Friday, April 01, 2011

Dark Disney World

I still have not shared nearly all my thoughts, observations and dear family memories about our trip to Disney World last month (that we enjoyed courtesy of the perks that far outweighed my small conference fee for the Disney Social Media Moms conference).

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 Pirates of the Caribbean, which is also sort of eerie in bright daylight, but unless I remember incorrectly, there were parts of the ride that were in the dark that I didn't remember being so dim other times.

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


Carrie said...

Oh, I've always wanted to see the Electric Lights parade! They don't do it at Disneyland. Someday, maybe, we'll make it across the country to the other park. Right now, Disneyland is way more convenient.

Lauren said...

I am also a "stick with bedtime" mom, but we are going to stay at MK until midnight at some point this year. I have, however, done the Jungle Cruise at night, and I love it! The jokes are fun no matter what time of day, but the dark adds a different feel, and I think makes it better.

planetnomad said...

A couple of times, we've gone to Disneyland for a very long day with my inlaws. They pay for one day so we stay till midnight, parks closing, and then drive home in the dark with everyone asleep but my husband. Plus we're cheap so we don't really eat at The Mightily Overpriced Mouse's place so everyone is hungry. It's quite the day. I am pretty relaxed about bedtime when we're traveling. Everyone sleeps in next day and eventually we all catch up.

Aisle B said...

I love the ones of the night light parade and oooooo I got hungry seeing your chef cut up the food!

thanks for sharing :)

Katrina @ Callapidder Days said...

Oh, very cool. I'm pretty uptight about bedtimes on busy vacations, and last year at Disney, we were in early most nights. We did stay late at Epcot though, to watch the fireworks. But a certain 4-year-old fell asleep on my lap anyway. :) Thanks for sharing. Someday when the kids are older, I might have to become more adventurous.

Oh, and I'll still be your friend even though we loved Teppan Edo and you are less than impressed. :) It's the one place we all want to go to again if/when we go back.