At night, Disneyland takes on a different look and feel. Daytime's bright colors and longer views giving way to lights and a more intimate feel. The darkness makes it seem even more like a place that's separate from anything outside its boundaries and sparkling lights give it a cheery twinkle. The place is so different—and so magical—after dark that it's well worth your efforts to manage your energy so you can stay into the night, at least for a few hours.
Things to Know About Disneyland at Night
You can buy a pair of special Mickey Mouse ears or other products that do more than just shine when you turn them on. Wear them to Fantasmic!, the Paint the Night parade or World of Color and you'll find they change colors to complement the show.
Some rides close early at night, especially in Disneyland, where they have to keep guests safe from fallout during the fireworks shows.
During busy times, Main Street USA and Buena Vista Street shops may stay open after the rest of the park closes. It sounds like a good time to shop, but it's very crowded then and you're likely to be tired. You'll be better off to shop during the day. Just ask the store clerk where can park your packages and then pick them up on the way out.
And here's a little-known tip: You can get into line at any ride up seconds before closing time and you will be allowed to stay until your ride is over. It's a good way to get in just one more ride before you have to leave. Make sure you're on time, though. Cast members are very strict about the time and won't let you into line even a minute or two after closing time.
Disneyland Nighttime Events
Disneyland Fireworks: Disneyland sets off a fireworks show most evenings, but the show you'll see varies, with special ones for some holidays and seasonal variations.
Everything you need to know about watching them is in the Disneyland Fireworks Guide.
Fantasmic! Night Show: Fantasmic! features cartoon clips projected onto screens made from water mist, mixed with live action on the Rivers of America. Mickey Mouse's imagination summons a host of iconic Disney characters, along with a fire-breathing dragon that he ultimately defeats.
Check this guide to Fantasmic to find more about watching it.
Best Disneyland Rides at Night
Many of Disneyland's rides are indoor rides, so-called "dark" rides because it's always night time inside, but a few are outdoors. The rides listed below are even more fun at night—or they are so different after dark that you may want to enjoy them twice.
Astro Orbiter: The ride vehicles look like Buck Rogers-style spaceships, held on arms that allow them to go up and down while rotating around a central column, so there's lots of motion and you can see in all directions. If you ride Astro Orbiter at night, you can enjoy all the great neon lighting on it, and you'll get a bat's-eye view of Tomorrowland, too.
Find out about riding it with the Astro Orbiter Rider Guide.
Mad Tea Party: Most people just call this ride "The Teacups" and how fast you spin is under your control. Mad Tea Party looks great in the dark, with glowing lanterns hanging above it and spinning yourself silly is fun any time of day (as long as you don't suffer from motion sickness, that is).
If you rode the teacups during the day, just walk back by to see how pretty it is at night.
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad: It's one of the smaller coasters at Disneyland, but it takes you on a fun trip through mining country. Zipping around on a roller coaster in the dark is great fun—and it may be just imagination, but we think it feels like Thunder Mountain goes faster at night.
Thunder Mountain is about equally as fun day or night, so if lines are short, why not just do it twice?
See reader ratings and get all the details in the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad Ride Guide.
Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage: Finding Nemo is an underwater experience, traveling in a submarine while looking for the little, orange-and-black fish. Once you're inside, the ride isn't any different at night than during the day, but the loading area and lagoon are so pretty at night, with lights glowing in the water and the submarines all shiny-yellow.
Because it's so pretty at night, that's our preferred time to ride, but you won't miss too much if you go in the day instead.
Splash Mountain: The final drop at Splash Mountain is really fun in the dark, but it has its downsides. If the weather is warm and you don't think you'll feel too cold running around the park afterward in wet clothing, then it's fun at night - but on a chilly day, maybe not.
Some Disneyland Rides Close Early
Check the Disneyland Resort Calendar to see if and when the fireworks and Fantasmic! happen and expect these rides to close early before it starts:
Closed for the Fireworks
To keep guests safe from fireworks fallout, these rides will close shortly before and during the pyrotechnics:
- All rides in Fantasyland
- All of Toontown
- Fantasy Faire
Closed for Fantasmic!
Fantasmic! happens on Rivers of America, so the rides that normally run on the water close a couple of hours before the show starts:
- Columbia Sailing Ship
- Davy Crockett Explorer Canoes
- Mark Twain Riverboat
- Pirate's Lair
The Monorail stops running during fireworks and it stops taking guests into the park from Downtown Disney 30 minutes before closing time.
Best Places for Night Photos
Disneyland Castle After Dark: The castle looks great in the dark and if you peep across the drawbridge, you'll see Fantasyland on the other side. The decorations on the castle change every year or two.
Tomorrowland: With a futuristic theme and design elements rooted in the mid-twentieth century modernism, Tomorrowland glows with colorful neon lighting, highlighting the iconic buildings. The next few photos show some of the reasons we've chosen it as the best area of Disneyland after dark.
Space Mountain Building: We love the contrast between the red sign border and the blue-colored light, both on the Space Mountain building and in the sky. During Halloween season, the lighting on the roof changes to a montage of creepy scenes and textures.