Five Things I Noticed On a Lonely Night in the Magic Kingdom
While on a recent trip to the Magic Kingdom, I had the good fortune of visiting the park during Extra Evening Magic hours. Though this is normally a time for lower crowds, the park was unusually empty on this particular evening…sometimes eerily so! Imagine wandering through the dank musty corridors of Pirates of the Caribbean all by yourself, with nary a soul in sight! You can almost feel the swashbuckling spirits following closely behind. In fact, the Magic Kingdom was so deserted that I had the rare opportunity to see the park in a whole new way, and to notice things that I had never been aware of before. If you have the opportunity to visit the parks on such an occasion, you’ll get a unique and rare opportunity to see things in a whole new way. So without any further ado, I will share with you “Five Things I Just Now Noticed in the Magic Kingdom.” (And I admit that some of these may be things that you may already know about, but that’s part of the fun of Disney…always discovering new things for yourself!)
Mickey’s PhilharMagic Crowd
It’s odd enough standing in the lobby of Mickey’s PhilharMagic with only three other people around (though it makes for some terrific “empty lobby” photo ops!), but it’s even odder when you’re basically the only one in the theater. Of course, I chose a seat smack in the middle of the theater, all ready for Ariel to come right of the screen with open arms. And it was then that I got a rare chance to clearly hear what was going on behind the curtain. Sure, we all remember when Goofy finds a loose plug and decides to plug it in (with electrifying results!), but usually we’re too busy finding our seats to pay close attention to the behind-the-scenes mutterings of Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and company. So this was a rare opportunity to enjoy the antics of our favorite characters…and it was then that I noticed the murmuring of the crowd. At first, I didn’t think much of it, but then I realized that I shouldn’t be hearing any crowd noise because, well, there was no crowd! But sure enough I could hear the indecipherable whispering, the shuffling of feet, the occasional chuckle…all sounds of an audience settling in for a fantastic show. And it struck me that the noises I heard were being piped in. Of course, we don’t normally notice this since the actual crowd noise drowns it out, but it was a curious and extremely subtle touch that I had never noticed before. And one I’ll likely never hear again unless I have the good fortune of getting to watch the show all by myself. Nevertheless, the next time you visit (particularly on a less crowded day), listen closely and see if you can hear the phantom crowd noised in Mickey’s PhilharMagic!
Space Mountain in All Its Glory
This unusual sight wasn’t one unique to an Extra Magic Hours evening, and indeed I’ve seen this sight a few times before, as I’m sure many of you have. But during a lonely ride on the TTA, I noticed the tunnel heading into Space Mountain was unusually bright, and I wondered, will I get to see that rarest of sights, that of Space Mountain with the lights on? Yes indeed! I won’t post a picture lest it spoils the magic for you, but it’s quite an unusual sight to behold. To some it’s a fascinating glimpse behind the curtain, and a great opportunity to get a peek at the machinations that you normally don’t see when the lights are off. For others though, it can spoil the magic by taking the mystery out of what is ordinarily a mysterious and inky black journey through outer space (and hence the reason I won’t share a photo, you can certainly Google one easily enough, but do so at your own peril!).
Nighttime Creatures at the Haunted Mansion
We’ve talked before about some of the ghoulish secrets of the Haunted Mansion. One of my favorites can be found by staying behind in the Stretching Room after everyone leaves. Once the room empties, but before the doors close, you’ll hear a swirl of spirits wisp their way throughout the room before departing for happier haunts. That’s not what I noticed that night (since you can of course hear that any time you like by just lagging behind a bit). No, what I heard came much later. As I exited the Mansion and walked by the pet cemetery, the park was eerily quiet. So much so that I noticed the sounds of some decidedly spooky wildlife emanating from the cemetery. Not just your normal nighttime crickets and nocturnal creatures, but cackling ravens and the distant howls of wolves. They weren’t especially loud; and indeed, during normal park hours I realized they evidently blended in seamlessly with the normal background noise in the area. But that night I could hear them clearly, and finally understood why I still had an uneasy, spooky feeling even after leaving the Mansion. The sound effects are subtle…almost subliminal…but they definitely add to the eerie “charm” of the Haunted Mansion. See if you can hear them next time you visit!
Pirates of the Caribbean Skull
I admit this isn’t a sight that should have anything to do with light crowds, but for some reason this was a detail I had never noticed before. And after telling a few people afterward, I found it wasn’t something they had noticed either. So either it’s something new, or more likely just something I never noticed before. But in the calm of the lonely night my senses must have been more attuned, for it was on this night that I noticed the giant skull in the opening beach scene. The skull is on the right side of the beach, and is formed by a clever juxtaposition of rocks. I was startled when I first noticed it, and even more started when the illusion disappeared as my boat slid past; revealing the different “parts” of the skull to actually be various rocks that were in fact a fair distance from each other. Oh, did I mention I was in the boat alone? And there were no other occupied boats to be seen? That sure made the ensuing storm scene even scarier! Yo ho indeed.
Finally, this was something I noticed more and more as the evening wore on. We’ve talked many times about the use of music throughout the various lands in the Magic Kingdom, and how they seamlessly blend into one another, helping to create a smooth transition between lands. But this was especially evident that evening, and I had the opportunity to sit and truly listen to the music. It wasn’t that I hadn’t heard it before, it was the fact that I could never hear it as clearly as I could that night. It was a chance to hear the subtle nuances and to appreciate the artistry and imagination that went into creating every soundscape for each land. I was especially entranced by the exotic music playing in the bazaar by the Magic Carpets in Adventureland. This was a rare opportunity to really appreciate the music, since this area of the park is usually quite busy with the hustle and bustle of Guests shopping, cooling off with their Dole Whips, being squirted by mischievous camels, and soaring high in the air on a magic carpet ride. And that was just the beginning; each land presented a rare opportunity to sit back and enjoy the background music…which you’ll quickly realize is much more complex and thought out than you ever imagined.
Those were just a few of the things that I noticed on that magical night. Have you ever had the good fortune of being in a park or land basically by yourself? Did you notice something that you never had before? If so, share it with us in the comments below! We would love to hear about YOUR magical discoveries!