EPCOT FESTIVALS: RANKED BEST TO WORST

EPCOT FESTIVALS: RANKED BEST TO WORST

If you’re a fan of Disney World, you know all about the EPCOT festivals. Personally, one of my favorite things about WDW are the festivals at EPCOT. However, it seems like there is always a festival going on! One ends, and other begins. Although I think thats a bit much, all of the festivals are different in their own ways which make them each their own.

I thought it might be fun to dive deeper into the four festivals and rank them in order of best to worst. To rank them, I am going to take three things into consideration: (1) The time of year the festival is offered, (2) The offerings/unique things to do at the festival, and (3) My own personal interest. I would like to note that these are all solely based on my own personal opinion and your opinion might differ – and that’s okay!

I am going to rank them in order from best to worst. I will say that none of the four are bad, and I enjoy every single one! However, some festivals outshine others. Let’s get started!


1. EPCOT’S International Festival of the Holidays. 

This past holiday season was the first time I got to experience this festival and I was blown away. Literally, last year if you would have asked me which festival was my favorite, I would have answered Flower and Garden without a doubt. As we can see now, that opinion has changed drastically! Here are some reasons why this festival is the “best” on my list based on the three characteristics I outlined above.

  • Time of year. Christmas is my favorite holiday, so it is only right that I love the time of year this festival is offered. From the decor, to the theming, to just the overall vibe – it absolutely draws me in. The only downfall to this festival when considering the time of year is that if you go to the festival between the week of Christmas to the week after New Years – it is crazy packed.
  • Unique offerings. One of my favorite things at this festival ended up being the Candlelight Processional. If you are struggling to get into the Christmas spirit, watch this show (which is free with park admission!) and that will change quickly. Other than that, each country has story tellers to tell how their country celebrates the winter holidays, there are carolers, there are unique food and wine offerings – I could go on and on. Check out our excerpt to last year’s festival to learn more in this blog: HOLIDAY CELEBRATIONS IN WDW!
  • Personal interest. I already mentioned this above, but I am all about winter holiday’s. Given that there is a whole festival dedicated toward celebrating these holidays around the world? I was living.

2. EPCOT’S Flower and Garden Festival 

It was actually really hard to choose whether the #2 spot would be Flower and Garden or Food and Wine – they both hold a special place in my heart! There are three specific reasons why Flower and Garden took second place: It was the first EPCOT festival I had ever experienced, my fiancé and I visited the festival every year we have been dating, and it completely transforms the park with beauty! However, let’s dive in to some specifics with the three characteristics I mentioned above:

  • Time of year. When I wasn’t a local, coming to visit WDW in May was a guarantee every year. It isn’t too crowded and the weather is perfect. Being that Flower and Garden starts in March and runs through May, the festival has the luck of those two factors. Other than that, this festival happens in the midst of Spring, and seeing the vibrant flowers all around you, completely transforming the park, makes visiting this festival in EPCOT a must-do experience.
  • Unique offerings. Aside from the beautiful floral details literally everywhere, there are plenty of things to do and see at this festival. From admiring the topiaries to attending a concert as part of the Garden Rocks concert series, to venturing through a butterfly garden – the things that are available to do at this festival are never ending. This was another reason why this festival beat out Food and Wine for the number 2 spot – there is so much more to do! Unfortunately, I have yet to make a blog post about this festival, but it’s coming!
  • Personal interest. Honestly, the beauty of this festival encompasses me every time I experience it. The flower details and topiaries alone are enough to take your breath away! Especially when I’d come to visit from Ohio, it was just a beautiful sight to see.

