There are some things in Disney World that the average guest won’t ever see!
From fireworks shows to general maintenance, it takes a lot of work to keep the parks magical for guests. And that involves several things that only happen once the parks are already closed for the day! Let’s peek behind the closed gates and see what happens late each night in Disney World.
Let’s start off with a bang…literally! When Disney World is preparing to debut a new fireworks show, or a special display for a holiday or event, the show has to be tested before it’s performed in front of guests.
And, as many Disney fans know, even outside of the “busy season,” there are still plenty of guests in the parks from rope drop to close. This means the fireworks testing has to take place once the parks have already closed! This usually means LATE at night!
Guests can often see glimpses of the fireworks testing from outside of the parks at nearby hotels. If they can stay up late enough to catch them, of course! We recently spotted Harmonious testing after EPCOT closed. (Problem with fireworks is they’re loud and…y’know…in the sky. Tough to hide. 🤣)
Have you ever wondered how the Disney World shows seem to be so flawless every time? Well, the performers get plenty of practice before they first debut in front of guests!
Show rehearsals are scheduled when the parks are closed to allow performers to do a full run-through on-stage before debuting in front of guests.
Because even at the “Most Magical Place on Earth,” it would be tough to hide a rehearsal happening on the Cinderella Castle stage!
Just like the shows, Disney parade performers have the opportunity to practice without an audience before they make their official debut!
And the same goes for any new floats or effects for new and seasonal parades as well! Cast Members perform after-hours tests on new parades before they premiere to guests.
Performing rehearsals in an empty park helps make sure that the finished product is amazing when it’s time to debut in front of a crowd! You think navigating Main Street, U.S.A. and its treacherous trolley tracks is tough as a guest? Try it in costume set to choreography! Practicing on the actual route is crucial to success.
Given the amount of foot traffic that comes through the parks each day, the concrete outdoors and in buildings can take a serious beating!
And while it is possible to perform some routine maintenance with guests present in the parks, concrete work presents more of a challenge. After all, Disney wouldn’t want guests walking through wet concrete!
With the safety of guests in mind, any major concrete work will be scheduled for after the park has closed for the day. Occasionally, guests may spy markers blocking off freshly concreted areas but the concrete has typically set and it’s more of a precaution to give it ample time to cure.
Disney World restaurants, attractions, show buildings, and decor are regularly repainted to keep them looking fresh.
This is especially important for anything exposed to the intense Florida sun, which can cause some serious bleaching!
And while guests might spot evidence of the activity, like scrim or construction walls surrounding a building, the repainting itself will be done after guests have headed out for the evening. Next time you’re in the parks, check railings, benches, and more in the morning — you might spy a few “Wet Paint” signs!
Cleaning the Roads
Disney World is known for its dedication to keeping the Resort clean and well-maintained. And that extends beyond the parks!
During the evenings, large trucks come out to clean the streets around Disney World Resort property.
The dedication to keeping everything around the Resort property well-maintained helps ensure that guests get a great impression of Disney World even outside of the actual parks.
Cast Member Ride-Throughs
Occasionally, Cast Members are given the opportunity to ride an attraction before the park opens or after it closes to guests.
For example, one former Cast Member on our team was able to join in on an early-morning Cast Member tour of Haunted Mansion in Magic Kingdom before the park opened for the day!
Most rides, especially coasters, need the tracks to be fully walked each day before guests can ride as a safety precaution. These checks and tests of the rides occur while the parks are closed!
We appreciate ALL of the hard work that Cast Members do to make our vacations special, so we’re definitely in favor of giving them the VIP treatment!
If you’ve been to Disney World around the start of the Halloween or Christmas seasons, you might be shocked to walk into the park one morning and find it completely transformed since your visit the day before. This is especially evident when the big switch from fall to Christmas decor happens.
Well, you have a team of fast-working Cast Members to thank for that metamorphosis! Disney World holiday decorations are put up overnight to ensure their installation doesn’t interfere with guest safety…or disrupt the magic!
Holiday decor often doesn’t all go up on the same night, which means you might continue to spot new details as the season goes on (at least the first few days!).
But even when there’s still more decor to be added, you won’t spot Santa’s elves hauling a Christmas tree down Main Street, U.S.A. in broad daylight! (They DO, however, haul them around late at night while you’re sleeping!).
Safety is Disney’s top priority, and that includes making sure everyone exits the park when it closes for the evening.
Ever thought of hiding out and spending the night skipping around Disney World? It’s not that easy (or legal!). Once the parks have closed for the day, Cast Members perform walk-throughs to make sure there are no guests left behind.
Cast Members typically clear sections of the park each night, sweeping for any straggling guests. As tempting as it is to spend the night inside of one of the parks, make sure you stick to the sanctioned After Hours Events to avoid experiencing a security sweep first-hand!
What’s the Difference Between Disney World’s After Hours Boo Bash and Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party?
Some of the packages offered by Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings include ceremonies at various locations inside the Disney World parks.
And if having several thousand theme park attendees on your guest list sounds like a logistical nightmare, don’t worry — the in-park weddings are held either before the park opens or after it closes to allow for a private ceremony!
For example, weddings inside Magic Kingdom often start 2-3 hours after the park closes…
…weddings in the Tower of Terror courtyard start 1.5 hours after Disney’s Hollywood Studios closes…
…and several World Showcase pavilions are available for 9AM ceremonies before the section of the park opens to guests.
If you’ve got the budget to spend on a Disney World wedding, there are several awesome in-park locations for a private ceremony outside of park hours!
As busy as Disney World is during the day, there are some things that ONLY happen once the parks have closed. From rehearsals, to maintenance, to happily ever afters, it seems like there’s pretty much always something happening in Disney World — even outside of normal operating hours!
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Have you ever seen any of these after-hours activities happening in Disney World? Let us know in the comments!