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12 Things Nobody Tells You About Special Events At Disney Parks

Disney is special all on its own, but who can resist the additional moments of magic? There are several special events that take place at Disney at various times of the year. Whether they are put on privately or by the Disney company, there are a lot of things that you may not know about as a regular park goer. Here are 12 things nobody tells you about special events at Disney.

12. Crowds

Depending on the type of special event, be prepared to deal with large crowds. Hard ticket events or special days (such as Dapper Day) can attract a huge crowd. RunDisney events also tend to attract a massive amount of guests that can take up a lot of space at the neighboring resorts. Private events can also have large crowds but since they’re private, they will most likely be in a certain area. If you’re curious about the type of event that may be happening on your next visit, your best bet is to research online or speak to a Disney agent for more information.

11. Check The Times

Most special events have altered times from a typical day at the park. For example, hard ticket events (such as Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party) are offered from 7 PM until 12 or 1 AM. Although these are the times of the party, guests can actually get into the park as early at 4 PM, giving you 3 additional hours of play time! You can ask a cast member for more information on times such as these. There are some private events that are held at Disney that can also alter the time for the general park goers. Depending on the nature of the event, they may close the parks earlier than usual to make room for the private event.

10. Shortened Hours

As stated above, the times can change often with special events. Whether they are private or not, the general park guests will need to expect shortened hours in the park that is hosting the events. In order to get the most out of your park ticket, you’ll want to make sure you check the park hours so that you can choose a date that offers plenty of time for you to explore.

9. Blocked off Areas

Depending on the nature of the event, there will be some closed off areas. Private events that do not require the park to close for the general population will have sections of the park crossed off (like for some of the dessert parties). Often times, cast members will also form lines across entrances to certain sections of the parks instructing guests to proceed to where they want the crowd to go. While this doesn’t seem like a big deal, it can cause you to change your plans of where you travel in the park.

8. Don’t Attempt To Sneak In

Sneaking in to anything is a huge no-no at Disney, but special events are on another level. Private functions have strict procedures with having guests enter, and hard ticket events are no different. Often, park guests that have been there throughout the day try to linger around to see if they will be kicked out to stay for the events. Cast members will check for wristbands or scan MagicBands in order to verify if you have paid for the event. Security and staff also monitor RunDusney events. It wouldn’t be a good idea to be removed from any of these parties due to sneaking in.

7. Costume Guidelines

Unfortunately, there have been several changes to the guidelines when it comes to guests being able to dress up for special events. In order to protect guests and ensure their safety, costumes are no longer allowed to be worn to special events if they include robes, capes past the waist, masks, clothing with multiple layers, pretend weapons, full body costumes (such as a Death Star or the house from Up), etc. If you are not sure about a costume or cosplay idea that you have in mind for a runDisney event, Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, or even Dapper Day, give Disney a call and explain what you have in mind so that they can give you a better idea if your outfit will be allowed.

6. Unique Characters

Special events often include some really amazing character meet and greets, including some that you may not see regularly. Depending on the event, Mickey and his friends are available to meet and greet guests in various forms of attire (Halloween, Christmas, etc.). There are also other characters that come out ‘to play’ that aren’t usually out. For example, at Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party last year, I was able to meet the evil witch form Snow White, Cruella De Vil, Haunted Mansion characters, Jack Sparrow, all seven dwarves, Sanderson Sisters (not a meet and greet, but they were there), and so much more. Another example of great meet and greets is during the runDisney races. I couldn’t believe the selection of characters that were available for meet and greets at my last 10K! There were even parade performers (that you’re not allowed to pose with) at various areas of the races. Make sure your cameras are ready the next time you enjoy a special event!

5. Check Out the Second Round of Shows

If you are attending a special event with multiple shows or parades, always attempt to check out the second showing. The first showing is always more crowded. This gives you a chance to check out some rides with less of a wait while everyone is checking out the shows and parades. Another great tip is to go to the left of the park. Studies have shown that guests tend to head to the right of the parks.

4. Ticket Sales

Many Disney fanatics wait anxiously for the release dates and tickets to special events. Some of these events sell out in minutes, while others can linger a few months. If you have your heart set on a special event, you’ll want to make sure you purchase your tickets as soon as possible. Many special events have become so popular over the years, that now they are being hosted for longer than usual. For example, the Food and Wine Festival is now in session for around 2 whole months! Another thing to consider when purchasing these tickets are the discounts. For example, if you’re an annual passholder, you will benefit from saving a few bucks on select days of Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party and Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. You will want to double check and see what discounts you’re eligible for. Annual passholders also get early registration for runDisney races!

3. Expect Traffic

Traffic at Disney is very common on typical days, but when there is a special event, you’ll want to give yourself some extra time to arrive and leave the parks. Traffic can sometimes last over an hour so be sure to give yourself some wiggle room when planning your reservations or fastpass times on the day of the special event. If you are staying on Disney property, the busses that transport guests are always a great way to travel, but they also require some additional time.



2. Merchandise & Added Extras

If you love Disney merchandise (and who doesn’t), you’ll love the unique treats at each of the Disney special events. The merchandise for these events are often limited and make for great souvenirs. I often find myself splurging on most of my souvenirs during these events because most of what I find is so unique that I just have to have it. There are other special events within the special events (I know, crazy huh?)! Disney knows how to throw some spectacular breakfast and dessert parties, and these are often offered during special events. These sort of parties are usually an additional fee in addition to the hard ticket event price, and they are known to sell out very quickly. Be sure to verify the times and availability of these events prior to arrival.

1. Memory Maker

Memory Maker is by far the most magical way to remember your trip by. If you plan to attend a special occasion, make sure your Memory Maker is available for the event. There are times where it can be an additional cost to those attending the special events. If you don’t have Memory Maker, but wish you did just for the special event that you’re attending, you’re in luck! Disney often has a specially priced Memory Maker that is available for the length of the special occasion. You can purchase it ahead of time or while the event is taking place. This is a great way to capture the moments and add great borders or stickers to your pictures!

BONUS TIP: Consider planning and booking your next Disney trip with an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner you can trust like Mickey Travels. They’ll help you get the best Walt Disney World deal, share expert advice and their services are totally FREE! It’s genius!

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About Natalie

Natalie is an elementary school teacher and a native Floridian who lives and breathes all things Disney. Her love for Disney started at the age of two during her first visit, and has continued to flourish into her adult life. She loves to share her Disney passion with her students and believes Disney is so special because there is no other place to forget about your worries and be a kid again, which is why she refuses to ‘grow up’.