Walt Disney World Holiday Celebrations

Walt Disney World Christmas WDW50

The holidays are just around the corner, and the theme parks of Central Florida will be filled with more merriment and festivities than ever before, with new celebrations joining fan-favorite events. 

November 2016 at Walt Disney World
Photo: Walt Disney World – Ryan Wendler, photographer

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party  

The Magic Kingdom Park at the Walt Disney World Resort will be filled with holiday fun as Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party returns on select nights through December  22, 2022. 

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is a separately ticketed event with exclusive entertainment, a jolly parade, complimentary cookies and hot cocoa, new Disney PhotoPass opportunities, merchandise, characters, treats, and so much more! 

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party Tickets are limited and can be purchased on the Walt Disney World website, with prices ranging from $149 to $199 per person. 

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party event dates are:

  • November: 8, 10, 11, 14, 15, 17, 18, 20, 22, 27, 29  
  • December: 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 9, 11, 13, 15, 16, 18, 20, 22   
2017 Epcot Festival of the Holidays

EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays 

Take part in holiday traditions, sights, sounds, and flavors from around the world during the annual EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays from November 25 through Dec. 30, 2022. 

Guests will get wrapped up in the holiday fun experiencing storytellers, musical acts, performers, and “JOYFUL! A Celebration of the Season,” a stirring and uplifting music performance in celebration of Christmas and Kwanzaa, daily. 

Throughout the park, the EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays Kitchens will be serving traditional and inspired recipes, festive drinks, and sweet treats for all to enjoy.

Most EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays performances and activities are included with theme park admission. Valid Admission and Park Pass Reservation for the same Park on the same date are required.

Walt Disney World Christmas EPCOT Candlelight Processional

Candlelight Processional

EPCOT will welcome back the iconic Candlelight Processional nightly at the America Gardens Theatre.

This moving retelling of the Christmas story features celebrity narrators accompanied by the Voices of Liberty a cappella ensemble, a 50-piece live orchestra with herald trumpets, and glorious massed choirs comprised of Disney cast members and Central Florida community groups. 

This year’s lineup of award-winning actors, singers, and TV personalities features several new celebrity narrators making their debut alongside returning fan-favorite celebrity narrators.

Flurry of Fun Disney's Hollywood Studios Walt Disney World Christmas 2019 Walt Disney World Holidays 2019 Christmas in July

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Tinsel Town takes on a new meaning as the holidays arrive at Disney’s Hollywood Studios with the Santa Claus Merry Motorcade, a festive finale to “For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration,” holiday glamour on Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and festive touches in Toy Story Land.

Sunset Seasons Greetings is the perfect way to add holiday magic to an evening as guests watch the iconic Hollywood Tower Hotel transform into holiday scenes inspired by a “Toy Story” toy hotel, a snowy corner of Arendelle, and more.  

Walt Disney World Holidays Disney's Animal Kingdom

Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Holidays are WILD at Disney’s Animal Kingdom with animal-inspired décor including beautiful luminaries on Discovery Island, holiday cheer brought to Pandora – The World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom by ex-pats from Earth, and specialty treats.

The highlight of any holiday trip to the park is the Merry Menagerie of life-sized, artisan-sculpted puppets of winter animals and musicians interacting with guests exploring Discovery Island.

After dark, watch the Tree of Life awaken as a series of wintry tales emerge from within, complemented by holiday-inspired music. 

November 2018 Theme Park Events - Holidays at Disney Springs Christmas 2019 Walt Disney World Holidays 2019 Christmas in July
Walt Disney Word Resort

Disney Springs

Shop, sip, and stroll through Disney Springs enjoying specialty food & beverage options, decorations, flurries of snow, and entertainment to ring in the holiday season. 

If you are looking for character-inspired cheer, the Disney Springs Christmas Tree Stroll, located throughout Disney Springs, leads guests on a scavenger hunt to find features festively decorated trees for a special surprise.

At the end of a shopping spree, head over to Jock Lindsey’s Holiday Bar for limited-time holiday-themed sips and snacks to get into the season’s spirit.  

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Holiday Merriment at the Univeral Orlando Resort

Universal Orlando Resort Holidays 2021

Universal Orlando Resort guests can take the merriment of the destination’s Holidays celebration to the next level with additional festive experiences on select dates from November 12 through January 1, 2023.

Universal Orlando guests can enjoy exclusive guided tours on Universal’s Holiday Tour this holiday season and encounter the mean, green one himself, the Grinch while enjoying a delicious breakfast during the popular The Grinch & Friends Character Breakfast.

Universal Orlando Resort Holidays 2021 Wizarding World

Plus, guests can enjoy a spectacular slate of holiday festivities, including special dining, décor, and entertainment across all eight Universal Orlando hotels.

Universal Orlando Holiday Highlights

Universal Orlando Resort Holidays Save The Dates

Universal’s Holiday Tour

On select dates, guests can enjoy a guided tour filled with unique experiences and special access to the beloved holiday entertainment taking place across Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure, such as:

  • Meeting the maven of mischief, the Grinch, and his faithful dog, Max, while enjoying a delicious hot cocoa bar with small bites and desserts at Circus McGurkus Café Stoo-pendous in Universal’s Islands of Adventure
  • Access to reserved seating at the “Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular” – a live retelling of Dr. Seuss’s holiday classic, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” in Universal’s Islands of Adventure
Universal Orlando Resort Holidays 2021 Grinchmas Cast
  • Enjoying a meet-and-greet and photo opp with Santa Claus in Universal Studios Florida (includes one digital download photo)
  • Capping off the night in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade at Universal’s Islands of Adventure with an exclusive, after-hours showing of “The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle” – a stunning projection of holiday spirit and Christmas moments inspired by the beloved “Harry Potter” stories brought to life on the majestic Hogwarts castle.
The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle Universals's Islands of Adventure Holidays 2019

Universal’s Holiday Tour is available on select dates beginning November 13 through January 1, 2023, and can be booked by visiting www.universalorlando.com/holidays.

