Nighttime Shows at Walt Disney World

Disney has three nighttime shows in its regular rotation. Wishes at Magic Kingdom, Illumination at Epcot, and Fantasmic! at Hollywood Studios. On my most recent vacation I watched each of them and in true Disney fashion they are all fantastic.

Illuminations is the story of Earth displayed around the World Showcase Lagoon. It starts with Earth’s fiery beginnings, then moves to the history of humanity showing projections on a spinning Earth. Lastly is the hope for future that ends in fireworks. The entire show is accompanied by awesome music and the pavilions light up all around.


If you have never seen Illuminations I would highly suggest you make the time for it. World Showcase it beautiful to stroll at night and there are plenty of spots to view all around!

Fantasmic! is a show that takes you into the imagination of Mickey Mouse as the Sorcerer’s Apprentice. The show has projections on water, laser lights, music, dancing, characters, and fireworks! This is a very exciting show. The story is a little mixed bag but that is part of the charm. There are parts form Lion King, Sleeping Beauty and Fantasia. It is also


You can get wet at this show as the water does splash up in some areas. If you don’t want to be wet make sure you don’t sit in the lower 1/3 of the theatre. If there is a second show you should try to make that one since it will be a lot less crowded, you can have your choice of seats no matter when you arrive.


Wishes Nighttime Spectacular is probably the most well-known and popular nighttime show. It is narrated by Jiminy Cricket with music, projections on the castle, lighting effects, and fireworks. If the weather is right you can see Tinker Bell fly from the castle overhead! You will love to ooh and ahh over the show and I promise the soundtrack will be stuck in your head when you leave.  However there is a reason it is so popular it is not to be missed, it is a classic!

If I had to rate them I would say Wishes, Fantasmic! and Illuminations in that order. I think adults will enjoy Illuminations more so than kids but it is absolutely enjoyable for everyone. If you only had the time to do one I would have to say make sure it is Wishes.

Do you have a favorite? Let us know below!

Guest Blogger Chris Gardiner: My Perspective on the Disney Teens and Tweens Podcast Follow Up


Hi all! I was thrilled to be asked to write a guest blog article for the Dole Whipped team and immediately started thinking of ideas for articles that I could write that would add something different. I love listening to these ladies each week on their podcast and last week after listening to the podcast on Disney with Teens and Tweens it hit me that I should write a follow-up article based on my experience. For a quick background on me: I am a single father that has grown up loving all things Disney. I was lucky enough to visit Disney World many times growing up and then stepped it up a level when I got accepted into the Disney College Program during my junior year at UMASS Amherst. Since then I visit Disney World as often as I can and I am a proud annual passholder. This past summer I expanded my Disney Destinations and went on my first Disney Cruise. For all of you who have cruised Disney before you will understand when I say “I am now hooked on DCL”!

Planning:  I have always tried to tell the boys as far in advance as i can when we are going on our trips to Disney.  I have always secretly dreamed of planning it where I wake them up and say “we’re going to Disney today!” –  but then I realized that by telling them prior I have some good leverage in making sure people are well-behaved for the upcoming months.  But seriously, I find that planning with teens can be a great part of the experience.  Using Disney’s websites, planning sites and You Tube videos of what the rides look like can be a great way to plan for the trip.  I tell the boys to pick 2 or 3 attractions that they absolutely want to go on and we will make sure we definitely do those.  The other great thing about the planning process is to talk to teens about managing expectations – the fact that there will be lines and we all will have to be patient. As well, we want to make sure that we all are going to cooperate so that everyone gets to do the things they want to do.

Dining:  Dining with teenage boys at Disney is a much different experience then when I IMG_0019have gone to Disney when the boys were little or have gone with other adults.  Most of our dining typically tends to be counter-service dining as my boys have pretty much unlimited energy and want to be on the go all the time.  When we have done sit-down dining we have done more of the ‘entertainment based’ sit down restaurants (i.e. 50’s Prime Time or Sci Fi Drive, Be Our Guest, ESPN Sports Club at the Boardwalk, Rainforest Cafe, etc.).  But honestly “fine dining” restaurants tend to be left off the list on my trips with the boys.  Snacks are also a big part of our dining experience – so I always like to try to encourage them to try some snacks other than just popcorn and soda.

Non-theme park activities: While most teens think mostly about the thrill rides at the Disney parks, there is really so much more to do at the Walt Disney World Resort.  Whenever planning my trips I try to build in at least one ‘non-park’ day to take advantage of the other amenities at WDW.  These can include Disney Quest and the Downtown Disney area, the water parks (Typhoon Lagoon or Blizzard Beach), the miniature golf courses or even just the resort amenities like the pool and arcades.  Renting the ‘water sprite’ boats is another great thing for teens and tweens – I mean who wouldn’t want to drive their own mini speed boat!!


I agree with the ladies of Dole Whipped that Disney is such a great place to bring your teens and tweens because just like it is an escape from the day-to-day pressures and reality of being an adult. It is also just as much as an escape for teens and tweens as well!  Also, based on your level of comfort, Disney is also a great place to give your teens and tweens a little more independence.  Sometimes I will let the boys go off and do a couple of things in the park and then we all meet back for lunch.  Little things like this can allow your teen to have some independence, give you a little breather and then meet back and continue your great vacation!

What do you look forward to most when traveling to Disney with your teens or tweens? What advice do you have for other families embarking on a Disney trip with teens or tweens?

Magic Kingdom After Dark

There are so many attractions that are fun to do during the day but the Magic Kingdom changes at night. But when the sun goes down and the lights are on it transforms the entire park experience. In Tomorrowland it feels very bright with neon and stainless steel, Adventureland and Frontierland are a bit more dark and forbidding.  The change in lighting can really affect the enjoyment and sometimes creepiness
of an attraction.

  • Dumbo- with its update it looks gorgeous lit up particularly with the water feature.
  • The People Mover- it is a neat view of Tomorrowland from a higher vantage point and the neon adds to the retro futuristic style.
  • The Haunted Mansion- another with a awesomely dark queue and of course the ghosts make it even more eerie.  You will have a hard time not being slightly chilled walking by the graveyards.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean- the queue is so cool, dark and forbidding and it is just made for night time riding.
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad- there is no seeing very far in front of you so it is always a surprise around each turn.  Plus if you time it right you can catch some fireworks.
  • Splash Mountain- that is of course as long as you don’t mind being wet after the sun has gone down.
  • Jungle Cruise- it has a whole different vibe at night and the temple section is downright creepy.

And of course you absolutely have to take a slow stroll down Main Street USA  and maybe pause at the top of the Railroad Station for a look back for the end to your perfect night.

Podcast: Episode 7, Cast Member Chris!

A very special episode of the Dole Whipped podcast today, we have our very first guest! Former college program Cast Member Christ joins Shannon, Tara, Jillian and Jamie to discuss his time in the program and share some of his favorite things. Happy Listening!

Link for Desktop: Podcast Garden

Link to iTunes


Podcast: Episode 4, Disney After Dark

In our latest podcast, the Dole Whipped ladies discuss all the fun you can have at Disney World after the sun goes down! From the classics like Main Street Electrical Parade to Epcot’s new After Hours Wind Down event, we cover it all.

Link for Desktop: Podcast Garden

Link to iTunes