Once, a festival at a Disney park was a huge deal that got fans excited. But is Disney ruining that by making festivals all-year “events?”
Disney park guests are used to some fun events for the parks. Right now, Disney is doing a lot for the “100 Years of Wonder,” marking the 100th anniversary of the Walt Disney Company. This comes after Walt Disney World celebrated its 50th anniversary while Tokyo Disneyland is celebrating its 40th. And there are, of course, the usual holiday-themed events abounding.
But looking at Disney’s just released slate of events for 2024 at Disneyland and it seems they’re going just a wee bit overboard on special stuff:
- January 23 - February 18: Lunar New Year at Disney California Adventure
- February 17 & 24: Celebrate Gospel at Disneyland
- February 22 - 23: Anaheim Ducks Days at Disney California Adventure
- March 1 - April 22: Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival at Disney California Adventure
- April 5 - June 2: Star Wars Season of the Force at Disneyland
- April 26 - August 4: Pixar Fest at both parks
- August 23 - October 31: Halloween Time at both parks
- August 23 - November 2: Plaza de la Familia at Disney California Adventure
- Starting November 15: Holidays at the Disneyland Resort
Now, granted, a few of those are exclusive to Disneyland, like the Anaheim Ducks. However, this is getting as bad as Epcot is with the seemingly never-ending Food & Wine Festivals and other events going on. It all seems like falling into the mantra of “too much of a good thing.”
Why events should be special
I am of a different generation than other Disney folks in that I recall when the parks didn’t do so much for big stuff aside from the anniversary of Disney World. There could be bits like the “Grad Night” at the Magic Kingdom and others, but they were rarer, so when they happened, it was a bigger deal.
Epcot got that going with two big events: The Food & Wine Festival and the International Flower & Garden Showcase. The former was in the fall, the latter in the spring, and spaced out well enough so they both meant something.
Today, Epcot takes what should have been brief month-long events and drags them out with the Food & Wine Festival, now starting in the summer and rolling right into the holidays. Likewise, the Flower event now pushes into the summer to coincide with the Food & Wine Festival.
So rather than feel like you’re hitting Epcot for a special time, these events are seemingly never-ending. That’s without Disney somehow adding some big anniversary celebration and while cynical, it’s not hard to see this is just Disney figuring out new ways to add charges to some parkgoers and justify it by being part of an “event.”
It doesn't help that some of these festivals aren't that good to start with. Once a fantastic spot for culinary delights, the Food & Wine Festival has fallen in recent years with predictable menus and too much in crowds. Some of these other events look overpriced and too much cost and aggravation for guests to handle.
Again, while a few make sense like a Star Wars weekend in May, some others look random. The festivals should be fun and meaningful, not just an excuse to print up shirts and pop a couple of extra bucks on a ticket.
Yes, events can be a fun addition to a Disney trip with special souvenirs and such. But throwing out so many in a single year just waters them down, not to mention extending them beyond what a regular “event” should be. Disney used to be good at making them feel like great opportunities, but the way they’re overloading them, these festivals are losing the special appeal they should have.