There was a period of time, when the kids were small, that we never saw the parks in the dark. A good night’s sleep was critical for our middle son. No one wanted to upset his routine, afraid of the repercussions the next day.
Fast forward a few years later and we re-discovered the joys of Disney after Dark.
There is nothing like entering the Haunted Mansion while it is dark and eerie outside. Or, as you round the corner on Splash Mountain, catching a glimpse of the castle all lit up. Everything is a new attraction experiencing it in a new light.
- Must Experience Attractions: Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Haunted Mansion, Jungle Cruise, Dumbo, Tomorrowland Speedway and Astro Orbiter.
- Happily Ever After Fireworks Show – A must-see 18 minute fireworks spectacular set to narration, music, laser lights and movie projections. It brings the castle to life. Our favorite viewing spot is in the common area in front of Casey’s Corner. Check the Times Guide at Magic Kingdom for showtimes.
- Hard Ticket Events – Some of the best family memories are created during Disney’s hard ticket events. You must have a regular admission ticket AND a ticket for the special event but it is so worth the extra cost. There are shorter queues, special snacks, exclusive pins and apparel for purchase and amazing, unique parades and shows specific for the season. For Halloween lovers there is Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party starting in late August through Halloween. The winter holiday season starts in November and lasts until Christmas with Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.
- The Kiss Goodnight – For 30 minutes after the park closes, as the last guests are leaving the park, a recording is heard with parting words and wishes for a good night. It’s one of our favorite rituals as we end our vacation.
Illuminations is a must for every visit, of course, but Test Track takes it to a whole new level of excitement as you scream through the track in the dark.
- Must Experience Attraction: Test Track
- Illuminations: Reflections of Earth – A unique musical/fireworks display around World Showcase Lagoon. Be sure and check out the special holiday edition starting November 24 and ending December 30th 2017.
- Nighttime Dining: World Showcase has some amazing restaurants but dining al fresco is extra special at night. You can always grab a counter service meal and find a bench but EPCOT now offers a number of outdoor table service locations: La Hacienda de San Angel (Mexico), Tokyo Dining (Japan, Spice Road Table (Morocco), Monsieur Paul (France) and Rose and Crown (United Kingdom).
- Special lighting: EPCOT has some of the most beautiful evening lights highlighting buildings and gardens. Don’t forget to look down for some special sidewalk magic as you leave the park.
Tower of Terror. Need I say more?
- Must Experience Attraction: Tower of Terror. (Definitely worth repeating.)
- Evening Shows – Fantasmic! is featured in an outdoor amphitheater at the end of Sunset Blvd. Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular is featured in the center of the park. Scheduled fairly close together it is tough to see both in one night. And it’s hard for our family to pick between the two. If you have the time, schedule two nights at Hollywood Studios. Both are must sees!
No longer a “half day park” Animal Kingdom is an entirely new experience with their recently added nighttime hours and the opening of Pandora – The World of Avatar.
- Must See Attractions: Expedition Everest, Kilimanjaro Safaris, Kali River Rapids, and Primeval Whirl.
- Evening Shows and Attractions: The Tree of Life, the center focal point of the park, comes to life after dark. Rivers of Light is an evening light show at the outdoor amphitheater located on Discovery River. Pandora – The World of Avatar becomes a glowing wonderland after dark.
Whether you are trying to cram in a full day or you’re capitalizing on a second wind after a mid-day rest at your resort, visiting Walt Disney World theme parks after dark is absolutely a must-do!