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5 Areas of Walt Disney World That HAVE to be Visited at Night

4. Future World / Innoventions Plaza

Image - jtkays, Flickr

Spaceship Earth at night.
Image: Jeff Kays, Flickr (license)

I'm probably cheating a bit with this one (and the next one), because it also happens to feature one of the most iconic buildings in the world. Nevertheless, as beautiful as Spaceship Earth and the area in its shadow are during the day, they become otherworldly once the sun has set.

Let's start just with Spaceship Earth. Obviously, during the day, its silver color draws the eye toward it, but doesn't dominate the visual scene quite as much as it otherwise would. It is mysterious and futuristic, but it isn't distracting. Largely, this is because guests spend much of their morning in Future World, and having a dominating physical structure ask so much attention of the guests would be exhausting.

But as the light fades and guests find themselves spread more evenly throughout the park, Spaceship Earth becomes illuminated in all sorts of bright colors and textures. And, throughout the night, its personality can change – from warm to cool and back again. Now, instead of dominating the park's sightlines, it accents them – giving the guest a visual anchor as they navigate around World Showcase.

Even that, though, is really only telling half the story of why this area is so incredible at night.

Sure, the canopies installed at the turn of the millennium become more subtle and futuristic in the darkness, and yes, the fountains give of a stunning mist when caught in just the right light. But there's one effect in the Innoventions Plaza that comes to life at night that remains one of the most breathtaking sights in any Disney Park: the sidewalk fiber optics.

Image - ffg, Flickr

The ground lights up.
Image: Dave Walker, Flickr (license)

This is one of the few areas that isn't just better at night – it's completely transformed.

5. Main Street USA

Image - Flickr, richo-fan

Main Street at night.
Image: Richo.Fan, Flickr (license)

If I was cheating with Future World, this one is probably even more egregious. But it's hard to talk about nighttime locales at Walt Disney World without bringing up the most iconic of all.

Of course, the most eye-catching aspect of Main Street USA at night is the massive, illuminated castle at the end of it. But what makes Main Street USA so special at night isn't just one of the most photographed objects in the world sitting in its vicinity. I'd argue, it's actually the view the other way.

The Magic Kingdom takes you on a journey through story and time. You start off on Main Street USA – an everytown that is classic and simple, but which introduces you to the world of fantasy. The castle at its end draws you into the world Disney has created – one inhabited by princesses, pirates, and rocket ships.

But at the end of your day, after you've explored the depths of the Amazon or flown high in the sky with elephants, you return to Main Street USA to find it transformed by shimmering lights and framed by the darkness of the night sky. You won't find a castle at the end of the street this time, but rather, a train station. The eyeline is lower, and the street feels more intimate.

And that's entirely the point. Once you've experienced those adventures and fantasies, the only thing that can draw you back to the real world is its comfort and familiarity. The spectacle of size and scale aren't enough to tell the story at that point – now, you need something more simple.

While other places in the Disney parks transform after nightfall into the spectacular or the alien, the beauty of Main Street USA is that nightfall only serves to make it feel more familiar. And thus, like the fade out at the end of a great film, the final image of the Magic Kingdom transitions you back into the real world once again.

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