Before my trip to Disney, I asked Staci if she'd ever been in the parks after dark. Seems like a dumb question, but growing up, my family never once stayed past sundown because my family hates crowds (which come in droves for the end-of-night fireworks and parades). I don't say this lightly. One time my parents stayed after dark in the Magic Kingdom accidentally and my dad freaked out so much that he ran out of the park in a blind rage and called a cab. He couldn't deal with staying one minute longer and catching the bus back.
So imagine my surprise when one night, we ended up in the Magic Kingdom after dark (and after hours!). It was my favorite night by far and could only have happened under very specific circumstances. Number one being my dad was violently ill with a stomach bug and didn't come with us to dinner. This was a huge bummer, but at least we didn't feel bad about being in the park after 10 p.m. The second factor was that our dinner ran very late. We didn't leave our (fantastic) dinner at Narcoosee's until 10 p.m. So not only did we get to watch the fireworks show from the lagoon, but we also arrived in the park as everyone was leaving. The third, and maybe most important factor was that the park had extended magic hours till 1 a.m. that night. Magic hours means that the park is open early and late for people staying on Disney property. Only one park per day gets the magic hours, and the hours themselves change daily, so we really lucked out.
Once the mass exodus was complete, we had the park to ourselves and I mean that quite literally. I counted maybe 50 people in the park by the time we left. It would have been eerie if it weren't so freakin awesome. Neither Splash Mountain nor the Haunted Mansion had any wait times. That's a big deal, non-Disney folks. The lack of crowds also made for some spectacular castle viewing. Cinderella's Castle (the main one you see in the Disney opening credits) was draped in twinkle lights just the night before. They had also just lit up their Christmas tree and covered every facade "Main St." with decorations. If it weren't for the 80-degree weather, I really would have thought it was Christmas. It was very confusing.
The next day we went back to the park in daylight with my father in tow. I have to say, the park fares much better at night in dramatic lighting and less people. But it was still fun, and I got to ride a rollercoaster that I actually enjoyed (it was for babies). Check out my night and day in the Magic Kingdom.