Pricing starts at $79.99 (plus tax) and separate theme park admission with a 2-Park 1-Day Park-to-Park ticket is required.

Annual and Seasonal Passholders receive a $10 discount per ticket per passholder with a valid Annual or Seasonal Pass.

Tickets can be purchased by calling 1-866-346-9350 between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. EDT daily or by visiting the UOAP Lounge in Universal Studios Florida.

Regular Seasonal and Power Pass blockout dates apply.

Universal Orlando Holidays The Grinch and Friends Breakfast


The Grinch & Friends Character Breakfast at Universal’s Islands of Adventure

The popular dining experience, The Grinch & Friends Character Breakfast, is back this year for Universal Orlando’s Holidays celebration – allowing guests to start their day with a delicious breakfast and appearances by some of their favorite Dr. Seuss characters, including the Grinch.

Guests also receive access to one digital download photo as a keepsake from their encounter with the Grinch during this special opportunity.

The Grinch & Friends Character Breakfast takes place in Circus McGurkus Café Stoo-pendous in Universal’s Islands of Adventure on select dates from November 12 through December 29, 2022, and can be booked by visiting www.universalorlando.com/holidays.

Pricing for this experience is $41.99 (plus tax) for adults and $26.99 (plus tax) for children, and separate theme park admission is required.

Annual and Seasonal Passholders can take advantage of a 20% discount on the dining experience’s ticketed price when purchased in person at the front gate or a Guest Services location with a valid Annual or Seasonal Pass. Regular Seasonal and Power Pass blockout dates apply.

Universal Orlando Resort Holidays 2021 Hotel Decorations


The Holiday Festivities Continue at Universal’s Hotels

The awesomest celebration of the season continues at all eight Universal Orlando Resort hotels, complete with festive décor that perfectly complements each hotel’s theme, feasts, and special activities filled with holiday cheer for the whole family.

Universal hotel guests can enjoy special menus for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s holidays, menorah lighting ceremonies, holiday crafts for kids, and more.

Select hotels offer additional holiday entertainment, including Christmas tree lightings, strolling carolers, and more.

Universal Orlando Resort Holidays 2021 Holiday Parade Featuring Macy's Santa


Universal Orlando’s Holidays celebration kicks off Saturday, November 12, and runs daily through Sunday, January 1, 2023, and features an amazing collection of festivities that range from traditional merriments to irreverent twists on holiday classics – including Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Grinchmas, Universal’s Holiday Parade featuring Macy’s and live concerts by Mannheim Steamroller (on select nights).

Guests can now take advantage of incredible offers to experience all the fun, including getting four days of theme park thrills for the price of a two-day ticket with the “Buy 2 Days, Get 2 Days Free” offer or saving 30% on a special vacation package that includes five-night accommodations at Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort or Universal’s Aventura Hotel, five days of access to Universal Orlando’s theme parks and exclusive hotel benefits.

For more information about the Holidays at Universal Orlando Resort, visit www.universalorlando.com/holidays.

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Christmas Nights in Lights to Debut in Orlando

Christmas Nights in Lights 2022

Christmas Nights in Lights, an all-new seasonal attraction, will debut its affordable holiday fun for all ages this November at Dezerland Park on International Drive. 

“After a successful eight-year run in Mobile, Alabama, we are excited to bring our attraction to Central Florida residents and business and leisure visitors from around the globe,” said Ari Rosenbaum, president, MSEG, the presenting partner of Christmas Nights in Lights. “The advance-reservation option makes it convenient and easy for guests to fit this experience into their busy holiday schedules.”

Christmas Nights in Lights is a dazzling drive-thru light show fully synchronized to popular holiday classics tuned directly to each vehicle’s car stereo on a private radio frequency.

The all-new seasonal attraction will take guests through a showcase of holiday displays and more than 1.5 million “dancing” lights.

Guests never have to exit their cars; they can simply sit back, relax, and take in the spectacle of the synchronized light show before them.

Christmas Nights in Lights 2022

MSEG plans to establish Christmas Nights in Lights as a festive staple of the Central Florida-themed attraction circuit.

Added Rosenbaum, “Whenever we experience the magic of the holiday season, we all become kids again. We are looking forward to seeing all the smiling and awestruck faces of both children and the young at heart at our not-to-be-missed attraction.

The attraction will be open from November 11, 2022, through January 1, 2023, 6-11 p.m., rain or shine.

Per vehicle, admission starts at $45. Tickets to reserve a one-hour time window visit www.nightsinlights.com.

Dezerland Park is located at 5250 International Dr, Orlando, FL 32819; entry off West Oak Ridge Road into the parking lot is recommended.

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Disney Springs Art Walk: New Additions

Disney Springs Art Walk

The Disney Springs Art Walk has been one of my favorite things to explore while shopping and dining, especially because it continues to grow vibrantly, flourishing with murals from talented artists from near and far.

This month is no exception, as two new artists have brought their vibrant and meaningful creations to the Art Walk.

Disney Springs Art Walk

Check out the video below to go behind the scenes and learn about the inspiration for their art.

Inspired by their strong Hispanic roots and just in time for Hispanic and Latin American Heritage Month, artists Leo Gómez and Don Rimx boldly expressed pride for their culture, telling unique stories with their Art Walk pieces.

With over 3,000 murals spanning over five continents, Kobra has a distinguished style with unique techniques involving airbrush and spray paint.

Disney Springs Art Walk

His newest piece will be a Disney-inspired creation that, like other Disney Springs Art Walk murals, will be a must-see for Walt Disney World Resort guests.

I cannot wait to see and share more about his creation at one of my favorite places on property!

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Festival of Trees: Gifts of the Season

Festival of Trees 2022

The sparkling ambiance, smiling faces, and bright energy at the Festival of Trees will kick off the holiday season for Central Floridians from November 11-20, 2022. 

Presented by the Council of 101, the anticipated event celebrates the many blessings given during the holidays with the theme “Gifts of the Season.” Orlando Health returns as the platinum presenting sponsor.

