September. The month that marks the end of Summer. This month also marks the start to so many wonderful things. I found myself searching on Pinterest for Fall Bucket Activities and Lists. I pinned them all. All! Now, I can’t help but dream of fall nights, birthdays, coffee and hot chocolate, pumpkins, s’mores, cool evenings, hay rides, trick or treating, camp fires, rocking chairs with blankets, fireplaces, and more. Which finds me more or less day- dreaming about vacationing at Walt Disney World. As if I didn’t need a reason to do it before. It’s no secret. Maryann and I live in South Florida. It’s not the most “Fall – like” location in our country. After living in North Carolina for 18 years of my un-appreciating Fall life — I often find myself having trouble getting into the Fall spirit. It’s not the same when you are Trick or Treating and it’s 90 degrees out. And well — at least at Disney you can somewhat fake it. To an extent.
You see, September brings many things at Disney. Wonderful things I often find myself waiting for all year. They even created the hashtag #wonderFallDisney. The Food and Wine Festival at Epcot is just that. A #wonderFall way to explore the culinary adventures from all around the world without really needing a passport. Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party allows me to be a kid again and enjoy halloween instead of being frowned upon when you normally see a ::mumble, mumble:: 30-something year old celebrating. Then there is the start of the runDisney season, starting traditionally Labor Day weekend in California with the Disneyland Half Marathon weekend. Not to mention… It’s my birthday. As I get older I find myself unable to celebrate special occasions with the void of stress, work, or daily life if I am still in town. It is so much easier if we just escape. So year after year we find ourselves in the same place, exploring all the wonderful things that September brings to Disney. Unfortunately, the word has gotten out about how wonderful it is. Since our first Fall trip back in 1999. Yep, that long ago. Event dates have expanded, crowds have increased, hotel rooms get harder and harder to book last minute. But this doesn’t stop me from packing my bags (or bag depending on how many days I can get away) and escaping to find Fall.
Here are some of the things you can cross off your Fall Bucket List while vacationing at Walt Disney World:
Watch Hocus Pocus – Ok… maybe not the movie (unless Resorts add it to their “Movie Under the Stars” schedule) but you sure as heck can see one ah-mazing performance of the dazzling witches (Winnie, Mary, and Sarah) in the Hocus Pocus Villain Spectacular stage show at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party.
Go to a campfire – If you are staying at a Moderate or a Deluxe Disney property (except for Wilderness Lodge due to construction), you can celebrate the great outdoors with complimentary campfire activities. But for an extra special experience head over to Fort Wilderness for Chip ’n Dale’s Campfire Sing-a-Long. You can join them for a nightly campfire celebration that includes roasting marshmallows, singing songs, and photos/ autographs with Chip ‘n Dale. And if at the end that isn’t enough fun for you, you can hang out for a classic Disney movie under the stars.
Roast Marshmallows/ make S’mores – see campfire above. Some of the locations even have s’more kits available for purchase. OR… stay at Fort Wilderness and make them over your cabin/ campsites personal outdoor grill.
Dress up for Halloween – You might not be able to go in full costume (due to new costume rules) – but check out the official costume guidelines for Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party here (HERE) but you sure as heck can Disneybound your way through the parks. Every day that you are there.
Take fall themed pictures – even if you are only sporting Pumpkin Mickey Ears, a halloween t-shirt, and a glowing Mickey pumpkin candy bucket… the pictures that Disney’s photo pass photographers will capture amongst all the Fall/ Halloween decor is simply breathtaking.
Go to a halloween party – Did I already mention Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party? The Halloween fun is just waiting for you at this Special Event Ticketed Party at the Magic Kingdom. At this party you will experience halloween themed stage performances, fireworks, dance parties, parades, characters, costumes, and candy. Lots and lots of candy.
Go for a hike – The 2.5 mile New Balance jogging trail at the Wilderness Lodge will take you along a path that goes right to Fort Wilderness. This path is sure take you through some of the splendor of the wilderness right in the heart of Orlando.
Carmel Apples – Pretty much any bakery/ candy location in all of the four parks and Goofy’s Candy Company in Disney Springs will have them. But my personal favorite is the Karamell-Küche shop at the Germany Pavilion in Epcot. They have Carmel Apples there that are made with Werther’s Original Caramel. Yes, you heard right… and they will even cut it up for you.
Go on a hay ride – Fort Wilderness has nightly wagon rides. These 25-minute old-fashioned, horse-drawn wagon rides take you on a scenic tour through Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground. If a group wagon is not up your alley… Port Orleans (and Fort Wilderness) also have horse drawn carriage rides that can be just as fall like. Just bring a blanket.
