“Raging nightlife” isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Disney. But just because it’s Disney, doesn’t mean it’s for early risers. When the sun goes down and most of the other guests are heading out, you can keep the party going with a variety of activities. I’m not saying this is Las Vegas, but you do have some options if you’re hopped up on Dole Whips at 9:00 pm.
I used to be a magic morning kinda girl, but lately, I’ve found that going into the parks later in the afternoon and staying all the way until close is something I can get used to. The other option is to go early for park opening, leave for most of the afternoon then return for more fun. Whatever your preference, there’s a lot to do at night in the parks and resorts.
The hours and times I’ve listed may vary, so always double-check park and dining hours on DisneyWorld.com before making plans. Also, dining closing hours means they will seat you until those closing hours, but won’t kick you out until you’ve finished your meal. Just, try not to take too much advantage of coming in right at closing. Servers gotta sleep too! Later reservations are much easier to get, as opposed to dining around the typical dinner hour of 5:00-7:00 pm as well.
Let’s start with the obvious place to stay up late. They’ve been trying their darndest to appeal to young 20 something’s in this area for years and I think they’re finally getting around to it. Most restaurants and shops and are open until 11:00 PM (and later) and the Starbucks is open until midnight to keep yourself from falling asleep. There’s always excitement happening at Springs like live “street” performers and other artists scattered about. It’s my favorite place to go on our first night in town since you don’t have to pay to get in.
The Edison: Open until 1:00 am. This swanky bar/lounge/cabaret/nightclub/restaurant just opened this year and people are loving its nighttime entertainment. The live band, dancers, and singers begin their big band era show around 10:00 pm. On Thursdays through Sundays they charge a cover of $10 after 10:00 as well. After 10:00 pm the restaurant becomes 21 and over and a “venue-appropriate” dress code is requested. You can read about Disney Dress Codes on my post here.
Enzo’s Hideaway Tunnel Bar: Open until midnight. The Tunnel Bar is Maria and Enzo’s counterpart lounge. It has a prohibition-era speakeasy theme where you enter through an unmarked door into a dark “tunnel” restaurant. They serve cocktails, small plates, and full meals in an “underground” bar. Very cool little spot to grab a drink before heading over to The Edison for some dancing.
Star Wars–Secrets of the Empire Hyper-Reality Experience: Open until 10:45 pm. This experience opened recently in Disney World and just opened at Disneyland’s Downtown Disney as well. Your chosen team is sent undercover to achieve a mission for the rebellion where you’ll interact with sets and experience sensory and immersive technology. I’ve heard nothing but good things about it, but have been warned that if you are claustrophobic or experience vertigo, you should avoid it. This is for ages 10+ and is 29.95 per person.
Splitsville: If you’re taking a break from the parks, Splitsville is a great place to hang out. There’s a bowling alley food, frozen drinks, and creative martinis served until 12:30. You should really reserve a lane ahead of time if you plan on bowling, just to be safe. Odd Tip: They say the sushi is really good here. Who knew I could trust sushi from a bowling alley? Lane reservations go as late as 11:45 and the alley is open until 1:00 AM.
AMC Dine-In Theatre: This movie theatre has undergone quite the transformation since I was a Cast Member. A full menu is available with options like cheeseburgers, desserts, even cocktails. When you’re low on popcorn, press a button and *poof* your server appears without you getting up in the middle of the movie. Great idea for an evening flick!
House of Blues: Ah yes, the old standby. House of Blues is still rockin’ after all these years and all the transformations. Check the schedule here to see when the live concerts will be taking place at this venue.
Bongos Cuban Cafe: Open until 2:00 am. The rumors have started that Bongo’s will soon be another casualty in the renovations. There’s still time to visit this happening venue! On Friday and Saturdays, they have a live band play with dancing. It’s like a nonstop party over there.
Raglan Road-Irish Pub and Restaurant: Fish n’ Chips, live music, and traditional Irish dancing until 1:00 AM. The lively venue pays homage to Disney Spring’s wilder years and is madly popular among the younger Cast Members. A great place to have a pint and let loose.