Strolling through the museum gallery, guests will be transported to a time of old-fashioned holiday gatherings. Elegance will be on full display while guests truly embrace the reason for the season. Gifts of the Season celebrates the gifts of time, talent, and heart from the Central Florida community.

“The Festival of Trees not only brings holiday spirit and joy to the community but also ultimately supports the arts and art education at OMA,” said Linda Cegelis, president of Council of 101. “So, to bring timeless elegance and holiday tradition while supporting the arts is truly a joy for the Council of 101.”

During the Festival of Trees, visitors can see more than 50 designer-inspired decorated trees, all available for purchase, exceptional gingerbread houses, wreaths, and more.

Festival of Trees 2022

In addition, there will be a holiday shopping experience, pop-up shops, and live entertainment.

A variety of special events, including an Opening Night Gala and Tree Lighting, Breakfast with Santa, and a children’s Reindeer Romp party, will add a special holiday touch to this year’s Festival of Trees.

Events presented by Council of 101, including the Festival of Trees, have raised more than $13 million over the years, benefiting the Orlando Museum of Art’s educational and lifelong learning programs. 

These programs reach deep into the community by helping people from different walks of life, ages, and income groups.

Tickets will go on sale on October 1 via Eventbrite. For more information, visit councilof101.org.

2022 Festival of Trees: Gifts of the Season

10 a.m. to 5 p.m. – General Admission HoursSaturday, November 12 to Sunday, November 20
Ticket prices:

  • Adults—$20
  • Children (3-12)—$12
  • Seniors (60+)—$12
  • Military Personnel and First Responders (with valid ID)—$12

Special events are priced separately. Please see our events calendar for more information. Parking is $7. Advanced ticket purchases are encouraged and will be available on October 1 Eventbrite and via councilof101.org.

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Give Kids The World’s Night of a Million Lights 2022

Give Kids The World’s Night of a Million Lights 2022

Give Kids The World’s Night of a Million Lights is back for its third year in a spectacular new venue – with more pizzazz, sparkle, and excitement than ever before!!!

From November 11, 2022, through January 1, 2023, Island H2O Water Park in Kissimmee, FL, will be transformed into a dazzling winter wonderland featuring millions of lights, luminous displays, festive family activities, and live entertainment for a one-of-a-kind, fully immersive holiday experience.

“It’s an honor to help Give Kids The World deliver happiness and hope to critically ill children and their families by hosting Central Florida’s most popular new holiday tradition at Island H2O Water Park,” said Island H2O General Manager Jim Kunau.  “We invite the entire community to join us at Night of a Million Lights at Island H2O for 52 nights of family fun, live performances, delicious food and holiday cheer, while helping to make wishes come true for families in our community and around the world.”

Nightly entertainment will include Dueling Pianos, Jingle and Jangle performances, and strolling a cappella group Santa’s Dancing Reindeer, with DJ Jack Frost Ice Block Party leading an interactive holiday hits dance party.

Give Kids The World’s Night of a Million Lights 2022

Tickets are on sale now at www.gktw.org/lights/, enabling guests to stroll throughout the property to view the lights; watch an all-new dancing lights show on a five-story waterslide; visit an interactive children’s holiday activities space; interact with strolling performers; explore themed lightscapes, and create priceless holiday memories during visits with Santa…all for a wonderful cause. 

Proceeds from Night of a Million Lights at Island H2O will again benefit Give Kids The World Village, an 89-acre, the whimsical nonprofit resort that provides critically ill children and their families from around the world with magical week-long wish vacations at no cost.

Give Kids The World’s Night of a Million Lights 2022

Discounts are available for groups of 25 or more and Island H2O Water Park season pass holders. VIP experiences, sponsorships, and volunteer opportunities are also available.

Previously held on-site at Give Kids The World Village, Night of a Million Lights has been relocated this year to accommodate the influx of wish families to the Village – elevating the resort to pre-COVID occupancy levels.

“It has been a privilege to welcome in the public for a glimpse into our storybook Village during the holidays the past two years. However, in order to preserve the life-changing experience we provide to wish families as increased numbers of guests are able to visit, we have made the decision to move Night of a Million Lights off-site – and truly appreciate Island H2O Water Park’s generosity, hospitality and support,” said Give Kids The World President & CEO Pamela Landwirth. “We look forward to joining with Island H2O, sponsors, volunteers and community members to celebrate the season of joy and giving while making an immeasurable impact on the families we serve.”

Island H2O Water Park is located at 3230 Inspiration Drive, Kissimmee, FL 34747. For information about Night of a Million Lights sponsorships, volunteer engagement, or vendor opportunities, visit www.gktw.org/lights.

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Rock the Universe 2023 Announced

Rock the Universe 2023

Rock the Universe at the Universal Orlando Resort is back for its 25th year, January 27-29, 2023.

The rocking weekend kicks off Friday night with performances by GRAMMY-nominated rock band, Skillet, Northern Irish folk-rock worship band Rend Collective, Dove award-winning band Bethel Music and more. The festival continues Saturday night with performances by GRAMMY award-winning singer Zach Williams, Billboard’s #1 Hot Christian Song artist Matthew West, and more.

Rock the Universe 2023
Zach Williams

Beyond the main stage performances, Rock the Universe attendees can rejoice in worship experiences throughout the weekend – including a powerful Sunday morning service to wrap up the faith-filled weekend.

Fans can keep the music flowing in the dedicated FanZone presented by Coca-Cola, featuring live performances from up-and-coming acts like DJ Promote and autograph sessions with participating musical acts.

Tickets also include access to Universal Studios Florida’s most thrilling attractions during the event.

Universal Orlando Resort Mardi Gras 2020 -
Universal Orlando Resort

Fans can take a break from the music and experience rides like Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit, Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts, Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon, Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem, and Revenge of the Mummy.

rock the universe universal Orlando 2019 - Candlelight
Photo: Universal Orlando Resort

Rock the Universe Event Tickets and Group Vacation Packages

Tickets to Florida’s biggest Christian music festival include admission to spiritual performances and exclusive access to popular Universal Studios Florida attractions during event hours.

