Avoid Magic Kingdom Evening Exodus

Attendance at Walt Disney World varies by day and season, with low and high wait times for popular rides also possible depending on the time of day. In other words, crowds or their perception are highly variable, with one pretty big exception.

For most of the past year, Magic Kingdom has been chaotic and crowded before, during, and after the nightly fireworks. It started with the return of Happily Ever After during the summer season and only got worse with the debut of Disney Enchantment for the 50th anniversary. As attendance increased this year, it only got worse.

Fantasmic’s return will certainly help remedy that to some extent, though that’s likely offset by higher crowds over the holiday season. That plus Animal Kingdom having nothing to offer at night meant Magic Kingdom and EPCOT saw an influx of guests each night for their nightly shows. This resulted in crazy crowds, especially on and around Main Street – World Showcase is much better at absorbing guests. In short, Magic Kingdom was a madhouse before and after the fireworks.

Not just on Main Street during Disney Enchantment, but also outside Magic Kingdom on the monorail system and buses that service the mass exodus of guests leaving the park immediately after the fireworks.

In all honesty, the purpose of this post is to scare you (with the best of intentions, of course). We hope to accomplish this feat by sharing photos of the scene outside Magic Kingdom right after the fireworks end…

As you approach Main Street USA Station, you will see Cast Members with signs for the monorail, boats, buses, and parking lot. They will direct you to the right or left side so that you have an easier time entering the corrals for each transport option.

Don’t let the photo above fool you – it was taken towards the end of the exodus.

Traversing the tunnels is chaotic, as the traffic shifts from a large mass to a few narrow lanes.

Good luck if you have to return a stroller or stop to marvel at the Country Bear Jamboree attraction poster. It’s hard to find your way around. (We highly recommend having your whole party together before passing through this area.)

Outside the park you can again see the signs for the monorail, ferry, buses, parking lot, etc.

While it may seem like there’s “space available” in the middle, those are switchbacks for the monorail that will soon fill up as more and more guests leave Magic Kingdom.

Another look at the crowd heading towards the monorail.

Apologies for the photos that basically look like a “found footage” horror movie. (In a way, that’s very appropriate.) It’s hard/impossible to stop for good photos in the middle of the chaos without being mowed down by a double-wide stroller. Rightly so, I might add. No reason to stop and obstruct traffic here! (I’ve taken these over the course of several months, and they’re still the best of the bunch.)

Turning the other way, we get a look at people jostling to beat the crowds to the bus stops. Moving so fast they literally blur the picture!

Despite the congestion, these people shouldn’t have long waits for the buses. They will be at the front of the pack and will likely arrive to find “fully stocked” bus stops waiting to fill up with the first load of departing guests.

At this point, here’s a look at the bus stops at the start of Magic Kingdom’s post-fireworks exodus.

You can see overflow switches set up, but not used yet. If you are able to beat the crowd, you won’t have much of a wait. You will be be crammed arm-in-arm with other guests, which isn’t always the best way to end a long day after everyone’s been simmering in the Florida sun. (It can be a, um, olfactory overload.) But at least the bus will load quickly and be on its way!

Back outside Magic Kingdom, we can start to see the overflow queues filling up for the ferry and monorail. It’s hard to tell what’s going on in these photos…and also when you’re in that mass of people outside the park.

To the credit of Disney’s transportation network, those expectations aren’t usually too terrible – certainly not as bad as the lines suggest – buses, monorails, and boats are deployed pretty much nonstop in an incredibly efficient manner.

To the great credit of the Cast Members, they make a really good job with crowd control.

Some of them are having fun giving instructions over their speakers, and it’s about as organized as chaos can get. But there is not much to do. People try to go in all directions, and a stalemate can ensue.

Our sincere hope is that it scares you to leave Magic Kingdom immediately after Disney Enchantment.

while you box beating the crowds and avoiding most of the congestion outside the park is a gamble. Even then, you certainly won’t be able to avoid a crowded ride on the monorail or buses.

