Disney World theme parks don’t actually close at closing.

Confusing? Kinda. But it actually makes sense. When the park closes, there are thousands of guests still inside the park, and everything doesn’t instantly shut down. The listed closing time really acts as a last call to get in line for a ride. When the park closes, no more guests can get in line, but the guests who are already in line will be able to ride. Disney doesn’t just kick them out. In fact, some shops will remain open past closing time so the final guests who are getting off of their last ride of the day still have a chance to make some merchandise purchases.

EPCOT usually closes at 9 PM. At 8:59 PM, you could jump in line for Frozen Ever After, even if it has a 1 hour wait time. At 9:01 PM, you’d be too late to get in line. But Harmonious starts at 9 PM. You could watch the fireworks show on World Showcase lagoon, and then afterwards leisurely explore the World Showcase as you head to the exit. In fact, this is one of my favorite things to do at Disney World. I love just walking through World Showcase after the fireworks are done and the crowds have dispersed. It’s a really peaceful and beautiful time in the park, and one of the times Disney World is guaranteed to feel calm. After park closing is also a great time to snap some unique pictures.

There are limits to how late you can stay in the park. Disney security will start politely directing guests to the park exits at a certain point, but that usually doesn’t start happening until 1 hour after park closing.

TLDR: You can stay inside Disney World parks past closing, and there’s actually a lot you can do.