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Over the nearly 45 years since it opened, Walt Disney World has become synonymous with the words “magic” and “fun”. Thousands of guests flock to the parks daily to experience the classic attractions, shows, and entertainment. If you’re anything like me, though, you’ve probably found yourself experiencing that awkward moment when the parks have all closed, but you’re not quite ready to end your day yet. This is where the beauty of Walt Disney World really shines through. There is literally something for everyone to do; even if you are a night owl looking to continue experiencing the magic long after the parks have closed.
1. Take A Stroll On The Boardwalk
Strolling along the Boardwalk at Disney’s Boardwalk Resort can be a great way to spend your evening. You can enjoy the evening air underneath the stars while listening to musicians and enjoying the performers that come out to entertain each evening. The Boardwalk also has plenty to offer in terms of dining from the luxurious Flying Fish Café to the simple, yet familiar, ESPN Club. The brand new Abracadabar lounge offers a unique 1930’s experience. All of these things offer terrific ways to spend your evening on the Boardwalk, but the crown jewel of the Boardwalk, in my opinion, is Jellyrolls. Here you will find nightly dueling pianos and entertainment that is second to none. The shows are always interactive, taking requests and putting the audience right in the middle of the show. If you’re more into dancing, The Atlantic Dance Hall offers a dance club-type atmosphere right next door. The best part is, all of this is available to experience even if you’re not staying at Disney’s Boardwalk Resort. It is open to all guests to visit and enjoy.
2. Have A Date Night
Who says Disney is just for kids? Moms and Dads shouldn’t feel bad if they decide to take a night of their vacation to have a nice meal by themselves and remember why they fell in love. Not only are there terrific restaurants to eat at in Walt Disney World, but select Disney resorts also offer clubs that kids ages 3 and up can go to and have a great time with sitters while Mom and Dad enjoy a night out. There are other third-party services like Kid’s Night Out available as well, but the kids’ clubs are the only option that I have personally used. My son had such a great time that he wanted to go back, so we had a second date night on our vacation. These clubs are:
– The Sand Castle Club at Disney’s Beach Club Resort
– Simba’s Clubhouse at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge Jambo House
– Lilo’s Playhouse at Disney’s Polynesian Village
– Camp Dolphin at The Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort
3. Treat Yourself To A Nice Dinner
Since we’re talking about getting out for a nice meal, I should probably mention the scores of fantastic places to eat in Walt Disney World. One of mine and my wife’s favorite places to eat for a special occasion is The Yachtsman Steakhouse at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort. Afterward, if you’re not too stuffed, you can walk next door to Beaches and Cream at Disney’s Beach Club Resort and get an ice cream sundae bigger than the meal you just ate. Some other terrific places to try for dinner are:
– Flying Fish Café at Disney’s Boardwalk Resort
– Jiko at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
– California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort (A tip for anyone not already “in the know”: You can book your dining reservation around the time that the Wishes fireworks show will be happening at Magic Kingdom and watch the show with the music and narration piped in from the outdoor balcony atop the hotel.)
– Raglan Road Irish Pub at Disney Springs
– Victoria and Albert’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort Hotel & Spa (For those who really want an upscale special experience)
There are dozens of other great restaurants to try, but these are some of the more unique highlights.
4. Spend An Evening Of Shopping And Leisure At Disney Springs
Disney Springs, formerly known at Downtown Disney, is just finishing up a major transformation that saw tons of new restaurants and shopping locations added. You’ll find some terrific Disney merchandise at stores like Disney’s Days of Christmas, Marketplace Co-Op, World of Disney, and Art of Disney that you won’t find in the parks. But now you can also shop at some exciting name brand stores that you may or may not have back home, because recently new stores were added like Melissa Shoes, Vera Bradley, Pandora Jewelry, Lucky Brand, and Kate Spade New York.
If you’re more interested in entertainment than shopping, Splitsville Luxury Lanes is a great place to go bowling while you eat. The AMC theater is also an option we’ve done before; especially when going to see Disney movies. They even have theaters where a server comes and takes your order from a full menu. House of Blues is not only a great place to eat, but it’s a great place to catch a show. I will usually go online and find out who is playing before making my trip down to Walt Disney World. I have seen some great shows in this spectacular venue. The last notable highlight I’ll mention is taking in a show of Cirque du Soleil: La Nouba. The show is spectacular and probably like nothing you’ve ever seen before. It is unique to Walt Disney World in that it is the only place you can see the La Nouba Cirque show.
5. Check Out “Yehaa Bob”
“Yehaa Bob” is a performing pianist that plays at The River Roost Lounge at Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside Resort. He may be a lounge act, but his shows are family friendly and EXTREMELY raucous! The man takes the stage and literally never stops until his show for the evening is done. He plays “sing-a-long” favorites and even encourages guests to get up out of their chairs and parade around the room at certain points in the night. It really is a free show/party that takes place in the middle of the Port Orleans Riverside Resort, and again, you don’t need to actually be staying at this resort to drop in and enjoy the show.
6. The Monorail Pub Crawl
Since we’re talking about lounges and libations, many have made a tradition out of doing what they call The Monorail Pub Crawl. If this sounds intriguing to you, then you need only to travel to one of the Magic Kingdom area monorail resorts (Disney’s Polynesian Village, Disney’s Contemporary, or Disney’s Grand Floridian), and embark on a journey of each of the 3 monorail resorts’ bars and lounges. This can be a relaxing way to spend the evening while taking in the sights and sounds of each of these unique and special resorts. For instance, stop in for an adventurous atmosphere that looks like something right out of Adventureland at Trader Sam’s in The Polynesian. Check out the jazz orchestra that plays in the upstairs lounge in the lobby of the Grand Floridian. It really can be a nice way to experience these resorts without paying the premium price to stay there.
7. Take In A Nighttime Savanna Viewing
This last thing to do at night is one of my favorites, because it is truly a unique experience. Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge offers nighttime viewing of giraffes, zebras, and other animals on the savanna through the use of a night-vision scope. You will find a cast member standing outside a viewing area just to the left of the pool, if you’re coming from the lobby, with a night-vision scope that you can use to watch the animals at night. Two things make this experience even more unique. # 1, it’s FREE! #2, the cast members are usually from a country located on the continent of Africa, and they are more than willing to talk to you about the animals or share with you experiences from their home country. It’s a great way to spend the evening at a one-of-a-kind resort hotel in Walt Disney World.
So next time you find yourself being funneled out of a Walt Disney World theme park before you’re ready to settle down, take a deep breath and remember: there’s so much more to do in Walt Disney World besides theme parks and attractions; even at night.