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Best Day Ever at Walt Disney World and Disneyland

Plan your BEST DAY EVER at Walt Disney World and Disneyland.

As many of us head into 2023 and begin planning our magical vacations to Walt Disney World and Disneyland, we are often overwhelmed with all of the amazing and wonderful things the Disney Parks & Resorts have to offer. There is just so much. So how does a family decide to narrow down what will get included on the itinerary? 

I’m here to help. 

Welcome to my all-new blog series called “Best Day Ever”. This new series will help you plan for long and short-term adventures at the parks. Each article throughout the year will provide you with a 3-6 month outlook on what’s coming to the parks – both Walt Disney World and Disneyland. I’ll highlight some of the well known events such as the EPCOT Festivals and Holidays festivities, but also include one or two options found off the beaten path that may not be on your radar. Adding something new and unique to your plans each time you visit keeps things fresh and exciting! I may add a few posts throughout the year that highlight very specifically one of those events and share the do’s and don’ts, must do’s, tips and tricks.

Piggybacking from my friend Gina’s “Love of the Magic Inspiring Itineraries” articles so thoroughly and thoughtfully crafted for destinations worldwide, I will share something similar for our “happy place”. 

Welcome to the first edition of Inspiring Itineraries – Disney style!

Let’s get started.

Walt Disney World

If you are planning a trip to Walt Disney World in January, February or March 2023, be sure to include one or more of the following activities on your “must do” list. 

Free Dining PromoJanuary

Traveling in January

  • Prepare to wear layers! January temperatures can be completely unpredictable. I’ve worn shorts and I’ve worn a heavy winter coat. You just never know! Pack for all weather types!
  • Costs tend to be lower. Park prices, hotel prices, and airfare prices are typically lower in February. Disney is also known to offer discounts and incentives for January, so be on the lookout for these when planning your vacation!

Marathon Weekend – 30th Anniversary!

This year marks the 30th Anniversary of Marathon Weekend at Walt Disney World. Seems crazy, doesn’t it? 30 years! This is one of the biggest events in January and takes place from January 4-8, 2023. According to Disney, this year’s event will allow guests to “relive decades of healthy competition with a dose of 90’s retro vibes, iconic Characters, and a glimpse into the runDisney of years of past.”

You may already be signed up for one or more of the races and if not, this is a great weekend to cheer on other Disney runners! If traveling during this time, know that the parks will be extra crowded and filled with marathoners. Be prepared for longer lines and lots of extra people in the parks.

EPCOT Festival of the Arts

EPCOT will host the first of four festivals in 2023: The EPCOT Festival of the Arts. The Epcot International Festival of the Arts instantly became a hit in its inaugural year in 2016. Each year since, the festival continues to grow in popularity and Disney continues to broaden our mind and our palette with amazing new and returning experiences. The festival highlights art in all different forms – ink and paint, photography, culinary, and so much more!

Think of this festival as a scaled down version of the International Flower & Garden Festival (which is a scaled down version of the International Food & Wine Festival). It’s small enough to enjoy every bit of it, but it packs a mighty punch. Tour the World Showcase promenade visiting with local artists, while sampling some of the globe’s finest culinary cuisine. Test your artist skills by joining one of the many workshops & seminars held throughout the duration of the festival.

This year, get ready for the full DISNEY ON BROADWAY Concert Series returning in all its amazing glory, and just this past week, Disney shared the infamous foodie guide! It looks incredible. And even crazier, there are 50 new menu items this year! Check them all out here.

If you want a guaranteed seat at one of the scheduled DISNEY ON BROADWAY Concert Series performances, your best bet is to reserve a Dining Package at one of EPCOT’s selected restaurants. Make your reservations here

After Hours Events

Disney After Hours is a special ticketed event held on select nights at Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios (sometimes they are also offered at Animal Kingdom, too!).  Anyone can purchase tickets for an After Hours event, it is not restricted to only Walt Disney World Resort (on-property) Guests.

For those unfamiliar with Disney After Hours events, they debuted in 2016 as a very limited capacity, separate ticketed event taking place three hours after park closing, with access to select attractions — which automatically meant much shorter wait times (if any at all!) to all of your favorite rides! The event debuted in Magic Kingdom and was eventually offered in Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom.

The events often sell out, but with limited tickets sold, you essentially feel like you have the entire park to yourself. Disney After Hours events often also include complimentary popcorn, ice cream treats and beverages.

