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10 Nighttime Shows You Must See At Walt Disney World

A Walt Disney World vacation is full of magic from the first glimpse of Cinderella Castle to the last attraction. While the parks are extraordinary during the day, at night they become truly spectacular with special entertainment like fireworks and parades. Guests often find themselves lining up while it is still light out for some of these wonderful nighttime experiences as they are must dos on any Disney vacation. Here are ten nighttime shows that a guest must see at Walt Disney World.

1. Happily Ever After

Fireworks have always been the perfect way to wrap up a day at Magic Kingdom! Happily Ever After Fireworks has replaced Wishes, but has thankfully lived up to the beautiful display of fireworks, lasers, projection, music, and storytelling Magic Kingdom is known for. With 18-minutes of “heart, heroism, and humor”, Happily Ever After will send you on your way with your own “happily ever after” ending to an unforgettable Magic Kingdom day!

2. Once Upon A Time

The projection show that beautifully radiates the Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom is called “Once Upon A Time”.  Occurring after Happily Ever After, Once Upon A Time uses animated projections to bring Cinderella Castle to life. Guests can watch as the castle transforms to feature scenes and characters from classic Disney films.

3. Goodnight Kiss

This nightly show also takes place at Cinderella Castle generally thirty minutes after the park closes. The castle is treated to subtle changes of lighting as a voice rings out thanking guests for spending their day in the most magical place in the world. It is a simple show, but a beautiful way to end an amazing day in the Magic Kingdom.

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4. Electrical Water Pageant

This nighttime show occurs just outside of the Magic Kingdom’s gates on Seven Seas Lagoon. Guests can watch from the shores of the lagoon in front of the park or from the nearby Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, and Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. The pageant features several floats that light up and drift slowly across Seven Seas Lagoon lighting up the water. Guests can enjoy nautical floats including an octopus and leaping dolphins all leading up to a patriotic finish.

5. Epcot Forever

This nighttime show occurs in Epcot on World Showcase Lagoon where guests gather around to view a combination of laser lights, pyrotechnics, fireworks, dancing water, and a beautiful score. While there are plenty of spots around World Showcase Lagoon, guests who want to secure a great viewing spot for Epcot Forever should choose a spot up to an hour before show time.

6. Fantasmic!

Running on select nights in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Fantasmic! takes place in the massive Hollywood Hills Amphitheater. Guests are brought into Mickey’s imagination where they find themselves in an epic battle between good and evil. They are then treated to special effects, projections, dancing water, a massive dragon, live acting, and an awesome finale throughout the thirty minute show. While the amphitheater is huge, it often fills to capacity on busy days in the park so guests should be sure to arrive at least an hour early to guarantee a seat.

7. Tree of Life Awakenings

The perfect way to cap off the night at Animal Kingdom is with the Tree of Life Awakenings. While fireworks are too loud for the animals, Disney Imagineers had the great idea to use lighting projections on the Tree of Life to turn it into a centerpiece of colorful design and show. After the sun sets, fireflies begin to appear on the Tree of Life approximately every 10 minutes. These fireflies begin awakening of the Tree of Life which turns into a brief but gorgeous presentation worth stopping for. But wait… there is more than one show so don’t think because you’ve seen one show you’ve seen it all!

8. Rivers of Light

Embrace yourself for the celebration of nature with the newest nighttime show at Animal Kingdom, Rivers of Light. This 15-minute show is held in an amphitheater next to Expedition Everest and boasts dramatic storytelling and animal folklore through beautiful floats, inspiring music, impressive water screens, and all the latest technology and special effects. Truly a celebration of nature’s beauty!

9. Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular

It doesn’t matter if you are a Star Wars nerd or not – Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular is the perfect way to close out a night at Hollywood Studios! Watch as the Chinese Theater that holds The Great Movie Ride turns into a huge screen for a 14-minute show full of high-definition projection surrounded by lasers, fire, incredible music and sound effects, and of course – the sky lights up with awesome fireworks! It’s an unforgettable Hollywood Studios moment!

10. Pandora – World of Avatar

While Pandora – The World of Avatar is not necessarily a nighttime show to find a seat for, it is a nighttime experience that is a must-do on your Disney World vacation! New in the Animal Kingdom theme park, Pandora – The World of Avatar has superior detail and stunning beauty during the day, but kicks it up a notch at night!  The land comes to life at night with glowing walkways and Pandoran plant life. Definitely take a walk through this space during the day and again at night!

About Caitlin Kane

Caitlin Kane first started visiting Walt Disney World when she was two years old, and despite spending most of that trip quarantined with the chicken pox she managed to fall in love with the place. Visiting WDW every year since, she especially loves learning all about the history and small details of the parks and eating/drinking her way through the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival each fall. When she's not in Disney, Caitlin lives in New York and spends her time counting down the days to her next trip.