I first discovered the joy and wonder of Disney World when I was just a toddler. I have done a lot of things at Disney that you will often see on these top 10 lists, but one thing I do not like to do is wake up early. I have been to the opening ceremonies at Magic Kingdom (it is a wonderful presentation to mark the opening of the park, highly suggested!) but, now that I am older and without little kids, I do not worry about missing precious minutes in the mornings to make sure I get everything done at the parks. Often, I hit the turnstiles after 4 pm. Some nights, especially ones where a park closes at 6 or 7, I have not had my fill of fun and merriment, so I wondered…in the place where business is fueled by making kid’s dreams come true, is there anything fun to do at Disney after dark? Plenty. I have also wondered what some families are missing if they leave the parks before sunset. The answer is the same, plenty!
10. Happily Ever After at Magic Kingdom
A tip that if often given is to hit the rides while others are watching scheduled shows and parades, but have you ever wondered why so many people slow down for these performances? Because they are worth it! Check your My Disney Experience App or your park map for the nightly show. The first time I saw this show, I cried. That is how special it is, I promise. Ok, I‘ll admit it, I cried the second time, too.
9. Experience World Class Dining
It surprised me that so many of my friends and coworkers had no idea the caliber of fine dining that is available at Disney World. I have heard, “Oh, well, it’s all theme park food.” But, if you have not dined at one of the table service restaurants or a signature restaurant, please book a reservation for your next trip right now. There are reviews on this site that will take you to a perfect paring for your tastes, but I highly suggest Jiko, Narcoossee’s, and the Wave of American Flavors. That is a super short list of just a few of my favorites, but I could list 25 more!
8. Fantasmic at Hollywood Studios
Starring Mickey as the hero, Fantasmic has been wowing audiences for years. Billed as an extravaganza, Fantasmic mixes pyrotechnics, lasers and dancing waters in a one of kind show that is often standing room only! A really cool pairing is the Fantasmic dinner package which allows for reserved seating with a reservation at The Hollywood Brown Derby, Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano or Hollywood and Vine. If you haven’t experienced Fantasmic yet, make sure it is on your list for your next vacation!
7. Yehaa Bob Jackson at the River Roost Lounge at Port Orleans Resort-Riverside
There is a reason that Yehaa Bob Jackson has been working at Disney World for the entire span of my life. Simply put, he is awesome! Doing three shows nightly beginning at 8:30 pm Wednesdays through Saturdays, Yehaa Bob makes up songs on the spot, hosts sing alongs and provides quality entertainment for the whole family. His last show starts at 10:30, when a lot of the magic is closed for the evening, so head over after dinner for some belly laughing! He is charming, talented and hilarious! I promise that an evening with Yehaa Bob Jackson is an evening well spent!
6. Atlantic Dance Hall on Disney’s Boardwalk
For the 21 and over crowd, Disney offers a nightclub where you can shake your booty from 9pm-2 am! Playing the hits from the 80’s, 90’s and today, the club also offers libations for the thirsty. Giant screens play music videos and it is hard to not have a good time! There is no dress code, so you can drop on in with your shorts and Mickey ears still on. This is a great option for all you night owls! Plus, you can act a fool with your dancing skills and nobody will care…or know you, I mean you are on vacation!
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5. Electrical Water Pageant (various locations along the 7 Seas Lagoon)
I think of the Electrical Water Pageant as a right of passage of a true Disney lover, so I have to let you in on this fun. Nightly, the 7 Seas Lagoon lights up with the barges carrying a moving lights display that is choreographed to music. While it is not a spectacular, it is something that you should experience while at Disney World. Starting at 9 pm (it is sometimes earlier during the winter months), this little water parade makes its way around the lagoon. For best viewing, check it out from the Polynesian, Contemporary, Grand Floridian, Wilderness Lodge and Fort Wilderness resorts. Better yet, score a dinner reservation at one of those resorts and ask the wait staff to alert you when it comes by! Cheesy and Corny? Definitely, but beloved and a must experience.
4. IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth at Epcot
Of all the spectaculars involving fireworks, this one is my absolute favorite. Dimming all lights in Epcot, IllumiNations makes you feel like you are part of the show. Taking you though the beginnings of the Earth, the triumphs of life and giving you hope for the future, IllumiNations is a beautiful show with a meaningful story. The amount of effects put into this experience is astounding and should not be missed. Any spot along the world showcase will provide a great view. Your whole family will love this, I assure you!
3. Splitsville Luxury Lanes at Disney Springs
This is bowling at its finest! This bowling alley/full service restaurant is a ton of fun! With 30 lanes, live music and dancing and billiards, Splitsville is a great time for every member of the family. You can bowl and enjoy some food right on the lane or take a break and enjoy in the dining room. Choices include everything from appetizers and sushi to pizza and burgers. Open late, you can party from 4- close for just $20 per person, which includes shoes! Saturday and Sunday is $20 all day per person. So, get a game going!
2. Go to a Dinner Show! Various locations
If you want a little entertainment with your meal, you have to go to a Disney Dinner show! Incredible detail is put into making sure all guests have an outstanding time. For those of you that think that the food isn’t good, it is! For those of you that think that dinner shows are corny and silly, they are! That is why they are so much fun! Your choices include the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue at Fort Wilderness Resort for a western hoedown that is rowdy and as slapstick as it gets! You might also opt for the Spirit of Aloha Luau at Polynesian resort. Complete with fire twirling dancers, the Luau is held outside, for those of you that can’t tolerate the Florida heat. Finally, is the seasonal Mickey’s Backyard BBQ held in the open air pavilion at Fort Wilderness Resort. This one is definitely geared more for the kiddos. Dinner shows are undoubtedly fun and the food is never ending…and it includes unlimited beer and wine!
1. Jellyrolls at Disney’s Boardwalk
For the 21 and over crowd, this is a fun fest not to be missed. 2 dueling piano maestros will entertain you to tears as you listen to their witty banter and incredible musical skills. Want to hear a song? Ask them…they can play everything. Want to laugh until it hurts? Talk to one of them or do something silly, the poking fun at is just the beginning. There is a cover charge, but it is so worth it and this happens to be a pretty popular spot with the locals. If you are lucky, you may go unnoticed. But, if you do get in the crosshairs of the dueling funnymen, you are in for the laugh of your life!