3. EPCOT’S Food and Wine Festival

Although this is at the #3 spot, I absolutely LOVE this festival. It’s an entire festival dedicated to literal food and wine, and I’m Italian – what isn’t there to love!? However, this festival fell down to this spot based on the combination of unique offerings based on my personal preference. The aesthetic and decor that goes above and beyond for the International Festival of the Holidays and Flower and Garden also couldn’t be beat by this festival. However, Food and Wine still holds a very special place in my heart! Let’s break it down into the three main characteristics:

  • Time of year. This is another festival where the time of year makes it that much more enjoyable. The festival usually starts in August and runs through mid-November. A vast majority of this festival runs through another one of the slower seasons in WDW. This might change, however, considering Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opens August 29 and I am sure this will bring heavy crowds!
  • Unique offerings. Last year, there were plenty of things offered at this festival including Eat to the Beat concerts, cooking demonstrations, wine tastings, and more. I outlined the entire festival in a guide that can be found here: A GUIDE TO EPCOT’S INTERNATIONAL FOOD AND WINE FESTIVAL 2018. There are a ton of things to be done at this festival, all unique to the theme, but they are almost all things that can be done at places outside of the festival.
  • Personal interest. As I mentioned above – I’m Italian. Food and wine are two things that are very big in my family and I grew up with. It’s how you bond with friends, how you show love for your family, it was a huge part of our family culture. So, of course I’m always elated over an entire festival dedicated to those things! Like I mentioned, based on this sole reason itself, this festival will always hold a special place in my heart!

4. EPCOT’S Festival of the Art’s 

This year was also the first time I got to experience this festival. This festival is the newest offering of the four, and is obviously based all around the arts. I had fun, and there were a lot of unique offerings, however I really wasn’t as impressed as I am when I attend any of the other festivals! Let’s look at the characteristics outlined below:

  • Time of year. This festival happens basically right after International Festival of the Holiday’s ends. It’s colder in Florida, which makes it a lot more bearable to attend during the day, but it is also Disney’s racing season. Both time I attended this festival, it was packed with people who raced in one of the marathons! Also, unlike the top three festivals, this particular festival doesn’t happen in a time that necessarily reminds you of the arts – but when would that even be? In my opinion, it just seems like this was a festival Disney came up with to fill in some space during the year where there wasn’t a festival.
  • Unique offerings. There were some pretty cool offerings during this festival that we loved. Guests were able to watch Broadway-style performances, live painting performances, paint/graffiti part of a wall as part of an entire picture, purchase art, see living statues, and more. The theming was absolutely there and there was plenty of things to do, but nothing was offered, in my opinion, that was a can’t miss experience.
  • Personal interest.love art exhibits and museums. I would take heading to a museum or art exhibit any day over heading to a festival or party. However, this festival seemed more like artists selling their art and Disney selling their products than celebrating art itself. I was hoping to see a lot more art showcases than art on sale, and I just didn’t really have those experiences.

And there you have it, EPCOT’s festivals ranked best to worst! I will say, as I think I’ve said in this blog now several times, I do absolutely love all of these festivals. EPCOT is my favorite park, so of course I get very excited when there are different things to experience!

Thanks for reading! Do you agree with my rankings? How would you rank the festivals? Let me know in the comments below! Also, be sure to subscribe to the blog so you’re notified when I post next. Have a great week, see ya real soon 🙂

EPCOT’S CANDLELIGHT PROCESSIONAL: A REVIEW

EPCOT’S CANDLELIGHT PROCESSIONAL: A REVIEW

Last night, I finally had the chance to see EPCOT’s Candlelight Processional in person. This event, part of EPCOT’s International Festival of the Holidays, is held in the American pavilion in World Showcase. Alongside a mass choir, the Voices of Liberty, and a 50 piece orchestra, a celebrity narrator tells the story of Christmas.

This event is held daily during three showtimes: 5:00 p.m., 6:45 p.m., and 8:15 p.m. and is running through December 30th. To see the show, you don’t have to purchase a ticket, but to guarantee a seat you can reserve a dining package for breakfast, lunch, or dinner at several restaurants around EPCOT.

There have  been plenty of well known celebrity narrators this year, including Neil Patrick Harris and John Stamos, but I made it a point to experience my first Candlelight Processional narrated by the beautiful Auli’i Cravalho (also known as the voice actor of Moana).

For this review, I am going to focus on the dining package reservation vs. standby line, the narrator, and the overall experience. I’ll start by saying, however, that this is absolutely a must-do experience if you are on property or nearby when it is offered! I was blown away by the event itself, and I don’t think any words that I type will truly do it justice. But, let’s jump right in!

