2023 is a momentous year for Disney. Not only will the 100th anniversary for the company kick off toward the end of January, they will be wrapping up the 50th anniversary celebrations at Disney World this spring. We also have a few other anniversaries to celebrate this year, PLUS attraction closures and openings.
If that wasn’t enough to keep up with there are of course all the other events that happen throughout the calendar year at the parks like festivals and holiday events!
When planning for a Disney trip it’s important to take a look at the calendar — especially if there are any events or holidays you want to celebrate at Disney World. Checking out what’s happening at the parks can also help those who would prefer to visit when the parks are less crowded. Here are 25 dates, events, and other occasions to keep in mind for your 2023 trip!
Holidays tend to be a popular time to visit Disney. Plenty of people choose to celebrate these important moments at the parks, and usually there are some special additions to the parks during these times! You might get to sample special treats, see a show you haven’t watched before, or find limited edition merchandise to bring home.
Valentine’s Day is the first holiday after New Year’s, and the Disney parks can be a fun getaway! We often find lots of sweet treats for the love-centered holiday. While the parks themselves might not be much busier than a typical day, what you’ll need to keep an eye out for is Advance Dining Reservations getting booked up more quickly. Whether you’re hoping for a dinner with that special someone or just with your family, you might want to plan your special Valentine’s Day dinner as soon as you can!
Then comes spring breaks in March and early April, and Easter on April 9th! Around Easter, be sure to check out the amazing chocolate eggs on display at the Beach Club and the Grand Floridian, and you can meet the Easter Bunny in Magic Kingdom!
Planning on surprising your parents with a Disney trip? Mother’s Day (May 14th) and Father’s Day (June 18th) are next on the calendar, and some families might want to show appreciation for mom and dad by treating them to some Disney nostalgia. These holidays also get fun seasonal treats, but like Valentine’s Day, you may want to book a Mother’s Day Brunch fairly early to help you get your top pick.
Disney’s regular nighttime spectaculars are already pretty amazing to witness, but on the 4th of July it’s extra special! In past years we’ve seen both Magic Kingdom and EPCOT end the day with epic fireworks shows. If seeing these light shows and fireworks are important to you, be ready to fight some serious crowds. In the past we’ve seen park reservation availability disappear as early as April or May.
Skipping into the fall, the undeniable big holiday for this time period is definitely Halloween! Disney World does the holiday justice with Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, a special ticketed event where you can come to Magic Kingdom in the evening and dress up in your favorite costume. For those aged 14 and older, this event is your only chance to wear costumes in the parks, as it normally isn’t allowed. The Halloween Party is a great opportunity to meet rare villain characters, try some spooky snacks, and enjoy unique experiences you don’t get during the day in the parks.
Thanksgiving (November 23rd) is a great time in the parks for foodies because many food service locations feature special dishes and other menu items for the holiday. While some of these offerings are available around Thanksgiving, some are only available on the day, so if you want to try a Disney-fied Thanksgiving meal, come to the parks then! Because this is a food-centered holiday, dining reservations go FAST, so be ready to book yours 60 days out when your reservation window opens.
Christmas Day and the dates surrounding the holiday are some of the busiest times in the parks. If crowds are a no-go for you but you still want to enjoy some of the holiday offerings around the parks, try going toward the end of November or in early January. The holiday decorations and treats usually last throughout that period, plus Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party usually runs from early November to late December. Most of the crowds c0me the week after Christmas, so that is something else to keep in mind!
The last (and first!) holiday of the year is New Year’s, which is another fun, fireworks-centered holiday. That means you’ll see a lot of different lights, fireworks, and other nighttime shows in the parks, like this sparkly display on Spaceship Earth from 2022. If the shows are the most important part of the holiday to you but you don’t feel like fighting the crowds, book a hotel or resort room with the perfect view!
While not a set date for everyone, you might have personal holidays or milestones you are hoping to celebrate in the parks. Be that a birthday, anniversary, graduation or other accomplishment, check the dates around your occasion to see how reservations are looking for both accommodations and dining. When you arrive don’t forget to get a complimentary celebration button; you might just get some surprises throughout the day!