Read a book by the fire– The Wilderness Lodge has one of the most breathtaking fireplaces I have ever seen. It just begs for me to grab a book, cuddle up, and read. If the lobby is too crowded for your taste, wander over to the Villas and check out their common areas. They too have fireplaces and are rarely used.
Drink a fall drink – with Starbucks in every park now you can get your PSL whenever you want it. Or you can get a Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate at Ghirardelli’s at Disney Springs.
Gobble up some Halloween Candy – Did I mention they have multiple trick or treat stations at the Halloween party? And yes, adults can partake too.
Spa time – Spa time? What does this have to do with Fall? Well… nothing I guess. Except for the fact that my birthday falls in September and one of my favorite things to do for myself (that I get to do once every 3 years) is a massage. My favorite place to go is Mandara Spa at the Dolphin. It’s a perfect way to relax and recharge. And the best part? If you have kids… Your child can enjoy two hours of complimentary time at Camp Dolphin for parents who purchase a spa service at the spa. All you have to do is present your receipt as proof of purchase (One child admitted for each purchase of a spa treatment of 75 minutes or more.) Now Disney also has their own Spas including Senses at the Grand Floridian or Saratoga Springs and Zahanati Massage at the Animal Kingdom Lodge.
Run on a crisp morning – with Disneyland Half Marathon in September and the Wine and Dine Half Marathon in November there are lots of opportunities and distances to sign up for. Or you can check out the countless other New Balance running trails located at several of the Walt Disney World resorts.
Eat a fall soup – 4 words. Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup. You can snag this wonderful culinary treat served with a pretzel roll during Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival.
Movie night – Cozy up at your Disney Resort hotel and enjoy a classic Disney Movie Under the Stars.
Camping – Fort Wilderness is where you can camp amid the magic of the great outdoors right in the heart of Walt Disney World. From tent sites to RV sites this is the perfect place to enjoy a picturesque backcountry retreat. And for those that like the idea of “roughing it in comfort and style” (cough, cough both of the Disney Twins) they have cabins. Fully furnished private cabins that are spacious enough to sleep 6 adults. With Bunk Beds!
Oktoberfest – Right in Epcot’s very own World Showcase the Germany pavilion transports you to a traditional Bavarian village. At the Biergarten Restaurant you can celebrate Oktoberfest. Feast on German fare and polka down with lively entertainment. Don’t forget to order the German Beer Flight.
Bike ride – Ride along tree-lined paths, through lush meadows, past tranquil canals and more. There are several Disney Resorts that offer bike rentals.
Board games – Game night is huge in our house. It’s a great way to get all of us (ok, not the 1 year old) to connect while disconnecting from electronics. So it goes without saying that when we go on vacation our games go with us. We usually will find some time during our trip to spend a few hours playing. Sometimes its while we are hanging out in the lobby of our resort waiting for our room to be ready. Other times it’s in our room after we have spent some time at the pool.
Popcorn/ Candied nuts – Nothing says Fall like Foooooooood! Now popcorn can be found everywhere at Disney but finding a few bags of the flavor popcorn and mixing them together in a fall bliss is… well…. fall bliss. Our favorite combination is cheddar cheese popcorn mixed with the caramel popcorn that you can get at the Karamell-Küche shop at the Germany Pavilion in Epcot. That’s right. The same place as the Carmel Apples. Here they make (right in front of you) popcorn coated with Werther’s Original Caramel. Now the candied nuts? Well, lets just say the Cinnamon glazed almonds have been at Disney for as long as I can remember. It was a cart in Hollywood Studios back by the Osborne Lights that got me hooked. The smell of these beauties linger out before I even notice where the carts are. And ever since that first taste, whenever I come upon these little carts that are quite often tucked away… I grab them.
Go horseback riding – If you are 9 years old or older, not an experienced rider (unlike Maryann who could ride a horse standing on her head) you can ride through an idyllic woodland on a horse! Is there a more perfect way to relax and explore the natural beauty of Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground? I think not.
We hope this list has given you some ideas of all the fun things you can do to celebrate the fall season while at Walt Disney World. Or even better, this list has inspired you just to make the trip to experience fall in a whole different magical way. And me? Well — until our next Fall trip— I’ll get back to dreaming of sitting around the fireplace at the Wilderness Lodge, with some candied nuts, a Salted Caramel hot chocolate, and a book. Have a wonder-fall and magical Autumn!
What is your favorite thing to do at Disney to celebrate the Fall? Let us know by leaving us a comment.