Starting at $135 per person, a Rock the Universe 3-park Rock Your Weekend Ticket includes entrance to both Rock the Universe events, plus three days of admission to one theme park per day at Universal Studios Florida, Universal’s Islands of Adventure, and Universal’s Volcano Bay.

The event supports youth group ministries and offers special pricing, exclusive vacation packages, benefits, and opportunities for groups of 10 people or more.

The Rock the Universe 3-park Rock Your Weekend Ticket for groups starts at $124.

Groups who stay at one of Universal Orlando’s hotels will receive exclusive perks, such as Early Park Admission with valid theme park admission, complimentary shuttle transportation to Universal Orlando’s theme parks and Universal CityWalk, and more.

To purchase Rock the Universe tickets and vacation packages, visit www.RocktheUniverse.com.

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Central Florida Zoo Hosts Asian Lantern Festival

On the Go in MCO Light up the Holidays

One of the most anticipated and beloved holiday events of 2021 is back for another year of magic at the Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens. 

The Zoo today announced that the dazzling displays of Asian Lantern Festival: Into the Wild will return on select nights from November 18, 2022, to January 15, 2023. And this year, a new name will be up in the light. Publix has been announced as the festival’s presenting sponsor.

Central Florida Zoo Asian Lantern Festival: Into the Wild Holidays

“This is a cornerstone event for us at the Central Florida Zoo,” said CEO Richard E. Glover, Jr. “It’s dazzling, fun and educational. It’s a true community event, and partnering with Publix just made sense. We’re excited to have them and thrilled to offer those in Central Florida the opportunity to enjoy this spectacular event again.”

The festival features dozens of larger-than-life, hand-crafted lanterns that are lit by thousands of LED lights, resulting in a gorgeous display of color, light, and sound that celebrates traditional Asian lantern festivals. 

Central Florida Zoo Asian Lantern Festival: Into the Wild Holidays

The lanterns are situated on a 3/4-mile loop around the Zoo, providing a truly unique take on a holiday lights show that will leave attendees clamoring to come back again and again with friends and family. 

This is the third year for the festival, which started in 2019 and was not held in 2020. Last year, almost all nights of the event hit capacity. Nearly all of the lanterns will be new to the festival this year, so past attendees will have plenty to capture their senses.

Central Florida Zoo Asian Lantern Festival: Into the Wild Holidays

This is the first year Publix is sponsoring the event.

“We are proud to be the presenting sponsor of the Asian Lantern Festival: Into the Wild Series coming to the Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens,” said Hannah Herring, Publix media relations manager. “At Publix, we have a history of caring for our customers, associates and communities. We are excited to sponsor an event for the entire family to enjoy this holiday season.”   

The festival is presented in partnership with Tianyu Arts & Culture, Inc. For more information about the Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens, visit www.centralfloridazoo.org.

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EPCOT – 40 Years of Innovation

Onthego In the Parks Epcot

What better way to celebrate the upcoming 40th anniversary of EPCOT, my favorite park, than by looking back at the park’s milestones over the years!!!

On October 1, 1982, Walt Disney World Resort invited guests to imagine what life would be like in the 21st century with the opening of the EPCOT Center.

This first-of-its-kind theme park focused on showcasing ideas and technologies the world had never seen before. 

May EPCOT Center entertain, inform and inspire and, above all, may it instill a new sense of belief and pride in man’s ability to shape a world that offers hope to people everywhere.” – Official Dedication, October 24, 1982 

With the sentiment above, Disney Chairman and CEO Card Walker carried on Walt Disney’s legacy at the park’s official dedication. A month-long celebration introduced the park’s five Future World pavilions and nine World Showcase pavilions to guests from around the world.

The formal grand opening was held over three days, with the theme park’s official dedication taking place on Oct. 24, 1982. 

On Oct. 1, 1982, EPCOT officially opened at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Disney)

Now known as EPCOT, the park inspires curiosity, imagination, and wonder through its international festivals, innovative attractions, and cultural experiences. 

EPCOT Transformation Map with Neighborhoods

Home to four unified neighborhoods – World Celebration, World Nature, World Discovery, and World Showcase – the park continues to evolve with the biggest transformation in its history underway.

As Walt Disney once said, EPCOT will “always be in a state of becoming,” and the park is set to enter its next 40 years with all-new ways for guests to experience the magic of possibility.  

Here’s a look at some of the milestones in the 40-year history of EPCOT: 

Walt and Roy announce EPCOT

1965 

  • November 15 – Walt Disney and his brother Roy publicly announce plans for Walt Disney World Resort in a press conference held in downtown Orlando, Fla. 
Walt Disney EPCOT Film

1966 

  • October 27 – Walt Disney records a film outlining plans for the Florida Project, including details for Walt Disney World Resort and the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow (EPCOT). 
Card Walker EPCOT  International Chamber of Commerce

1978 

  • Card Walker, President, and CEO of Walt Disney Productions announces plans for EPCOT at the International Chamber of Commerce and presents concepts to President Jimmy Carter, the ICC’s keynote speaker. 
In 1981, construction on EPCOT continued at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The new theme park officially opened on Oct. 1, 1982. (Disney)

1979 

  • October 1 – After years of planning, construction begins on EPCOT. 
On Oct. 1, 1982, EPCOT officially opened at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Disney)

1982   

  • September 24 – Walt Disney World Cast Members and their families and friends are among the first to experience the new theme park before it opens to the public. Special preview days give Cast Members a sense of pride and help ensure the park is ready for guests.  
  • October 1 – EPCOT opens with five Future World pavilions – Spaceship Earth, Universe of Energy, World of Motion, Journey Into Imagination, and The Land – and nine World Showcase pavilions representing Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, United Kingdom, and the United States. 
  • “Carnival de Lumiere” debuts as the theme park’s first nightly fireworks show, replaced in 1983 with “A New World Fantasy” and in 1984 by “Laserphonic Fantasy.” 
  • October 24 – EPCOT is officially dedicated by Card Walker, Chairman, and CEO of Walt Disney Productions. 
  • A new four-mile extension of the Walt Disney World Monorail System opens, extending from the Ticket and Transportation Center to EPCOT. 
Horizons Opening
D23

1983   

  • October 1 – On the park’s one-year anniversary, Horizons (now MISSION: Space) makes its debut in Future World. Featuring a first-of-its-kind ride system, the attraction gives guests a glimpse of what life might be like in the future. 
  • March 5 – The ride-through attraction Journey into Imagination (now Journey into Imagination with Figment) opens. 

