No matter where you live, this time of year means only one thing: Spring Break! Over the next few weeks, schools across the country will close for the week, giving families a rare opportunity to visit Walt Disney World during the school year. Here are a few suggestions about things to do at Disney during Spring Break 2019.
Flowers and Gardens
While many Disney Vacation Club (DVC) members obsess over their annual fall pilgrimages to Epcot, I prefer the spring. Sure, the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival receives much of the attention, but the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival is my favorite.
By the time you read this, the 2019 version of the event will have opened to the public. This year’s dates are March 6th through June 3rd, giving you plenty of time to visit no matter when Spring Break falls on your school calendar. As for the event, you surely know the deal by now.
The Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival is the place to go for the finest in Outdoor Kitchen flavors. These pop-up kiosks serve counter service food at rock-bottom prices. Seriously, these are the cheapest eats you’ll find at Walt Disney World.
The cuisine’s exotic and unique as well. Disney adds several one-time-only specialty foods each year, and 2019 is no different. You can read a complete list of the Outdoor Kitchen menus here thanks to our friends at DisneyFoodBlog.
As always, food is only part of the story of the exhibition. Disney has married it to concerts in recent years. The Garden Rocks concert series has been a favorite part of the Flower & Garden Festival for many years now. A couple of years ago, park officials added the option to book a Garden Rocks dining package. This deal guarantees seating at the concert plus a meal at one of several restaurants at the World Showcase.
The Garden Rocks package is a bit divisive. On the one hand, you’ll get the best possible view of Night Ranger, which is apparently a good thing to some people. On the other, you’re eating a standard pavilion meal that you could get any time rather than relishing in the palate-popping flavors of the Outdoor Kitchens.
Either way, the Garden Rocks concert series is terrific. Every night, a band that you probably know plays three sets of their greatest hits…or hit in some instances. I’m looking at you, Smithereens. Anyway, here is this year’s list of performers:
- Journey former lead vocalist STEVE AUGERI – NEW!
March 6 through 8
- Glass Tiger – NEW to Garden Rocks!
March 9 through 10
- Jon Anderson of Yes – NEW!
March 11 through 12
- Tony Orlando
March 13 through 14
- Wang Chung – NEW to Garden Rocks!
March 15 through 16
- Simple Plan
March 17 through 20
- Ambrosia – NEW!
March 21 through 22
- Magic Giant – NEW!
March 23 through 24
- Air Supply – NEW to Garden Rocks!
March 25 through 27
- Berlin, featuring Terri Nunn
March 28 through 29
- The Smithereens – NEW to Garden Rocks!
March 30 through 31
- Rick Springfield
April 1 through 2
- Christopher Cross – NEW to Garden Rocks!
April 3 through 4
- The Spinners
April 5 through 7
- Dennis DeYoung, original member of the group Styx
April 8 through 9
- John Michael Montgomery – NEW!
April 10 through 11
- Sister Sledge – NEW to Garden Rocks!
April 12 through 13
- Night Ranger
April 14 through 16
- Sister Hazel – NEW to Garden Rocks!
April 17 through 19
- Steven Curtis Chapman – NEW!
April 20 through 21
- TobyMac – NEW!
April 22 through 23
April 24 through 26
- The Orchestra, starring former members of ELO
April 27 through 30
- Herman’s Hermits, starring Peter Noone
May 1 through 4
- Don Felder, formerly of The Eagles
May 5 through 7
- A Flock of Seagulls – NEW!
May 8 through 9
- Marshall Tucker Band – NEW to Garden Rocks!
May 10 through 11
- Peabo Bryson – NEW!
May 12 through 13
- Richard Marx – NEW to Garden Rocks!
May 14 through 15
- Starship, starring Mickey Thomas
May 16 through 19
- Colin Hay of Men at Work – NEW!
May 20 through 21
- War – NEW!
May 22 through 23
- The Guess Who
May 24 through 27
- Jon Secada
May 28 through 29
- Blood, Sweat and Tears
May 30 through June 1
- Eddie Palmieri – NEW!
June 2 through June 3
As you can see, some of these bands almost seem too good for the Garden Rocks series. Others like Blood, Sweat and Tears were subjects of Simpsons gags 15+ years ago. You can check the list against your travel dates to see whether you’re in luck. May you successfully avoid Air Supply during your Spring Break Disney vacation, my friends.
Experience the New Stuff
Unless you visit more than once a year, you’re a bit behind on some of the latest stuff at Walt Disney World. Don’t worry! Unless you live in central Florida, it’s inevitable to happen. And it’s actually great news for you. During your Spring Break visit, you’ll have plenty of new things to do!