The events will run on select dates in January, February and March!

Festival of the Arts Image

February

Traveling in February

  • Prepare to wear layers! February temperatures tend to be a bit cooler. Typically, you will want to layer up as mornings and evenings are cooler and afternoons warm up a bit.
  • Costs tend to be lower. Park prices, hotel prices, and airfare prices are typically lower in February. Disney is also known to offer discounts and incentives for February, so be on the lookout for these when planning your vacation!
  • It’s a busy month! If you’re visiting in February to avoid the crowds, you may want to avoid President’s Day weekend as well as the final weekend of February due to the Disney Princess Half Marathon. These two weekends tend to bring in the crowds and were quite busy in 2022.

Princess Half Marathon

Disney Princess Half Marathon will take place February 23-26. “Disney Princess Sunrise Yoga” will take place in Magic Kingdom in front of Cinderella’s Castle prior to the park opening. The weekend also features a 5K, 10K, Half Marathon, and the Disney Fairy Tale Challenge (10K and Half Marathon).

EPCOT Festival of the Arts

EPCOT will host the first of four festivals in 2023: The EPCOT Festival of the Arts. The Epcot International Festival of the Arts instantly became a hit in its inaugural year in 2016. Each year since, the festival continues to grow in popularity and Disney continues to broaden our mind and our palette with amazing new and returning experiences. The festival highlights art in all different forms – ink and paint, photography, culinary, and so much more!

Think of this festival as a scaled down version of the International Flower & Garden Festival (which is a scaled down version of the International Food & Wine Festival). It’s small enough to enjoy every bit of it, but it packs a mighty punch. Tour the World Showcase promenade visiting with local artists, while sampling some of the globe’s finest culinary cuisine. Test your artist skills by joining one of the many workshops & seminars held throughout the duration of the festival.

This year, get ready for the full DISNEY ON BROADWAY Concert Series returning in all its amazing glory, and just this past week, Disney shared the infamous foodie guide! It looks incredible. And even crazier, there are 50 new menu items this year! Check them all out here.

If you want a guaranteed seat at one of the scheduled DISNEY ON BROADWAY Concert Series performances, your best bet is to reserve a Dining Package at one of EPCOT’s selected restaurants. Make your reservations here

After Hours Events

Disney After Hours is a special ticketed event held on select nights at Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios (sometimes they are also offered at Animal Kingdom, too!).  Anyone can purchase tickets for an After Hours event, it is not restricted to only Walt Disney World Resort (on-property) Guests.

For those unfamiliar with Disney After Hours events, they debuted in 2016 as a very limited capacity, separate ticketed event taking place three hours after park closing, with access to select attractions — which automatically meant much shorter wait times (if any at all!) to all of your favorite rides! The event debuted in Magic Kingdom and was eventually offered in Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom.

The events often sell out, but with limited tickets sold, you essentially feel like you have the entire park to yourself. Disney After Hours events often also include complimentary popcorn, ice cream treats and beverages.

The events will run on select dates in January, February and March!

March

Traveling in March

  • It’s a bit warmer, but layers (like a sweatshirt) may be needed. Mornings and evenings will still be a bit chilly, but afternoons will typically be warmer.
  • It’s one of the busiest months of the year. With Spring Break happening all across the country, the parks will be busy… especially during the last two weeks of the month.
  • March 2023 will be busy. Not only is it spring break season, but March 2023 is the final month of Disney’s 50th Anniversary Celebration.

EPCOT Flower & Garden Festival

In late March, the EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival begins. Although the 2023 dates have not yet been announced, this festival usually runs from early March through early July. This is definitely one of the prettiest festivals and happens during one of the very best times of the year to visit Walt Disney World! It’s also the longest running festival at the park. It began in 1993!

During this festival, the crowds are a little bit lighter than you generally find during the Fall Food & Wine festival and you can’t beat the beautiful weather (mid-70s to mid-80s and lower humidity (typically)), topiaries, flowers, butterflies, food and the all important Garden Rocks Concert Series. 

Spring is in the air as the bright colors of the flowers and plants adorn the World Showcase for all to enjoy. Grab a drink and a snack and walk the promenade taking in all the beauty. This is definitely one of the much more relaxed festivals. Although it’s busy, it’s still quieter compared to its sister festival, The EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival, which kicks off just weeks after this one! 

