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Last revised Mon, 26-Nov-2007 15:08
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At A Glance  

Epcot IllumiNations for Free

At 9:00pm, EPCOT opens the gates for anyone who wishes to see Illuminations, which means that you can see IllumiNations without using a park-day on the pass. This is great if you're staying on property, and have been to a minor park, or a non-WDW attraction, and are looking for something to finish the day off.

Illuminations starts at 9:00 sharp, so if you come in the main entrance, you might miss the first few minutes of the show due to the fact that you have to walk to the World Showcase Lagoon. But if you enter EPCOT via the International Gateway, you can get a place right by the lagoon, and not miss part of the show.

The International Gateway is the entrance/exit which connects the WDW Swan/Dolphin/Boardwalk/and Y&B resorts to EPCOT. If you want to make a night of it you could park at one of the nearby resorts (Swan, Dolphin, Boardwalk etc) then take a leisurly stroll down the Boardwalk, eating at the ESPN before going over to EPCOT for the fireworks via the International Gateway. Then you can stroll back to the Boardwalk and spend the rest of the night in Jellyrolls or Dancin.


The Magic Kingdom fireworks are shot off well behind the castle. If you want to see Tinkerbell fly to Tomorrowland, get up close but realize you'll miss the fireworks.

A great place for fireworks viewing is on the boardwalk in Frontier Land. If you stand across from the Shooting Gallery, directly in front of the paddle wheel river boat, the fireworks go off right above the boat. Very nice, and everybody else heads for the castle.

Once the fireworks are over, the park pretty much shuts down. The only places to eat are at the castle end of Main Street. Grab a table and get an icecream or hotdog and let the crowd leave. It only takes about 25 minutes for the place to empty.


Crowds are so light in November that you can avoid early entry days even if you qualify for them, since all that will happen is the parks with the early entry day, will be the busiest (Only resort folks go to them and they're the biggest part of the off-season crowd). The best thing to do is to head for the non early entry parks instead!

Another great place to wait out the crowd is at Mickey's Theater on Main Street. It stays open after the fireworks and the kids will love watching the cartoon while the crowd left. It runs a continuous loop of a Mel Brooks cartoon special and the original MM cartoon Steamboat Willie.

If you're travelling with small children, take advantage of ride swapping. The ride guides are extremely helpful and will explain what to do for each ride. They do monitor the kid's height fairly closely and did check my son's height prior to each ride that required it.

At MGM, blow off the Beauty and the Beast Enchanted Christmas show. It lasts about 5 minutes and is more of a commercial than a show. Instead, head to the actual Beauty and the Beast stage show while everyone else is lining up for the Christmas preview. You'll get a better seat in the theater and everyone heads over that way after the Christmas show.

Tower of Terror at MGM is worth the price of admission to the park. Look closely at the incredible detail of the rundown hotel.

If you have kids looking for character autographs, spend an hour at Mickey's Toontown Fair in the MK. Head over first thing in the morning for no line. You'll get about a dozen characters at once and won't have to search them out later. Also stop by the character stand across from Mister Toad's Wild Ride. Between the two you'll probably get all the major characters.


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