Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. All opinions remain my own.
Have you ever wanted to take a family picture in an empty park at Walt Disney World? I will tell you my tips for accomplishing this very thing!
Imagine walking down Main Street, U.S.A. in Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World and being the only person or family there. The turn of the century buildings are all lit up with white lights, Cinderella Castle is lit up and maybe even changing colors just for you! You are standing in the middle of one of the most popular vacation destinations and in front of one of the most photographed locations in the world, the castle. Tens of millions of people flow in and out of Magic Kingdom every year, and here you are, by yourselves in the middle of it all!
Don’t believe it could happen? Well, I’m here to tell you it can and it happens to us every time we visit Disney World. It’s probably impossible now to create this experience in the morning before the park opens to the general public unless it is a very low crowd time of the year. You can always book a breakfast reservation at Cinderella’s Royal Table, Be Our Guest Restaurant, or The Crystal Palace and have only a limited number of fellow vacationers in your pictures. You might even take a picture from a different angle to achieve the empty park look. During previous trips, we have scheduled a breakfast reservation at The Crystal Palace buffet, which features Pooh and Friends, and had some success with our pictures. Now, a straight shot down Main Street will be nearly impossible at park opening. Lucky you if it happens!
My strategy isn’t hard but it will allow you to take awesome pictures of your family without 200 people around you. Schedule one of the later reservation times at a table service location and you will be able to be one of the last families to leave the park.
The table service restaurants in Magic Kingdom that offer later reservation times all year round include:
• Be Our Guest Restaurant
• Cinderella’s Royal Table
• The Crystal Palace
• Jungle Navigation Co. Ltd. Skipper Canteen
• Liberty Tree Tavern
• The Plaza Restaurant
• Tony’s Town Square
As of my search today, the restaurants with the latest available times are Be Our Guest Restaurant, Liberty Tree Tavern, The Plaza Restaurant, and Tony’s Town Square with the latest reservation time being around the time the last fireworks show starts. Cinderella’s Royal Table, The Crystal Palace, and Jungle Navigation Skipper Canteen had their latest reservation times about 30 minutes before the fireworks start time.
Either way, my advice to you is to eat slow, enjoy your meal, and then slowly stroll towards the front of the park. We usually stop to take pictures on our way to the entrance and then take our time. Magic Kingdom usually starts clearing out after the fireworks show. But there will still be quite a few families taking it all in, shopping on Main Street, and slowly making their way out. We will also stop in the stores and see if there is anything we can’t live without!
The shops on Main Street stay open 1 hour and the resort buses run 2 hours after the park closes.
This strategy may not be for everyone. You will be eating later than usual and staying up later than you normally would at home. But the way I see it is we are on vacation, so why not? We don’t take a break or return to the hotel mid-day, but that would be an option for some families. On the day or two we end up snagging a later dinner reservation, I’ll schedule a lunch time closer to 2:00 pm so we are not starving. My kids have always done really well staying up later while at Disney and we all love the parks at night. So, to us, it’s worth it!
When we stay late at Magic Kingdom, we usually eat at Cinderella’s Royal Table. We have either already seen the closing fireworks show or have plans to see it another night. So, seeing the fireworks from inside the castle is a special treat. It is neat to hear the sound and see the colorful lights reflect against the huge beveled windows.
The interior of Cinderella Castle and Cinderella’s Royal Table is gorgeous, and I take way too many pictures each time we visit.
There’s another reason to stay late in the park! Did you know that Cinderella Castle gives a ‘Kiss Goodnight’? About 30 minutes after the park closes, the castle begins to turn different shades of blue, pink, green, and purple. ‘When You Wish Upon A Star’ plays over the speakers and it really is magical. It’s the perfect ending to such a fun-filled day!
We have also stayed late with a dinner reservation at Biergarten Restaurant in World Showcase in Epcot and slowly made our way through that park to enjoy the scenery. World Showcase at night is beautiful, so this is fun, also. Each country has it’s own unique ambiance with the nighttime lights. It is worth using the same strategy here as well.
Fun Story: My hubby and I first came upon this late reservation strategy by accident. On our honeymoon, we had a reservation at Tony’s Town Square. When we arrived, we were told they had to close for the night but could offer us several other options. I don’t remember the other options because one of them was Cinderella Castle. Neither one of us had been to this particular restaurant. So, needless to say, we were super excited we had the opportunity to dine here.
I don’t remember the time, but it was late. When we left, we were the only people on Main Street. We didn’t plan it but it was very romantic and shocking at first since neither one of us had ever seen an empty Disney park. I guess you could say I was hooked after that, since I try to recreate that same experience with each subsequent trip.
Just for fun, here we are on our honeymoon in a picture taken at Cinderella’s Royal Table right before we walked onto an empty Main Street. We were seated in the middle of the restaurant, right by the windows. There IS such a thing as ‘Disney Magic’! The next picture is us at the same table 15 years later! (The waitress had her thumb over the lens in the first one. Haha!)
I would love to hear from you! Does anyone else use this same strategy? Do you feel like your family would be up to staying in the parks that late? I would love to hear your ‘Disney Magic’ stories!