After Hours Events

Disney After Hours is a special ticketed event held on select nights at Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios (sometimes they are also offered at Animal Kingdom, too!).  Anyone can purchase tickets for an After Hours event, it is not restricted to only Walt Disney World Resort (on-property) Guests.

For those unfamiliar with Disney After Hours events, they debuted in 2016 as a very limited capacity, separate ticketed event taking place three hours after park closing, with access to select attractions — which automatically meant much shorter wait times (if any at all!) to all of your favorite rides! The event debuted in Magic Kingdom and was eventually offered in Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom.

The events often sell out, but with limited tickets sold, you essentially feel like you have the entire park to yourself. Disney After Hours events often also include complimentary popcorn, ice cream treats and beverages.

The events will run on select dates in January, February and March!

Disneyland

If you are planning a trip to Disneyland in January, February or March 2023, be sure to include one or more of the following activities on your “must do” list. 

January

Traveling in January

  • Crowds are still heavier in January. Some schools are still on break and holiday decorations still adorn the parks, bringing more crowds in during the month.
  • Pack extra layers! The daytime temps are gorgeous and usually range from the mid 60s to mid 70s, but the early mornings and evenings can get quite chilly, sometimes just plain cold. Pack layers and be prepared.

Disney 100 Years of Wonder

Beginning January 27, 2023, the Walt Disney Company will kick off its Platinum Celebration in Disneyland. Experience decked out decor, dazzling merchandise and a feast of tasty treats in Disneyland Park and California Adventure.

There are so many new and fun surprises coming to the parks this year. As Disney announces more and more details throughout the year, we’ll be sharing them with you! 

Mickey & Mickey’s Runaway Railway

Opening on the same day the Disney 100 Celebration begins, a new attraction themed after Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse opens in Toontown! On January 27th, join Mickey & Minnie on an all-new adventure. While the ride is similar to that in Disney’s Hollywood Studios (for those that have been on that one), it will have a different queue. The attraction opens ahead of the newly renovated Toontown, which reopens March 8, 2023. 

Lunar New Year at California Adventure

2023 is the Year of the Rabbit and the Cat. And Disney is ready to celebrate from January 20 through February 15, 2023. This is a very well-attended event and Disney pulls out all the stops to ensure that it honors the traditions of this beautiful celebration. Enjoy food, authentic performances and your favorite Disney characters in their Lunar New Year’s best. These characters are only seen this time of year, so be sure to grab pics while you can. This event takes place at Paradise Gardens at Disney California Adventure

Colorful lanterns and hanging banners written in English, Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese wish you a Happy Lunar New Year and create a festive and inspiring atmosphere. Join the time-honored tradition of writing wishes of good fortune and happiness for your friends and family, receive customized Chinese calligraphy and brush art, color, do free crafts and purchase traditional Lunar New Year treats. Stop by Paradise Garden Grill for an Asian meal, or try a sampling of Asian cuisine from the Lunar New Year festival marketplace kiosks and other participating restaurants.

Lunar New Year

February

Traveling in February

  • Crowds and costs are a bit lower. February brings lower crowd levels and lower costs to visit.
  • Weather is perfect. The days bring upper 60s to low 70s and plenty of sunshine. Night brings upper 40s to low 50s. You might want to bring a sweatshirt.
  • Pack a poncho or umbrella. It might rain. It’s not rainy season, but it has been known to sprinkle from time to time. Best to be prepared!

Lunar New Year at California Adventure

2023 is the Year of the Rabbit and the Cat. And Disney is ready to celebrate from January 20 through February 15, 2023. This is a very well-attended event and Disney pulls out all the stops to ensure that it honors the traditions of this beautiful celebration. Enjoy food, authentic performances and your favorite Disney characters in their Lunar New Year’s best. These characters are only seen this time of year, so be sure to grab pics while you can. This event takes place at Paradise Gardens at Disney California Adventure

Beautiful decor like colorful lanterns and hanging banners written in English, Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese wish you a Happy Lunar New Year and create a festive and inspiring atmosphere. Join the tradition of writing wishes of good fortune and happiness for your friends and family, do free crafts and purchase traditional Lunar New Year treats. Stop by Paradise Garden Grill for a delicious Asian meal, or try a sampling of Asian cuisine from the Lunar New Year festival marketplace kiosks.

Super Bowl Celebration

It’s a time old tradition for Disneyland (or Walt Disney World) to host the Super Bowl Cavalcade celebrating the Super Bowl winning team. Depending on who wins the Super Bowl will depend on which park gets to host. Celebrations will occur throughout the park from February 9 through 13, 2023. 