1984  

  • September 7 – EPCOT World Showcase expands with the opening of the Morocco pavilion. 
  • June 3 – The France pavilion in World Showcase opens its second signature restaurant, Bistro de Paris. 
EPCOT Nine Dragons Restaurant

1985 

  • September 24 – Lotus Blossom Café opens, the first of two new restaurants in the China pavilion.
  • October 23 – The China pavilion’s table-service restaurant Nine Dragons Restaurant begins serving guests.  
Mickey Mouse scuba dives at The Living Seas in 1986 at EPCOT at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Disney)

1986   

  • January 15 – The Living Seas (now The Seas with Nemo & Friends) opens. The pavilion’s centerpiece is a 5.7-million-gallon aquarium – the world’s largest at the time – home to more than 200 species of marine life.
EPCOT Daredevil Circus Spectacular

1987 

  • The EPCOT Daredevil Circus Spectacular opens in Future World. “The Greatest Show in Space” featured a variety of daredevil circus acts performed in and above the CommuniCore area of the park. 
Norway Pavilion Epcot Opens

1988  

  • January 30 – “IllumiNations,” a new nighttime spectacular, premieres. The new show incorporated the World Showcase pavilions with rim lighting and special projection effects for the first time. 
  • June 3 – World Showcase expands with the opening of theNorway pavilion that introduces Maelstrom, where guests board Viking boats to discover the country’s natural beauty, traditions, and modern cities. 
wonders of life

1989 

  • October 19 – Wonders of Life pavilion opens in Future World. Beneath a giant gold dome, three humorous attractions offer a fun look at health and fitness. The pavilion includes state-of-the-art, hands-on activities, live comedy shows, and a fast-casual restaurant. 
Yacht Club
Yacht Club Gazebo

1990 

  • November – The first phase of the EPCOT Resort Area opens with the debut of Disney’s Yacht Club Resort (November 5) and Disney’s Beach Club Resort (November 19). The following year brings Walt Disney World Swan Hotel (January 13) and the Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel (June 4). All within walking distance of the theme park, the collection of resorts significantly expands lodging and convention options. 
Topiaries celebrate the EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival in 1997 at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Disney)

1994   

  • April 29 – The inaugural EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival debuts. 
  • July 1 – Innoventions pavilion replaces Communicore, featuring interactive exhibits and demonstrations of emerging technologies. 
  • November 21 – “Honey, I Shrunk the Audience,” a lively interactive 3-D adventure, opens in the Journey Into Imagination pavilion.
  • November 25 – The Candlelight Processional moves to EPCOT from Magic Kingdom, where it had been presented since 1971. With the move to America Gardens Theater, the show was able to expand to multiple nightly performances throughout the holiday season. 
ellen's energy adventure epcot

1995   

  • January 21 – “Circle of Life: An Environmental Fable” debuts in The Land. The 20-minute, 70mm film features Simba, Timon, and Pumba in a story about the importance of respect for the natural environment. 
  • September 15 – Ellen’s Energy Adventure debuts, bringing a new storyline and humor to what was previously Universe of Energy.  
1996 EPCOT Food and Wine Festival

1996   

  • Sept. 28 – The first annual EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival makes its debut. 
Alain Boniec, Photographer

1999 

  • March 17 – Test Track opens in Future World. The park’s first thrill attraction takes guests on exhilarating twists and turns in a test vehicle. 
  • October 1 – TheMillennium Celebration begins at EPCOT. The 15-month event marks the debut of the popular nighttime spectacular, “IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth,” which will run for 20 years. Also new is Millennium Village – celebrating the cultural achievements of 25 countries – and the Tapestry of Nations parade. The celebration also brings pin trading to the forefront for Disney collectors everywhere. 
The Art of Disney Store Epcot

2000 

  • October 1 – The Art of Disney shop opens in Future World, selling Disney artwork, prints, and other collectibles. 
Mission Space Epcot

2003  

  • August 15 – Mission: SPACE opens in Future World. The attraction takes guests on a simulated training spaceflight to Mars. 
Turtle Talk with Crush Epcot

2004   

  • November 16 – Turtle Talk with Crush opens in The Living Seas. The first-of-its-kind attraction enables Crush from Disney-Pixar’s “Finding Nemo” to talk with guests as he learns about humans and shares his stories of life in the ocean. 
Soarin Over California Epcot

2005   

  • May 5 – Soarin’ opens in The Land pavilion, taking guests on a breathtaking aerial adventure over iconic California locations. 
The Seas with Nemo and Friends EPCOT

2006  

  • October 1 – “The Year of a Million Dreams” begins. Across EPCOT and the other Walt Disney World theme parks, Dream Squads surprise thousands of guests with an array of prizes, from special attraction access and merchandise to Disney vacations. 
  • November 26 – The Living Seas pavilion is transformed to become The Seas with Nemo and Friends pavilion. Its official dedication will take place on January 24, 2007. 
gran fiesta tour epcot

2007 

  • April 6 – Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros opens inside the Mexico pavilion. A reimagining of the pavilion’s opening-day boat ride, El Río del Tiempo (River of Time), the updated attraction features Donald Duck, José Carioca, and Pistoles Panchito from Walt Disney’s 1942 film “Saludos Amigos.” 
  • April 25 – The Project Tomorrow: Inventing the Wonders of the Future exhibit opens at Spaceship Earth. The series of exhibits showcase advances in medicine, technology, and energy management. 
  • Oct. 1 – The 25th anniversary of EPCOT is marked by a rededication ceremony and a gallery showcasing memorabilia from the park’s history. 
Spaceship Earth 2008 EPCOT wand

