Disney at Night … With Kids

This post is part of the
Disney at Night series

“Disney at Night” has two meanings to me:

1. A nice romantic dinner at California Grill or Le Cellier with my husband followed by the nighttime viewing of Illuminations or Wishes.

2. Buying spinning/ glowing toys, grabbing corn dog nuggets from Casey’s, and fighting for a spot to view the nighttime parade and Wishes!

Wishes (A Disney Mom's Thoughts)It all depends on who I’m with at the time!

Today, I’m going to share with you the different things I enjoy doing at night when I’m in that second scenario: traveling to Walt Disney World with my boys (ages 11 and 3).  (The youngest doesn’t always stay awake to enjoy these things, but we try!)

Parades & Fireworks~ We don’t always watch the parade for two reasons: 1) we’ve seen it before and 2) the lines for attractions tend to be shorter at this time. But, when we do watch the parades, we always find a spot about 20-30 minutes prior to start time. We will grab a snack (popcorn, corn dog nuggets, ice cream) and enjoy our time together. Following the parade at Magic Kingdom, we wait for Wishes to start.  If we’re at Epcot, we find a spot along the lagoon to watch Illuminations, and if we’re at Hollywood Studios, we stand in line to get into Fantasmic! 

Tower of Terror (A Disney Mom's Thoughts) Ride our favorite “outside” attractions~  For some reason, several attractions at Walt Disney World are just better at night! These are our “Must Do” nighttime attractions: Jungle Cruise, Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, Test Track and Tower of Terror. There’s just something special about riding these in the dark! It’s even better if you can time Splash Mountain or Big Thunder Mountain during Wishes!

Campfire Singalong~ Each night, weather permitting, Fort Wilderness has a Campfire Singalong and movie for families to enjoy. Best part: it’s free and not limited to Fort Wilderness guests! You can buy a s’mores kit to make s’mores or roasted marshmallows over the fire while waiting for Chip and Dale to make an appearance. You can enjoy “kid” songs during the singalong with a guitar player/ singer and stay for the movie!

Resort Movies~ All of the Walt Disney Resorts show nightly outdoor movies. When you check into your resort, they will give you an activities guide that will tell you the movie playing each night, where it will be showing and what time it starts  Some of the resorts have better “venues” for watching the movies, but all resorts provide this opportunity nightly.

Downtown Disney~ Visiting Downtown Disney is a must on each trip. We usually go on our first day so we don’t “waste” a park ticket on a half day in the Park. With that in mind, it’s usually evening or night when we are there. The nighttime life at Downtown Disney is not as “adult” as it once was with the closing of the clubs at Pleasure Island. It’s much more family friendly now. While there are still bars and musicians, it’s still somewhere I feel very comfortable taking my kids after dark. There are many great restaurants to choose from for dinner and tons of shopping. If these things aren’t what your family enjoys, try going to the AMC movie theatre for a film, to DisneyQuest to play virtual video games, or to Splitsville Luxury Lanes (bowling) opening this fall!

Go To Bed!  This is the thing we do least (but should do most) at night on our Walt Disney World vacations! Many times we are trying to fit so many things into the day(s), we are totally exhausted by the end of the trip. My advice is to plan at least one night where you head back to the hotel early and get in bed.  It will help rejuvenate your family and hopefully make the rest of your trip more magical.

Now it’s your turn: what’s your favorite family-friendly attraction at night?


Beth is a full-time youth minister in the United Methodist Church and the mother to two young sons. You can find her blogging at A Disney Mom’s Thoughts and tweeting @adisneymom.

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