Planning your 2016 Disney World Vacation around Special events

Disney offers many special events throughout the year Whether it’s a specially ticketed event or something free with park admission, if are looking seasonally for dates, this guide will help you choose the best time to travel to hit your favorite special event (and perhaps even more than one!

At a glance

Click the calendar below to see when special events run. Detail about each event and dates for 2016 (if scheduled) are below. Remember, until Disney releases official dates, nothing is a guarantee. Going based on historical information is helpful, but not an absolute – major events like Flower & Garden Festival, Food & Wine, and the Halloween & Christmas parties are often regular staples – generally longstanding events will continue!

2016 Disney Calendar of events



Disney Marathon – this event is officially scheduled January 6-10, 2016. Most events are sold out at the time of this post. See for complete event details.


Disney Princess Half Marathon – this event is officially scheduled for February 18-21, 2016.Most events are sold out at the time of this post. See for complete event details.


Epcot Flower & Garden Festival – this annual event is TBD but starts in early March (typically around the start of Spring Break season) through the middle of May. Previous years events have included over 100 toparies around both Future World and World Showcase, Outdoor Kitchens with special foods from around the world only found during this festival, Flower Power Concert Series each weekend, and HGTV stars each each weekend.

Each year, Disney does have some Easter offerings and with Easter falling in March this year, you’ll see things like a meet and greet with Mr & Mrs Easter Bunny in Magic Kingdom, Faberge eggs in Grand Floridian, and an Easter egg hunt through Epcot World Showcase.


Epcot Flower & Garden Festival continues (see March for complete details)


Epcot Flower & Garden Festival ends (see March for complete details)

Star Wars Weekends – on select weekends in May and June, Hollywood Studios turns into a Star Wars fan’s dream. With special dining experiences, parades, character meet and greets, and very special Star Wars guests and cast. Each year becomes bigger and better than the last. I can’t wait to see is 2015 brings. Events are held Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of each weekend. Events typically begin in mid May and run through mid June.

24 hours of Disney – The last few years, Disney has offered a 24 hour of Disney World event (which expanded to Disneyland in 2014). This typically is the kick off of summer so look somewhere before Memorial Day weekend (the last 2 years were May 24 and May 22). Magic Kingdom is open for 24 straight hours with special events, character meet and greets, parades, and more. It’s a great use of a single day of park tickets!


Star Wars Weekend continue (see May for full details)

Frozen Summer Fun – this event has Frozen taking over Hollywood Studios with a welcome parade with Anna, Elsa, and the gang, a special set of fireworks, and Olaf’s summer cool down. A great little addition to summer for princess lovers. No word if this event will span into 2016 as Hollywood Studios is going to through a major transition very soon.

Sounds of Summer concert series held in Epcot during the weekends of the summer months. Taking the stage are some moderate headliners from the 60s through today. A worthwhile stop for a seat during the weekends!


Frozen Summer Fun & Sounds of Summer concert series (see June for full details)


Frozen Summer Fun  (see June for full details)


September 1st brings around Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party! This 2 month event is held at Magic Kingdom and allows entry into the park at 4 pm. and events run until midnight. Feel free to dress up in your favorite costume and trick or treat around the park. Meet some of your favorite Disney characters and some that are only available at this event! You’ll have a separate parade and special HalloWISHES fireworks! The event is typically held 2-3 times each week and separate ticketed admission is required.

Night of Joy is another specially ticketed event that occurs on 2 consecutive nights during the first week of September at Magic Kingdom. This is a concert series with Christian Rock/Contemporary groups. It’s always well attended. Guests can buy a one or two day ticket for this special event. Check park hours for complete details!

In late September, Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival begins. This is free with Epcot admission. The event gets bigger each year but also inflates crowds each year in that park. It’s a great use of your free dining snack credits and a great opportunity to sample food from around the World as many new ethnic booths pop up each year. I could easily spend 2+ full days just enjoying the culture, food, and drink for each of these booths and still not be able to try everything!


Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween continues through October 31st. (See September for complete details of the event) Typically the event will expand to 3-4 nights per week during the month of October.

Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival continues. (See September for complete details of the event)

The Tower of Terror 10 Miler event is hosted in Hollywood Studios. This fun run is in early in the month of October and often sells out quickly due to its popularity. It’s an evening event with an after party at Hollywood Studios. For full details and dates, visit


Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party begins in early November. As Disney removes Halloween themed decor, they bring out the Christmas decorations! Similar to the fall event, Magic Kingdom closes early for day guests (7 pm). Guests who have purchased tickets to the Christmas Party are able to enter the park at 4 pm and have special events like a meet and greet with Santa, special characters, parades, holiday Wishes and an amazing show projected onto Cinderella’s Castle. This event is held 2-3 times each week through mid-December.Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party 2014

Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival ends in mid-November (see September for complete details of the event)

The Wine & Dine Half Marathon is held in Epcot. This event is gaining popularity each year and ends with a party in World Showcase with food and beverages for all the competitors. See for complete details and dates of the event.

Candlelight Processional is an event around holiday time in Epcot. This is a special event does not require separate admission to Epcot, however at most times of year, choosing a Candlelight Processional dinner package is your only way to get seating to this event. Many of the restaurants in Epcot World Showcase offers this dinner package and does guarantee your seating for the event. The event itself is beautiful. A large choir and 50 piece orchestra accompany a celebrity narrator who tells the story of Christmas. It’s a bit different each day. The complete schedule changes each year, so check out Disney’s web site for complete details.

The Osborne Family lights are held annually in Hollywood Studios along Hollywood Blvd. This is an absolutely gorgeous display of lights where you feel like you are transformed into a magical place surrounded by millions of lights! This is free with admission into Hollywood Studios. This is often a crowded area as there are showings of this light show each evening. If the weather is nice, it’s a great place to take a break and have a seat. It’s another event not to be missed!


Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas parade ends in mid-December. As Christmas break crowds begin to increase, the events end. Guests are still able to see the holiday parade during normal park hours, but some of the other special events are not available. (See November for complete details for this event)

Candlelight Processional continues through the end of the year. (See November for complete details for this event)

A free gift for your Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

A free gift for your Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

Ready to get started planning your 2016 Disney World vacation? Please contact me at any time for a free quote. The benefits to using an authorized Disney vacation planner include saving time before and during your vacation with itinerary planning which can help save you hours of standing in line each day. Plus you won’t have to watch for available discounts, research resorts, wake up early for dining reservations, or stay up late for FastPasses. The best part about using a travel planner instead of planning yourself? It’s totally FREE! Plus I’ll take away some of the stress and confusion of planning a Disney vacation (especially if it’s your first one!)It’s also a worry free vacation opportunity. I’ll walk through through all of the steps to the process with a few little insider tips along the way! If you already have your vacation planned and are interested in transferring your vacation, ask me how!


2 thoughts on “Planning your 2016 Disney World Vacation around Special events

  1. Hi Melissa I’m just checking to see if you think the free dining plan will be going on at the first of the year, like last year? I know you probably don’t know for sure. We are just seeing what is going to fit into our budget this year.

    Sent from my iPad


    • Hi Chrissy! I wish I had a crystal ball to say yay or nay on it! We’ll all probably find out around October (similar to when promotional rates were released for this past year). If it doesn’t work out this year, save up for the following year or even a cruise! A 4 night cruise can be surprisingly affordable and then essentially everything is included with your cost 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s