Have you ever heard of the Kiss Goodnight? Have you ever been Fairy Dusted? Followed a pirate’s map to help Jack Sparrow find buried treasure, or cast spells to help Merlin battle Disney villains?
You can do all of these, and more, at Magic Kingdom. Beyond the rides and the shows, there’s a lot to do that you may not have heard of.
I’ve created an (admittedly partial) list here, things that can add a bit of magic to a day at Disney World. Plus, all of these are included in the price of admission so once you’re in the park you can do any and all of these at no extra charge.
The Kiss Goodnight
About a half hour after Magic Kingdom closes for the night, Cinderella Castle begins to twinkle. Music, a recording of “When You Wish Upon A Star” from the park’s opening in 1971, plays. Then, a speech by Roy Disney (in which he quotes Walt) thanks guests for coming. The whole thing is really magical, part Disney history and part special goodbye after a day at the park.
Not a lot of people stay for the Kiss Goodnight, so if you stay to check it out you won’t be fighting crowds. When my wife and I saw it on our honeymoon, only one other family was hanging around and they left well before it happened (by this time it was after midnight), so it was just the two of us and a few cast members when the castle lit up. It was cool to be the only guests on Main Street for a little while.
The Kiss Goodnight is about three minutes long, and it’s a very special way to cap off the day.
In Fantasyland, right outside of Cinderella Castle, is a shop called Castle Couture. For the most part it looks like any other Disney gift shop—only the cool display of Princess Aurora’s dress with the color-changing lighting really stands out—but it’s only here that you can ask a cast member for fairy dust.
The cast member will pull out a small wand filled with glitter and, while reciting a cute little poem, will shake the wand and rain glitter over your head. If your kids (or you) aren’t into princesses, they also have a pirate version–You’ll still get glittered, but the poem and wand are pirate themed rather than princess-y.
It’s cute, and it can add a little bit more magic to the day. It also means you’ll be glittery all day, which I would argue is the best possible way to be at Magic Kingdom.
Sorcerers Of The Magic Kingdom
This interactive card game spans the entire Magic Kingdom park. At the Main Street Firehouse (or behind Ye Olde Christmas Shop in Liberty Square) you’re given the tools you need to play: a map, a key card, and five random spell cards with Disney characters on them. You’re given a quick tutorial and the basic story–involving Merlin from Sword in the Stone trying to save the Magic Kingdom from villains–and you’re shown a small symbol.
The symbol corresponds to a point on the map. Find that spot in the park and you’ll see a key hole. Hold your key card to this, and a “magic mirror” appears in front of you. These mirrors are usually hidden (and often quite cleverly) and once you’ve activated one you’ll see an animated sequence involving Merlin and a villain. When prompted, hold up a spell card and magic will play out on the screen and “attack” the villain. Then you’ll be shown the next symbol you need to find on your map to continue the story.
It can definitely take time, walking from one mirror to the next (though generally they’ll clump the ones you need together in one land), but it can be an entertaining diversion if you want something different. Plus, the cards can be traded with other players and some cast members.
Similar to Sorcerers Of The Magic Kingdom, in this interactive game you’re helping Captain Jack Sparrow outwit other pirates in order to find treasures in Adventureland.
At a small booth between Adventureland and Frontierland you’ll get a map (there are several different ones) as well as a “talisman” card and you’ll be instructed as to where to head first. Like Sorcerers, you’re finding your next location by symbols on your map. The locations can be a bit harder to find than the Sorcerers mirrors, and your search may have you going into gift shops or even into the entrance lobby of a restaurant.
Once you find what you’re looking for and you hold your talisman to the appropriate spot, the location will come alive. A cannon may suddenly light and fire, blowguns will pop out of jungle foliage, or bottled ships in a curio cabinet will engage in a battle. You’ll also hear the voices of Jack Sparrow and his foes as they further the story, and then you’ll be shown the next symbol to find on your map. After finding all six locations, you can then go back and get another map which will have different things to find.
The Welcome Show
If you get to Magic Kingdom shortly before it opens, you can see the Welcome Show. Roughly six minutes long, this musical skit stars the mayor of Magic Kingdom and his entourage as they welcome guests to the Magic Kingdom with song and dance.
During the show a train arrives carrying Mickey Mouse and some friends arrives and, after some interaction between Mickey and the mayor, they all lead the audience in a countdown to the opening of the gate. This cute show can be a great start to a day!
If you’re at Walt Disney World to celebrate an event: birthday, honeymoon, graduation, anniversary, et cetera, stop into guest services at any park (or at a Disney hotel) and let them know. You’ll be given a button to commemorate the event, which will often be noticed as you walk around the parks.
On our honeymoon, my wife and I were wearing our “Happily Ever After” buttons and quite often cast members would say “congratulations” to us as we walked by. Buzz Lightyear, at a meet and greet, saw the buttons and wanted to see her ring. During a parade, one of the mice from Cinderella ran over to us to give us hugs. A cast member in Frontierland led us out into the middle of the road and loudly announced that we were on our honeymoon to every guest within earshot– after she picked up a phone in a gift shop and dialed a special number so we could get a congratulations message from Mickey and Minnie.
Obviously these may not all happen to everyone, and I’m sure other things that could occur that didn’t happen to us. If you’re at Disney World to commemorate something special, though, getting a button to “advertise” it could lead to some special moments. Plus, the button is a cool extra souvenir of your event.
At The Most Magical Place On Earth, there are some fun things to do that aren’t necessarily advertised, but if you seek them out they can add some extra pixie dust to an already special day at Magic Kingdom.
These are just a sampling of the great “bonus content” you can see or do. Does anybody else have something special they’ve done, some off-the-beaten-path show or event? Comment and share the magic!