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Disney World Events
Disney World itself has a number of dates throughout the year with important events. Some are annual, like the festivals, while others are unique for this year, like premieres of new attractions and dining offerings. We also added important ride closures so you don’t miss your favorite attraction!
EPCOT has four festivals throughout the year. Some guests prefer to visit during one of these festivals because they feel it adds an extra layer of activities for their trip to the park. The first of the year is the Festival of the Arts, running from January 13th to February 20th. This festival celebrates art in several different forms, from performance art to visual art to culinary art! Expect Broadway performances, stunning chalk art, and unique food offerings.
Next on the calendar is the Flower and Garden Festival, which typically runs from March to July. During this festival EPCOT gets covered with perfectly structured topiaries featuring our favorite Disney characters. The food during this festival focuses on homegrown farm to table ingredients and has plenty of plant-based offerings.
Next is the festival that started it all: Food & Wine! This long-running fest, which usually spans July to November, is 100% food-themed. Food booths serving up small plates and beverages fill World Showcase, and we look forward to it every year!
At the end of the year EPCOT hosts the Festival of the Holidays. The booths, performances, and other special offerings during this festival are designed to celebrate the holiday traditions and cuisines of cultures from around the world. Aligning with the winter holiday season, usually the Festival of the Holidays runs from late November through December. Stay tuned to our site for all the official festival dates!
runDisney hosts a few races at Disney World throughout the year where runners descend on the parks to take part in races from 5k up to full marathons. The busiest event of the year takes part in January each year and is the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend. This year it spanned from January 4th to the 8th, and the parks were very busy. Another popular race is the Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend, this year scheduled for February 23rd to the 26th. This year is the 15th anniversary of the event, so we anticipate it being busier than usual. Check out the runDisney events schedule here!
After a year and half, the Disney World 50th Anniversary Celebrations are drawing to a close. The official conclusion is March 31, 2023, so if you were hoping to visit Disney World to take part in the celebrations you’ll need to do so before that date.
A big event for Magic Kingdom this year is the closure of Splash Mountain. The water-based attraction is being rethemed into an attraction inspired by The Princess and the Frog called Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. While the new ride won’t premier until at least 2024, Splash Mountain will be boarding its last passengers on January 22nd, 2023.
After a long hiatus, Disney princesses will be returning to Cinderella’s Royal Table! This hard-to-get table service location is known not only for it’s stunning interior but for the Princess character dining experience. Cinderella has been greeting guests as they make their way into the restaurant, but the princesses that used to visit each table had not yet returned. But they’re coming back on February 28th! This is going to be one of those spots you want to try to book as soon as you can!
Another dining experience that is slowly returning to normal is Chef Mickey’s at the Contemporary Resort. This character dining locale features the classic Fab Five: Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, and Pluto. Currently serving meals family-style, Chef Mickey’s will be returning to a buffet service on March 1st, 2023.
Last year we celebrated the 40th Anniversary of EPCOT, but this year it’s Animal Kingdom’s time to shine! The park opened 25 years ago on April 22, 1998, and while we don’t know any specifics currently, we anticipate Disney bringing out some fun snacks, merchandise, and maybe even throwing a fun party like they did for the 20th anniversary!
Another anniversary in 2023 is the Grand Floridian Resort’s 30th! One of the three Monorail resorts, the Grand Floridian will be celebrating its birthday on July 1st. Just in time, the resort is getting a bit of a makeover! The lobby is getting a refurbishment and while we don’t know when the official finish date is, we understand wanting to spruce up before your big day.
Do you love when you get to peek behind the curtain and learn about the inner workings of the Disney company? If so, the Destination D23 event is perfect for you! This year the event will be held at the Contemporary Resort from September 8th to the 10th. You’ll get to learn about Disney park projects, behind-the-scenes info on upcoming films, and more.
Last month we learned that popular thrill ride Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster will be closing for refurbishment on February 20th, 2023. While we don’t know the exact date of reopening, a Disney cast member said it is planned to reopen sometime in the summer of 2023. If this is a must-ride for you, try to plan your trip before it closes or later in the fall!