For starters, you should book a meal at Artist Point. Storybook Dining at Artist Point with Snow White is both a character meal and a Signature Dining experience. Resort officials were frustrated by the lack of crowds at Artist Point, a place that DVC members know delivers one of the most elegant meals at Walt Disney World. So, they switched to a character meal. When you eat here now, you’ll meet Snow White, the Evil Queen, Dopey, and Grumpy. And the meal is magical, too.
Another resort has upgraded its dining options as well. You should visit Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort this Spring Break for a couple of reasons. One is that you can see how Disney’s Riviera Resort is coming along. It’s the new DVC property that will debut in the fall. While you’re there, you can take a look at the progress on the Disney Skyliner transportation system. Plus, you can visit a pair of new restaurants, Centertown Market and Sebastian’s Bistro, the latter of which is themed after your favorite friend from The Little Mermaid.
Of course, when you visit Walt Disney World, you’re there for the rides. For the second year in a row, Disney opened an entirely new themed land in 2018. Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios shrinks you to the size of a toy and then places you in Andy’s playroom, where you can explore all of his other knickknacks.
Toy Story Land is a thoroughly entertaining themed land that will take you back to your youth and those memories of your favorite childhood toys. You’ll love everything about it, especially the new attractions, Slinky Dog Dash and Alien Swirling Saucers. I’m devout in the belief that the latter ride is wildly underrated, as it’s a ton of fun. Still, there’s no arguing that Slinky Dog Dash is the pride and joy of Toy Story Land. You’ll even love the line queue.
Catching a Game
Since 1997, Atlanta Braves fans and Disney fans have merrily coincided in Orlando. The ESPN’s Wide World of Sports complex has hosted Atlanta’s Spring Training games for that long. Alas, the contract has come to an end.
The Braves will move to Sarasota, Florida next year, presuming that all goes to plan. The agreement was supposed to start this year; however, construction fell behind at the new stadium. You are the beneficiary of this delay. Atlanta’s spending one last year at Walt Disney World, barring something unforeseen. You have the opportunity to watch Spring Training baseball, the purest kind, during your Disney trip.
What’s so great about Spring Training? The stars only take one or two at-bats before signing autographs and then running laps in the outfield, sometimes even between innings. The rest of the time, baby-faced hopefuls try to earn a shot at the majors. Optimism abounds, and you always have that chance of saying that you saw a Hall of Famer when he was a wide-eyed 19-year-old.
Plus, you get to watch the greatest team in the history of baseball, the Atlanta Braves. While they’ve made fewer moves than a sloth this offseason, they still have Ronald Acuna Jr. His presence alone is more than enough to justify spending some of your precious Disney time at the baseball stadium. And you get to eat some of these ridiculous ballpark foods, too.
Disney After Dark
As a card-carrying DVC member, you’ll have a couple of options to visit Disney theme parks after closing. One of the events is exclusive to DVC participants. The other is an upsell ticketed event that delivers tremendous value for the price.
Let’s talk about the DVC event first. Moonlight Magic is a special after-hours option wherein DVC members get to experience many of the attractions at a theme park without waiting in long lines. Disney closes the park early for regular customers and then gives DVC owners the run of the place. Hollywood Studios will host two events this month. They take place on March 20th and March 27th, but you must register for the events. They’re both near capacity, so act fast.
Should you get sold out, you have another option. Disney After Hours is pretty much the same thing, only it’s available to everyone…for a price. This ticketed event costs $125 per person, although DVC members may receive a $30 discount. For that price, guests receive three hours of access to a Disney theme park when it’s otherwise closed to the public.
Hollywood Studios will host events on every Saturday in March and the first two Saturdays of April. Your Spring Break will surely line up with one of those weeks.
Should you prefer a mid-week option, Disney’s Animal Kingdom holds Disney After Hours events on March 20th, March 27th, and April 3rd, all of which are Wednesdays. Animal Kingdom may be the better value. While Toy Story Land is undeniably popular, Pandora – The World of Avatar is the hottest ticket at Walt Disney World and will remain that way until Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opens this fall.
With Disney After Hours, you can ride Avatar Flight of Passage and Na’Vi River Journey more easily than normal. The lines are much smaller than they would be if the park were open. Then again, virtually everyone who attends this ticketed event will spend the vast majority of their time in Pandora. So, you shouldn’t expect to walk right onto either ride. It’s unquestionably better than usual, though.
Okay, that should be enough to entertain you for the entirety of your Spring Break. Have a great time, everyone! And I apologize to any Air Supply/Smithereens fans that I’ve offended.