2008  

  • February 15 – Spaceship Earth reopens with an expanded storyline after extensive renovations. The new narration follows the history of human innovation from prehistoric times to the 21st century. 
Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure epcot

2009  

  • January 28 – Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure interactive attraction opens. Guests transform into secret agents as part of Team Possible to save the world via the Disney Play! App on mobile devices. The scavenger hunt-style experience interacted with seven World Showcase pavilions. 
House of Good Fortune EPCOT

2011 

  • April 4 – House of Good Fortune merchandise location opens in the China pavilion. The new shop sells authentic Chinese merchandise. 
Test Track EPCOT

2012 

  • June 23 – Phineas & Ferb: Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure opens, replacing Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure. The new quest takes guests on an adventure with Agent P to solve clues and thwart Dr. Doofenshmirtz’s evil plots. 
  • December 6 – Test Track – Presented by Chevrolet, re-opens. The re-imagined attraction allows guests to design their own vehicles before setting off on a thrilling test drive. 
EPCOT L’Artisan des Glaces Ice Cream shop

2013 

  • May 30 – L’Artisan des Glaces Ice Cream shop opens in the France pavilion. The shop makes its own ice cream. 
Spice Road Table EPCOT

2014 

  • January 20 – Spice Road Table opens in the Morocco pavilion. Inspired by the outdoor cafés throughout the Mediterranean, the restaurant serves small plates, specialty wines, and aperitifs from the region. 
Frozen Ever After EPCOT 40
Frozen Ever After

2016 

  • June 17 – Soarin’ Around the World debuts in The Land pavilion. The reimagined attraction takes guests on a flight above many of the world’s natural and man-made wonders. 
  • June 21 – Frozen Ever After opens in the Norway pavilion, replacing Maelstrom. The attraction takes guests on a boat ride through the kingdom of Arendelle. Along with the ride-through attraction, Royal Sommerhus opens, allowing Queen Elsa and Princess Anna to meet with guests inside a charming cabin. 
  • New holiday experiences are found across the theme park as part of what’s now the EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays. 
November 2018 Theme Park Events - Epcot International Festival of the Holidays Christmas 2019 Walt Disney World Holidays 2019 Christmas in July

2018 

  • January 12 – The EPCOT International Festival of the Arts debuts, expanding the park’s festival offerings to all four seasons. 

2019 

  • August 25 – The historic multi-year transformation of EPCOT is announced at D23 Expo 2019. 
  • October 1 – “EPCOT Forever” nighttime spectacular debuts at World Showcase Lagoon, replacing “Illuminations: Reflections of Earth.” 
  • October 1 – Walt Disney Imagineering presents the EPCOT Experience opens, offering a preview of attractions coming as part of the theme park’s multiyear transformation. 
  • July 5 – Takumi-Tei opens in the Japan pavilion. The signature dining table-service restaurant specializes in wagyu beef, sushi, and signature cocktails. 
2019 D23 Epcot Announcement New in 2020

2020 

  • January 17 – Three new films debut around World Showcase. “Awesome Planet” debuts in the Harvest Theater inside The Land pavilion. The new film showcases the beauty and diversity of our planet. “Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along” premieres in Palais du Cinema inside the France pavilion. The new film offers a new twist on the classic Disney movie. “Canada Far and Wide in Circle-Vision 360” debuts at the Canada pavilion, updating the O Canada! Circle-Vision 360 film. 
  • February 19 – Regal Eagle Smokehouse: Craft Drafts and Barbecue opens at The American Adventure pavilion. The fast-casual restaurant serves classic American backyard barbecue and home-style craft brews. 
  • December 22 – A transformation of the main entrance is completed with the unveiling of a new fountain, inspired by one that originally debuted with the theme park’s 1982 opening. 
Walt Disney World News Roundup September 2021

2021 

  • September 15 – Creations Shop opens in World Celebration. The new flagship store features unique merchandise dedicated to EPCOT and other Walt Disney World collectibles. 
  • September 20 – Space 220 opens in the Mission: SPACE pavilion. The new restaurant gives guests the chance to enjoy a meal among the stars after a simulated flight 220 miles above the Earth’s surface. 
  • October 1 – Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary celebration begins with new experiences across all four theme parks. In honor of the celebration, Spaceship Earth transforms into a spectacular Beacon of Magic at night, illuminating the skies with brilliant colors. As part of the park transformation, three new neighborhoods – World Celebration, World Discovery and World Nature – join World Showcase as the geographic areas that make up EPCOT. 
  • October 1 – The expanded France pavilion opens with Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, a new ride-through 4D experience inspired by Disney-Pixar’s “Ratatouille.” A new restaurant, La Crêperie de Paris, offers guests a delicious taste of French cuisine.  
  • October 1 – “Harmonious,” a new nighttime spectacular, debuts with the 50th Anniversary celebration. The show celebrates how Disney music inspires people worldwide and features a culturally diverse soundtrack coordinated with spectacular visuals and fireworks. 

2022 

  • April 27 – Connections Café and Eatery opens in World Celebration, offering guests a new selection of internationally-inspired cuisine. 
  • May 27 – Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind opens in the Wonders of Xandar pavilion. The family thrill coaster features myriad firsts, including the first-ever reverse launch on a Disney coaster and ride vehicles that rotate 360 degrees. It’s also one of the world’s largest fully enclosed coasters. 
  • October 1 – Walt Disney World Resort celebrates the 40th anniversary of EPCOT as the park continues its multi-year transformation. 
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EPCOT 40 Event Foodie Guide

EPCOT 40 Foodie Guide

For select days around the October 1st anniversary, EPCOT 40 treats will be available at select locations to honor the park’s 40 years of fun and flavors!

Since opening in 1982, the park has allowed guests who have passed through its gates to get a glimpse into the future, travel the world while experiencing different cultures, and take their taste buds on a journey through delicious food festivals. The possibilities have been endless and will continue to be with the exciting plans that lie ahead in the future of this iconic theme park.

