counting spectators) in 2014. 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 2015 race should happen in April.
Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend
Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend usually takes place the last weekend of February each year. In 2014, it takes place February 20-23. 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 2014, it takes place March 5-May 18. This year, Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy will join more than 100 topiaries spread throughout the park. Outdoor, food and beverage marketplaces are returning for a second year and will be scattered around the World Showcase. Among the savory options this year will by the Piggylicious Bacon Cupcakes and Smoked Turkey Ribs. New acts Gary Lewis and the Playboys and The Alan Parsons Live Project will join returning acts during the Flower Power Concert Series. Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival is included with regular admission to Epcot.
Epcot Flower Power Concert Series 2014 Full Lineup
March 7-9 – The Guess Who “American Woman”
March 14-16 – Gary Lewis and The Playboys “This Diamond Ring”
March 21-23 – The Orchestra starring former members of ELO “Evil Woman”
March 28-30 – The Lovin’ Spoonful “Summer in the City”
April 4-6 – Paul Revere & The Raiders “Good Thing”
April 11-13 – Village People “Y.M.C.A”
April 18-20 – The Grass Roots “Midnight Confessions”
April 25-27 – Herman’s Hermits starring Peter Noone “I’m Henry the VII, I Am”
May 2-4 – Starship starring Mickey Thomas “We Built This City”
May 9-11 – Chubby Checker & The Wildcats “The Twist”
May 16-18 – Alan Parsons Live Project “Eye in the Sky”
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 2014 are May 16-June 7. 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.
Sounds Like Summer Concert Series (Epcot)
While this year’s 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 that takes place each September at Magic Kingdom, with this year’s event being held Sept. 5 and 6. Newcomers The Neverclaim and 1 Girl Nation will join previous performers. Night of Joy is a separately ticketed event and is not included with regular admission to Magic Kingdom.
Full 2014 Night of Joy Lineup
Friday, Sept. 5:
For King & Country
Saturday, Sept. 6:
Israel Houghton & New Breed
We As Human
1 Girl Nation
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 and the Villains Dance Mix & Mingle Castle Stage Show 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 sometimes sell out.
2014 Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party dates have not yet been announced.
Epcot International Food & Wine Festival
Epcot International Food & Wine Festival takes place every fall at Epcot. 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.
2014 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival dates have not yet been announced.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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!