That said, if you ignore our advice and leave right after Disney Enchantment, you definitely want to watch the fireworks from the end of Main Street.

We generally like this place because it’s good for seeing projections on building facades and is less crowded than places closer to Cinderella’s castle. That said, “less crowded” is still a very relative term. At Central Plaza, you’ll be packed in like sardines. Back here, you’ll be thrilled like, I don’t know… salmon?

Our real the recommendation is not to leave any park right at closing. If you’re not lucky enough to leave the park quickly, you’ll have several monorails or buses full of other guests ahead of you.

You’ll be waiting over 30 minutes each way, so spend that time on Main Street, soaking up the atmosphere of World Showcase, etc., rather than sitting on an uncomfortable and frustrating bus route .

Even better, make popular attractions!

Disney Enchantment currently plays nightly at 8:15 p.m. above Cinderella’s Castle. Magic Kingdom closes at 10 p.m. or 11 p.m. every night. That gives you about 90 minutes or more to enjoy the park after the fireworks. That’s enough to do popular (plural) rides during the most enjoyable time of day in Magic Kingdom.

What you can accomplish varies greatly depending on the crowd level, where you’re watching the fireworks, when the park closes, and how quickly you get out of the traffic jam. In short, it is impossible to propose a universally applicable strategy.

If you’re not watching the fireworks from Main Street and are doing so directly behind Cinderella’s Castle, we recommend queuing for Peter Pan’s flight just after the Enchantment ends. Other options include the Magic Kingdom mountain range, Astro Orbiter, or whatever is better at night. It doesn’t save much time, but we’re big fans of taking a late-night ride aboard the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover.

Whatever you do, we highly recommend queuing for the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train approximately 1 minute before the park closes. Disregard the posted wait, as it is often inflated to discourage people from queuing at the last minute. There are times when the time displayed was 90 minutes and we waited (literally) 7 minutes. Our average at this time of night is around 10 minutes, with a normal range of around 5-15 minutes.

The other benefit of doing Seven Dwarfs Mine Train late at night as opposed to earlier in the day is the atmosphere. Not thematically, but literally. Overhead fans are usually always on and will hit you with a blast of cool air. While this is refreshing in the evening, it’s downright necessary during the day as this line can get hot and uncomfortable. (Also no standing in the sun at night!) Doing Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is so much easier and more enjoyable at the end of the night, which is a big reason we’re so adamantly against doing it during Early Entry or around normal. opening of the park.

You’ll get off the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train about 20 minutes after the park closes, but even then there’s no rush to leave Magic Kingdom. Make your way slowly down Main Street, stopping to take memorable family photos in the now-deserted Fantasyland. Stop to test your sword in stone strength. Marvel at Cinderella’s Castle from the back, which is arguably prettier than the front.

Even if you take as long as possible and feel like you’re the only people left in Magic Kingdom, chances are Central Plaza and Main Street will be even busier once you get there. Go slow, soak up the vibe, take more photos, or even go shopping.

Walt Disney World will not block you at the park. We left (literally) 2 hours after the park closed and there was a private bus waiting for us. Buses idle at a stop until Magic Kingdom is cleared of all guests. There is absolutely no benefit in rushing to leave in order to stand and wait. You don’t have to leave an hour or 90 minutes after the park closes, but it’s definitely a much better idea than leaving right after the fireworks end!

Planning a trip to Walt Disney World? Learn more about the hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotel Reviews page. To find out where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or figure out which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets Publish. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at smart takeaways. To know what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Travel Planning Guide for everything you need to know!

YOUR THOUGHTS

Did you experience the post-enchantment exodus to the Magic Kingdom? How bad was the crowd the night you left the park after the fireworks? Do you prefer to leave immediately or wait for the crowd? What have you been able to accomplish in the last 90 minutes or so in Magic Kingdom? Departure transportation experiences? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment? Any other thoughts or concerns? Questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback – even when you disagree with us – is both interesting for us and helpful for other readers, so share your thoughts below in the comments!

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