From the EPCOT 40th Liege Waffle at the recently opened Connections Café to the Figment Sponge Cake at Sunshine Seasons, and the Dan Dan Noodles at Nine Dragons Restaurant, there is something for everyone to get a taste of the celebrations. 

EPCOT 40 – Foodie Guide

EPCOT 40 Foodie Guide

Connections Café (Available Sept. 29 through Oct. 3)

  • EPCOT 40th Liege Waffle: Brioche dough with pearl sugar

Choza de Margarita (Available beginning Sept. 30 while supplies last) 

  • 40th Fiesta: Celebrate the colors for the anniversary of EPCOT with this frozen margarita in a “MEXICO 40” souvenir cup
EPCOT 40 Foodie Guide

Funnel Cake (Available Oct. 1 and 2) 

  • Celebration Funnel Cake with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, sprinkles, and 40th candies

Garden House (Available Sept. 29 through Oct. 3) 

  • Sake Cocktail Flight featuring Samurai, Mt. Fuji, Tokyo Sunset, and Violet Sake
EPCOT 40 Foodie Guide

La Hacienda de San Angel and San Angel Inn (Available beginning Sept. 30 while supplies last)

  • Flan: Vanilla custard topped with blueberries, whipped cream, and a “MEXICO 40” white chocolate garnish
  • Clarified Margarita: Tequila, orange liqueur, lemon, and simple syrup in a “MEXICO 40” souvenir cup with glow cube
EPCOT 40 Foodie Guide

Nine Dragons Restaurant (Available Sept. 29 through Oct. 3) 

  • Dan Dan Noodles: Spicy pork with Sichuan sauce, peanut butter, sesame, shredded cucumber, and green onion

Space 220 Restaurant (Available Sept. 29 through Oct. 3) Crema Catalana: Vanilla cream custard, lemon snow, citrus segments, and spicy ginger crumble

EPCOT 40 Foodie Guide

Sunshine Seasons (Available Sept. 29 through Oct. 3)

  • Figment Sponge Cake with honey-lime mousse

Teppan Edo (Available Sept. 29 through Oct. 3) 

  • EPCOT 40th Saketini: The saketini was on the menu when the Japan Pavilion first opened. This version combines sake and butterfly pea flower to create the color reminiscent of the night sky of EPCOT
EPCOT 40 Foodie Guide

Tokyo Dining (Available Sept. 29 through Oct. 3) 

  • EPCOT 40th Kaisen Chirashi Don: Celebration sushi bowl 
  • EPCOT 40th Saketini: The saketini was on the menu when the Japan Pavilion first opened. This version combines sake and butterfly pea flower to create the color reminiscent of the night sky of EPCOT

(Note: All offerings are subject to change and availability.) 

I can’ wait to celebrate EPCOT 40 with these tasty bites, treats, and beverages!

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Old Town Hosts 17th Annual Vette Fest

Old Town 17th Annual Vette Fest October 2022

Old Town in Kissimmee is revving its engine for Vette Fest on October 1, featuring more than 350 classic and new corvettes. 

Registration for participating cars starts at 10 am. The corvette-only car cruise through Main Street begins at 3 p.m. 

“No one does as many specialty car enthusiast events as Old Town,” said Thearon Scurlock, Vice President and General Manager of Old Town.  “Our guests absolutely love our signature car events, from our Saturday Nite Classic Car Cruise to our Muscle Car and Exotic Car events and now again for our 17th year, our signature Vette Fest.”

Old Town 17th Annual Vette Fest October 2022

Exclusive Vette Fest T-shirts will be on sale for $15. 

If you have not had the chance to visit Old Town or it has been a while since your last visit…let’s take a quick walk down memory lane!

Old Town 17th Annual Vette Fest October 2022

Built in 1986, Old Town is the recreation of a classic Florida town at the turn of the century featuring historical architecture and distinctive storefronts. 

Located on U.S. 192 in Kissimmee, Old Town boasts over 60 unique shops, themed restaurants and bars, rides, weekly car shows, and family-friendly attractions. 

And for 32 of its 34 years, the Saturday Nite Classic Car Show and Cruise fill the entertainment district with dream cars from all eras.

Old Town 17th Annual Vette Fest October 2022

Old Town has been a favorite destination for locals and tourists looking for the simple pleasures of classic American fun. 

Learn more at www.myoldtownusa.com. 

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Dezerland Action Park Orlando hosts Oktoberfest Fun

Dezerland Action Park Orlando

Dezerland Action Park Orlando is kicking off the fall season with a family-friendly Oktoberfest celebration.

During regular park hours from September 30 to October 30, Dezerland will serve traditional German dishes and Samuel Adams’ seasonal offerings from custom Volkswagen buses.

Dezerland Park Orlando

Guests can choose from mouthwatering options such as a one-pound Bavarian pretzel, German-style roasted chicken, or bratwurst – a quarter-pound German sausage cooked in beer and onions served with German potato salad or mac & cheese.

Dezerland’s Oktoberfest celebration will feature Samuel Adams. The company’s fan-favorite Oktoberfest draft beer will be available for $7 for a 16 oz pour. 

Dezerland’s Orlando Auto Museum will display vehicles from one of the world’s largest Volkswagen collections.

Dezerland Park Orlando

To continue the festive spirit, guests can explore the extensive display of Volkswagens along with more than 2,000 movie, celebrity, military and historical vehicles. Every ticket purchased for the Orlando Auto Museum during the Oktoberfest weekend comes with a free, warm German-style pretzel.

With over 850,000 square feet of entertainment space, Dezerland Action Park Orlando is filled with excitement for you to uncover.

Dezerland Park Orlando

The park features countless attractions, including the 007 Bar (adjacent to the world’s largest collection of James Bond vehicles and memorabilia), indoor go-karting, bowling, a trampoline park, axe throwing, arcade games, and 4D motion simulators. Admission and parking are always free.

To learn more, visit https://dezerlandpark.com.

