A year is a very long time at Walt Disney World – something is happening every week and the crowds change with the season from crazy busy to totally dead as I discussed in an old post.
So what is happening in 2014 at Walt Disney World at how does it affect the UK pavilion?
Every January there is the Walt Disney World Marathon weekend which includes the half-marathon as well as the 5k and some other races. This is a busy weekend as the Marathon goes right through the pavilion and ends at the Epcot parking lot bringing a busy weekend of tired people in need of food, drink and a sit down. Other than that January is a pretty quiet month.
February is a very quiet month with not much Walt Disney World activity although this year might bring the soft opening of the Seven Dwarfs mine train in New Fantasyland if things go totally to plan or even well ahead of schedule.
The end of February is the Princess half-marathon weekend which again brings the crowds to Epcot but only for a few days.
Things begin to pick up again in March with the arrival of the Flower and Garden festival. 2013 saw the introduction of Food to the festival making it a bit of a mini Food and Wine which if repeated again and enlarged may bring even bigger crowds in 2014. Flower and Garden also brings the Flower Power concert series at the weekends which this year includes:
March 7 – 9: The Guess Who
March 14 – 16: Gary Lewis & The Playboys
March 21 – 23: The Orchestra starring former members of ELO
March 28 – 30: The Lovin’ Spoonful
April 18 – 20: The Grass Roots
April 25 – 27: Herman’s Hermits Starring Peter Noone
May 2 – 4: Starship starring Mickey Thomas
May 9 – 11: Chubby Check and the Wildcats
In April Flower & Garden continues and we reach the period around Easter known as ‘Peak week’, the clue here is in the name… It is busy, very busy. Park attendance peaks at this time of year and all locations are working flat out. As soon as Easter weekend has passed the park begins to quieten down again in to the summer months.
April also includes the Cheerleading and Dance World championships which take place at Walt Disney World and bring literally thousands of cheerleaders and dancers and their families to the parks making for one VERY busy weekend especially if some of the competition is taking place in World Showplace within Epcot which it has done for several years.
May brings one of my favourite events of the year – Star Wars weekends at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. It so much fun, it actually probably reduces the crowd at weekends in Epcot since people head to DHS instead. The ‘Hyperspace Hoopla’ is a must-see for everyone!
Backstage, May also brings Goofy’s Mystery Tour which is a cast-member only Scavenger Hunt which you can sign up to which combines skill, Disney knowledge and lunacy to create a night of ridiculous fun running around one of the parks trying to win prizes.
June includes the unofficial ‘Disney Gay Days‘ – sporting their Red T-shirts this weekend brings thousands of extra guests to the parks and the Orlando area.
Most people from the UK assume these will be busy months, they are not in the Rose & Crown. As an outdoor restaurant it is just too hot during the day for guests to sit and enjoy a meal and the frequent storms and high humidity keep anyone with sense away from the parks. Very few Americans visit at this time of year as they know how hot and sticky it is.
4th July week is probably the only exception with many Americans making the trip to WDW to spend time with their families and see the spectacular fireworks. It is really just a busy weekend in an otherwise quiet time.
September is where the fun really begins. The first few weeks are quiet and it is still very hot but by week 2 and 3 things are really starting to get busy.
At the Magic Kingdom September sees the start of Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party on select nights. Cast Members usually get discount of September nights and it is great fun to dress up and see unique characters, fireworks and a special parade.
In Epcot busy season really starts with the arrival of the Food and Wine festival. At the Rose & Crown this is an exceptionally busy period in the Pub with many guests taking special liking to the ‘Wine’ part of the festival. The entire pavilion is much busier though with park attendance rising sharply, especially at weekends. The cooler temperatures mean that Chippy tends to get busier since fried food is more of a cold weather delicacy. Merch have a busy time too with Tea flying out of the door to the visiting foodies.
In October Food and Wine continues and if anything gets busier as the temperatures continue to cool.
Food and Wine reaches its peak in November with Wine and Dine Half Marathon weekend where Epcot stays open into the early hours of the morning hosting the marathon after party. This is usually closely followed by a busy week of Thanksgiving where many Americans choose to vacation in Florida as it is much warmer than the northern states and spend time in large family groups.
During November, ABC usually also film the Disney Parks Christmas Day Parade using Cast Members as the crowd. You usually apply for tickets and go to the park early in the morning to watch TV presenters and musicians perform in front of the cameras.
This is peak season in the UK pavilion with the arrival of the Candlelight processional packages in the restaurant to coincide with Holidays around the World in Epcot. There are lots of rumours about changes this year but basically this is peak holiday season with extremely high attendance from Early December reaching a peak in the period between Christmas and New Year.
During the Christmas season Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas party runs at Magic Kingdom and again Cast Members tend to get discount on early December dates.
The year of course ends with New Years Eve, the single busiest day of the year with upwards of 250k guests across all the parks and usually at least 80k in Epcot alone.