By: Orange Bird Devo
Things that come to my mind when I think of Disney World are Cinderella Castle, Mickey Mouse, and of course nighttime spectaculars. Nighttime spectaculars have been a staple in Disney Parks since Walt Disney requested the creation of Fantasy in the Sky in 1958 for Disneyland. Since then nighttime has been the most magical time of day in Disney World. The nighttime entertainment in Disney World is very popular, so I have some tips and tricks to have the best experience possible at these shows.
- The Main Street Electrical Parade- Glittering along Main Street in the Magic Kingdom is the Main Street Electrical Parade. This parade is probably the most iconic parade in Disney history. It has had multiple runs in Disneyland and Disney World since 1972. The parade begins at Town Square on Main Street near the Emporium and ends in Frontierland near Splash Mountain. The parade is led by Tinker Bell and features some of Disney’s most iconic characters such as Cinderella, Peter Pan, and of course the Mouse himself, Mickey! This parade is very popular, so the parade route can get pretty crowded. To avoid the crowds try looking for a spot in either Frontierland or Town Square. Those areas tend to have smaller crowds because most people watch the parade from the hub area near the castle. One of my favorite spots is right at the beginning of the route near the Emporium. The Main Street Electrical Parade is a must-see, however it won’t be around much longer. The parade will have its final performance on October 9th 2016 before it makes its way over to Disneyland in California for a limited time. Check out JollyFrogger Diva’s article “Saying Goodbye to the Main Street Electrical Parade” for a proper sendoff to this beloved parade.
Tip: If there are two performances of the parade, see the second one. The second showing is usually less crowded and it gives you the opportunity to experience some of the more popular attractions while most of the crowds are at the first showing. If you are like me, having less people watching the parade gives me more room to dance to the catchy soundtrack of the parade.
- Star Wars and Fantasmic!- Disney’s Hollywood Studios currently offers two nighttime spectaculars, Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular and Fantasmic. Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular is perfect for Star Wars fans. The Chinese Theatre comes alive with projections, lasers, and fireworks. These effects are accompanied by classic quotes from the Star Wars films and the out of this world music composed by John Williams. Fantasmic takes you into the imagination of Mickey Mouse as he attempts to overcome his nightmare of the Disney villains taking over his imagination. Fantasmic features lasers, fireworks, water fountains, water projection screens, and a cast of beloved Disney characters. Both shows are incredible and I recommend seeing both of them. However if you only have one day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios you may not be able to see both, as these nighttime spectaculars often overlap each other in the schedule. The schedule varies for these shows so be sure to check the Times Guide for Hollywood Studios before you go and while you are in the park.
Tip: On certain days, especially during popular times, Fantasmic may have two showings. If this is the case, see the second Fantasmic after Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular. This gives you the opportunity to see both of these incredible shows.
- Illuminations: Reflections of Earth- Over at Epcot audiences have been dazzled by Illuminations: Reflections of Earth for seventeen years. Illuminations tells the story of people around the world coming together and sharing their stories around the fire. Illuminations features fireworks, water effects, and an Earth Globe that features projections. Illuminations is highly acclaimed for its powerful soundtrack and spectacular effects. Illuminations takes place on World Showcase Lagoon most nights throughout the year and prime viewing can be found around the lagoon. I recommend seeing Illuminations at least once during your visit.
Tip: My favorite viewing location is near the American Adventure Pavilion. This pavilion is in the center of World Showcase so it gives you a great view of the entire show.
- Celebrate the Magic- Cinderella Castle comes to life as a magical paintbrush paints a celebration of Disney characters and their stories. The projections are spectacular and truly bring new life to Cinderella Castle at night. Celebrate the Magic takes place most nights just before Wishes Fireworks and will sometimes have a second showing after Wishes. Like The Main Street Electrical Parade, the second showing is usually less crowded. There are Halloween and Christmas versions of this fantastic projection show as well and the holiday versions of the show run nightly during their corresponding seasons.
Tip: If there is a second showing of both Celebrate the Magic and the Main Street Electrical Parade, I highly recommend seeing Wishes first, followed by Celebrate the Magic, and then the parade. This is the best way to avoid the crowds since the big crowds tend to exit after Wishes.
- Wishes Fireworks– A magical ending to a magical day. Wishes Nighttime Spectacular is the fireworks show at Magic Kingdom that has fascinated the young and the young at heart for thirteen years. This show reminds us that our wishes and dreams can come true if we believe in them with all our heart. The show is narrated by everyone’s favorite conscience Jiminy Cricket as he is joined by the Blue Fairy, Genie, and many other Disney characters who gather together to share their dreams. Wishes features fireworks, projections, and a soundtrack that brings me to tears every time I listen to it. There are many prime viewing locations for Wishes inside the Magic Kingdom including Main Street, Fantasyland, and the Tomorrowland Bridge. There are also great viewing locations outside the park including the beach areas at the Grand Floridian and Polynesian, as well as many great viewing locations from the Contemporary. The California Grill at the Contemporary is considered one of the best places outside of the park to experience Wishes. All of these locations mentioned above play the soundtrack of the show so you can fully experience the magic of Wishes. If you want an extra magical experience you can try the Wishes Dessert Party. For an extra $59 for adults and $39 for children you can experience an array of desserts and a prime viewing location from the Tomorrowland Terrace. Advanced reservations for this experience are highly recommended and can be made 180 days prior to your visit. Along with the extra price of the party you must also have valid admission to Magic Kingdom Park. Wishes is performed most nights throughout the year, however make sure to check the Times Guide before and while you are at the park to see if Wishes will be performed during your visit.
Tip: My favorite viewing location for Wishes is near Casey’s Corner. This location provides an excellent view of both Wishes and Celebrate the Magic.
- Kiss Goodnight- The Kiss Goodnight is one of the greatest things that most guests never see. The Kiss Goodnight is not on the Times Guide so many people do not know that it occurs. The Kiss Goodnight is a nice farewell to those guests who have spent a magical day at The Magic Kingdom. A narrator comes over the speakers on Main Street and thanks everyone for joining in the magical festivities of the day and reminds us why Walt Disney created these magical theme parks. The announcement is followed by Mickey Mouse saying to everyone “see ya real soon!” The Kiss Goodnight is a special treat and I highly recommend waiting around to experience it. The Kiss Goodnight takes place about every 30 minutes after park closing. So for example if the Magic Kingdom closes at 10:00 pm then The Kiss Goodnight will take place at 10:30 pm and then again at 11:00 pm. During Extra Magic Hours the Kiss Goodnight will take place 30 minutes after Extra Magic Hours are over.
Tip: Since most guests are gone by the Kiss Goodnight, it is the perfect opportunity to get some great pictures in front of Cinderella Castle at night. Photopass photographers are usually still around at this time, so ask them to take your picture so the whole family can get in the picture.
Bonus Tip: Always remember to check the show schedules before your visit. The schedule can be found on Disney World’s website and you can also find the schedules by picking up a Times Guide when entering the park. The times of all these shows vary depending on the season and some are only shown during certain parts of the year.
These nighttime spectaculars truly define the parks at night and they continue Walt Disney’s vision to enhance the guest experience at night, Walt’s favorite time at the park.
Thinking of planning a trip to Disney World to see these nighttime spectaculars for yourself? Contact Patricia at All for Dreams Travel and click here to get a free quote today!