Too few Walt Disney World fans know about the Kiss Goodnight at Magic Kingdom. If you just thought, “what’s that?” you’re not alone. The Kiss Goodnight is a little over 2-minutes long, and it is WDW’s way of saying “goodbye” (or “go home!” depending upon your perspective) to guests at the end of a long day in the park.
The Kiss Goodnight usually plays every 30 minutes after Magic Kingdom closes, and starts with Cinderella Castle “twinkling” as the music from When You Wish Upon a Star slowly builds.. This means that you could see it more than once in a single night–we once saw it four times in the same night…its magic wears off a bit after the second time, ha!
The Kiss Goodnight still runs at Magic Kingdom as of Spring 2020. There are nights when it is (inexplicably) not shown, or runs on a different, more frequent schedule. There is no rhyme or reason to this, and we cannot explain why that occurs. Those nights are few and far between in our experience (<5% of the time), so if you miss it one night, try to catch it another.
It’s really only visible and audible from Main Street, so watching from another land is not possible. Finally, there is no Kiss Goodnight at any other castle park in the world. (Sorry, Disneyland fans.) The next closest thing is the seldom-seen burn off for IllumiNations. Those are really the major things to know, so let’s turn to why this little “moment” is so magical.
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:
Please excuse the poor quality, as that video was shot a decade ago (probably on an original iPhone–I don’t even remember), long before we ever started this blog. It was my very first upload to YouTube, and the only reason I posted it because there were no other videos of the Kiss Goodnight at the time. Despite happening nightly, it was relatively unknown online.
I wanted to write about the Kiss Goodnight, but it’s something that photos definitely don’t do justice. Most shots simply look like Cinderella Castle at night, albeit with minor color differences…and maybe some twinkling.
Throughout this post, there’s over 11 years of Kiss Goodnight photos, from 2008 until today! From a photography perspective, the Kiss Goodnight may not look different than normal lighting used on Cinderella Castle, but it is. Beyond the twinkling, there are a few color schemes not normally used throughout the night.
My favorite of these is at the very end, when Cinderella Castle is quickly bathed in mostly-white lighting, with extra intensity on the top spire (see above). I actually use photos of this ‘moment’ on the blog quite regularly, as I love the way this photographs and looks.
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.
To this day, the Kiss Goodnight is something we look forward to, always make an effort to see, and our day at Magic Kingdom isn’t quite complete without the Kiss Goodnight.
It’s safe to say that for something that lasts only about two minutes to be one of the most anticipated and memorable experiences at Walt Disney World, it must be pretty special.
It 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 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 still get choked up by the Kiss Goodnight…to this day…even after seeing it more times than I can count.
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.” 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.
Even though the Kiss Goodnight is the absolute best time to take photos of Cinderella Castle, 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 vacation.
However, I’m convinced that most people who “get” the Walt Disney World 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 embodies and reminds us exactly why it’s so great and special to get to experience Walt Disney World–and why so many of us are lifelong fans. 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 WDW 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 among the most passionate of the passionate Disney fans…or perhaps we’re all just the craziest? Either way, there’s something to be said for making the effort to be in the Magic Kingdom during that peaceful and special time of night, and having the Kiss Goodnight put the cherry on top of a day of wonderful memories that will last a lifetime.
Are you part of the club? What do you think of the Kiss Goodnight? If you haven’t seen it, does this post make you want to stay up late for it? Do you agree or disagree with our take here? Think the Kiss Goodnight is overrated? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback—even when you disagree with us—is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!