Too few Walt Disney World fans know about The Kiss Goodnight. If you just thought, “what’s that?” you’re not alone. The Kiss Goodnight is a little over 2-minutes long, and it is the Magic Kingdom’s way of saying “goodbye” to guests at the end of a long day. It usually play every 30 minutes after the park closes (meaning you could see it more than once in a single night–we once saw it 3 times in the same night!), and starts with Cinderella Castle “twinkling” as the music from When You Wish Upon a Star slowly builds.
A narrator then greets the last of the guests in the Magic Kingdom, saying: “Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, on behalf of everyone here at the Magic Kingdom, we thank you for joining us today for a magic gathering of family, friends, fun, and fantasy. We hope your magical journey with us has created wonderful memories that will last a lifetime. Walt Disney said that the Magic Kingdom is a world of imagination, hopes, and dreams. In this timeless land of enchantment, magic and make believe are reborn, and fairy tales come true. The Magic Kingdom is a place for the young and the young at heart. A special place where when you wish upon a star, your dreams can come true. Until we see you again, have a safe trip home. Thank you, and goodnight.”
Here’s a video I shot of The Kiss Goodnight in 2010:
In the Summer of 2008, long before I started this blog, I did a “Top 30 Must-Sees” countdown to our then-annual Walt Disney World trip. On that list, I ranked The Kiss Goodnight as the #2 experience we were looking forward to (#1 was spending time with one another…so The Kiss Goodnight was basically the #1 Disney attraction) on that trip. That ranking and those words still ring true today. Here’s what I said then:
“I think it is safe to say that for something that lasts only about two minutes to be one of the most anticipated experiences at Walt Disney World, it must be pretty special. I think it really goes without saying that for that thing to be the second most anticipated experience at Walt Disney World, especially given the myriad of amazing sights, sounds, tastes, etc., it must be out-of-this-world, jaw-droppingly, insert string of adjectives here, amazing. Such is the Kiss Goodnight, the nightly Cinderella Castle show that occurs thirty minutes after the Magic Kingdom closes (then again an hour after).
The Kiss Goodnight is the proverbial icing on the Cake (Castle!) for us. After a long day in the parks, we can’t help but just stop and watch the Kiss Goodnight, completely frozen and unable to move. For us, the combination of the beautiful light display and hearing about the meaning Walt Disney wanted the parks to have for guests does it every time. We both get choked up. Being in an almost-deserted park as the ‘young at heart’ during Walt’s favorite time of day, we can’t help but think of his influence, and how special it is to walk alone in the last park he envisioned and take it all in. The Kiss Goodnight demonstrates what makes the place inherently special and transcendent of the concept of a “theme park” (Sarah cringes when she hears people call Walt Disney World a theme park, as that phrase truly doesn’t do justice to what the parks are). Simply put, the Kiss Goodnight concisely states and embodies the ‘Magic of Disney.'”
Even though it’s almost impossible to explain, this pretty much sums up why we feel The Kiss Goodnight is so special, and why it gives me goosebumps every time I see it. It’s not an amazing, state-of-the-art attraction. It’s one of those little things that elicits an emotional response from us, and is therefore one of the most important experiences we can have at Walt Disney World. Besides the TTA, it’s likely the “attraction” we experience most on each trip we take to Walt Disney World (despite living in Indiana, closing shift managers at the Magic Kingdom recognize us, so I guess we have a bit of a reputation…).
Even though The Kiss Goodnight is the absolute best time to take photos of Cinderella Castle (due to the lighting), most of the time I just find myself standing there gazing at the Castle in awe, paralyzed by the beauty of the moment. Not everyone will feel the same way. If they were to see it, I suspect most visitors to Walt Disney World would probably shrug it off, thinking it of very little significance in the grand scheme of their trips.
However, I’m convinced that most people who “get” the Disney theme parks would get goosebumps if they were to stand in a mostly-empty Magic Kingdom and watch and listen to this on a tranquil Main Street USA. It’s special not just because you’re in the park at such a peaceful time, essentially by yourself with Cinderella Castle, but also because of the significance of the words in Roy O. Disney’s Walt Disney World opening day dedication speech. The Kiss Goodnight basically embodies and reminds us exactly why it’s so great to be a Disney fan. If you haven’t stayed to experience The Kiss Goodnight before, you should definitely make an effort to do it at least once. It absolutely belongs on everyone’s Disney Bucket List.
Beyond that, being a Disney fan who has seen The Kiss Goodnight makes you part of an exclusive club (we ought to have a secret handshake!). Not many people can muster the stamina it takes to be in the park that late, so those who answer “yes!” when asked if they’ve seen The Kiss Goodnight are almost certainly the most passionate of the passionate Disney fans, who have made the effort to be in the Magic Kingdom during that peaceful and special time of night. You know right when they give that enthusiastic answer that they “get” it. It’s like a knowing nod. Those who have seen The exclusive club is made up entirely of crazy Disney fans, but it’s a very special club, nonetheless!