Why Fall in Orlando?
Have you heard? We just passed the Halfway-to-Halloween mark, and if you’ve ever been to Disney during their fall festivities, you KNOW why this is a huge and exciting deal, and if you’ve never been to Orlando in the Fall, you’re about to learn what all the fuss is about!
Halfway-to-Halloween is also a big deal because it’s the point in the year at which Disney usually reveals details about the special parties and events for the Fall season, including Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, which makes its return this year after a two-year hiatus (and, right on cue, Disney has just released dates and specifics for the party, more on this later, don’t worry).
In addition, Universal Studios has its own Halloween events as well. Plus, with the two Harry Potter themed worlds, Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade, Halloween is the perfect time to visit given the witch and wizard infused theming.
For some people, especially those with summer on the brain as we finally head into warmer weather, thinking about fall, when temperatures will drop and days will get short again, may seem like the last thing you want to be planning for, but trust me, experiencing Orlando for the Fall season is worth your consideration (and the short amount of time it would take for you to call your Love of the Magic Travel Agent to set something up), and then you can dive right back into your summer mindset.
Here is your day to day guide to experiencing “All the Fall Things” in Orlando (the 9 days are designed to fall from Saturday to the following Sunday to align with event nights in Disney and Universal, but your LOTMV Travel Agent can shift to work with whatever days you want to travel):
Arrive at your Disney resort, and settle in to your room, maybe spotting a few hidden Mickeys along the way. Depending on the time of your arrival, and how early or late in the season you are, maybe take a dip in the pool to refresh yourself after your travels, and then head out to Disney Springs to kick off your foray into All the Fall Things.
Almost all the bake shops, including Disney’s Candy Cauldron & Goofy’s Candy Co., Gideon’s Bakehouse, The Ganachery, and many more, feature pumpkin and apple flavors in festive and spooky designs. Even some of the bars and restaurants offer themed drinks and dishes, including Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar, Morimoto Asia and Paddlefish, plus others, with more joining in the fun each year.
And of course, many stores with apparel, accessories, and/or home decor, including the World of Disney Store, carry special seasonal merchandise, most of which is newly designed each year, so be sure to check out all the latest offerings!
Even if you tasted your way through many of the sweet treats, you’ll need some sustenance after your travels and before your first day at the parks, and with the plethora of restaurants at Disney Springs, you’re sure to find your favorite type of cuisine for a delicious dinner (though reservations at most restaurants are strongly encouraged; your LOTMV Travel Agent can help you navigate the Disney dining experience).
There’s nothing like starting your Disney Park days with a view of Cinderella’s Castle and a jaunt down Main Street, U.S.A., which is why I usually opt for my first park day to be at Magic Kingdom, especially during the Fall season, when there are so many decorative touches to take in throughout the park.
Depending on your interests, you can take in the festive decorations as you make your way from ride to ride, or you can prioritize seeing characters dressed in their fall attire at parades and cavalcades (times are listed on the My Disney Experience App daily). Be sure to plan a ride through the Haunted Mansion, though, as Spooky Season wouldn’t be complete without one!
Of course, Fall themed treats and merch are available at the shops throughout Magic Kingdom as well, so if you didn’t fulfill your shopping fix at Disney Springs, there are plenty of opportunities to find whatever you’re looking for!
After a full park day, spend your evening at one of the many restaurants in Magic Kingdom, and stay to take in the new fireworks show, Enchantment. You can even decide to dine at one of the nearby resorts, and still have a spectacular view of the fireworks!
There is way more to Disney in the Fall besides decorations and seasonal merchandise; arguably the best part of all for some could be the International Food and Wine Festival at EPCOT. The festival, running this year from July 14th – November 19th, showcases an array of cuisines and beverages from over 25 Global Marketplaces throughout the park. Occasionally, some of the Marketplaces may feature some seasonal dishes with pumpkin or apple ingredients, but it’s more like a fun bonus when you find one, since most of the focus is on traditional dishes from different cultures.
The best way to get the most out of experiencing the Food and Wine Festival is to split a dish and a drink from each Marketplace (or as many as you can fit), so you get to taste more of the unique offerings. Just be sure to stay extra hydrated (especially if you’re sampling the alcoholic beverages), refilling your water bottle as often as possible to combat the heat and dehydration.
Of course, EPCOT is home to some of the best rides throughout the parks as well, like Frozen Ever After, Soarin’, and the new Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, so definitely plan in some time to get on whatever rides you want to experience (and since most of the rides aren’t too crazy at EPCOT, they pair fairly well with food, but if you want to ride Mission: Space, especially on the Mars side, maybe get on that one before the start of your culinary exploration).