Here are a few honorable mentions for getting a late meal. You can find the full list of restaurants at DisneySprings.com
Now that Pleasure Island has transformed into an upscale shopping district (Disney Springs), I think it’s time for The Boardwalk to get a facelift as well. They haven’t had any major developments like the other parks or resorts and they’re definitely due. That being said, there are two adult-only venues and a couple dining options open late.
Jellyrolls: Open until 2:00 am. Jellyrolls is a dueling piano bar that’s been around for a while and still a favorite for some. Doors open at 7:00 pm so if you plan on getting a table, I advise going when they open. They do charge a cover charge of $12.
Atlantic Dance Hall: Open until 2:00 am. This top 40’s dance hall has a balcony with a beautiful view of the lake where you can cool off after shaking your tail feathers. There’s no cover charge, but it is closed on Sundays and Mondays.
Pizza Window: Open until midnight. Between dance breaks stop by the infamous Pizza Window. It has some outside seating and serves beer and Sangria as well. Nothing like pizza under the stars on a warm Florida night!
BoardWalk Joe’s Marvelous Margaritas: Open until midnight. This is a little outdoor shack that serves margaritas outside. Pizza and margs, anyone?
Late-Night Eats That Close after 10:00 pm for The BoardWalk
Grand Floridian Resort
24 Hour Dining: Speaking of midnight snacks, there are three restaurants open 24 hours on property.
- Gasparilla Island Grill at Grand Floridian is a quick service spot serving pizza all night long.
- Picabu at the Dolphin Hotel serves a take-and-go assortment of desserts and snacks.
- Captain Cook’s at the Polynesian serves bakery items and some small snacks late at night.
Starlight Safari at Animal Kingdom Lodge: Disney’s only nighttime tour and probably the coolest. You’ll be guided through the “Savannah” at Animal Kingdom Lodge to view their wildlife after dark. Everyone is provided night vision goggles to get the full experience of seeing a giraffe or zebra after dark. Once exclusive to resort guests, now open to all. The tours start around 8:30 and 10:00 at night. If you go on any VIP tours, try this one!
Stroll Along a Scenic Trail: There are many jogging trails scattered throughout resort properties, but my favorite is the trail connecting the Polynesian and Grand Floridian. An ideal evening would be to take in the live jazz band at Mizner’s Lounge then head outside for a leisurely evening walk. It trails near the Seven Seas Lagoon and passes by the wedding pavilion at Grand Floridian. Once at the Polynesian you’ll get the perfect view of Cinderella’s castle in the distance. Can you smell the warm, evening air?
Grab a Drink: Disney resort lounges are usually stocked with full-service food menus from the restaurants attached to them. All are first-come, first-serve so you don’t have to worry about making a reservation. My favorite is probably Mizner’s Lounge at Grand Floridian.
P.S. Most resort food courts are open until 11:00 PM and there’s always Disney’s pizza delivery if you want to keep the party hopping. Although, I might suggest ordering Pizza Hut. Disney pizza isn’t great.
Epcot at sunset
Disney has been good about offering some late night activities in the parks for those of us who are not rope drop people. Every year they’re adding something new to stretch out the magic all day and into the wee hours of the night.
Extra Evening Hours: Extra Magic Hours doesn’t always mean up-at-the-crack-of-dawn hours. On certain nights, the parks will stay open for a few hours after close, meant for guests staying at an onsite Disney resort. Check the calendar to see which park is honoring it the week you are there. Fair warning, the park may still be busy during the late hours, but it’s a good option.
Disney After Hours: This one is definitely less advertised than the holiday parties and definitely less crowded. Between January and March of 2018, they are leaving the park open for an extra 3 hours in the Magic Kingdom. 25 attractions are left open and because there is a limited amount of tickets, lines are super short. The price is about the same as one day’s admission-$119. If you want to do this exclusive event you can find tickets for sale here.
