Disney parks by day are super fun, but going to the parks at night is a whole different ballgame. The lights and shows make the atmosphere totally jaw dropping and worth spending hours enjoying the rides and attractions under the stars. While there is a lot going on in the parks and during the evening hours, there are a few things you simply cannot miss! Here are the top ten ways to experience the Disney parks at night!
10. Fantasmic! Dinner Package
Fantasmic! is one of the most popular shows on the Walt Disney World property. With thousands of guests each night (sometimes even twice a night) watching the dazzling water effects, spectacular fireworks, and enjoying Mickey’s dream of evil versus good, its no wonder that Fantasmic! continues to be a Disney favorite. The effects in this show are unlike any other with one million gallons of water used, pyrotechnics, and laser lights! Not only should you not miss this show during the evening, but you can also invest in the Fantasmic! dinner package. You can choose to eat at one of three restaurants and after indulging in a savory dinner, you head over to watch the show from your VIP spot in the theater. This is a great way to know you have secure seats in a great location at the theater. If you choose not to participate in the dinner package, you will want to wait in line to enter the theater at least one hour prior to show time. This show is filled to capacity very quickly. If you can, try to attend the second showing. You can also select a Fastpass for this show up to 30 days prior to your arrival. If you have your ‘glow with the show’ Mickey ears, be sure to wear them here since the lights on your ears sync with the music of the show. This show usually has less in attendance since the majority of the crowd always tries to attend the first show.
There is no better way to enjoy your night at the Magic Kingdom than by watching the most spectacular firework display in the Wishes show located in front of the castle down Main Street U.S.A. Watch the castle come to life with different scenes from the most beloved Disney films as the correlating music fills Main Street U.S.A. Hundreds of fireworks dazzle the night sky and Tinker Bell even makes a flight from the top of the castle all the way through Tomorrowland. This show may only be twelve minutes long, but you should start finding a place to stand or sit at least an hour prior to show time. Not a fan of waiting around for an hour? You can also select fastpasses for your party up to 30 days prior to your arrival. Another great way to snag a good spot for the show is to participate in the Wishes dessert party. You can enjoy the firework display over the castle while indulging in an exclusive dessert experience. You will be served a plethora of fresh desserts made daily by pastry chefs and toast with several beverage options to a memorable day while watching the fireworks from a covered patio with a fantastic view from the castle. The dessert party can be a bit pricey, but it is totally worth it if you can include it in your plans!
8. Illuminations: Reflections of Earth
Epcot is a truly inspiring theme park, and its nighttime show Illuminations is nothing short of breathtaking. Illuminations tells the story of the past, present, and future of Earth through a unique firework show and massive globe that travels the world showcase lagoon. The music, lights, cutting edge technology, and three party story of Earth is truly imaginative and will leaved you beyond impressed. If you are visiting during the holidays, you are in for a treat as Illuminations infuses the spirit of the holidays within the show! This show can be seen from anywhere in the world showcase, but be sure to grab a spot at least an hour prior to show time. Like Wishes, if you do not wish to wait around, you can always grab fastpasses for your family at least 30 days prior to your arrival. Traveling with adults only? You have to incorporate the dessert party for this show! Sample several sweet treats inspired from the different countries throughout Epcot and pair them with select spirits and wines while you watch the show. There is reserved seating for those that participate in this package, so your view will be perfect! Children are able to participate in this dessert package, however in my experience, I think it is geared more towards adults since the desserts are not what children typically eat, there are no characters, and it includes alcohol. This is one of the more affordable dessert parties, so don’t miss out on it!
7. Extra Magic Hours
Guests staying at Walt Disney World resorts can benefit from extra magic hours. Extra magic hours vary by park every day and allow Disney resort guests to visit the parks before the park opens to the general public or after the general public leaves at closing time. If you can participate in any of these extra magic hours, you will enjoy less of a crowd. Sometimes, you can enjoy the park until 3 A.M! There aren’t very many park guests way late at night, leaving you more time to check off rides and attractions from your to-do list!
Dancing is a great way to release energy and feel great, but it’s even more special when it’s at Disney World. From 5 P.M.-10 P.M., Mr. and Mrs. Incredible along with Frozone, get the party started for a major dance party! The DJ plays some really great music that will make you want to dance the night away. There is no need to wait in line or grab a fastpass since this is an open event and anyone can join at any time. The kids (and adults) love interacting with the Incredibles characters and the DJ really pumps up the crowd the entire time. This is one of the things I love to o each and every time I’m in the Magic Kingdom!
5. Main Street Electrical Parade
Parades are one of the most popular activities at Walt Disney World. They are developed and performed perfectly and put smiles on everyone’s faces. One of the best parades to watch is the Main Street Electrical Parade, performed nightly at the Magic Kingdom. Watch as dozens of glowing lighted floats pass by with hundreds of dancers and characters that are also completely lit up in half a million lights! The music is also synced to the parade and includes some of the classic films like Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland, Cinderella, Snow White, Pinocchio, and even Pete’s Dragon Elliott. Seeing all of the floats and lights are truly memorable and the pictures that you will be able to take are fantastic! If you want to watch the parade without waiting an hour prior to it starting, you can select fastpasses for your family up to 30 days prior to your arrival. This parade is a must on your next trip to the Magic Kingdom!
4. Special Events
There are a few hard ticket events that are only available during the evening hours, but they are such a hit with park guests. Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, and Night of Joy are examples of some of the hard ticket events that only go on during the evening hours. These events may only last 5-7 hours, but they offer parades, shows, firework displays, excusive sweet treats, and character meet and greets that are only done throughout these hard ticket events. Since there are limited tickets sold for each night, the crowds will not be as jammed as usual. If you can grab tickets to these events, they are so worth it!
While this isn’t directly in one of the Disney parks, the Boardwalk offers a slew of nighttime festivities and it is just a short walk from the France pavilion in Epcot. If you’re in Epcot and you want to take a break or just want to explore something else on Disney property, head on over to the Boardwalk. Here you will find a plethora of restaurants, a phenomenal bakery, a delicious funnel cake stand, carnival games, magic shows, shops, and even a piano bar and dance club. The nightlife here is always in full swing and the atmosphere is absolutely perfect for a night out with adults or with children. There is something for everyone at the Boardwalk!
2. The Kiss Goodnight
Many don’t know about this little delight. Once the park closes and the mass exit of guests leave, the kiss goodnight plays along the streets of Main Street U.S.A every thirty minutes until the entire park is completely empty. The kiss goodnight is Magic Kingdom’s way of saying goodnight to their guests. This two minute long ceremony includes twinkling lights on the Cinderella Castle as When You Wish Upon a Star plays throughout the streets and the narrator describes how magic and make-believe are reborn at the park and how Walt envisioned a world of imagination and dreams. Every time I watch this I get choked up. Thinking of how beautifully narrated the kiss goodnight is makes me think about how Walt’s dreams came true with this beautiful place where people can let go and dream. It is the most heart warming two minutes that you will feel. This is worth sticking around after park closing to watch, and best of all, it’s free!
1. runDisney Events
Most of the runDisney events take place early in the morning, but the Wine and Dine half marathon actually beings at 10:00 P.M! Join thousands of runners at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex as you run 13.1 miles through the Disney parks and finish at Epcot. You will enjoy fireworks and entertainment throughout the entire course along with interaction from various characters. Running through the evening is great because the weather is nice and cool and the nightlife offers a great atmosphere! There is only one race per year so you will not want to miss it! These events sell out quickly, so be sure to sign up early!
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Photo courtesy of Disney Photo Snapper