What Happens When Disney Parks Close?

The most magical place on earth, Walt Disney World, is open 365 days out of the year. Each of the parks has different operating hours, but most of them open their doors at around 9 am. Meanwhile, the Magic Kingdom has the latest closing time at 11 pm. Still, after those hours, some of the shopping districts may remain open. Recently, reporters from the US Today got a chance to peek behind the curtains a bit and see what happens after the parks officially close down. Here are some of the most interesting things that they found!

Cast Members Sweep the Grounds to Ensure No-One Is Left Behind

Imperial Palm trees in Universal Studios street at Citywalk.
Image Credit: Shutterstock / VIAVAL TOURS

Cast members have a very significant role to play in all of the activities that take place after the park closes down. One of the more important parts of the job is ensuring that no guest remains within the park. For that, cast members have designated routes that they’ll cover. What you’ll notice as the park starts to close down, particularly if you exit a ride, is that there will be people there to guide you to the exit. They’ll begin closing off parts of the park little by little.

If You’re In a Queue, You’ll Likely Be Able to Get On The Ride

Standing Lanes Wrap Around Waiting Lines in the Busses Area at Disney World Amusement Park
Image Credit: Shutterstock / Lynne Neuman

Another way that cast members are able to ensure that guests leave the park is by “trapping” them in a ride queue. Don’t worry if you’re in the ride queue. Even after hours, you’re likely going to get a chance to go on that ride. That’s not all that common, though. They have most things timed just right at Walt Disney World. They’ll start closing off the ride queue sometime before the park closes to ensure that not a lot of people are left waiting in line. Also, once you get off the ride, there will be people there to guide you to the nearest exit.

Re-Stalking and Repairing The Park

A Walt Disney World Resort Store with a collection of Pride merchandise at the Orlando International Airport.
Image Credit: Shutterstock / Adam McCullough

Since Walt Disney World is usually open every day of the year, there are no set days to provide maintenance to the park. If something needs to be deep cleaned or repainted, the cover of darkness is the perfect opportunity to do just that. The hours when the park is closed are also one of the few times that stores and food carts around the property can be restocked. Pretty much as soon as the park closes down, these people will get to work.

Clean Up Crews

Female janitor vacuuming the carpeted floor in the conference hall
Image Credit: Shutterstock / Svitlana Hulko

You may even encounter these crews if you’re one of those people who barely made it to the ride queue and are now essentially being escorted out of the park by a cast member. People are picking up all the trash that they can find. Others are on special machines sweeping all the floors. The cleaning process is planned down to the last detail. This is something that goes back to Walt Disney’s original policies at Disneyland. Cleanliness is essential to maintain the image of the park. That’s why this process is taken so seriously.

The Parks Are Basically Never Empty

Disneyland Resort Paris, France
Image Credit: Shutterstock / Agnieszka Rybkiewicz

When guests leave, an army of people get to work to ensure that the parks are ready for the next day. As Jack Swisher, VP of Disney’s Hollywood Studios, mentions,

“We’re a 24/7 operation here at Walt Disney World, and so we have cast members working all the time to make sure that everything runs as smoothly as possible.”

All of this is done to ensure that guests have a great experience at the park. It’s a massive challenge to keep everything up and running on a daily basis. Arguably, there’s more downtime in Vegas or NYC, the other cities that claim to never sleep, than there is at a Disney park.

Mario Perez

Author: Mario Perez


Mario is a seasoned journalist who’s worked with multiple publications over the years. He has a passion for looking for that story within the story itself. When he’s not actively looking for breaking news, he enjoys playing and watching sports.

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