Our “Last” Night in Magic Kingdom…
Our last night at Magic Kingdom “BC” was pretty special and memorable. We attended a private DVC party with virtually no crowds, saw a special fireworks show, met the Fab Five characters in royal attire, devoured a Fantastic Frankfurter Feast at Casey’s Corner, and wandered around soaking up the atmosphere.
This was actually a couple of weeks before the Walt Disney World theme parks closed indefinitely, but we didn’t do any of the parks on those final days. Our last visits were to Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios for the debut days of Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway and Flower & Garden Festival. (In a regrettable and ironic twist, our last time doing anything “Disney” was a stop at Character Warehouse on a grocery run.)
At the time, I didn’t think anything of that night in Magic Kingdom. While we were certainly cognizant of the circumstances, the prospect that Walt Disney World might close didn’t even cross our minds. I didn’t even intend upon doing a “party report,” instead choosing to simply enjoy the evening. In retrospect, I’m now even more happy about that decision, as it allowed us to savor the experience even more…
In the past, we’ve shared reports from attending these Disney Vacation Club parties. You can read our Moonlight Magic — After Hours at Magic Kingdom Party Recap or our 25 and Beyond DVC Bash at Disney California Adventure Party Report or our Typhoon Lagoon Beach Bash Report.
We’ve also attended other Moonlight Magic events about which I have not written, in large part because it seems like needless boasting. If you’re a Disney Vacation Club member who is eligible to attend, you’re likely aware of this free event and know it’s worth doing as the rare thing offered by Disney that’s truly free.
If you aren’t eligible to attend, reading about and seeing photos of an event you can’t experience doesn’t do you much good. Maybe it nudges you towards purchasing Disney Vacation Club, which is sort of the idea. (Disney’s idea, not ours–we wouldn’t recommend anyone buy into DVC right now.)
In any case, these are strange times. Since it was a really fun night, I’m running low on ideas, and a few people wanted to hear about our meal at Casey’s Corner, here’s this party report…
We start the evening at the Main Street USA Train Station, where we met up with friends and made our way into Magic Kingdom. The first order of business was grabbing maps and checking out where the rare characters would be meeting.
There were several options in Fantasyland, so we decided to make that our first stop. We were already about 15 minutes “late” to the start of Moonlight Magic at this point, and feared that the characters would be a lost cause. At past parties, wait times for rare characters have been prohibitively long.
Along the way we happened to see Fab Five characters in regal attire in each of the Plaza Gardens. It initially seemed too good to be true: there were no lines and Cinderella Castle was perfectly-positioned as the backdrop.
From a distance, it looked like they were doing a promotional photo shoot for something. Given that these meet & greets were not on the Moonlight Magic maps, we assumed that was the case. Nevertheless, we decided to go closer just to check things out.
Honestly, we were a bit surprised when our Moonlight Magic wristbands granted us entry into the Plaza Gardens. Only a couple of minutes later, we had a private audience with Queen Minnie and King Mickey Mouse.
It was so quick that I didn’t even have my camera ready, and scrambled to dial in the right settings. I failed, but got tremendously lucky that my 1/8 second shutter speed somehow didn’t suffer from camera shake or subject movement.
I’ve long claimed that we aren’t “character hunters” per se, but that’s probably no longer accurate. While we don’t have a particularly keen interest in it and definitely are not avid hunters, we do seek out enough fur characters to deserve that designation.
It’s almost a de facto interest. Rare characters are an easy (read: lazy) way for us to get photos of ourselves, and it’s something unique to do at events like this.
Given that our favorite “thing” to do at the parks during low-crowd events is simply to walk around and enjoy the atmosphere, meet and greets also offer an odd sense of accomplishment.
There’s something to be said for “we met 5 rare characters!” as opposed to “we wandered aimlessly for 4 hours.” Maybe? Perhaps not.
