Why You Should Get to Magic Kingdom Before It Opens (and Stick Around After Close)
These little-known shows might be the best part of your Disney World vacation.
For Disney lovers, a perfect day in the Magic Kingdom might consist of short lines at Splash, Space, and Big Thunder Mountains; endless Mickey bars and a magical fireworks show to close out the night.
However, avid Disneyheads know there are two distinct ways to extend the day’s magic a little further. If you’re willing to wake up a bit earlier and hit the hay a bit later, you may find yourself privy to two of the Magic Kingdom’s most memorable experiences: the "Let the Magic Begin" welcome show and the after-dark "Kiss Goodnight" show. While each show only lasts a few minutes, they’re completely free with a park ticket, and some park-goers say a Disney vacation is not complete without them.
"Let the Magic Begin" is Magic Kingdom’s way of greeting the day’s guests at the very start of each morning. The new five-minute show replaces the park’s previous morning welcome, and allows guests to enter the Kingdom a few minutes before opening. As tradition has it, before the rides can run and the parades can weave through the streets, the Mouse himself must declare the park open. Any guests willing to arrive at the park’s gates in the wee hours of the morning can be ushered down Main Street to the Cinderella Castle for the official greeting. There, guests will experience a grand fanfare, a welcome from Mickey, and a “flood” of characters from all areas of the park who have come to bid them hello.
Although the experience only lasts a few minutes, it’s one of the most special ways for Disney lovers to kick off their park day or Disney vacation. Plus, the early hour means you’ll be some of the first people in the park while the streets and queue lines are still quiet.
Walt Disney World freely invites guests to attend this morning welcome show, but the late-night experience is kept more of a secret. Not many visitors know about the "Kiss Goodnight," an even more brief show that lasts for about two minutes and only takes place after the park closes.
While most guests will head for the door as soon as the night’s final fireworks show finishes, it pays to stick around for the Kingdom’s goodbye. The secret finale begins about 30 minutes after the park has officially closed. Music swells on Main Street with “When You Wish Upon a Star” closing out the night, and Cinderella Castle twinkles and glows with colored lights one last time before the day is over. While it’s by no means a grand production, the quiet nighttime closure is bound to make visitors feel nostalgic and reflective.
Guests can also enjoy a nearly empty park with this magical castle backdrop, and can even wander around Magic Kingdom for up to an hour after close. While most rides and restaurants will have shut down for the night, a few shops and snack spots may be open for night owls, making it the perfect time to explore before heading back to the hotel.
Both show experiences allow guests a more intimate look at Disney World, getting them away from the crowds and closer to the magic.