The Best “Free” Extras At Walt Disney World

There are lots of “extras” to be enjoyed at Walt Disney World. Some of them are hard ticket events requiring the purchase of a separate (and often expensive) ticket, some of them require that you attend a dinner show (also not cheap), but there are some that only require that you be in the park to enjoy them. These are, again in my opinion only, the three best “Free” extras available and they are so significant that many visitors plan their vacations to coincide with them.

  1. The Osborne Family Spectacle Of Dancing Lights - We saw this one for the first time in 2009 and it simply took our breath away. The word spectacle simply doesn’t do it justice. Millions and millions (literally) of lights all synchronized to Christmas music put on a spectacular show culminating with a snowfall. The only way to truly appreciate it is to be there to see it for yourself but the next best way is to check out these videos. The whole thing started when the neighbors of Arkansas businessman Jennings Osborne became a bit irritated as his Christmas display grew and grew causing major traffic and other issues in his neighborhood. The folks at Disney, never the ones to pass up an opportunity, asked him if they could move the display to Disney’s Hollywood Studios and the rest is history. This particular extra generally runs from about mid November through New Year’s Day.
  2. Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival - This one is huge and lots of folks visit in October and November just to be a part of this fun event. If you love good food with an international flair you might want to make plans to visit while it’s happening as we often do. There is so much going on you couldn’t hope to do it all but you can pick from lectures, seminars, samplings, or just strolling around the World Showcase sampling foods ($2-$7) from the 25+ booth located everywhere. The strolling and sampling is great for snackers and you can see some of the things available by clicking on this link. Don’t forget that there is also the Eat To The Beat Concert Series held nightly in the America Gardens Theater so you can enjoy some wonderful music while taking a break – by the way these concerts are FREE. Please be aware that many of the tastings, seminars, schools, etc. have fees attached and some of these fees are significant. But, if that’s the type of thing you enjoy the cost is worth it. The Food & Wine Festival happens in October and part of November each year.
  3. Epcot’s International Flower & Garden Festival – I must admit that we have never attended the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival and even this year we are visiting during the Food & Wine Festival. BUT – in the spring of 2013 we will definitely be going to see all the flowers and topiaries. It’s all about the flowers but there are also lots of other things to do. This year’s festival was deeply entwined with HGTV and there were a series of classes and lectures presented by that network’s stars but the real stars are the flowers and topiaries that dress up Epcot as far as the eye can see. In order to appreciate tha amazing transformation that Epcot undergoes each spring, take a look at this time lapse video. If you enjoy some of the older (perhaps “classic” is a better term) pop and rock music, do not miss the Flower Power Concert Series. This series also takes place in the America Gardens Theater and yes, it’s also FREE!! This festival generally runs in an April and part of May time frame  but watch out for Easter because room rates can be out of sight and the crowds huge at that time of year.

I highly recommend any of these events to you. I’ve found through the years that when Disney puts in as much effort as they do with these particular events that they don’t leave room for disappointment.

You may want to consider scheduling your next trip during one of these events and see just what Disney is capable of. As always, enjoy your visit to Walt Disney World!!


Ken (203 Posts)

Ken is just an old guy who loves all things Disney. He loves to share his experiences and advice with anyone who wants them. He focuses on Disney for seniors, quick tips, Best of..., and Top 5/10.

  • Katina816

    The only one of these I’ve been to is the flower and garden festival. It was very beautiful. I would love to see the others.

  • Cait

    I have seen all of these things and they are all awesome!

  • Ken

    Thanks for the input Corey!! That just makes me look forward to our spring ’13 trip even more, but we still have an October ’11 visit coming up.


  • CoreyA

    I’ve hit up the Flower and Garden Festival in March before, and it is a sight to see. The flowers and the amount of detail are incredible. You don’t have to be a gardener to appreciate the sights. Also, if you’re a pin collector, don’t forget to pick up the limited edition pins!