With all the tastings available at EPCOT, a sit down dinner on this day can be optional, but if you have a specific restaurant in mind that you’d like to try, be sure to reserve ahead of time. And since EPCOT has a new nightly show, Harmonious, you’ll want to end your evening watching the spectacular display of light, water and fireworks.
Get out your animal prints, it’s Animal Kingdom day (and if you don’t have any animal prints, not to worry, there are plenty at the park if you want to get some). With the temperatures getting cooler the later into Fall that you travel, the chances of seeing more animals throughout the park get greater as the animals don’t hide away from the heat in the shade or water as much.
Though Animal Kingdom won’t be done up as festively as Magic Kingdom for the Fall season, a full Disney vacation at any time of year wouldn’t be complete without a visit to each park, in my opinion. The best strategies for spending the day at Animal Kingdom tend to be either starting with Pandora (and getting on Flight of Passage as early as possible, since it’s arguably the best ride in all the parks), or starting with Kilimanjaro Safaris (because a lot of the animals are out earlier in the morning as opposed to midday).
Animal Kingdom, in my opinion, is a park you could definitely either make a day out of, or hit up your favorite attractions and duck out early for some pool time, or in this case, for heading over to Magic Kingdom for the night for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party!
With your ticket to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, you can enter Magic Kingdom as early as 4pm, though the event officially begins at 7pm. Once there, you’ll see characters dressed up in their Halloween costumes, be able to Trick-or-Treat throughout the park, and see special attractions such as the Hocus Pocus Villain Spectacular, Mickey’s Boo-to-You Halloween Parade, and Disney’s Not-So-Spooky Spectacular Fireworks show, among many other event-specific festivities. You can even dress up in your own costume for the occasion (though you must follow a few guidelines from Disney, which can be found here).
And of course, because of the limited number of tickets available for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, wait times for rides and attractions are traditionally lower than they would be during the day, so don’t miss your chance to get on some of your favorite rides faster than usual before you head back to your resort for the night!
For a full list of dates and prices for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, click here. In addition, Disney also puts on another special Fall event, Disney Villains After Hours. Dates and details have not yet been released for that event, but as soon as anything is announced, this blog will be updated with the most up to date information.
Star Wars fans get ready, today is Hollywood Studios day! If you are hoping to ride Rise of the Resistance, prioritize that and start your day in Galaxy’s Edge; if you’re not a huge Star Wars fan, you can make your way through the park meeting characters and watching shows, while taking in some Fall decorations along the way.
One of the perks of visiting Galaxy’s Edge as an enthusiastic Star Wars fan is that you can *sort of* dress the part a bit more than you can for other themes throughout the parks, which is extra fun around Halloween. Though Disney strictly enforces its costume rules, and does not allow guests over 14 to dress up in costume, it is acceptable to wear traditional clothing styled in a certain way (commonly known as bounding) to show your enthusiasm for Star Wars. For example, dressing in muted colors and adding accessories like vests and belts can create a costume-y effect without being an actual costume (just don’t saunter in as Chewbacca, covered head to toe in hair, or head to toe in anything else for that matter, and you should be good. But again, refer to the costume guidelines here before solidifying your choices for attire).
And for dinner on Day 5? Treat yourself to one of the most festive for Fall attractions at Hollywood Studios: the character meal experience at Hollywood and Vine, Minnie’s Seasonal Dining. Besides tucking in to some of the best food in the park, you are also visited by the most classic of pals, Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and Pluto, and if you’re lucky, Donald and Daisy sometimes make an appearance, too. Be sure to grab a reservation as early as possible for this one, especially during the Fall season.
After four full days of visiting Disney parks, you will most likely need some down time. Spend the morning relaxing at your resort pool, enjoying your last moments on the Disney side of Orlando. Don’t worry, your trip is not over yet; today is for pool hopping, and hotel hopping as well, as you make your way over to one of the resorts within the Universal Studios property.
After you make the switch, continue your day of relaxation by spending the afternoon at your Universal resort pool before heading out to dinner at one of the top-rated restaurants along City Walk. Although some of the restaurants aren’t as tough to get reservations for as restaurants in Disney, planning ahead is still highly recommended.