We now have an official end date for Harmonious, the nighttime light and water display at EPCOT. The final performance will be on April 2nd, 2023. But don’t worry: a new show will be debuting later this year! This also means the barges in the center of the World Showcase Lagoon will be going away. They house the LED panels, moving fountains, lights, lasers, and pyrotechnics for the show. Many guests, even those who loved Harmonious, are glad to see them go.
While the other show replacing Harmonious is still under wraps, we do know about one show that will be coming back for the meantime. EPCOT Forever will be returning for a limited run beginning April 3rd!
Another nighttime spectacular we’ll be saying goodbye to in 2023 is Disney Enchantment. This Magic Kingdom show will be holding its last performance on April 2nd, 2023.
Once Disney Enchantment closes Magic Kingdom will also be bringing back an old show. That’s right, Happily Ever After is coming back! The first night it will be back is April 3rd, 2023. This show will have some new additions, like projections down Main Street, U.S.A.
While not technically a date to remember, it is worth noting that overnight self-parking is now FREE again for Disney World hotel guests! This change took effect immediately after the announcement, so this will apply to all trips booked this year.
UPDATE: We also have an official opening date for TRON: Lightcycle Run! This attraction will officially premiere in Magic Kingdom on April 4th, 2023! There will also be some preview dates for certain groups, and you can read about those below.
- Annual Passholder Previews for TRON Lightcycle / Run
- Disney Vacation Club Member Previews for TRON Lightcycle / Run
- Cast Member Previews for TRON Lightcycle / Run
Another new opening for 2023 is Roundup Rodeo BBQ in Hollywood Studios. Originally slated to open in 2022, Disney announced in December that the restaurant should be opening its doors this spring. The latest update gave us some cool interior shots of the food location, which is themed to look like Andy designed it himself. Once this opens we can definitely see it filling up quickly, but that will mean more dining openings at other Hollywood Studios dining spots that you might love!
Last year at the D23 Expo we saw this incredible model of the new Journey of Water – Inspired by Moana attraction. We’ve watched the construction progress in EPCOT for this immersive, water-based, walkthrough attraction. You’ll be able to learn about the water cycle and see the full-size Te Fiti structure in late 2023!
In the coming months, PhotoPass downloads will be free for guests who purchase Genie+. All PhotoPass enabled attractions you ride the same day as your Genie+ purchase will be eligible. We don’t know when this will start, but keep checking our site to stay updated!
Discounts are welcome, too! Florida residents can save up to 30% off of their hotel stay at a Disney World resort from May 1st to July 10th, 2023. Check out this post for more info on restrictions.
Along with the return of character dining, other opportunities to meet characters are popping up at Disney World too. One meet and greet coming to EPCOT sometime toward the end of 2023 is with our favorite dragon, Figment! After the chaos that was the Figment popcorn bucket we can see this meet and greet being in high demand.
Disney announced recently that they are doing away with Park Pass Reservations for Annual Passholders after 2PM. This makes it easier for Passholders to enjoy spontaneous trips to the parks! There are some exceptions, which you can read about here.
Last but most certainly not least, we have the exciting Walt Disney Company 100th Anniversary Celebrations to look forward to! The official start to the anniversary celebrations is January 27th in Disneyland, and although a lot of the events currently scheduled are centering around the West Coast park at the moment, we are hoping to see some special events over in Disney World too. Currently, there are plenty of Disney100 merchandise items for sale at Disney World and online, so you can get a head start on celebrations!
What dates you plan your trip for can make a huge difference in how your vacation goes. Think about what you want to prioritize (Is going over a certain holiday important? Do you want to avoid crowds? Are there rides you HAVE to get on?), and let that lead you when picking which dates to travel.
We’ve got a great resource for you when you plan your NEXT Disney World trip – our DFB Guide to Walt Disney World Dining. We wrote our ebook after decades of visiting Disney World, so that we could help you have a stress-free vacation! Click here and use code WDW2023 to get 25% off!
Stay tuned to DFB for more Disney World updates!
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What time of year is your favorite to visit Disney World? Let us know in the comments!
Lol, thanks to this I just realized that we’re returning from Disney World the day before Father’s day this year. I probably could have planned that better…