The magic of Disney doesn’t disappear when the sun goes down. In fact, the nighttime brings a whole new schedule of entertainment you can only experience when the sun sets. Whether you’re a local visitor just looking for a unique way to spend the evening, or you’re an out-of-towner trying to make the most of your week at Disney these spectacular shows are definitely worth making time for.
The evening entertainment at Magic Kingdom begins at 7:30 PM with Once Upon A Time. The 14-minute “bedtime story”, told by Mrs. Potts and Chip, retells favorite “Once Upon A Time…” tales with touching moments from Cinderella, Peter Pan, Frozen, Alice in Wonderland, and Beauty and the Beast projected on to the Cinderella Castle.
Happily Ever After follows Once Upon A Time at 8:00 PM. With state of the art projections on Cinderella Castle and more lasers, lights and pyrotechnics than any other Disney show, the 18-minute finale is a magical way to end the day. Classic scenes from Aladdin, The Lion King, Brave, Frozen, Moana, and several more Disney movies are accompanied by an original score made up of contemporary versions of popular Disney songs to convey the stories of “heart, humor, and heroism” found in many favorite Disney animated films.
Outside the Magic Kingdom, you can catch the Electrical Water Pageant at 10:35 pm on the Seven Seas Lagoon. The 15-minute spectacle can be viewed from just outside Magic Kingdom’s entrance or from Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, Disney’s Grand Floridian, Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort, and Disney’s Contemporary Resort. Accompanied by popular Disney tunes and patriotic anthems, viewers can watch flashing American flags and both mythical and natural sea creatures light up the lagoon led by a vibrant green sea monster.
Tree of Life Awakenings is an all-new experience at Animal Kingdom’s centerpiece Tree of Life. Starting nightly at 6:25 pm (or whenever the sun goes down), the spectacle occurs every 10 minutes until the park closes. It begins with flickering fireflies swarming around stirring the creatures carved into the tree to life. Using bright lights and vivid colors, animated images of a graceful doe, pair of hummingbirds, a fox and several other animals are displayed on the tree, celebrating the harmony that exists among living things both big and small.
Animal Kingdom’s finale spectacular is called Rivers of Light. The 15-minute show runs twice per night, at 6:30 and 7:45 pm on the Discovery River. The show’s theme is a celebration of the beauty in all things, depicted through a combination of Eastern festival traditions and innovative technology. Led by clusters of fireflies created by video projections and laser animations, a procession across the water symbolizes a journey through Asian jungles, tropical oceans, African savannas, and North American mountains. The show’s “storytellers” never actually say a word, the story moves along with the help of special effects, music, Asian dance, animal folklore, and shadow puppetry. In addition to the bright lights and dancing water, the spectacle features never-before-seen footage from DisneyNature, live performances, and floating set pieces. The “divine grand finale” is meant to give guests a feeling of peace and unity with nature.
Although not actually a nighttime show, wandering through The World of Pandora is definitely worth including in your evening plans. The newest addition to Animal Kingdom becomes a totally different universe from day to night. From the glowing pavement to the luminescent forests, exploring the Avatar world in the dark will open your eyes to the land in ways you never saw it before.
Epcot’s nighttime spectacular Illuminations: Reflections of Earth tells the story of Earth in three parts. Part one, “The Earth is Born”, is a bright display of flames and fireworks as the show’s centerpiece globe glides along the water. The Earth globe, which weighs 350,000 pounds, is the world’s first spherical video display system. During part two, the globe’s video display depicts “The Triumph of Life”, which is a history of humanity and the major achievements of our time. The final part explores “Hope for the Future” as the globe opens like a lotus flower to reveal a “torch of dreams” while the inferno barge launches comets that light up the sky. The finale features a chorus of voices ringing out as the lagoon dances with bursts of light. The 12 minute program is narrated by Jim Cummings, who is the voice of Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, and many other Disney characters.
Hollywood Studios’ Fantasmic brings villains, heroes and princesses together to tell a story straight out of Sorcerer Mickey’s imagination, when notorious bad guys like Evil Queen, Ursula, Cruella de Vil, Scar and a 40-foot-tall Maleficent turn Mickey’s dreams into a nightmare. The exciting show features characters and music from Disney classics like Beauty and the Beast, Sleeping Beauty, Peter Pan, The Little Mermaid, Cinderella, Aladdin and The Lion King as Sorcerer Mickey saves the day. Brilliant pyrotechnics, laser lights, 50 costumed performers and one million gallons of dancing water bring the adventure to life onstage at Sunset Boulevard. Dessert parties and dining packages are available
Disney Movie Magic is a tribute to some of the most infamous Disney films, with historic movie moments from classics like Indiana Jones and Pirates of the Caribbean displayed across the facade of Grauman’s Chinese Theater. The 10-minute projection show is like a greatest hits reel of Disney’s best live-action comedies, adventures, musicals and more.
Following Disney Movie Magic, the day at Hollywood Studios ends with the Star Wars Galactic Spectacular. In addition to state of the art projections that include famous Star Wars scenes like Tatooine’s famous twin suns, an army of Trade Federation battle droids, and the Death Star, the show uses intense lighting, lasers and pyrotechnics to immerse viewers into the Star Wars saga. The 14-minute finale is set to the sounds of John Williams’ infamous Star Wars score.
*Show times may change based on parks’ hours of operation.