I thought I'd surprise some of you and share about something you might not usually hear about when you think of squeaky-clean Disney World: Dark Disney.
But of course, I'm kidding. I can hardly type the words with a straight face that imply some sort of nefarious or occultish activities in the "happiest place on earth," unless blatant commercialism and marketing counts as evil? They might ;-).
I'm talking about Disney World AT dark.
This is nothing new to some of you, but for those of you who know me and my fairly dogged protection of a reasonable bedtime, even on a fun vacation -- wait, especially on a fun vacation where they are going going going all day long and they need sleep to be cheerful and happy -- you will understand why last year we didn't really experience Disney World at night.
But this year the kids were a little older, and Amanda (12) in particular was really curious about doing some of the rides at night, so we squeezed every minute of our last day at Disney, visiting 3 parks and being out for well over 12 hours.
We had reservations at Epcot for dinner at Teppen Edo, which I chose because I heard it was great, and the kids love hibachi. The kids did enjoy it, but the food is SO fabulous at Disney World, and honestly -- I've had better hibachi, so next time I'd save the hibachi splurge for home and get something else at Disney.
This guy was pretty entertaining, though, and I notice that he saw my camera and was trying to give me a good man-wielding-a-giant-spatula-and-playing-with-fire sneer.
After dinner, we headed to the Magic Kingdom, arriving at about 9:30 and surprised to see the Electrical Parade (and the throngs of people). We watched some as we walked. It was pretty cool. I couldn't believe the detail. We had a good view of the patriotic eagle as it passed (I'm sure all these have proper names and some Disneyphile probably knows them). The revolutionary war people walking beside it were all lit up too. It was very cheesily awe-inspiring.
Speaking of cheesy, we rode the Jungle Cruise ride, and that was super-fun in the dark! It was obvious from watching Kyle's facial expressions and body language that he was in a state of delighted terror the whole time. Being scared can be fun!
We walked through the Swiss Family Robinson treehouse (see picture at top right), and perhaps that started off my fear of the dark. We were alone, it was dark, and that made it feel a little creepy.
Then we rode the
We rode Big Thunder Railroad, Amanda's favorite ride. Then we rode it again, because there were no lines and "riding a ride in the dark" was sort of what Amanda was so curious about. It was pretty cool in the dark -- a little more thrilling and unknown, which is what a roller coaster is all about.
Of course we stopped as we were walking through Frontier Land to watch the fireworks show. I tried to get a picture of the cool colors reflecting off of them as they watched, but it was not to be.
This was a great place to watch, and I think that's the best way to catch fireworks. Just stop what you are doing when you see them and enjoy. In my mind it beats lining up and waiting around for close to an hour just so you can have a "good view," as I saw many people doing at Epcot for its show. No one was around us, and we enjoyed it. In fact, it was so deserted that it seemed eerie, sort of adding to the wild west feel of Frontier Land.
That's sort of my summation of the Magic Kingdom at 11:00 p.m. It was almost creepy. I had assumed that it would be like Times Square which is almost as bright at night as in the middle of the day, or at least like my well-lit suburban streets, but no, everything was darker.
I'll never again say that nothing good (for kids) happens after 10:00 p.m.
We had a great time and so did the kids. We left at about midnight. The park wasn't really crowded at all, and we couldn't believe that they had Extra Magic Hours for guests staying in a Disney property from 12 - 3:00 a.m. Has anyone ever stayed that late??
Have you found other attractions at Disney World to be different when it's dark?
See my other posts about this trip:
Disney World: Never the Same Trip Twice
Birnbaum's Walt Disney World for Kids guide review