Tuesday, September 29, 2020 Edition: U.S. & World | Regional

Orlando’s Theme Parks Year-Round Annual Events. Why go Anywhere Else?

Whether the focus of an annual festival or event is on food, music, dance, beer, or perhaps a culmination of all things fun, people love them. Annual events such as the Pumpkin Festival in Seymour, Connecticut and the Cooter Festival in Inverness, Florida where homage is paid to a turtle in the most festive of ways, criss-cross America’s landscape.

These small town events are fun but if you love the excitement and good times of a full-blown annual event where things are done up right, you need to check out Orlando. Between all of Orlando’s world-class theme parks, there are spectacular annual events going on throughout the entire year. Big ones. Here are some of the best.

Universal Florida Mardi Gras

New Orleans has got nothing on the Mardi Gras celebration at Universal Florida, though there are a couple of significant differences. Most importantly, the one in Orlando is family friendly. Secondly, the chances of having your wallet picked or your purse snatched, are pretty much nil.

The celebration will continue nightly in 2019 between February 9 and April 4 so there’s a good window of opportunity for anyone needing to carefully schedule their visit. Experiencing Florida in the Springtime is another huge bonus.

There are colorful nightly parades with dancers, musicians, and mesmerizing street performers, all dressed in colorful Mardi Gras costumes. No Mardi Gras celebration would be complete without beads-a-plenty being tossed and they are thrown at anything that moves.

Unlike New Orleans, some of the biggest names in the entertainment business show up in Orlando to join in the festivities. Of course, for the sake of authenticity, ‘real-deal’ New Orleans bands are imported for the occasion, performing every single night at various locations throughout the park.

The most mouthwatering Cajun food ever consumed by humankind is on the menu, prepared by genuine award-winning New Orleans chefs. Expect to put on a few pounds.

The Mardi Gras festivities are included with regular park admission prices so if you’re cravin’ some Cajun, plan your visit accordingly.
Universal Studios Annual Events   Mardi Gras
EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival

Between March 6 and July 3 of 2019, EPCOT’s annual International Flower & Garden Festival will be in full swing. This huge event had its beginning in 1994 and becomes even more spectacular with each passing year.

The grounds in EPCOT are always beautiful and well maintained but during this festival, they achieve a whole new level. Disney characters, walls, buildings, and even the ever-present flower beds, take on a whole new spectrum with brightly colored flowers and foliage clinging to everything in sight, and it’s a wonder to behold.

As impressive as all of this is, the fun and excitement do not stop there. For 2019, there will be music concerts every night of the week. The performers won’t be a bunch of local entertainers hired for the occasion. How about the likes of Christopher Cross, the Spinners, the Smithereens, Steven Curtis Chapman, Sister Hazel, Sister Sledge, and the list goes on and on and on.

Dining packages are available which include a meal of choice at any of EPCOT’s 15 restaurants along with special seating at one of the three performances taking place that day.
Disney Annual Events   Epcot Flower And Garden Festival
Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party

Each September and October Disney’s Magic Kingdom transforms into a ghostly and goblin filled Halloween wonderland of the “not-so-scary” type. Smiling pumpkins, Goofy’s silly laugh, Vampirina & her pals, and pretty much the entire cast and crew of everything Disney make this spectacular event a must do. Best of all, the little ones won’t be frightened to tears, and what safer place is there for them to fill a sack with outrageously good treats? They will not get tricked!

The “Boo Parade” kicks off twice nightly and features such well known mythical characters as the Headless Horseman who leads the procession. Through the miracles of technology known only to Disney’s engineers, your eyes will do a double take at what they will behold. The “Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltaclar” features the Sanders Sisters as they seek the help of Disney villains in an attempt at creating a Hocus Pocus Party Potion.

Set to the music of such Disney hits as “Never Smile at a Crocodile,” “Poor Unfortunate Souls,” and “Grim Grinning Ghosts,” is a spectacular fireworks display in all the favorite Halloween colors, set off the Disney Villains.

Official dates for 2019 have not as yet been announced but here is some good advice. Last year sold out quickly so keep an eye out for Disney’s announcement and be ready to book your trip.
Disney Annual Events   Mickey's No So Scary Halloween
SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration

Over 3-million lights are a wonder to behold when Sea World gets into the Christmas spirit. Children become absolutely spellbound when they are introduced to the real (wink) Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. The celebration is included in the regular admission price, and the family memories, which will live on long after the visit, will be absolutely priceless.

The gang from Sesame Street help ring in the holiday season with Elmo’s Christmas Wish which also stars the Cookie Monster, Rosita, Grover, and Zoe. Clyde and Seamore’s Countdown to Christmas is a series of hilarious Christmas skits starring America’s favorite sea lions. Other cast members include a silly elf, some nosey otters, and a jiggly giant-toothed walrus.

Life-sized puppets, live animals, and over 30 Christmas carolers will leave your entire family in awe as the greatest story never told gets acted out in O’ Wondrous Night. Lighting and special effects enhance this brilliant performance which thrills and touches visitors from every walk of life, as a live nativity becomes so real you’ll feel as though you are at the manger in Bethlehem.

Rudolph’s Movie Experience, Sea of Trees, Shamu Christmas Miracles, and a spectacular performance of Winter Wonderland on Ice will have you and your family bursting with the holiday spirit in no time flat.
SeaWorld Orlando Annual Events   Christmas
Everything Orlando has to offer for families certainly does not stop here. There are simply way too many special events and celebrations to possibly list in one article alone. With so much going on non-stop throughout the entire year, why go anywhere else? Orlando, Florida has it all.

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