Our success with the Plaza Gardens meet & greets, and the eerily low crowd levels in the Central Plaza had us pretty excited. We began speculating as to why “no one” was at Moonlight Magic, and hurried on our way to PhilharMagic. There, we expected to breeze into the room with the Onward characters, laughing and skipping with these new trolls (??? we haven’t seen the movie yet) in a scene straight out of a Walt Disney World promotional video.
Instead, we were greeted outside of PhilharMagic by a Cast Member who advised us that the line had already been cut for capacity. That brought us back to reality pretty quickly. Think of the below photo as symbolizing our range of excitement while walking up to PhilharMagic. (In actuality, it’s from a different day/month/year, but I also just edited it.)
Other meet and greets around Fantasyland either had similarly long lines or were for more pedestrian characters with whom we didn’t “need” photos. After briefly regrouping, the aimless wandering began.
This is what we spent the bulk of the night doing, and it was glorious. This was the least busy night we had experienced in Magic Kingdom since our “Duo of Delightfully Dead Halloween Parties” that occurred last year during a hurricane scare. It was a bit surreal.
It was also surreal because current events were already casting a cloud over the evening. At this point, Bob Iger had already stepped down as CEO and Walt Disney World had started to take some precautionary measures. No closures had been announced or even hinted at, but we speculated on that. Nevertheless, the collective mood was largely upbeat and happy.
In hindsight, it seems like such a foregone conclusion and inevitability that the parks would close. Admittedly, I didn’t think so at the time. I’m still surprised and impressed by how quickly Americans embraced physical distancing and the need to stay at home.
Disproportionate attention has been paid to the (very) vocal minority of dissenters, but the reality is that most Americans have understood the stakes, and done their part. Some of these restrictions are anathema to America’s founding principles, so it’s heartening to see people willingly sacrifice for the greater good. But I digress.
I didn’t take any photos as we made laps of Magic Kingdom, so you’ll just have to take my word that we savored the serenity of the park. There’s a great collective energy that comes from being around other guests (and right now I find myself longing for that), but there’s also beauty in relative solitude. It’s like your senses are heightened, and you notice every detail, sound, and scent of the park just a little better.
Throughout the night, we never did see many other guests outside of the meet & greets. They had to have been somewhere, because Main Street was reasonably crowded for the fireworks.
This came as something of a surprise, as so much of Magic Kingdom was a ghost town prior to this. I had planned to swoop into a prime spot near Partners at the last minute, but that wasn’t an option. Instead, I opted for “the Hump” on Main Street.
This fireworks show is an eclectic, mixed bag. It’s actually more ambitious than you might expect for such an event, with its own soundtrack of pop remixes of Disney songs with pyro choreography to match.
I’m a pretty big fan of the show, but not necessarily on its artistic merits. More simply, I love the color and arrangement of the bursts. It’s an incredibly photogenic show for long exposure photography, which is obviously not the main metric humans watching fireworks with their eyes would use to evaluate a nighttime spectacular.
Here are some more fireworks photos:
Finally, our Casey’s Corner Fantastic Frankfurter Feast. Those last few words might sound like hyperbole chosen due to my fondness for alliteration. They’re not (well, only in part). It’s nice of Disney Vacation Club to offer these parties in the first place, but it’s really nice that they give us free meal vouchers.
We dined at Casey’s Corner at the end of the night, and the Cast Members were going “above and beyond” in distributing meals. It wasn’t just us–everyone was being asked if they wanted more sides and desserts. All told, the receipt for our meal reflected $48 worth of items before being zeroed out. (The below photo doesn’t show our drinks or the sides.)
The Fantastic Frankfurter Feast food itself was most memorable for making me a bit sick. After a couple bites of the plant-based Loaded Slaw Dog (which is shockingly fantastic), Sarah was done–leaving the responsibility to eat the rest riding on me. Suffice to say, my stomach was up to the task…although it probably shouldn’t have been.
It turns out one person should not eat ~$40 worth of hot dogs, fries, and mac & cheese so close to midnight. I believe that’s actually going to be the premise of the Gremlins reboot. In my defense, who could’ve possibly known that at the time?!