Dining Package Reservations vs. Standby Line

The Candlelight Processional is a free event with park  admission, however the standby line can get pretty insane – especially if the celebrity narrator is well known. As this was my first experience attending the event, I did plenty of research and found out that it was common for people to wait in the standby line for over three hours to grab a seat at one of the three showings.

One way to avoid the standby line and guarantee a seat, however, is to make a dining package reservation for the day of the event you’d like to see. There are several restaurants that offer the dining package, and have options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. However, the dining  packages can be expensive, reaching up to $70 per adult for a dinner.

I went back and forth between planning to wait in the standby line and just booking a reservation, but I decided [only a few hours before we left] that I didn’t want to chance not  being able to see Cravalho in person, since Moana is an absolute favorite of mine. I couldn’t find any available dinner reservations, but there were plenty of lunch reservations available and I ended up snagging  a 2:30 reservation at Garden Grill. The lunch included beverages, an appetizer, a family style meal, and dessert. Also included was a ticket for the 6:45 showing of the Candlelight Processional.

It ended up being a  good choice doing the dining package, because the standby line was seriously insane. Even the dining package line was crazy long, and we got there 45 minutes  before the event even started. We ended up finding out that they use the dining package to reserve 75% of the seating in the theater, leaving only 25% for standby guests.

So, long story short – as far as standby vs. dining  package, I would suggest the dining package if it is your first time seeing the event or if it is a celebrity narrator you just have to see. I definitely wouldn’t have paid for the dining package someone were  performing that I didn’t really care to see, but then again I don’t think I’d stand in a three hour line either!

Celebrity Narrator 

I mean… What can I say really?! Auli’i Cravalho is just as lively and spirited as Moana, and it really made the overall experience that much more magical. It was so obvious that she was honored to be there, so into the story, and absolutely loved the choir. You could see her mouthing and singing along to the songs with the chorus behind her, and she just seemed so moved and touched by the experience. I would absolutely go see her ten times over!

The Overall Experience 

I have to start out by saying that, in a country where there is so much fuss over “political correctness” and sensitivity, I am very surprised Disney puts on such a religious show. Between the story itself, the songs that accompanied it, and the overall story – it is a very Christian ceremony. That being said, I fear that one day (sooner, rather than later), someone somewhere will protest this event and it will be a thing of the past. I would absolutely recommend seeing it within the next upcoming years if it is a bucket list event.

Overall, it was truly a magical experience that really puts you in the holiday spirit. It was nice to be so immersed in a show that discussed the true reason for the season in such a beautiful way. The orchestra was outstanding, the choir was breathtaking, and the story was so beautifully told. It really has you step back from the hustle and bustle of the holiday itself and appreciate what this is all truly about.

All in all, like I said about three times above, this is a must-do experience if you’re on property for the holidays. The celebrity narrators are a nice touch, but really it’s all about the message and the beauty behind it all. Below, I’ll add a few clips of some of my favorite parts of the show (they’re poor quality, done on my iPhone – sorry in advance :)!

Thanks for reading today’s post! Be sure to subscribe to our blog to be notified of any new posts. Happy holidays, see ya real soon!

HOLIDAY CELEBRATIONS IN WDW!

HOLIDAY CELEBRATIONS IN WDW!

The holidays are a magical time – everyone is merry and bright, and you can really feel holiday cheer in the air. What better place to celebrate the holidays, however, than WDW?! Disney World does a fantastic job celebrating the holidays, and they have so many special offerings of events, attractions, and more.

Now that Thanksgiving is over and everyone is in the Christmas spirit, I thought I’d outline every offering on Disney property where you can enjoy some holiday magic! Since there is so much, I am going to (try) to keep the explanations at a minimum. However, be on the lookout from now to Christmas day, as I plan to review every holiday experience I encounter at WDW! There may even be a few extra blog posts than normal 😉 But for now, let’s get started!

