Does your family happen to love Disney World as much as ours? As new Floridians, my husband could not wait to become Annual Passholders and join in plastering our cars with the latest collectible Disney magnets. As I’ve learned (by driving through the parking lot at Publix) it would appear that we’re within the company of fellow Disney fans. After visiting the parks multiple times (I’ve lost count…) within the last year I’ve learned a few lessons on how to make your family’s time at Disney even more magical. My first bit of advice? Head to the parks after dark to really experience the magic that Disney World offers. There is nothing quite like walking into the Magic Kingdom and simultaneously seeing Main Street U.S.A. lit up with Cinderella’s castle in the backdrop.
Visiting at night can often mean a condensed schedule of activities mixed with logistical challenges and by this I mean your children may find themselves in a sugar-driven, but sleep-deprived state that can often lead to disaster if not planned out accordingly since they’re likely up way past bedtime.
Take full advantage of fast passes: Make sure your family plans ahead of time and snags coveted fast passes on the Disney app for the rides you can’t miss out on. My husband and son especially love riding Splash Mountain for the views after dark.
Bring a picnic style dinner and splurge on dessert: Mealtimes can often be hectic as popular restaurants require reservations. While this is great for special visits, the parks also offer plenty of quaint spots to enjoy pre-packed sandwiches/snacks to ensure that the kids are fed before the “hangry” kicks in. This makes saying “YES” to that kitchen sink sundae or dole whip even more enjoyable.
Know where and when to exit: By planning a scheduled exit during a popular show or extending your stay until after the general park closes (if you are so lucky as to have littles sound asleep in a stroller the gift shops are generally open for about an hour after scheduled park closing.. gift shopping, anyone?) can definitely alleviate some of the stress of waiting for transportation to the parking lots during peak times.
Extra Magic Hours for Resort Guests
Be sure to check for the posted Extra Magic Hours as this sometimes includes additional evening hours blocked out only for those staying at a Disney property. This can help lessen the length of time waiting in line for a new ride like the super cool Slinky Dog in the new Toy Story Land at Hollywood Studios or training to be a Jedi.
Upcoming Special Events After Dark: Mickey’s-Not-So-Scary Halloween Party & Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party
These special events are only available at night during select dates and require a separate ticket for admission.
As magical as Disney is on any regular night, visiting the park during these special celebrations truly ensures that memories will be made for years to come. This is the second year that my family has attended Mickey’s-Not-So-Scary Halloween Party (select dates from August to the end of October) as it coincides with my son’s birthday and what could be more fun than dressing up as your favorite character while trick-or-treating throughout the park (adults included). My favorite parts of these events include:
Special character appearances: Winnie-the-pooh, Eeyore, Piglet, and Tigger in Halloween costumes? Yes.
Themed celebrations: Watch “A Frozen Holiday Wish” as Queen Elsa mesmerizes the audience as she adds a little ice to Cinderella’s castle. Be sure to stay for “Mickey’s Boo-to-you Halloween Parade” as led by a spooky headless horseman.
Staged photo ops: Take advantage of special effect set-ups throughout the parks to make the most of your evening celebration.
With these tips in hand, I hope that your family makes extra magical moments at Disney after Dark!