Disney World At Night
I’m not a Walt Disney World expert. My family and I merely enjoy visiting and saving as much as possible along the way. And with our young ones, we usually finish up at the parks by dinner. To say we aren’t “wait for fireworks” people would be an understatement. While I’ve snuck out solo from time to time, and also with my older one, I’ve never taken full advantage of Disney World at night – until recently. I just finished up a Magic Kingdom visit during extended evening hours; here’s how it went.
Today I Learned…
As I prepared my last-minute 24 hour Disney World trip, I slimly avoided disaster. My muscle memory kicked in, and I initially booked the Doubletree Suites in Disney Springs. This is my favorite property for short, low maintenance Disney World trips with early park access. While sharing plans with my Spending Time podcast cohost Ryan Flanigan, he pointed out that the list of parks with extended evening hours access is different and substantially more exclusive. Long story short, it’s the Disney deluxe properties plus the Swan, Dolphin, Swan Reserve, and Shades of Green. I then promptly booked the Swan Reserve with a 50k Marriott cert and a few extra thousand points. With that, I locked in my Magic Kingdom access until 1 am.
Arrive with a Full Stomach
Food and beverage options are extremely limited during extended evening hours. Cosmic Ray’s was available earlier during the extended hours, but from that point on, I only saw a few concession-type carts offering popcorn, frozen treats, and beverages. I properly planned on this angle, though, as I enjoyed dinner at the Steakhouse ’71 bar prior to walking over to Magic Kingdom.
An Underrated Experience
A simple pleasure, walking around the parks with hardly anyone around, delivered big-time. Wandering the park at night with a relaxed pace and without the crowds was a joy. I guess I shouldn’t be to surprised feeling this way, as one of my favorite pastimes is visiting familiar environments at odd times. But one part of this experience stood out even more.
A Surprise High
I decided to climb Swiss Family Treehouse toward the end of my visit. Near the top of the path, I looked over my shoulder to an excellent view of Cinderella Castle, Tron Lightcycle Run, and Space Mountain. I found the surreal juxtaposition of Adventureland and Swiss Family Treehouse against the view beyond quite remarkable. All while not having to rush it without other climbers behind me.
Walk-Ons Everywhere? Not Necessarily…
Lines were shorter than usual, across the board. Walk-ons abounded, enough to keep me busy for a good while. The unexpected highlight for me was riding the Haunted Mansion with no wait, one I hadn’t experienced in a few years. But thrill ride lines were still substantial, so long that I didn’t bother. At 12:30 am, Big Thunder Railroad and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train were still 35- and 60-minute waits, respectively. I found myself at the front of the park, opting to depart for the night instead.
Doing Everything Isn’t the Point
As with any Disney World visit, doing everything in one trip is a fool’s errand. Indeed, even if I could’ve done everything during this Magic Kingdom visit, I’m confident I wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much. Instead, I stuck to realistic goals – a few major attractions, and enough other time for the unexpected.
Despite the late hours, I enjoyed how many Disney photographers were still available. This was huge for a few reasons – cool opportunities for night shots, extremely short lines, and no one else in the photos. I hope to visit during extended evening hours again and take advantage of this opportunity even more.
Magic Kingdom felt refreshing when taking it in via extended evening hours. I look forward to doing the same at other parks, particularly EPCOT, in the future. Early park access is nice, but I’d take extended evening hours over that anytime. Perhaps that’s comparing apples and oranges. Regardless, I’m a more informed visitor now. Have you taken advantage of Disney World at night? How was your experience?
Capital One Venture X Business earns 2X miles on everyday purchases plus up to 10X in bonus categories. You also get access to Capital One lounges plus an annual travel credit & anniversary bonus. Right now you earn bonus_miles_full.
Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.