Magic Kingdom

  • Mickeys Very Merry Christmas Party: For more details on this hard ticketed event, check out my blog post all about it: MICKEY’S VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS PARTY: A GUIDE
  • Jingle Cruise: WDW imagineers overlay the Jungle Cruise attraction with holiday themed elements including decorations, snowy scenery, and a few holiday puns.
  • A Frozen Holiday Wish and Castle Dream Lights: Offered nightly starting mid-November, watch Elsa transform Cinderella’s castle into an ice palace in this castle stage show!

Epcot 

  • International Festival of the Holidays: Another festival offered in EPCOT’S Word Showcase, but themed to the holidays. You can find special drinks and food offerings at 16 “holiday kitchens” around World Showcase as well as unique entertainment, merchandise, and a holiday themed scavenger hunt! Be on the lookout for a future blog post where I create a guide to this holiday event!
  • Candlelight Precessional: Offered during three showtimes every night between November 22 and December 30, this event is a can’t miss for the holiday season. Narrated by a celebrity guest, enjoy a large choir with a 50 piece orchestra telling the story of Christmas in a beautiful way. Some celebrity narrators include Neil Patrick Harris, John Stamos, and new to this year, the voice of Moana – Auli’I Cravalho!
  • Illuminations: Reflections of Earth Holiday Ending: Enjoy a special holiday ending to EPCOT’s nighttime spectacular, Illuminations.

Hollywood Studios

  • Flurry of Fun: The offerings at HS this year for the holidays are endless and beyond perfect! To read more about them in detail, including Seasons Greetings on Sunset Blvd and Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM!, check out the post I made all about it: HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS “FLURRY OF FUN”

Animal Kingdom

  • Diwali Holiday Festival of Lights: A celebration of Diwali, the holiday festival of lights in India, is being added into Up, A Great Bird Adventure starting November 8th and running through January 6.
  • Holiday Meet and Greet with Mickey and Minnie: Meet Minnie and Mickey dressed and ready for the holidays.

Disney Springs

  • Christmas Tree Trail: One of my favorite offerings on property, walk along a snowy trail of 27 Christmas trees, all decorated based on favorite Disney classics!
  • Stitch’s Holiday Gift Hunt: Children, and adults, can embark on this hunt to help Stitch find all of the Christmas gifts he’s lost around Disney Springs! Guests who complete the scavenger hunt will earn a special prize!
  • Santa’s Chalet: Meet Santa and give him your wishlist at this special meet and greet location!

Disney Resorts 

  • Sleigh Rides: Head over to Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campgrounds to embark on a 25 minute horse-drawn sleigh ride.
  • Gingerbread Displays: Visit any of the Deluxe resorts and you will find larger-than-life gingerbread displays! Some of my favorites this year include Cinderella’s Castle display at the Contemporary Resort and the Victorian-inspired life size gingerbread house at the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa.

On top of all of these unique offerings, you can expect to see pretty much every inch of the parks and resorts decked out in Christmas decorations. From large Christmas trees in resort lobbies and somewhere located in the parks, to garland and wreaths galore, WDW spares no expense to decorate in honor of the holidays. You can also expect to see your favorite characters in their holiday best as well as unique entertainment offerings at various places on property.

If you’re a shopper like me, the merchandise being offered this year is nothing short of excellent. Themed popcorn buckets, holiday MagicBands, pajamas, advent calendars, spirit jerseys, hats and Minnie ears are only a few vaguely described offerings you are likely to find. However, grab them quick, as the Halloween merchandise was all pretty much sold out before the holiday came itself!

Lastly, I have to mention the holiday treats. Everywhere you turn in the parks, there will be some unique treats themed to the holidays that look absolutely delicious. Most of them are also very photogenic, which I think is a thing that Disney is trying to do with their treats now. I’ve heard some good things and some bad things about the offerings this year, but nevertheless they’re always worth a try!

Thanks for reading! I hope this quick guide to the holiday offerings at WDW gave you some unique ideas for things to check out this holiday season! Be sure to like this post, and subscribe to my blog to be notified when I post next! Happy Holidays 🙂