That’s when the real highlight of the evening occurred: enjoying a leisurely late night meal while sitting on Main Street with Cinderella Castle in the distance. I’m always a sucker for hot dogs, but there’s something particularly gratifying and indulgent about comforting food with a comforting view as the culmination of a fun night.
It was pure bliss and also a stroll down memory lane–we used to do this often back in the day when we more aggressively toured Magic Kingdom. We’d “forget” to eat dinner, and Casey’s Corner would be the last place open. It’d offer something to scarf down, while also being a chance to slow down and savor Magic Kingdom at its finest hour. That night at Moonlight Magic, the feast offered a nice way of digesting the evening, while also providing a nostalgia trip. Little did we realize at the time that it would also be a nourishing memory that we’d look back on with fondness once the parks closed.
Planning a Walt Disney World trip? For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know. If you’re considering joining DVC, first be sure to read our Ultimate Guide to Disney Vacation Club. If you still can’t decide whether membership is right for you, “try before you buy” and rent points from DVC Rental Store. If you are convinced a membership is for you, check out the discounted options at DVC Resale Market.
Have you attended one of the Moonlight Magic events at Walt Disney World? Did you meet any rare characters? What did you think of the experience? Any questions or thoughts about anything in this party report? Hearing your feedback about your experiences is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts or questions below in the comments!
Totally not related to the point of the article. But Sarah, you always look so adorable. And I especially love this look!
I was there at that DVC event, too during that first week of March. Wasn’t the weather PERFECT that night! It was such a LOVELY night there! I loved that special DVC dessert, too! I keep thinking about how happy I am to have had those last few days/hours in Disney to hold me until I return again. (We are booked for August, but now I am not sure if that will happen.)
Thank you for sharing this with us! (I would like to hear about your Moonlight Magic events.)
Tom, your photos are INCREDIBLE! You have THE most beautiful WDW photos I’ve seen anywhere.
Do you have a blog with photography tips? I was trying to find some but it looks like your webpage doesn’t include a search feature ?
Also, YES some of us want to see photos and read about DVC special parties. We watch the Emmys, the Grammys, etc and we can’t go to those either. We stay home and enjoy the videos and photos. Thank you for sharing.
Thank you so much for that lovely report of your “last” visit to Magic Kingdom before the closure.
That magical feeling reminds me of the first time I took my daughter to Disney World, when she was 4 1/2 years old. I wasn’t sure how she would react to the characters, but I had bought her a little Mickey Mouse autograph book. She loved them! . I have lots of pictures of her being hugged by various characters. That was a few decades ago, and the characters just wandered around the park, there were no lines or specific times or anything. We went to the 1900 Park Fare character breakfast and she hugged Mary Poppins and she got Mary Poppin’s autograph and that was one of the highlights of our trip. Both of us loved the Mary Poppins movie.
We went back to Disney World nine or 10 times before she graduated from high school, and every trip was wonderful. We stayed at various resorts, but one of our favorite things was to watch the electrical parade from Fort wilderness or the Polynesian, when we stayed there. We also went on a Disney cruise the VERY first year the Disney cruise line was open.
As a single parent, of course my daughter and I sometimes clashed , but at Disney World we never did. The magic of Disney, , particularly the Magic Kingdom, had us under a spell and we always wanted to do the same things at the same time. We were always in agreement, which is pretty unusual for a mother and daughter, especially when the daughter is a teenager lol. We just never even disagreed on what to eat, what time to get up, when to swim in the pool, when to go to the parks, when to leave the parks etc – even the amount of money we spent on souvenirs was not a big debate .
My daughter was a bit shy, so sometimes we took a little break from the parks. One time we stayed at the Caribbean, and in the late afternoon, we came back from the parks. And We watched TV, I think the Golden Girls, for a bit, and then we decided that I would go into the Magic Kingdom and get us dinner and bring it back. I got each of us a cheeseburger, and my daughter loved the giant chocolate chip cookies at the bakery that was on Main St. at that time. So I brought back dinner and we ate watching Golden Girls, and then we went back to Magic Kingdom for the evening.
