What's happening this winter at Disney World and Orlando's other parks?

January 18, 2018, 2:31 PM · Yesterday, we previewed the special events that theme parks in Southern California are offering this winter to keep fans coming back between now and the start of spring break. Today, let's head out to the east coast and look at what's happening this winter at Walt Disney World and the other major theme parks in the Orlando area.

The first big festival of 2018 is underway already at Walt Disney World, where the Epcot International Festival of the Arts runs through February 19. The second annual event features the expected food and drink booths, along with art seminars and workshops, and a "Disney on Broadway" concert series running three times nightly on Fridays through Mondays at the America Gardens Theater.

Salmon Tartare
Salmon Tartare from the Epcot International Festival of the Arts. Photo courtesy Disney

After that wraps, Epcot's International Flower & Garden Festival starts February 28 and runs through May 28. Get ready for selfies-with-topiaries throughout the park, along with even more food stands to keep people hovering over trash cans to use as makeshift tables.

At the Wide World of Sports complex, Disney is welcoming the NFL Pro Bowl next week, with team practices and the NFL Pro Bowl Experience on January 24 through 27, leading up to the NFL's annual all-star game at Orlando's Camping World Stadium on January 28. (Fans who want to see the practices must register with the NFL's Fan Mobile Pass first.)

Over at Universal Orlando, the annual Celebration of Harry Potter starts one week from tomorrow, running January 26-28. This year's film talent for Universal's Potter Con include James Phelps [Fred Weasley], Oliver Phelps [George Weasley], Natalia Tena [Nymphadora Tonks], Bonnie Wright [Ginny Weasley], and Stanislav Yanevski [Viktor Krum]. (Here's last year's recap video from the park.)

Next month, Universal's Mardi Gras starts at Universal Studios Florida, running February 3 through April 7. Here's the concert line-up, which features Macklemore and Sean Paul. This year's event also will feature half a dozen new celestial-themed floats for the nightly (family-friendly) Mardi Gras parade.

Finally, SeaWorld Orlando kicks off its weekends-only Seven Seas Food Festival on February 17. The event features Asian, Latin, European, Polynesian and North Atlantic food and beverage marketplaces, as well as a concert series in the Bayside Stadium (artists TBA). The festival runs Saturdays and Sundays through April 15.

What's your favorite late-winter special event at the nation's theme parks?

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Replies (2)

January 19, 2018 at 6:51 AM · I'm curious if fans wanting to see practices and participate in the Pro-Bowl activities at Wild World of Sports if they have to use a "plus" option on their admission media or pay separate admission to enter the complex or if WWoS flings open its doors for free for NFL fans. With Disney Quest gone, those of us with ancient non-expiring admission media that came with "plus options" on them have very few opportunities to use them outside of the water parks and golf/mini-golf courses.
January 19, 2018 at 8:43 AM · The Festival of the Arts was a shock smash hit last year, and it's even better this year! The food booths are, in my view, superior to Food and Wine, featuring a much more snacking-friendly lineup and many more sweet items, including a stunningly good lineup of dessert wines. The artwork is terrific, varied, and reasonably priced if you work down to the prints. I find it way more enjoyable than Flower and Garden and we're thrilled that it's every day now, as we can go many times before it ends! Hopefully they extend Arts next year and shrink F&G.

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Top 10 Attendance

  1. Magic Kingdom
  2. Disneyland
  3. Tokyo Disneyland
  4. Universal Studios Japan
  5. Tokyo DisneySea
  6. Disney's Animal Kingdom
  7. Epcot
  8. Shanghai Disneyland
  9. Disney's Hollywood Studios
  10. Universal Studios Florida