With all its theme parks and attractions, Orlando always has something going on that makes it a great place to visit. The parks have packed their schedules with events throughout 2016 that make this a perfect year to visit Orlando.
Spring and fall are two time primes to visit Walt Disney World this year. Spring brings the annual Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival, with gardens, topiaries, special playgrounds for the kids, gardening seminars for the adults, and a butterfly garden for everyone. This year's new addition is food booths scattered around World Showcase with fresh creations from the Disney chefs. The event runs March 6 to May 19.
The Flower Power concert series is a popular part of the Flower and Garden Festival. Mickey Dolenz kicks it off, followed by a series of acts from the 1960s and '70s.
With fall comes another popular Epcot event, the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival, from September 27 to November 10. As the name implies, it's a celebration of global cuisine, with kiosks from places like Poland, Australia, Sweden, and many, many more. If the kids turn their noses up at that "yucky stuff," let them try the kid-friendly fare. Frozen Nestle Quik is always a favorite, and it tastes so refreshing in the Florida heat that you might just get a cup for yourself. If your feet are tired, rest them at one of the Eat to the Beat concerts.
September and October are also the time for Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party on select nights at the Magic Kingdom. This after-hours event requires a special ticket, but your kids will be rewarded with bulging bags of candy after they hit the endless trick-or-treat trails. Dress them up in costume, and if you're adventurous, deck yourself out, too. The party is the only time that adults can wear their costumes in the park.
Coming out for Christmas? Each of the four Disney parks has it own special celebration, from the Candlelight Processional and Christmas Around the World at Epcot to the Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Disney's Hollywood Studios.
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The new Transformers ride at Universal Studios Florida will make this a great year to visit when it opens in the summer. This 3-D simulator proved so popular in California that it's being recreated for the Sunshine State. If you have young kids, they'll clamor to see some of their favorite characters at Universal, like SpongeBob SquarePants and the Minions from "Despicable Me." The Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem ride even features a live dance party with those loveable yellow characters as you exit.
Like Disney, Universal has seasonal celebrations, like its Mardi Gras parade and concert series. Youngsters love the elaborate floats, and they really get into the spirit as they compete to catch beads and doubloons. The festivities happen on select nights between February 9 and April 20.
Fall is a great time for tweens, teens, and adults when Halloween Horror Nights takes over the park at night. This hard ticketed event, which runs on select nights in September and October, is geared for the older crowd and those who don't scare easily. The haunted houses are packed with terror, but you're not safe on the streets, either, as monsters, zombies, and other creatures pop out at every turn.
The younger kids will prefer Christmas, which brings the Macy's parade to Universal Studios and Grinchmas to its sister park next door, Islands of Adventure.
What happens when you combine a high-tech ride vehicle with an amazingly authentic penguin habitat? You have Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin, the new ride that debuts at SeaWorld Orlando in 2013. It's a great year to bring your little animal lovers to the park and let them be among the first to experience this new attraction. The ride vehicles can take a variable path, so your family can ride it several times for different experiences.
If you're looking for more special events to spice up the year, SeaWorld Orlando has a full line-up. Bands, Brew, and BBQ and Viva La Musica are two celebrations of food and music that happen on select weekend days between February and May. Both events have special family-friendly activities like dance parties and costumed characters. The park then transitions to Summer Nights, with extended hours and special evening shows like Shamu Rocks and Sea Lions Tonight.
SeaWorld has trick or treating on select days in October, and it's included with the regular ticket price. The holiday seasons brings shows like Shamu Christmas Miracles and Winter Wonderland on Ice, along with a ride on the Polar Express to see Santa.
As you can tell, you're bound to have a great time no matter when you head out to Orlando. There's something going on all year long to spice up your vacation.