My daughter passed away six years ago, she had a drug problem. She actually spent a bit of time in prison for a possession charge. She was an amazing writer, and she wrote me long letters from prison. She wrote about Disney World a lot because we were both so happy there. She wrote specifically about the times when I would go into the park and get our dinner and bring it back and we would eat together then go back into the parks. She said that in prison, you kind of needed to live in a fantasy world.
I am a big photographer, And of course I took hundreds and hundreds of pictures of her at Disney World. It comforts me to know that she was always truly happy at Disney World and that I did give her that joy to look back on when times were rough for her. And now I have all those memories and all those photo albums filled with our happy trips to Disney World to look back on when I miss her.
Sorry for your loss but so glad you have those amazing and detailed memories. Disney is (or was) magical for my family also. The best memories were made there and often it was simple things. The pandemic has really soured things and took away a special place for so many of us. Hope we can get back real “soon”.
Thank you Steve! I think at this point in time we all treasure our Disney World memories. I hope in the future I can take my daughter’s son to Disney World and introduce him to the magic and wonder his mom (and I) felt at Walt Disney World. Those memories are certainly some of the best of my whole life.
I have read your blogs and readers comments for years. I have never thought about commenting on your blog until now. This blog & your comments have hit close to home in many ways. My friends and I were at D. World from Feb. 29th to March 9th.
When we made our vacation plans no one thought this may be our last D. World Dance for awhile. (We visit D. World at least 2 times a year) We are a group of older Disney World folks. Some of us have relocated to Florida others still live in NW Indiana.
For some reason we decided to change our normal trip this year. For one thing we decided to resort hop. “Caribbean Beach, Pop Century to the Dolphin” I have never done this in the past.
To give you an idea: Visited the New Regal Eagle: Avatar: Dulling Pianos: Watched the MK Fireworks from the 12th floor of the Dolphin: (back side not EPCOT) We also spent an afternoon at the Caribbean Beach Resorts Spy Glass pool area, as well as visiting the Banana Cabana: Road the Sky Liner many times too:
All I can say Tom: Hope this is not our last dance at the Greatest Place for the Young and Old….. VH
Thanks for posting this. I’ve missed the regular posts, too, and this kind of reminds me a bit of the normal life we used to have and will hopefully have in the future. I’ve been to WDW five times in my life, 4 of those coming in the last 10 years. We had made it an every two year trip and our last one was in 2018. The first trip with my wife in 2011 I was assuming I would absolutely hate it. I had the macho man mentality that this was just a kids thing and it was so expensive for what we were getting. Halfway through day one, I was HOOKED and now have a serious Disney addiction. I’m the one in the family that plans and has talked to DVC about buying in, etc. Although I won’t be buying in anytime soon.
Anyway, this year we decided to go to DL in July with my family (would have been 12 people total) and then I convinced my wife to do an adult only trip to WDW the end of May/start of June (we have four kids, so it would have been nice, and maybe a little sad, to do this one, but I was EXCITED). We’ve now canceled both trips, obviously, While I’m pretty upset about this, I understand it’s for the greater good, and barring health issues we will book these trips again. The California trip was kind of my parents’ desire to do one big family trip before it got too difficult to travel (my Dad will be 71 soon and my Mom will be 67). So thank you for bringing some of that already old school BC WDW nostalgia back. What I wouldn’t give to be hustling with my family to get to our fast pass right now!
Hi tom we experienced the final days there with you we were at the moonlight magic that night as well, II watch the fireworks by partners, darn would’ve liked to seen you guy if you want to usual spot . went to Casey’s corner after that . Seems like all the character meet and greets we tried to go to her very crowded and I think that’s why the park seems so empty do you agree ? the next day that morning did the mini and Mickey RunAway train ride and then went into Epcot.
Wanted to comment on Who would’ve guessed this was coming because before we left for our March 2 trip I looked at the world situation and my health limitations and went to stores and stocked up with a month worth of supplies who is to know I
would come back to find a lot of empty store shelves especially The toilet paper
didn’t see that coming so we have been in self Quarantine since Coming home.
