10 Disney Attractions That Are Better at Night
Disney theme parks are never more magical than at night. That’s when the lights shine the brightest, pointing virtual spotlights at your favorite rides.
Even the most average of attractions turn into something better after dark. I don’t know how to explain it, but I certainly appreciate it.
Which Disney attractions are better at night? The honest answer is almost all of them, but let’s highlight a few favorites as the best of the best!
Oddly, Na’vi River Journey and Flight of Passage won’t appear on this list, even though we love Pandora at night.
Both attractions are indoors. Our recurring theme is that our attractions will be outside, as they are the ones that will benefit the most.
Have you ever gazed at Tomorrowland from outside Magic Kingdom? Several hotels offer unique perspectives of the park, most notably Disney’s Contemporary Resort.
When you look at Tomorrowland from higher floors here, you’ll appreciate the soft neon glow that lights up the theme land.
While I’m not a huge fan of Astro Orbiter as a ride – it’s not designed for people with long legs – I admire how gorgeous it looks at night. And it should!
Astro Orbiter’s design mimics orbiting planets, the ones that bewitch you when you look up at the sky at night.
Tomorrowland delivers a similar effect thanks to Astro Orbiter.
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
Imagineers don’t get enough credit for their thinking on some special effects.
The subtlety of unique designs causes them to get taken for granted a bit.
Exhibit A of this occurs after dark at Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.
The artificial mountain here takes on a hillside glow…and it’s a golden hue.
Yes, the gold mine ride literally lights up in gold colors at night!
Something we all take for granted is how many Walt Disney World attractions reside in ride buildings.
Disney doesn’t build E-ticket attractions outdoors often. In such scenarios, Imagineers give up temperature and weather control.
An outdoor ride’s line queue can get too hot. Meanwhile, the ride must work during rainstorms or at least shut down quickly and easily. That’s a pain to implement.
However, Disney makes exceptions with some roller coasters, especially this one at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
When Expedition Everest debuted, park officials never even expected it to operate at night. That’s a relatively recent development at Animal Kingdom.
Still, these storytelling masters understood that the Forbidden Mountain would function as a park landmark. So, they wanted it to light up the night.
The soft white and blue colors create a snowclad mountain effect that’s breathtaking at a distance and even better up close.
Yes, most of the action at Haunted Mansion takes place inside. However, my wife laid down the law that I had to include this one.
Her argument centers on the line queue, arguing that the tombstones seem spookier at night. She also loves the outdoor lighting features.
Finally, she believes – and I’m not about to tell her that she’s wrong – that the ride itself seems darker at night.
Believe it or not, Animal Kingdom has only operated at night since 2016! Park officials extended the hours in anticipation of Pandora – The World of Avatar.
However, no attraction benefited more from the change than Kilimanjaro Safaris.
As you know, animals possess daily regimens, just like humans. So, they’re on a schedule, even if it’s one that we struggle to understand.
So, those extra park hours give people a chance to watch the inhabitants of Kilimanjaro Safaris at different points in their days.
Watching a lion at night is something that shouldn’t be possible, but you can do it at Animal Kingdom now!
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
The blue man-made mountain at Seven Dwarfs Mine Train warms my heart with its gentle glow.
When I ride this roller coaster at night, it somehow seems calmer at first. The soft colors lull me into a false sense of security, one I immediately regret.
Once the coaster lurches forward, I remember that it rocks the same at night. I don’t mind as much, though. The majestic backdrop leads to a more peaceful experience.
When you time a Seven Dwarfs Mine Train ride right, you may even watch the fireworks light up Cinderella Castle.
You’re right in the line of sight to the point that this roller coaster once caught fire due to a falling ember from a Wishes presentation!
Slinky Dog Dash
Toy Story Land features two open-air attractions that glow in the dark…literally.
I’ve previously praised Alien Swirling Saucers for its adorable nighttime night shows, and it easily could have made this list, too.
However, I’m picking Toy Story Land because the Go! Go! Go! half-circles look amazing in the dark. Also, the red glow of the tracks is mesmerizing.
Some ride experiences display some symmetry at night. For instance, Splash Mountain mostly takes place indoors, where it fluctuates between dark and bright.
The vibrant characters stand out in any backdrop, but then the story uses darkness to hype the Laughing Place.
At night, the exterior mirrors the interior, as some lighting exists. At other points, you’ll struggle to see the path ahead.
However, these elements aren’t the best part of the ride. At various moments, the outdoor line-of-sight allows for a view of Cinderella Castle and other landmarks.
I always lose my mind when I can see the castle while I’m on Splash Mountain. It’s exhilarating!
The best thrill ride at EPCOT – sorry, Mission: SPACE! – takes five and a half minutes to experience in total.
You’ll spend only 45 seconds of that time outdoors, which makes Test Track’s achievement all the more impressive.
This ride turns into a Tron imitation experience after dark by adding a few lights on the exterior track.
For one brief period, you’ll escape the program and explode into the outside realm, only to return indoors again at the end.
Those few seconds seem to last an eternity because they’re so beautiful, though.
Sometimes, when you time it right, you can ride Test Track as fireworks go off at World Showcase Lagoon. That’s as good as it gets at EPCOT!
Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover
I already mentioned watching the fireworks at Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. And yes, you’ll get a better view from there.
Still, I love riding the PeopleMover around the time that Happily Ever After plays.
Yes, the views are often obstructed, but you’re relaxing on one of the gentlest rides at Walt Disney World.
Meanwhile, you’re staring at all the gorgeous neon at Tomorrowland AND have an otherwise impossible view of the fireworks.
I never love a theme park visit more than when I’m watching fireworks from the PeopleMover.