Hopefully your day of languishing by the pools of your resorts gave you time to build up your courage, because your first Universal Studios experience is attending the Halloween Horror Nights Event for the evening (entrance begins at 6:30pm). If you enjoy horror movies, and enjoy the thrill of fright, you will love this intensely scary event. However, if feeling scared is not your cup of tea, feel free to take in some of the seasonal treats available at the shops throughout City Walk for the evening instead. Also, it’s definitely worth noting that this event is not recommended for children under 13, and no masks or costumes are allowed to be worn by attendees of any age.
For a full list of details for Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights, click here.
Harry Potter Day! If you’ve been waiting for the arrival of your letter of acceptance to Hogwarts (as I have for most of my life), today is your day! While there aren’t usually added spooky elements to the Harry Potter Worlds, the general atmosphere evoked by the books and movies (on which the worlds are based), that cloudy, moody air of London and the English countryside, with witches and wizards mingling about with Muggles, definitely feels most fitting during the Fall season.
The two Worlds of Harry Potter, Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade, are each found in a different Universal Park: Universal Studios, and Universal’s Islands of Adventure, respectively. In order to get from one Harry Potter World to the other, you get to ride on the Hogwarts Express, which is a super fun ride in itself. Since you are visiting two different parks in one day, you do need a specific type of ticket; it is possible to visit the worlds on different days, and spend a full day in each park, but then you miss out on the Hogwarts Express ride, and personally I prefer to make a day just for all things Harry Potter (your LOTMV Travel Agent can help you decide which option is best for you, and set you up with the type of tickets that best suit your needs).
Both Harry Potter Worlds boast incredible immersive ride experiences, and the Islands of Adventure side also includes the new ride, Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure. Before your day is done, you’ll head over to the Leaky Cauldron or the Three Broomsticks for a traditional British meal, and don’t forget to stop for a Butterbeer after dinner!
With your Halloween Horror Night and both Harry Potter Worlds under your belt, today is all about experiencing the other attractions throughout Universal Studios and Universal’s Islands of Adventure, including of course, all of the seasonal touches for Fall.
The incredible amount of set up and artistry that goes into creating the Halloween Horror Night events throughout the parks doesn’t just disappear during the day, so be sure to check out all of the elements you may have missed in the dark (or if you opted out of the super scary event, take the time today to appreciate the Halloween decor that somehow becomes much less scary in the light of day). You can even take a back-stage tour of the Haunted Houses, during which all of the lights will be turned on to remove the scare-factor.
You’ll also want to make time for some classic rides and attractions, such as the E.T. Adventure (E.T. the movie is always a classic I watch every Halloween season, even though it’s not technically a Halloween movie, to me it feels like one), anything in the Jurassic Park section, and if you have little kids with you, plan to spend some time in Seuss Landing!
Celebrate your last night in town with dinner at one of the City Walk or resort restaurants, such as The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar, The Strong Water Tavern (at Loews Sapphire Falls Resort), or even the classic Hard Rock Cafe, though I’m partial to Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. because I love the theming. You could even head back to Disney Springs for dinner, if there’s a restaurant you really want to try there, since you don’t need a park ticket for entrance. Or, if you’re up for something really out of the ordinary, there’s a secret speak-easy restaurant in Orlando that you can only find if you’re in the know. For a magical elixir to top off your Fall experience in Orlando, talk to your LOTMV Travel Agent to get in on the secret!
On your last morning before departing your “All the Fall Things” tour of Orlando, you have a few options. Spend the morning relaxing by your resort pool, head back to Disney Springs for one last shopping spree and to grab a few spooky snacks as you hit the road, or (my personal choice) head over to the Christmas-themed mini-golf course, Winter Summerland (just outside Blizzard Beach), to get yourself in gear for the next holiday season!
Ready to Plan?
If you are ready to plan your Fall adventure to Orlando to experience “All the Fall Things” for yourself, contact your Love of the Magic Travel Agent today, as reservations for this fall are either full or filling up fast, and of course you can always start planning for a Fall trip to Orlando for next year as well. Your LOTMV Travel Agent will work with you to create the unique experience you’re looking for.
And if, after all this Fall excitement, you still find yourself to be more of a Christmas person, don’t worry, we will have another Inspiring Itinerary for you as soon as details are released for the Christmas festivities around the parks, too!
Looking for more of our Inspiring Itinerary series?
So far, we have:
January – The Perfect London & Paris Vacation Itinerary for Families
February – The Perfect Hawaiian Vacation
March – An Insider’s Guide to the Perfect Alaskan Vacation
April – The Perfect Immersive Italian Vacation
A new inspiring itinerary comes out each month!
Ready to plan your Fall Adventure in Orlando? Contact your Love of the Magic Vacations Travel Advisor today or email hello@LOTMV.com