Hope to see you at the moonlight magic Hollywood studios in September I will be the optimist.
Oh my! I know you can channel your inner Joey Chesnut when you need to, but that is impressive. We one shared 2 of those footlong mac-and-cheese dogs between 3 of us (without desserts or half of a plant-based dog) and it left my stomach feeling queasy for quite some time.
Thanks for sharing the post. It’s nice to relive a relatively “normal” moment.
Yeah, that mac and cheese hot dog alone is very heavy and filling my itself. The other things were much easier to eat.
More normal content is definitely on the calendar. Expect about a 50/50 mix of that and whatever the news might be, which more or less reflects reader ‘demand’ for normalcy mixed with updates and answers to questions (to which I unfortunately do not have good answers, most of the time).
I feel sad because we were supposed to be at the Moonlight Magic at Magic Kingdom scheduled for tomorrow night (4/21) AND the first of the Epcot ones on 5/4. 🙁 Please tell me about the dessert! It appears to be a special dessert for the event, but they don’t usually do that. The free desserts are usually just the unlimited Mickey bars.
It was a peanut butter mousse dessert that was on the menu at Casey’s Corner around that time. I don’t think it was actually special for the event–it just had a DVC logo added to the front.
I’ve been feeling the same, we were one of the – dare I say it, “lucky ones” to get in and out for my birthday March 4-10. Looking back I felt a lot of anxiety about going as we stocked up on hand sanitizer and wipes before leaving; but like you- I still didn’t fully believe a park closure was pending. As APs, I happened to have another trip planned 3 weeks later and recounted several times telling myself “I don’t have to do that now, I’ll do that in a few weeks”. Now as I’ve had 1 trip canceled, a second one coming in May, and the probability of a third in November… I’m also beginning to feel every about this all.
It sure does shine light onto how special that trip was- from trying to get on every ride at Villain After Hours, to singing along at Jellyrolls, or riding M&MRR for the first time… I’m very grateful to have had the trip.
Yeah, it’s sort of surreal in hindsight to think about just how normal everything was in the days and weeks leading up to the closure. Pretty much everything in the United States came to a screeching halt once Tom Hanks was diagnosed.
This post really resonated with me, because it reminds me of my most recent visit (Mar 7-11). I had no idea then that it would be my last visit in a long time, and small details in what would otherwise have been an insignificant and quickly forgotten trip have become elevated and heightened. Both the good – a night ride on the PeopleMover, a meal at California Grill, experiencing MMRR – to the bad – like watching the economy begin to tank while in WDW and a shell-shocked walk around JFK (where my return flight routed through) staring at a departures board that said “Cancelled” a lot and hearing news come in about USA/EU travel bans.
Maybe the most surreal thing is the knowledge that I was arguably participating in something irresponsible. Hindsight is 20:20, but it does amaze me that by early March society (including myself!) didn’t predict where we’d be now. I don’t say that to induce more Covid gloom but just to reflect on how weird the trip was when viewed through that lens – one taken on “borrowed time”.
“Maybe the most surreal thing is the knowledge that I was arguably participating in something irresponsible. Hindsight is 20:20, but it does amaze me that by early March society (including myself!) didn’t predict where we’d be now.”
I feel the same way.
I think a big part of it is that the collective we viewed what was happening in China and beginning in Italy as isolated, rather than a glimpse into our own futures. Part of that might’ve been that other countries like Japan, South Korea, and Singapore all seemed “fine” which gave us all a false sense of security. I’m not entirely sure. I do expect we’ll have no shortage of documentaries, books, etc., in the years to follow breaking all of this down in excruciating detail.
I love reading your blog. I’ve visited Disneyland several times, but never WDW. I’m still hoping we can go sometime in the not-too-distant future – like 2021 or 2022 (or maybe Tokyo – but that’s looking trickier and trickier…). Anyway, as one way to occupy myself, I’ve been “pre-planning” for a WDW trip. I know all the details are likely to be different once the parks open, but the process of planning the trip is fun in and of itself. This is all a long-winded way to say that I would love it if you would update your “Top 10” posts.
