Best Nighttime Disney Attractions

Best Nighttime Disney Attractions - Splash Mountain

Splash Mountain provides beautiful views of the Magic Kingdom after dark.

As night falls at Walt Disney World, the lights of Main Street illuminate and guests make their way to their fireworks viewing location. The darkness of the night also transforms certain attractions into an entirely different experience. For some of these attractions, the nighttime brings a vibrant and colorful experience. For others, the darkness brings added eeriness to an already spooky attraction. These attractions are some of the best to experience after dark.

Tomorrowland Transit Authority

For years I had heard the Tomorrowland Transit Authority was a fantastic attraction to ride after dark. Tomorrowland has always been my favorite land to see at night. The neon lights are so colorful and beautiful after dark. Last year I finally took the time to experience the TTA at night. As beautiful as the lights of Tomorrowland are from the ground, they are even more gorgeous from above. While riding the TTA after dark, you’ll be able to take stunning photos of Tomorrowland and Cinderella Castle.

Tower of Terror

Tower of Terror is my favorite attraction to experience after dark. The darkness of the night combined with the dimly lit gardens, mist, and the 1930s music playing in the queue add to the eeriness of the attraction. You feel like you are about to step into a haunted hotel on the dark side of Hollywood. The atmosphere of the queue after dark immerses guests into the story of the five hotel guests who vanished from the elevator on Halloween night in 1939.

The Tower of Terror queue isn’t the only great thing about experiencing this attraction after dark. After boarding the maintenance service elevator and descending into The Twilight Zone,  you’ll find a spectacular view of Hollywood Studios. You’ll be able to see the lights of the park for a few seconds as your elevator plummets 13 stories. This view of Hollywood Studios is one of my favorite views in all of Walt Disney World.

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is a must do attraction for nighttime at Magic Kingdom. The experience is totally different than a daytime ride through the wilderness. The darkness of the night adds a bit of spookiness to the usually not-so-scary attraction. You’ll travel past bats and through eerie mists in the mine. The little mining town you’ll pass on your ride comes alive at night. The mountain itself is beautifully illuminated after dark. My favorite part of experiencing Big Thunder Mountain after dark is towards the end of the attraction. As your trains travels past the bones in the side of the mountain, notice the mists, gysers, and the lighting on the bones. This part of the attraction is especially beautiful after dark.

Haunted Mansion

While the Haunted Mansion is a spooky attraction, even during the daytime, it takes on an entirely different aura at night. It begins as you see the mansion illuminated from a distance. As you approach the Haunted Mansion, you begin to hear crows and howling. A hearse pulled by a ghost horse stands in front of the mansion. To the left of the main doors are tombstones. Pay special attention to Madame Leota’s tombstone. Through the darkness, you may notice her eyes as she looks back at you. Though the Haunted Mansion is an indoor attraction, the darkness of the night sets the tone for your visit to see the happy haunts, making Haunted Mansion one of the best nighttime attractions at Disney.

 

Splash Mountain

Splash Mountain offers amazing views of the Magic Kingdom after dark.  Your journey to the briar patch will also include several opportunities to see Cinderella Castle illuminated at night. One of the best views is when your log reaches the top of Chickapin Hill, just before you go down the big drop. In the past, if you timed your ride just right, you would be able to catch a glimpse of the nighttime parade traveling through Frontierland. Though Magic Kingdom doesn’t currently have a parade, I expect one will return someday, once again providing guests with a wonderful opportunity to view the parade from Splash Mountain.

Expedition Everest

At Disney’s Animal Kingdom, the search for the mysterious Yeti continues into the night. Much like Big Thunder Mountain, Expedition Everest provides an entirely different experience after dark. Your expedition will seem a bit scarier as you ascend the mountain in the dark. In addition to the added spookiness of the Yeti, Expedition Everest provides stunning views from high above Walt Disney World. As you ascend the mountain, you’ll be able to spot Spaceship Earth as it is brilliantly illuminated. You’ll also be able to see another great nighttime attraction, Tower of Terror. After taking in these gorgeous views, it’s back to the hunt for the Yeti which will have you speeding through dark caverns to escape the illusive creature.

Your Thoughts

Have you experienced any of these attractions after dark? Which attraction is your favorite to visit at night? Did you favorite nighttime attraction make our list? Let us know in the comments below!

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DIStherapy
Guest
DIStherapy

Nightfall does seem to create a completely different ride experience, doesn’t it? I agree with all of your choices, but my favorite “dark ride” is Expedition Everest. It is absolutely wild at night!!!

Kimberly
Guest

I have never ridden that one at night! I’ll have to add it to my must do list for my next trip. Sounds like fun!

Lisa Cameron
Guest
Lisa Cameron

While I am too big of a ride chicken to ride the big time rides at night (let along in the day), I must say that we recently rode Dumbo at night. It was amazing! I don’t know why we never did it before, but we will be doing it again.

