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Disney After Dark

Disney World is a magical place.  That\’s no secret! You’d be hard-pressed to find something more magical than that feeling of anticipation and excitement that comes over you as you walk through any of the four park’s entrances.

That being said, my favorite time in the parks is after dark when the parks come alive with special sights and sounds. And nighttime has never been more thrilling at Disney!

Animal Kingdom

The new Pandoraarea in Disney’s Animal Kingdom is impressive during the day, but it’s even more magical after dark. The plants glow, some are interactive, and even the ground lights up. It’s something you absolutely can’t miss! I highly recommend you take younger kiddos by the hand or let them ride in the stroller after it’s dark because of how dark it is.

Rivers of Lightis the nighttime show at Animal Kingdom. This 15-minute show is located between Expedition Everest and Discovery Island, and the Tree of Life makes a beautiful backdrop. Although the show is not as dramatic as Fantasmic, it is beautiful and fits the park very well. The glowing floats, gorgeous lanterns, and details in the boats are breathtaking!

Tree of Life Awakenings are the perfect kiss goodnight from the park. As you near the park entrance, you can see beautiful moments captured from various Disney films projected on the tree. They happen almost continually in the evening hours just before the park closes.


Illuminationsis an incredible blend of music, fireworks, and pyrotechnics. This amazing 12-minute show celebrates the tale of our Earth in three parts: the Earth Is Born, the Triumph of Life, and Hope for the Future. You can see it from anywhere around the World Showcase Lagoon that offers a view of the lake and the music is extraordinary!

Photo Credit: Walt Disney World Company

Hollywood Studios

Fantasmic is the main nighttime show in the Hollywood Hills Amphitheater at Hollywood Studios. It’s an absolute can’t-miss battle between good and evil with scenes from Lion King, Pocahontas, Aladdin, Fantasia, and many other classic Disney films! The show is 30 minutes long, and I highly recommend you book a dining package, grab a FastPass for it, or arrive early to secure a seat – it truly is incredible and very popular!

Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular is an incredible fireworks display. At almost 14 minutes, it’s almost as long as Happily Ever After. The music and theming is very impressive and the show features projections, clips from the movies, pyrotechnics, and an incredible use of lasers. If you like Star Wars and/or fireworks, you’ll want to plan your evening at Hollywood Studios for a night when this fireworks show can be seen.

Magic Kingdom

Once Upon a Timeis a new projection show on the castle hosted by Beauty and the Beast’s Mrs. Potts who is telling bedtime stories about Cinderella, Peter Pan, Frozen, Alice in Wonderland, and even Beauty and the Beast to her son Chip. The show lasts about 15 minutes and can be viewed from Main Street and in front of the castle.

Happily Ever Afteris the main nighttime event at Disney World and the perfect way to end a magical day at the Magic Kingdom. The show is 18 minutes long and features over a dozen Disney films–even Tinkerbell makes a cameo when she flies (zip lines) from the top of the castle!

This is an amazing show combining magnificent projected graphics on the castle with choreographed fireworks set to a new song recorded just for this show. Happily Ever After is a \”don\’t miss\” for everyone! 

Every day spent at a Disney theme park is a magical experience and I hope you’ll enjoy these nighttime shows as the fairy-tale ending to those wonderful days.

Special thanks to guest blogger Emily Lamb for this week\’s blog!

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