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Disney from a Twenty-Something: Nighttime in the Magic Kingdom

by Caitlin Corsello

While any time of day is magical in the Magic Kingdom, my favorite time is after the sun sets and the beautiful lights come on throughout the park. From the classic white lights lining the buildings of Main Street to the eerie lighting on the Haunted Mansion, nighttime in the Magic Kingdom offers special sights, sounds, and experiences. Once the sun sets, there are several activities exclusive to the Magic Kingdom that everyone should experience at least once. From parades to fireworks to a pageant, there is something for everyone to enjoy!

The first event that occurs at night is the Main Street Electrical Parade. Featuring whimsical floats created with hundreds of thousands of LED lights, this parade lights up the night as it travels from Frontierland through the hub and down Main Street. In 2010, the parade returned, replacing Spectromagic, and debuting brand new floats to further enhance the experience. Tinkerbell now opens the parade spreading pixie dust along the way. Once the lights dim on Main Street you will also be able to see characters such as Cinderella in her pumpkin coach, Peter Pan on Hook’s pirate ship, and the seven dwarfs hard at work. My personal favorite float is based on the classic Disney film Pete’s Dragon and features Pete and Elliot who continually disappears along the parade route. Ending in a patriotic finale, the Main Street Electrical Parade is a true classic in the Magic Kingdom and shouldn’t be missed. While some of the best viewing spots are on Main Street, they can be hard to come by in the more crowded months. So I recommend either scoping out a seat along the curb at least an hour before the parade begins, or opting for alternate viewing spots. Some other great places to watch the parade are from the train station balcony on the end of Main Street and along the Rivers of America in Frontierland.

If you enjoy excitement in the sky, then make sure to view Wishes, an extraordinary fireworks show high above Cinderella Castle. Narrated by Jiminy Cricket, Wishes takes you through the beauty of having and making wishes as well as sharing the wishes of classic Disney characters such as Ariel, Peter Pan, and Pinocchio. Along the way, you may encounter some villains, but remember, “always let your conscience be your guide.” All of this is set to a gorgeous soundtrack featuring Disney classics and Wishes’ own signature song. Be sure to look for Tinkerbell flying above sprinkling her pixie dust to begin the show! She flies from Cinderella Castle in the direction of Tomorrowland. While you can see the fireworks and hear the soundtrack almost everywhere in the park, I recommend viewing it on Main Street as you will have a direct view of Cinderella Castle with the fireworks high above. Other unique places to watch it are the beach of the Polynesian and the California Grill on the top floor of the Contemporary Resort. Another great place I have viewed Wishes from is Splash Mountain, imagine coming down the drop with those beautiful fireworks in the background!

Perhaps the most magical nighttime occurrence in the Magic Kingdom is the Kiss Goodnight. Usually occurring thirty minutes after park closing, the Kiss Goodnight features special lighting on Cinderella Castle, a heartfelt goodnight to all guests, and a clip from “When You Wish upon a Star.” While you can hear the Goodnight Kiss from all over the Magic Kingdom, I recommend watching it from in front of Cinderella Castle, that way you get to experience the special lighting. To me, this presentation embodies the spirit of the Magic Kingdom. It features beautiful music, the ideal of Walt Disney, and a truly heartfelt goodbye to all guests at the end of the day. This is a must see for anyone who is a Disney fan.

The final nighttime experience I will mention does not necessarily take place in the Magic Kingdom, but rather right outside it. Upon exiting the park, head down to the water front for a special treat many do not know about. Gliding across Seven Seas Lagoon every night, the Electrical Water Pageant has been treating guests to one last show upon exiting the Magic Kingdom since 1971. Featuring numerous nautical themed floats and accompanied by classic Disney music, the Electrical Water Pageant is beautiful to watch and should be enjoyed at least once! Some of the current floats in the pageant include the crocodile from Peter Pan, sea horses from The Little Mermaid, and a giant turtle. At the end of the parade, all of the floats become lit in patriotic red, white, and blue and glide along to a patriotic soundtrack. While my favorite viewing spot for the parade is from the water along the main gates of the Magic Kingdom, it can be seen from virtually anywhere along the shores of Seven Seas Lagoon.

Nighttime in the Magic Kingdom is truly a magical time where wishes, dreams, and goodnight kisses are brought to life through beautifully lit floats, special lighting, and fireworks high above Cinderella Castle. It also offers a great time to simply wander and explore the Magic Kingdom and enjoy the ambiance created by the special lighting in each land. This will always be my favorite time of day in the Magic Kingdom as it will always feel the most magical to me.

What are your favorite things to do after dark in the Magic Kingdom? Let me know in the comments below, I would love to hear from you!

Caitlin Corsello was born and raised in New York. She graduated from Adelphi University with a Masters in Mental Health Counseling in 2012. Her love for Disney started as an infant and has continued to grow with family vacations to Disney parks almost every year since. She holds a particular interest in WDW’s parks and attractions, never passing up an opportunity to visit. She looks forward to continuing to explore and learn about all things Disney and to share that passion with readers.