Thanks for staying positive and bringing us a variety of fun posts to read.
P.S. Also, a collection of Yossarian photos.
“This is all a long-winded way to say that I would love it if you would update your “Top 10” posts.”
Great idea! I’ll be sure to pepper the Yossarian photos into the top 10 lists. 😉
We too noticed the lack of crowds that night…it was refreshing and made a special night even better! The cast members must have been feeling very generous that night, by the way. We had a bag (I’d gotten the obligatory Moonlight Magic t-shirt at the Animal Kingdom one, but DH got his at MK that night) with us. When we stopped to get our Yummy (so much better than the store ones!) Mickey Bars they noticed our bag. Then they proceeded to fill it up with Mickey Bars!! What an amazing treat! Moonlight Magic nights are just a sweet special time in the parks. Hopefully, they will be able to have them again….sooner rather than later.
OK – I struggled with your opening sentence containing – Walt Disney “BC”. What the heck is “BC” ? So I read the article and re-read the article thinking it might be explained in the details of the article. Then I came to realize that “BC” was an acronym.
I always struggle with Disney fan sites thinking all readers understand all the Disney abbreviations, acronyms & initialisms. The author should always fully spell out the word when first using the abbreviation, acronym or initialism. Would help out those readers who are not as family with all these Disney(esc) words. But “BC” is not a truly Disney(esc) acronym.
I mean I get that you can struggle figuring that out but that’s quite the answer for such a small thing ahah
Ah, good one. I thought he meant “Before Closure” but both work nicely. Definitely not a Disney specific acronym Mike. 🙂
Thank you so much for the fabulous firework photos.
I inwardly felt the thrill that live fireworks bring as I moved from photo to photo. That surprised me.
Then it hit me that the ooohhhhs and aaahhhs that accompany those shows has more to do with the sights of the colors against the night sky than the sounds.
ALL the best,
Thanks for this report Tom. It was nice to read a “regular” post in this time. I find I’m missing those. And the photos are beautiful, as always, so thanks again. You mentioned that you are running out of ideas for posts, so may I suggest one? In another post-closing blog article you mentioned having stayed at Fort Wilderness recently & that you had planned to do a thorough review/update of the property before the COVID closures. I for one would love to read such a post, as that is one of the properties I keep humming and hawing about booking for my next trip (whenever that may be). Since all work has stopped at WDW, your update will remain current for longer than it would otherwise, and it would be great to escape into a straight up review with great current photos. Just my 2 cents, but I’d sure appreciate a post like that! Hope you & Sarah are keeping well. Take good care & thanks for your continued efforts with this blog. 🙂
A ‘review’ of camping at Fort Wilderness is already on the calendar! 🙂
Yay! Thanks. 🙂
Agree – thats a YAY from me also 🙂
First let me thank you for all the blogs and pictures you post. I do so love them. I enjoyed this one a great deal. I have been thinking about buying into DVC. (I do like you comment about not buying at this time. I totally agree) When things settle down, I will be doing just that. I keep an eye on the resale sites. But I digress. I miss Disney like everyone else and pray that things will level off soon. We still have our September date for WDW at Beach Club. I am keeping a positive mind and watching Disney+ and youtube videos of POV rides.
We will all see the magic once again. But for now we will have to keep youtubing and reading your blog.
You must be REALLY missing Disney …
Just wanted to say Thankyou for all your great posts & photo s.
Know you will anyway ; but will be fab to hear WHEN Disney World in Florida opens: we come every year usually .. but obviously not this one with the pandemic: can t wait to book for next year … EARLY . If you have any info on best priced all in U.K. Adult Disney tickets ( we stay on I nal Drive( not Disney) that too would be much appreciated
Anyways … take care of you s … enjoy all your super Disney memorable trips.I feel So sorry for the folks who booked their Disney holiday for this year .. suppose we are lucky we get to go often
Until someday soon
Luv ‘n’ stuff Corrina U.K.