The good thing about the Magic Kingdom is that it’s usually open until midnight unless it’s non-peak season and by that time you’re probably pooped from all the magic. But if you stick around long enough you get to experience the “Kiss Goodnight.” Which is the exit message and music from Mickey and friends when the park is nearing close. It’s a perfect time to take in the Disney atmosphere and get the perfect castle picture with fewer crowds.
- Shop on Main Street: Main Street shops are open a little past park closing hours. I like to use this time to pick up souvenirs because the crowds are thinner and I don’t have to spend the rest of the day carrying them around. Also, you really can’t beat an empty Main Street U.S.A at midnight.
- Dessert Parties: Magic Kingdom has a lot of dessert parties and most of them take place during the fireworks. One takes place in Tomorrowland, another takes place in the plaza, and others take place on your very own cruise. This is probably the coolest way to view the fireworks. This experience is right up there with a viewing at the Top of the World Lounge at the Contemporary Resort.
- Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party: If you are visiting during the holiday season, these are must-do events. Both offer special parades, shows, merchandise, and rare character experiences. And they keep the parks open until midnight in the fall. They were created to help drag in some profit during the off-season and they are quickly becoming the busiest times to go. I suggest going mid-September or the last week of November to attempt to avoid the crowds.
Most, if not all, restaurants and food kiosks are open until 9:00 pm at Epcot. If you’re willing to skip Illuminations or go for a quick service option in lieu of a table service, you can actually get quite a bit done later in the day here.
- Festivals at Epcot: I suggest visiting during one of their festivals like Food & Wine, Flower & Garden, or Festival of the Arts. They always have unique food and entertainment and the food kiosks are also typically open until 9:00 pm.
- Proximity to The BoardWalk: World Showcase is located 5 minutes from The BoardWalk! Head over to the parks for dinner and Illuminations and then keep the party going with some dancing at The BoardWalk. Sounds like the perfect evening to me!
Studios is undergoing major refurbishments as they prepare for Galaxy’s Edge (Star Wars Land) and Toy Story Land coming in the next couple years. Unfortunately, that means there is far less to do in the evening hours. BUT, I do have a few suggestions for nighttime entertainment at the park while it gets a makeover.
- Fantasmic! Dining Package: This is my favorite evening show! Like I said, the dining and dessert packages are the way to go. The Brown Derby is my suggestion for this dining package. They’ve got some great cocktails! If you don’t want to do a table service and there are two shows, I always suggest seeing the second show. The crowds will have died down and you’ll have more time for dinner and attractions.
- Ride Tower of Terror at Night: I know, I’m really reaching here. However, if you’ve never ridden Tower of Terror at night, it’s really pretty cool. The evening ambiance adds to the eerie queue which guides you to the spooky lobby.
- Take the boat!: After you’ve gotten your fill of Hollywood Studios, take the boat over to the BoardWalk area. The Dolphin and Swan Resort are also in the vicinity which offers places like Kimonos for nightly karaoke!
Even if it’s not open terribly late, Pandora-World of Avatar was meant to be seen at night. The bioluminescent lighting and Avatar “landscapes” look incredible in the evening. Last summer, Animal Kingdom was open until 10:00 pm most nights and sometimes 11:00 pm, without extra evening hours. And don’t forget to catch Rivers of Light, the new water and light show, playing most nights at the amphitheater. Unfortunately, Animal Kingdom doesn’t have too many dining spots open past 8:00 pm due to it closing earlier than others. For evening eats I suggest Tiffins, Yak & Yeti, Nomad Lounge, and Satu’li Canteen (quick service). Rainforest Cafe is open a little later than the others, but the food isn’t quite worth it.
I did my best to keep the list concise, but there really is a lot to do at night in and around the parks! What’s your favorite thing to do late at night on property? Mine would have to be watching the fireworks from the beach at the Polynesian Resort. So relaxing! Goodnight, night owls!