It’s easy to forget that Disney World is more than just princesses, thrill rides, and parades. There’s more going on beneath the surface, and a lot of it has to do with the special events held at the parks at certain times of the year (like the Flower and Garden festival, for example), or unique tours offered to guests.
I’m going to break this all down for you by location, in an effort to keep this as streamlined as possible.
Epcot Events and Tours:
-Backstage Magic: This is pretty special. For over $250 per adult, you can go on a seven hour tour—yes, seven hours!—that aims to reveal the inner workings of a large portion of Disney World. Find out how the cast members are costumed for different shows, walk the underground tunnels that funnel Disney cast members all throughout the parks, have lunch at the Wilderness Lodge, and, particularly at Epcot, go behind the scenes of The American Adventure attraction.
This is a unique tour for any die-hard Disney fan, although you admittedly might not prefer it if you don’t want any semblance of Disney magic and illusion spoiled for you.
-Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend, presented by Children’s Miracle Network Hospital: Register to participate in a Disney princess marathon that begins and ends at Epcot, and runs through Magic Kingdom. Running in mid to late February, girls and women of all ages are encouraged to run a 13.1 mile course and be cheered on by Disney princess cast members like Princess Tiana and Princess Aurora. You can also sign up for a Disney Princess Enchanted 10K course that goes through Epcot’s resort area, as well as The Disney Glass Slipper Challenge—two courses that total a whopping 19.3 miles.
And those are just a few of the highlights. To learn more details, as well as to register for a particular event, please visit the marathon page on RunDisney.com.
(Video by Disney Parks)
-Disney’s Holiday D-Lights: For over $250 per adult, this five-hour tour is meant to unveil how the workers behind creating Disney’s magical holiday season manage to put on such an incredible lighting spectacular night after night. Beginning at Epcot, this tour promises to take you from the Candlelight Processional to Magic Kingdom’s Main Street U.S.A.
On top of that, you’ll meet the support team that’s in charge of decorating the parks for the holiday season, and even get to enjoy a light buffet that’s included in the price of this tour. Guests will also receive a special keepsake pin.
This tour is only offered on select nights in November and December. To get specific dates and times, please call (407)-939-8687. This event is aimed towards adults.
-Disney’s Yuletide Fantasy: An event that teens (and certainly adults) in particular might like, Disney’s Yuletide Fantasy is great for someone that doesn’t want to commit a ton of hours to learning about how the “magic is made,” but still wants to walk away from their Disney trip feeling like they got to peek behind the curtain a little bit.
Similar to the previous event we just discussed, Disney’s Yuletide Fantasy allows guests (over $95 per adult) to meet the cast members responsible for dressing up the Walt Disney World Resort for the holiday season.
Not only does this tour involve visiting Epcot’s World Showcase to learn about the holiday season in all the various countries, but you’ll also get to visit a Resort hotel and discover how cast members transform it into a beautiful, holiday themed hotel for November and December. To get specific dates and times for this event, as well as make reservations, please call (407)-939-8687.
-Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival: The Flower and Garden festival blooms to life in the spring, where you’ll be able to enjoy Topiary displays of famous Disney characters and even learn some great gardening tips that you can put into action when you arrive back home from your trip.
-Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend: There are even more marathon’s at Disney, and they all aren’t princess related. Here, you can participate in everything from the Disney Family Fun Run 5K to the Dopey Challenge and the runDisney Kids’ Races.
-World Showcase: DestiNations Discovered: Join your fellow Disney World fans are you all embark on a five hour walking tour that takes you through 11 countries and thousands of years worth of history, culture, and tasty food. The tour also includes a dining experience inside Morocco, which takes place around lunch time.
Future World Events and Tours:
-Behind the Seeds: At the cost of $16.00 for children and $20.00 per adult, you can take a one-hour tour inside The Land pavilion to witness a fish farm and four greenhouses. Come learn about agriculture, see how ladybugs are integral to the benefit and protection of plants, and even catch a glimpse of an alligator.
