Now is the time that every Disney Vacation Club (DVC) family thinks about for months on end. Spring Break is finally here, allowing DVC members to leave their worries behind and head down to the Most Magical Place on Earth for a hard-earned escape from work and school. It’s an exciting and, yes, crowded time at Walt Disney World. Here’s a helpful guide on what you can expect to see and do during spring break at Disney World.
Cinderella and Prince Charming topiaries at Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival.
Dos and Don’ts – Spring Break at Disney World
About the Crowds…
Look, you’re either a DVC member already or someone strongly thinking about joining. You’ve studied the DVC Points Charts enough to know that the rooms cost more during this time of year than any other point except the holidays. This information tells you all you need to know about the demand for the parks over Spring Break as well as the kinds of crowds you should expect.
Should you worry about the crowds? Of course not! More people at Disney merely add to the energy of the place. Yes, lines for attractions are longer, but you know how to work your FastPasses to negate those issues. You know to use Extra Magic Hours and show up for Rope Drop and/or stay at the park until closing since those are the two times when it’s emptiest. You’re a Disney expert on this stuff, so you’re more interested in learning about what’s fun to do during Spring Break 2018. Well, here goes…
The Flower & Garden Festival
Yes, the beloved exhibition returns for 2018, and it’s longer than ever before. I’m speaking, of course, of the 2018 Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, which runs from February 28th through May 28th this year. The event is one of the most visually stimulating parts of the annual Disney calendar, as the horticulturist cast members get to flex their creative muscle. This year also marks the 25th anniversary, making it a bit more special.
During the Flower & Garden Festival, you’ll see dozens of your favorite Disney characters in stunning floral form. You may not have ever wondered what scenes from Fantasia would look like as giant bushes, but you’ll love the decorations nonetheless. The artistry on display is truly dazzling. Spring Breakers who want to impress all their friends on Instagram should have their cameras ready to shoot. As a pro tip, clean out your storage so that you won’t get the dreaded Out of Space message while trying to take the perfect shot.
Despite the name, the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival is about more than merely impeccable gardening. You’ll find plenty of food, music, and shopping, too. In recent years, Disney has emphasized sales of time-sensitive merchandise during these events. Exclusive Flower & Garden items are on sale through Spring Break. Your trip is the only chance you’ll get at this merch, so be prepared to impulse shop like crazy!
Garden Rocks Concert Series
The music during the exhibition takes place at the America Gardens Theatre at the American Adventure Pavilion. Disney hires a bunch of well-known music artists to play a series of shows, usually lasting the weekend. It’s called the Garden Rocks Concert Series.
The musicians take the stage at 5:30, 6:45, and 8:00 p.m., meaning that these are approximately hour-long sets. Expect to hear the greatest hits of bands like Foghat, Smash Mouth, and Survivor. Some country acts like Jo Dee Messina and Lonestar are also playing this year. You can read the full list of artists and performance dates on the Disney Parks Blog.
From personal experience, I will say that seating at these concerts is tight. Superfans will show up early in anticipation of grabbing the best spots. If you want to see a certain performer, try to make the 5:30 show. Should you fail to get seats for it, hang around the area until that crowd exits. You should have decent seats for the 6:45 show. Alternately, Disney offers Garden Rocks dining packages that guarantee seats to the show.
Finally and most importantly, the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival has wondrous food options. Disney added 15 Food Kitchens for the event, each of which features an eclectic menu of thematic flavors. Florida residents could eat something different here every day for a month. During your stay, you may want to mix things up a bit, but you should plan to eat at least a couple of meals at the Food Kitchens. Alternately, do lots of noshing here.
Our friends at Disney Food Blog have a complete list of Food Kitchens and menus if you want additional information. It may help with your meal planning.
One of the worst feelings about a Disney visit is showing up at your favorite attraction, only to see that it’s down for repairs. To their credit, the park planners at Walt Disney World respect Uncle Walt’s wishes about plussing attractions. They never settle for good enough when they have good ideas to make attractions/areas better.
Keeping the explanation in mind, a few of your favorite attractions won’t be open for Spring Break this year. The most famous situation is Pirates of the Caribbean, which closed to change one of its scenes. It will return on March 18th, presuming that it meets the current deadline. You should check for updates on this if you’re visiting on or soon after the 18th. The other issue at Magic Kingdom is Liberty Square Riverboat, which is getting some much needed repairs. It won’t return until mid-summer.
Recent Permanent Ride Closures
A couple of rides and attractions are now gone for good. Wonders of Life at Disney’s Animal Kingdom will return with a re-themed Up show in late April. The Great Movie Ride and Ellen’s Energy Adventure are just a distant memory now, although those spaces will be used in new and exciting ways over the next couple of years.
Finally, if you’re someone who loved Stitch’s Great Escape, I question your sanity AND I have terrible news. It’s also shuttered. The current belief is that it’s gone for good, but rumormongers said the same thing last year before it made an unexpected return. Whatever the case, it’s definitely not open for Spring Break. I offer sincere condolences to the four people reading this who miss it.
Remember the Water Park(s)
I don’t know which part of the world where you reside, but if it’s significantly north of me, you’ve been dealing with a lot of cold weather, possibly even a snowstorm. Here’s a thought that will warm you. The average high in Orlando in March is 79 degrees. The city’s had a high of at least 75 degrees every day in March, and the weather forecasts I’ve checked suggest that you should expect 60-degree weather most of the days. Note that it will be chillier at night and first thing in the morning, possibly somewhere in the 40s. Dress appropriately for that part of the evening/morning.
The point is that Florida will feel like an active volcano if you live in the Northeast. You can do something there that only polar bear challenge members would dare try in your neck of the woods. You can go swimming! DVC resort pools are exquisite, but you might also plan a day at a water park.
If so, be aware that Blizzard Beach is your only option if your Spring Break is this week. Typhoon Lagoon has undergone seasonal renovations; its scheduled opening date is March 17th. As always, check Disney news sites and the My Disney Experience to verify that Typhoon Lagoon is open/closed on the day you need it. For what it’s worth, Disney’s Parks Blog makes a compelling argument about why you should visit a water park during your Spring Break trip.
PS: I did want to come clean on something. Earlier, I said that you shouldn’t worry about crowds during Spring Break. I’d add one caveat to this. During Easter weekend, you’re dealing with Spring Break AND holiday crowds. It’s one of the busiest days of the entire year at Walt Disney World. Should your vacation happen on those days, I’d politely suggest doing some research about best ways to go against the grain during a Disney trip, presuming that you’re not already skilled at doing so.
I’m also a huge supporter of the tactic of hanging out at Disney Springs a lot during crowded periods. The food and shopping options are otherworldly. All that’s missing are the rides.
As a DVC member, you may not need to do them as much as first-time visitors. Similarly, a day at a DVC resort is wonderful, too. In my mind’s eye, I’m looking out at the water from Bay Lake Tower right now, getting ready to eat at Chef Mickey’s.