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Vampirates Take Over Pirates Dinner Adventure

Vampirates Pirates Dinner Adventure Halloween 2022

Vampirates have arrived uninvited at Treasure Bay’s annual Halloween Ball – it’s up to you to save the day!

On select nights from September 20 through October 29, Pirates Dinner Adventure will host Vampirates, a Halloween-themed dinner show that’s guaranteed to provide spooky fun for the whole family.

Vampirates Pirates Dinner Adventure Halloween 2022

You and your family are cordially invited to the annual Halloween Ball, a gala filled with celebration, games, songs, and fun. But beware! Danger lurks just outside the safety of Treasure Bay. A ruthless crew of Vampirates, led by the dark soul of Captain Sebastian the Black, have set sail with one thing on their mind – the Solzana’s Eye.

This necklace possesses magical powers beyond imagination, and in the hands of Captain Sebastian the Black will allow him to escape the curse of the night to sail the seas during the day, creating more destruction and spreading fear. The only way to defeat the Vampirates and bring peace back to Treasure Bay is with your help.

“Pirates Dinner Adventure is very excited to bring back our special Halloween show to families from all over Central Florida and guests visiting Orlando this season,” said Amber Valois, sales and marketing manager for the attraction. “There’s no better way to celebrate this haunting holiday than to defeat a crew of evil Vampirates!”

During the post-show Buccaneer Bash, Pirates Dinner Adventure will be offering trick-or-treating at each Vampirates show.

Vampirates Pirates Dinner Adventure Halloween 2022

Pirates Dinner Adventure has partnered with American Ghost Tours, a local ghost hunting and paranormal investigation group, to create the ultimate Halloween experience.

Guests who purchase the upgrade can stay after the show to use paranormal investigation equipment and communicate with spirits who may be in the building. The upgrade is available September 27 and October 11, starting after the show.

Vampirates Pirates Dinner Adventure Halloween 2022

Vampirates general admission includes a three-course dinner with unlimited soft drinks. Ticket prices for the Halloween special are $67.95 for adults and $41.95 for children three to 10. Kids two and under are free. The show runs on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. Parental discretion is advised. To reserve your seats, call 407-206-5102 or click here.

To learn more about Pirates Dinner Adventure, visit https://piratesdinneradventure.com/orlando

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ICON Park Hosts Oktoberfest 2022

ICON Park Oktoberfest 2022

ICON Park is hosting their first Oktoberfest celebration, and you’ll want to bring your favorite stein and best lederhosen!

Aligning itself with the famous Oktoberfest festival held each year in Munich, Germany, ICON Park will offer special beer, food, and entertainment on Fridays from 5 to 10 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from 2 to 10 p.m. starting September 16 through October 2.

This celebration will be the perfect opportunity for families to spend time together while enjoying traditional experiences.

Throughout the celebration, guests can get their fill of delicious German beers. Beer flights featuring four seasonal brews will be available at The Lawn Bar for $16. If you’re looking for a nice souvenir, a commemorative 32 oz glass stein filled to the brim with your favorite selection can be purchased for $22.

Guests can even take a flight on their flight of The Wheel! A seasonal selection cooler will be offered at the Sky Bar before boarding.

The brews will pair perfectly with the traditional German dishes ICON Park is offering at The Lawn. Choose from Bratwurst and Sauerkraut, Chicken Schnitzel, Pretzels with Beer Cheese and, of course, Apple Strudel.

ICON Park Oktoberfest 2022

For the purists, ICON Park will have the authentic Bavarian Music of Stammtischler – from the Oom Pah sound of polka and waltzes to traditional landlers and boarischers. Kids will love watching the performers play the Bavarian button accordion with the tenor horn, wooden spoons, and the Alphorn. Whether you’re dancing the night away or just enjoying the sound of real alpine music, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to Munich.

ICON Park is at the center of the new Orlando Entertainment District. Conveniently located near I-4, Florida’s Turnpike, and the Beachline, this premiere entertainment destination is easy to access and offers free parking for any Central Florida resident or Orlando tourist.

To learn more about ICON Park, visit https://iconparkorlando.com.

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Dark Arts in The Wizarding World

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade at Universal’s Islands of Adventure will be taken over by the Dark Arts this fall.

Dark Arts at Hogwarts Castle Returns to Universal Orlando Resort Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Guests can experience the return of Death Eaters and the breathtaking experience of “Dark Arts at Hogwarts Castle” – a sinister spectacle of state-of-the-art projection mapping, special effects, lighting, and more that brings awe-inspiring moments and creatures from the Harry Potter films to life on the majestic Hogwarts castle.

As darkness falls, an ominous presence will fill the land as the Dark Arts begin to take over the streets of Hogsmeade and cloak the stone walls of Hogwarts castle.

Death Eaters Dark Arts Hogwarts Castle Harry Potter Wizarding World of Harry Potter Universal's Islands of Adventure

Guests will come face-to-face with Death Eaters – devoted followers of Lord Voldemort known for their allegiance and practice of the Dark Arts – as they appear and eerily roam and lurk throughout Hogsmeade.

Then, guests will watch as “Dark Arts at Hogwarts Castle” unleashes the unspeakable creatures and sinister villains of the Wizarding World – including Dementors, Mountain Trolls, and even a visage of Lord Voldemort – on Hogwarts castle until a Patronus – the result of a powerful defense charm of concentrated happiness and hope – is produced.

Death Eaters Dark Arts Hogwarts Castle Harry Potter Wizarding World of Harry Potter Universal's Islands of Adventure

Guests can also shop new Dark Arts-themed merchandise featuring the Dark Mark during their visit to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, including mugs, hats, lanyards, tees – and even a Death Eater mask.

“Dark Arts at Hogwarts Castle” will run select nights from September 16 through October 31 from dusk until park close in Universal’s Islands of Adventure.

Dark Arts at Hogwarts Castle Returns to Universal Orlando Resort Wizarding World of Harry Potter

For more information about Universal Orlando Resort, visit www.universalorlando.com.

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