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Should Disney make EPCOT a year-round festival playground?

With the Food and Wine Festival at 90 days, Flower and Garden Festival extended to 75 days, the Festival of Holidays ringing in around 75 days, and the Festival of the Arts drawing 60 days, there’s really only one time at EPCOT that is currently without a festival – Summer. Maybe it’s time that changed.

Why would they need a festival in the Summer I hear you ask. You would be right if you said that summer is already busy travel time for Walt Disney World. You’d also be right if you said that EPCOT is Walt Disney World’s second busiest park… well, you’d be right until 2017 when Pandora – The World of Avatar helped strip that title for Disney’s Animal Kingdom. With Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge on the horizon, EPCOT is in danger of falling to last place in terms of yearly attendance (ok that’s a stretch, I admit). A summer festival would be just the thing to help EPCOT take the title back.

But wait! I heard that Disney loses money on the festivals, you say? Despite rumors online, Disney doesn’t use the festivals as a loss leader. Yes, they have additional labor costs (which Disney managers are loathe to inflate), but they bring in people, sell lots of food and merchandise, plus keep the hotel rooms occupied. If they didn’t make make the mouse plenty of cheese, Disney wouldn’t have added fourth event and expanded the number of days in the park when festivals are open.

Let’s say the bean counters agree with my assessment and a summer festival is just thing thing EPCOT needs to beat back DAK and keep EPCOT hopping with guests long into the night, what type of festival should EPCOT plan to add?

The four components of a great festival at EPCOT are: 1) a theme that will be a draw to people who may not otherwise visit EPCOT during that time of year, 2) a concert program, 3) food, and 4) exhibits or seminars in which guests may learn something new or encounter a cultural element they may not otherwise have access to where they live.

How would a summer festival meet those four needs? Consider an idea like “Epcot World Music Festival.” Invite artists from around the globe that bring their own fans, many of whom are grandparents, who would bring their extended family members with them. Because of the summer heat, the concerts would be held at night or inside the air conditioned World Showplace pavilion (you know that temporary tent erected for the Millennium Celebration 20 years ago). Music from around the world means food from around the world, so that’s sorted. Instead of seminars, we could offer kid friendly music and dance classes. All four components sorted.

A couple more summer festival ideas:

  • EPCOT International Friendship Festival. Each country, and select invited nations, share traditions of friendship, food, drink, and music.
  • EPCOT Technology and Sustainability Showcase. Food booths focused on sustainable harvests, special demos on the latest technologies from exhibits and conventions around the globe. Add an audio-animatronic Elon Musk and you have a winner, right?

What would make you line up another trip to EPCOT, even in the heat of summer? Perhaps a water balloon festival? Put on your armchair imagineer cap and add your ideas for a summer festival in the comments.

1 thought on “Should Disney make EPCOT a year-round festival playground?”

  1. I’d like to see Epcot have fewer, not more festivals. The festivals have been the solution to drive visitation to a park that otherwise hasn’t received the attention it should have for the past 20 years. World Showcase has always been great, but take a look at Future World and all the dead spaces like Wonders of Life, Innoventions and toss in Imagination because I’d rather see it closed than subjected to what transpired to that pavilion since opening. Without Soarin’, the Land would be a ghost town. The Test Track update was a disappointing black light overlay. The festivals are great experiences, but just drives the cost up for visitors because everyone spends money beyond park admission on F&B and seminars. I’m really hoping that when the day finally occurs that Future World has a complete overhaul, there might be some backing off of the festival focus. Make the park stand on it’s own again rather than depending on F&B festival kiosks.

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