Kimberly
Guest

I haven’t ridden Dumbo in years. I might have to try it at night on my next trip. The lights on it are amazing!

Mickey
Guest
What a great post, Kimberly! I love BTMRR at night, and if you time that right, you can walk right on during Wishes and even see some of the fireworks from the train! I’m about as big a weenie as it comes to Tower of Terror, but I may have to suck it up and go on it at night to get some shots of Hollywood Studios at night from it. I’ve never been on Splash Mountain at night, but I can see that being great too! Also, I have been on Haunted Mansion at night, and it’s a lot… Read more »
Kimberly @Frontierland Station
Guest

I don’t think I’ve ever ridden BTMRR during Wishes, but I’m sure that would be fun! I may have ridden Splash Mountain during the fireworks years ago, but I can’t remember for sure. I love watching the fireworks, so I usually don’t ride anything while they’re going on.
Haunted Mansion is another great one at night! I love the queue! It’s extra spooky at night and supposedly you can see figures in the windows at night (I’ve never looked for them). I actually thought about including Haunted Mansion in my article, but I thought it was getting a little long.

Heidi Strawser
Guest

I have GOT to make a point to ride more at night! Tower of Terror is my favorite ride, but I always do it first thing in the morning (the whole FastPass rush!) I need to change that! I’d also like to do the Haunted Mansion at night. I never would have thought of TTA, but I’m guessing it is a beautiful view at night! Great list!

Kimberly @Frontierland Station
Guest

Before they had Fantasmic, my family used to always ride Tower of Terror a bunch of times right before park closing. There was hardly ever a line. We would just run from the exit to the entrance. We ended up doing that with a couple of cast members who weren’t working one time. It was so much fun!

Heidi Strawser
Guest

Oh my gosh, that sounds like a blast. We just saw Fantasmic for the first time in December. I was bound and determined to watch that show if it killed me! LOL It was great – but now I’d be more willing to ride ToT over and over again at night!

Kimberly @Frontierland Station
Guest

Ever since they started doing Fantasmic, we always go to it instead of riding ToT a bunch of times. I really want to ride ToT like we used to, but Fantasmic is just so great! I can’t bring myself to miss it. I think I just need to make sure I’m at Hollywood Studios two nights so I can do both!

Heidi Strawser
Guest

There you go! That sounds like a good plan. I hope they soon add some stuff to that park. It used to be one of our favorites, but on our last trip we almost got bored with 2 full days there.

Kimberly @Frontierland Station
Guest
I hope so too! It used to be my favorite park until a few years ago. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve gotten more interested in Disney history which makes Magic Kingdom more interesting to me or what. Or it could be because some of the things I loved at Hollywood Studios (like the Disney Stars in Motor Cars parade and Residential Street) are gone with nothing equally as great to replace them. I wasn’t too impressed with the Pixar parade that was there last time I was there. I think it’s about time HS gets some new attractions… Read more »
Heidi Strawser
Guest

Yep, you nailed it. On our last trip, we were done with our favorites by noon – then we were like “What do we do now?!” (Toy Story Mania, Tower of Terror, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster) I also enjoy the Great Movie Ride, but would love to see it updated. And the Backlot Tour is just a shell of its former self. 🙁 I’m hoping they’ll add more Star Wars stuff, or SOMETHING!

Kimberly @Frontierland Station
Guest

Yes, Star Wars land or something would be a great fit there! I’m not a huge Star Wars fan, but I do like the old movies (the new ones…not so much). I love Star Tours, so I’m sure they could come up with attractions people like me would like just as much as the Star Wars fans would.
I’ve never been a huge fan of The Great Movie Ride. It’s ok, but to me it’s always seemed a little boring. I think it definitely needs something. I’d love to see another great parade too.

Heidi Strawser
Guest

I’m not a huge Star Wars fan either, but my son is so I’ve really learned to appreciate it. I do enjoy Star Tours, and I can see so many ideas for expansion of that franchise.

Kimberly
Guest

Well, who knows…maybe they’ll start working on something like that in a few years.

Becca
Guest

When Storybook Circus first opened in the Magic Kingdom, I got a surprise FastPass to ride Dumbo around 9 o’clock at night. It was truly magical; the lights of the circus, the music, and the view of the sparkling kingdom was unparalleled!

Kimberly @Frontierland Station
Guest

I forgot about Dumbo! That would be another great one to ride at night. I’ve seen some amazing photos of it at night!

Capturing Magical Memories
Guest

Have to say that Tower of Terror is also one of my favorite night rides. The queue alone is just stunning at night.

Kimberly @Frontierland Station
Guest

It really is!

Lynn Wiltse
Guest

My boys LOVE riding Big Thunder Mountain at night during Wishes! 🙂

Kimberly @Frontierland Station
Guest

I haven’t ridden it during Wishes, but I’m sure that would be magical!

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