Super Bowl Sunday in general is typically more crowded at Disneyland. And if a West Coast team wins, more than likely Disneyland will host the Cavalcade the day after. Only time will tell once we officially know who is playing in the 2023 Super Bowl!

Disneyland After Dark: Sweethearts’ Nite

This SOLD OUT event occurs Jan. 31 and Feb. 2, 5, 7, 9, 14 and 16, 2023. Disneyland turns into the most romantic place on earth for 7 incredible nights. Plan a date night with your sweetheart and head to Disneyland Park. 

This separately ticketed event inside Disneyland Park takes place after the park closes, with access to the park starting at 6pm (no park reservation required). 

Here’s what you can expect if you are attending this year (or planning for future visits: 

  • A special fireworks show
  • Projections on Sleeping Beauty Castle and Main Street, U.S.A.
  • A jazz ensemble aboard the Mark Twain Riverboat 
  • Opportunities to meet darling Disney couples, including Cinderella and Prince Charming, Aladdin and Jasmine, and, of course, Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse
  • Romantic photo-ops based on scenes from iconic Disney films, plus unlimited digital PhotoPass downloads
  • Valentine’s-inspired décor, food and beverage offerings
  • A ball hosted by Aladdin and Jasmine

Magic Happens 

It’s happening!! Running for only 2 weeks before the pandemic closed the park’s doors, “Magic Happens” parade is returning to Disneyland Park on February 24, 2023. 

Toontown Disneyland

March

Traveling in March

  • Crowds increase in March. As its Spring Break across the country, crowd levels increase as the month goes on – crowds are less at the beginning of the month, than later in the month. 
  • Weather is perfect. There is plenty of sunshine and temps range in the low to mid 70s. Nights still range in the upper 40s to low 50s. You might want to have a few layers for when night sets in.

Disneyland After Dark – Princess Nite

An all-new Princess themed Disneyland After Dark event is taking place on March 7 and 9, 2023.  Similar to other evening events, Guests can gain access to the park at 6pm The park closes at 8pm. The party kicks off at 9pm. and ends at 1am. Limit eight tickets per person, per event date. This event is not sold out yet. Tickets on sale now!

Here’s what you can expect:

  • A royal welcome at the Disneyland Train Station with Princess Minnie Mouse and Princess Daisy Duck 
  • A candy-themed dance party at Tomorrowland stage with Vanellope Von Schweetz 
  • Dance along to jazz music with Tiana in New Orleans Square
  • Specialty menu items (for purchase)
  • Photo backdrops inspired by Disney films such as “Beauty and the Beast” and “The Princess Diaries”
  • Unlimited Disney PhotoPass digital photo downloads from the party

Reopening of Mickey’s Toontown 

Toontown is one of my favorite areas in Disneyland Park. Since I spend more time at Walt Disney World than Disneyland, I miss having Toontown at WDW. So I’m super excited to share that Toontown in Disneyland will be reopening on March 8, 2023 after a refurbishment. Expect to see a revived and refreshed space, new eateries, more park space, and the all-new Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway attraction.

Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival

It may not be as grand or as long as Walt Disney World’s Food & Wine Festival, but California Adventure’s version packs a serious punch. This super popular event takes place from March 3 through April 25, 2023. 

Enjoy foodie and wine offerings, tastings and seminars, along with special entertainment, festive merchandise and tons of fun decor. This is a special event that is not to be missed.

Eggstravaganza Scavenger Hunt 

Similar to the adorable scavenger hunts that take place around the World Showcase in EPCOT, the Eggstravaganza Scavenger Hunt is looked forward to every single year, taking place in March and April. Fun for the whole family, this cute game takes place in Downtown Disney, California Adventure and Disneyland Park. It costs $9.99 to play and there is a small reward to finding all of the eggs scattered around the various locations.

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Are you ready to plan your vacation? It’s so easy!! Click here for your FREE Quote!A Love of the Magic travel advisor will get back to you as soon as possible so you can start planning today!

 

Marnie Raimondo
Marnie Raimondo
Hi there! I'm Marnie, Disney blogger and writer. My passion is helping people plan magical Walt Disney World vacations. I love sharing Disney tips and advice based on my personal experiences from many, many magical trips over the years. I hope through my writing I can help you navigate your way through Disney news, the parks, dining, resorts and so much more! Happy planning!
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