The Walt Disney World Resort just announced that it will be extending the operating hours of its theme parks as we head into November and the holiday season. Could this mean that they are planning to resume their nighttime spectaculars? Let’s take a minute to talk about why it appears to be becoming an increasingly viable possibility.
Tonight, October 24, Universal Orlando Resort is taking the first steps to bring nighttime spectaculars back to central Florida with the return of its show Universal Orlando’s Cinematic Celebration™.
Universal’s Cinematic Celebration will return tonight and then subsequently on October 25, October 31, and November 1 coinciding with its extended weekend park hours at Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure.
It appears that through this entire phased reopening process, Universal has done the trailblazing with Disney closely observing how it goes and how they could possibly do it better.
Disney Springs opened after CityWalk. Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios reopened after Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure. It is easy to argue that Disney will be watching closely and will very likely revive their nighttime shows shortly after Universal as well.
The nighttime fireworks have already returned to at least one Disney Park, Shanghai Disneyland. After reopening in May, Shanghai Disney found the confidence to revive its nightly fireworks, using social distancing protocols like no standing room viewing for Castle shows and designated floor markers to keep fireworks viewers properly distanced.
Since reopening procedures began, Disney CEO Bob Chapek has said that they will be looking to Shanghai Disneyland for ways to safely reopen the other parks. With Governor Ron DeSantis’s move to bring Florida into Phase 3, and Disney’s voluntary decision to remain committed to the CDC guidelines, perhaps they can find a way to model what Shanghai was able to do this summer.
Will “Happily Ever After” Return to the Magic Kingdom?
Disney World announced today that the Magic Kingdom operating hours will be extended on select nights in November and December, coinciding with the holiday festivities. The extended hours–some as late as 10 pm–and the possible success of Universal’s show gives hope that Disney just might surprise us and we could see the Cinderella Castle come alive once again for Happily Ever After sooner than we expected.
You can virtually enjoy Happily Ever After as well. Disney’s beloved fireworks show is currently available for viewing on Disney Park’s official YouTube Channel.
Will “HarmonioUS” Premiere at EPCOT This Year?
There has been a lot of progress on EPCOT’s new nighttime spectacular, HarmonioUS. From the new barges being installed and permits being filed to actual firework testing. There is plenty of social-distance-applicable viewing potential around World Showcase Lagoon, and with the park hours extended until 10 pm some nights. The potential success of Universal’s Cinematic Celebration could mean more than just the return of Happily Ever After.
It should be noted that the Walt Disney World Resort has announced no plans to revive any nighttime spectaculars anytime soon and this article is pure speculation. But, as we continue to advance through this year and learn the best ways to visit Disney World safely, it seems like only a matter of time before we can get our Disney nighttime spectaculars once again. A quick look at the calendar will show that Disney is slowly stepping further and further into the proverbial deep end of the pool, returning park hours to normal.
Taking all of this into consideration, this writer is willing to bet that we will have nighttime spectaculars–at least “Happily Ever After” return to the Walt Disney World Resort by December.