20 Tips to Plan an Event at Walt Disney World Resorts

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Planning an event at Walt Disney World® Resorts is a fanciful undertaking and the possibilities are so vast it can be a little overwhelming. Here are 20 things to help that you might not know.

Walt Disney World Resorts hosts all sizes and types of groups. If you can find a type of group they don’t have experience with, they might just give you a free night in Cinderella’s  err, that other person’s castle.

While Disney offers an event team to work with that will follow your lead or coordinate it for you, there are some things that will help make the planning easier. Follow these tips to help make your Walt Disney World Resorts event… well… magical.

  1. The Where Options are Endless

First, it’s important to know you can host events in the parks, hotels, and other exciting options. The Walt Disney World Resort is much more than a theme park and a couple of hotels. It encompasses six convention resorts, four theme parks, and two entertainment districts. There are also a handful of events during the year that bring in a large draw including Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival and their Flower and Garden Festival. In each of these areas, there are also multiple venues to accommodate special events of all sizes. A Disney event planner can go over the options as there may be hidden alcoves you didn’t even know about.

  1. Disney Offers Creative Resources You Don’t See Elsewhere

Want to dine in the jungle or eat among the swiftly tilting planets? You can work with Disney to make this happen. Their creative department can bring your event dreams to life by literally setting the stage to suit your vision. Your event can rival a Disney production if you have the budget.

  1. Size Doesn’t Matter

Disney isn’t all high production events. You can arrange for a very intimate small dinner at any of their hotel properties or inside the parks, but to do this you’ll need to go through Disney catering. This year, they did away with the 10-person minimum and instituted a $1,000 minimum spend instead, regardless of how many guests you have.

  1. Understand the Minimums and Fees

Disney has a lot of minimums and fees. Some venues have a rental fee, beverage and food minimums that vary with the type of event you’re hosting, and viewing fees per head for those without admission tickets.

  1. Ride Mix-Ins

If you’re hosting your event in a Disney Park you have the option of adding a ride mix-in at about $15 per person (for those who haven’t paid park admission). This option allows your guests to go to the head of the ride just before closing time. The ride must be in the same park where your event is held and be associated with an F&B order to be eligible.

  1. Transportation Requirements

Depending on where your event is in the park, Disney may require you to provide transportation for attendees. They offer a $42 one-way van for backstage transportation all the way up to chartered motor coaches. Check with the event coordinator to find out whether transportation is a requirement for your venue.

  1. Post-Operating Hours

Many events in the parks are set after the park has closed. Keep this in mind when considering the hours you want.

  1. Know the Music

As in most venues, Disney will charge you for sound and the ability to play music, even if you provide it. However, some venues come with their own music and it may still be playing when you get there. For instance, the Tower of Terror has its own soundtrack, albeit it might not be one that interests you.

  1. Food Services

You can only use Disney Catering for food services within the parks. The Disney Hotels themselves do not deliver. The Grand Floridian Bakery will deliver in the parks for a fee as a special exception but this is only allowed for wedding events.

  1. There’s a Person for That

Disney has an award-winning team and chances are if you can envision it, they have someone who can orchestrate it. From event planners to room block organizers to cast members who will play special roles at your event, you have a secondary group at your disposal who are all familiar with the challenges of making arrangements long-distance.

  1. Hotels and Room Blocks

Disney resorts offer discounts for room blocks of 10 or more. With six different convention hotels and a host of other rooming options in the area, there should be plenty of space. But Disney is a year-round destination. While they once experienced slow times in the fall and spring, their worldwide appeal means most days the parks are at 70% maximum occupancy so booking rooms and events early is key to getting your choice.

  1. Let Disney Cast Members Assist

Event planners are used to coming up with the entire creative plan on their own but you can also lean on Disney event planners to coordinate a lot of that for you. They can be as involved as you would like.

  1. Disney Does More Than Adults in Costume

It won’t surprise you that Disney offers a range of entertainers for your event but they can also provide motivational speakers, DJs, bands, and even tattoo artists.

  1. Disney Does Swag and Award-Winning Floral Designs

Disney offers gifts with co-branded options such as shirts, mugs, and umbrellas. Their award-winning floral department will help you create memorable floral arrangements seven days a week, eighteen hours a day.

  1. Try Networking at Adult Camp

Looking for something a little unexpected from a Disney experience? How about a networking event at a camp for adults? Camp A-O.K. is a fun package at the Animal Kingdom Theme Park.

  1. Know Hurricane Protocol

Orlando has been brushed with a few major storms/hurricanes recently and they actually closed the park in 2016 due to one of them. Disney offers a very generous Hurricane cancellation policy if a hurricane warning is issued within 7 days of your arrival. However, this policy does not apply to groups and events. Be sure you understand the hurricane provisions in these situations.

  1. Experience the Magic of MagicBands

All guests staying at a Disney resort receive a MagicBand. These bracelets do everything from act as a room key card to allow you to charge meals on it. This technology allows your attendees to have a carefree visit and potentially unlock some personalized surprises (should you choose to partake in them).

  1. Arrange for Behind the Scenes Tours

Disney Parks also offer several backstage tours to show you the operations from a different perspective. They can be tailored to the needs/interests of your group. Here are a few options.

  1. Disney Offers Professional Development

Disney also has an accredited professional development arm in the Disney Institute. With team-building experiences, half-day programs, full-day and multi-day options, it’s possible for your attendees to take advantage of these add-ons and learn from Disney’s experts.

  1. Incorporate Your Story Into Your Event

It’s not uncommon for larger events to have a floral designer, technician, videographer, creative director, show planner, and a writer in the event planning session. Disney Events works with your team to tell your story.

In Conclusion

Walt Disney World Resort’s dream-like setting hosts a variety of events every year, plus the parks offer their own special draw when it comes to attracting attendees. Often event planners select this venue because it is popular with all age groups around the world but it’s also pricey. Disney has a lot of services and a lot of fees. It’s important to understand them before you sign the contract.

Knowing what Disney offers and the many options available, will help make your planning easier. But, let’s be clear, there is no free night in the castle.