We love Florida’s mega theme parks for their daytime activities, featuring huge live shows and rides fashioned after our favourite big screen flicks. But did you know that there’s much to be said about the nightlife here, too? From firework displays at Walt Disney World to bustling bar scenes, the after-hours fun in Orlando’s theme parks is nothing to ignore.
You’ve probably already read a little about Walt Disney World Resort in our guide to Florida theme parks, but what happens when the sun goes down? Here’s a breakdown of Florida’s biggest theme parks by day and night.
With Cinderella’s Castle, iconic rides and everyone’s favourite film characters traipsing through the streets, Disney’s Magic Kingdom needs no introduction.
By day it’s every family’s dream, filled with character meet-and-greets, parades and attractions that’ll take you up into space, above the streets of London and into a haunted castle. With that family-friendly theme in mind, things here stay relatively low key come night-time, with the exception of one seriously big fireworks display that sees Cinderella’s Castle and the night sky come aglow.
Epcot is an around-the-world experience with pavilions for 11 countries, featuring food and drink, architecture, entertainment and even their respective Disney princesses. Epcot only stays open until 9pm, but once night hits the park’s trademark giant golf ball – also known as Spaceship Earth – and the World Showcase Lagoon light up with a firework display detailing earth’s history.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom caters to holidaymakers’ wild side – it’s part zoo, part ride and part entertainment ground, with shows highlighting Disney’s animal characters. During the day, the fun focuses on safaris, where you can see wild animals from the around the world or embark on a roller coaster ride up to Mt Everest.
Night-time here sees the River of Light celebration, where the park’s waterway comes to life with colourful boats celebrating all living things. Similarly, the park’s crown centrepiece – the animal-laden Tree of Life – comes aglow periodically throughout the night.
During the day, Hollywood Studios is a cinematic tour de force, packed with live action shows and rides and attractions that are a little faster than the Magic Kingdom variety. There’s the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror and Frozen live on stage, while evenings are all about Star Wars with laser and light shows.
Universal Studios Florida
Universal Studios Florida is the epicentre of all things Hollywood on this side of the States. It’s both a cluster of theme parks and an actual studio where films and television come to life every day.
Days here revolve around the main attractions, which include the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Universal’s Islands of Adventure. At the former, you’re thrust right into Harry Potter’s world of magic, complete with the famous shops of Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade, which are both connected by none other than the Hogwarts Express.
Over at Universal’s Islands of Adventure, the skyline is cut with gigantic roller coasters. They’re themed after big Hollywood names like the Incredible Hulk and Spider Man, plus Jurassic Park. This is also where you’ll find Harry Potter-themed rides. Rides fashioned after mega flicks like Transformers, Despicable Me and Shrek are on the main studio area.
As for the night, that’s where Universal CityWalk comes into play. It’s Universal’s answer to Disney Springs, except the nightlife action here is even stronger with a slew of bars – including the Red Coconut nightclub, an Irish-meets-New Orleans pub and Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville – along with performances by the Blue Man Group. There’s also a wealth of shopping and dining, adding a Hard Rock Cafe and Bubba Gump Shrimp Co to the mix.
What do you prefer? Day time delights in the sunshine or the thrills and spills of an evening out? Let us know in the comments below. But, the best way to find out exactly what you can get up to in this family playground, is to visit! Book your holiday to Florida today.