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Disney After Dark – Observations from a Late Night Magic Kingdom Visit

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Disney World at Night

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.

Disney World at Night
Dinner at probably my favorite sit down Disney restaurant right now, Steakhouse ’71.

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.

Disney World at Night

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.

Disney World at Night
Tron from the People Mover.

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.

PhotoPass FTW

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?

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Benjy Harmon
Benjy Harmon
Benjy focuses on the intersection of points, travel, and financial independence (FI). An experienced world traveler, husband, and father, he currently roams throughout the USA close to expense-free. Benjy enjoys helping others achieve their FI and travel goals.

Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.


  1. A trip to Disney is a magical adventure that transcends generations. From enchanting castles to thrilling rides, there’s something for everyone. Start by meeting beloved characters, like Mickey and Elsa, for heartwarming moments. Then, embark on exhilarating rides like Space Mountain or Pirates of the Caribbean. Don’t miss the vibrant parades and mesmerizing fireworks that light up the night sky. With its enchanting atmosphere, Disney is the ultimate destination where imagination knows no bounds.

    Nice Article.

  2. Haven’t yet. But thanks for writing this. We plan to do this at one of the parks when we go next spring. Especially that you don’t need to make park reservations anymore starting next year. So makes it easier to decide which park. Might do them all since we’ve been to Disney many times.


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