I’m sitting there on the refurb’ed Dumbo ride, furiously snapping photos. But then I stop. Really, my crummy little point-and-shoot camera, at least, is not going to do the moment justice because what surrounds me is a pure pop-color bonanza.
It might be cognitively dissonant, but the Magic Kingdom, more than any other park at Walt Disney World, feels like it really relishes flipping the light-switch when the sun goes down. As twilight turns to night, big, bold, bright, solid color emerges everywhere. It’s like the forest in Wonderland, and you get to be Alice.
We were blessed with three extra hours in the Kingdom on our last visit, and there were several experiences that made me whisper, “Oh, wow.” Sure, Wishes is fun, and the new PhotoPass show on the castle is an impressive display of…projectors, but it was the smaller moment that made me pause. The purples and browns contrasting against the night in the Haunted Mansion’s graveyard create an atmosphere about as terrifying as Hocus Pocus—fun with just a slightly eerie bent.
The color wheel dream of the Main Street Electrical Parade, something I haven’t seen in twenty years, made me stop cold. I’m no big fan of parades, but the bright, bold colors lit up some formerly dark corner of my heart previously jaded by years of adulthood. A huge smile appeared on my face as Cinderella’s coach rolled past and Captain Hook’s ship rounded the corner.
Of course, there’s Main Street USA, which washes everything in a sepia tone reminiscent of those dress-up portraits you can get at the carnival. There’s a welcoming buzz of excitement along Main Street that is totally different than what you experience during daylight.
Then there was my favorite experience, the one that made me stop taking photos for a moment. I just couldn’t view this through a lens.
The new Dumbo ride was made for nighttime. From the warm glow of the light strands looped above the queue all the way to the reds, purples and golds in the ride itself, the colors jump out at you, daring you not to be awestruck. The new pool underneath adds a wonderful reflective element, and the transitory lighting, from red to blue to purple, is gorgeously immersive. Yes, Dumbo is fairly off-the-shelf in design, but not in execution. There are two rides here: the daylight ride, and the wonderful, Technicolor nighttime version.
You’re living through some super-saturated Instagram filter when you’re in the Magic Kingdom at night. Something as subtle as lighting often gets overlooked, but it’s hard to ignore the simple power a single little bulb can have.
What’s your favorite nighttime attraction in the Magic Kingdom? Tell us in the comments!
When he’s not penning effortlessly beautiful prose for Mouse on the Mind, Jeff (aka JCB) is writing wonderful blog posts and really fun doodles about his life at legjcb.com. You can also follow him on the twitter machine @jcbFTW.