It should be noted that this is a walking tour for the entire one hour running time. This tour is ideal for anyone—from preschoolers to adults.
(Video by MouseSteps / JWL Media)
-Disney’s Dolphins in Depth: If you’re willing to part with a pretty hefty chunk of cash ($199.99 per adult), you can have an opportunity to get up close and very, very personal with some of Disney’s dolphins.
Located at The Seas with Nemo and Friends pavilion at Epcot, this three hour experience has you interacting with researchers and trainers to see how dolphins are treated, trained, and cared for, and you’ll even get about thirty minutes in waist-deep water with a friendly dolphin. But don’t worry, you won’t need any SCUBA or even swimming experience to enjoy this unique opportunity.
This particular event is ideal for teens and adults.
-Epcot DiveQuest: For $179 per adult, you can really have a one-of-a-kind experience. But you’ll not only need to be brave, you’ll need to be SCUBA-certified.
At The Seas with Nemo and Friends, this is a three hour experience in which you’ll be afforded about forty minutes to dive into a 5.7 million gallon saltwater aquarium and swim alongside fish, sea turtles, and sharks.
I’m getting the willies just thinking about it.
But for those far braver than I, what’s cool about this particular event is that the pavilion’s massive windows make it so that your friends and family can easily see you diving amongst the marine life. And afterwards, you’ll have the opportunity to purchase a DVD copy of your dive, so that you can show your friends the cool experiences located at Disney World that they never would’ve guessed even existed.
It should be noted that tweens and teens can participate in the dive, as well. This isn’t solely an event for adults. But SCUBA-certification is indeed mandatory.
-Epcot Seas Aqua Tour: If you’re not SCUBA-certified and aren’t eligible to do DiveQuest, then Epcot Seas Aqua Tour is not a bad consolation prize, at all. For $145 per adult, tweens, teens and grown-ups can snorkel with sea turtles, eagle rays, and sharks.
This is a 2.5 hour experience, and you will spend approximately 30 minutes of it snorkeling with the marine life at The Seas with Nemo and Friends pavilion.
Guests must be 8 years or older to participate.
-The UnDISCOVERed Future World: Come see how Walt Disney’s vision for a fantastic, futuristic world of tomorrow turned into the Epcot of today that we all know and love. This is a four hour walking tour, and costs approximately $69.00 per adult.
World Showcase Events and Tours:
-Candlelight Processional: This event is really, really cool. It’s not your typical Disney attraction, of course (there’s no thrill rides here or fireworks), but it’s a beautiful event that involves the story of Christmas, a choir, a 50-piece orchestra, and a guest celebrity narrator.
The Candlelight Processional usually occurs three times per night, and each time the celebrity narrator will retell the biblical account of Jesus. The choir and orchestra add majesty to the entire experience. The Candlelight Processional is located at the American pavilion, and often features celebrity narrators such as Whoopi Goldberg, Neil Patrick Harris and Chita Rivera.
(Video by LaughingPlace)
-Epcot International Food and Wine Festival, presented by Chase: The Food and Wine festival allows visitors to sample regional food, wine, and beer from over 25 special marketplaces from around the world. During the day, you’ll able to learn cooking techniques from chefs via live demonstrations, and you can rock out all night to the live “Eat to the Beat” concert series.
-Holidays Around the World at Epcot: Visit the World Showcase to enjoy a variety of different celebrations of holidays all around the world. At the American pavilion, for example, guests can learn about Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa.
At the France pavilion, guests discover who Pere Noel is and how a Christmas letter from a child brings the magical season to life.
In the United Kingdom, you’ll be introduced to Father Christmas, but instead of the traditional red and white suit that Santa Claus rocks, you’ll notice that Father Christmas is decked out in green and white.
-Sounds Like Summer: Inside The American Adventure pavilion is where you can find Sounds Like Summer, where tribute bands perform well known jams from Bon Jovi, the Bee Gees, U2 and more. Admission into Sounds Like Summer is included with your park ticket, so there’s no added cost here.
As the title implies, however, this is a summer event only.
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