Unless you have a planned Walt Disney World visit with after-hours event tickets in mind, chances are, your vision of Walt Disney World parks experiences rarely includes the darkness of night.
All of us mostly picture a daytime visit to Disney World. But if you allow for nighttime attractions, you can make better use of your time. You may even enhance your experience.
Many rides are indoors and it doesn’t matter when you ride, but some are even better as nighttime Disney World attractions.
If you want to discover the best Walt Disney World rides at night, these are my top five picks.
Not many Walt Disney World attractions are completely outdoors. This one distinction is often enough to consider what time of day to ride an attraction.
The park ambiance has so much influence on the feel of an outdoor Disney ride.
With Slinky Dog Dash, it changes virtually everything. It’s such a difference that it’s worth riding twice, once during the daytime and again at night.
If you can only ride Slinky Dog Dash once, I suggest skipping it while it’s light out and coming back to it after dark.
While there is more to see at Toy Story Land during the day, the nighttime feel is a bit more magical. It’s cooler too, or (in the summertime at least) not so hot in the evening.
What really sells the nighttime experience of the attraction is the lights. Not just the surrounding ambiance of Toy Story Land, but all over the park.
Epcot Test Track
You really need to experience Epcot Test Track at night. Whilst a lot of the attraction is indoors, the best bit is outside!
If you only get to experience the attraction once then I would suggest trying to ride it at night.
The most exciting moment on Test Track is when the show building opens up as you launch out onto the open-air track.
The flood of light is disorienting enough to create an added excitement to the attraction. Then doing that circuit in the dark just makes it even better than in the day.
Many guests end their day in Epcot in World Showcase. This is understandable because of the Epcot Harmonious fireworks show.
However, it really is a good idea to consider going back to Future World in the evening.
The World Discovery (Formerly Future World East) of Epcot is gorgeous at night. It is also home to Mission: Space and Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind.
I believe it’s the best way to finish a long day at Epcot, especially with the park’s three biggest thrills offering the perfect finale to your day.
Kilimanjaro Safaris at Disney’s Animal Kingdom
This attraction has the most practical reason for riding at night. Since the attraction consists of live animals, which time of day you go will have a larger impact on the attraction.
It’s not as though there is a programmed loop of projections or animatronic movements at work. Animals have their own schedules and many are simply more active at night.
Like Slinky Dog Dash, Kilimanjaro Safari is worth riding twice because the experience is so unique depending on the time of your visit. Once in the early morning and again after dark.
In addition to watching different animal behavior, getting a view of the savannah after sundown is an equally breathtaking scene.
The Kilimanjaro Safari experience really is very different at night than it is in the daytime.
Since Pandora: The World of Avatar is also somewhere you should visit at night, consider planning your day so that you divide it from East to West.
If you take your time exploring and stick to Dinoland USA and Expedition Everest by day, you can leave the other half of the park to enjoy after nightfall.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom park is so vast and contains so many smaller hidden attractions and exhibits, that pacing yourself over several hours and taking advantage of the nighttime scenery will give you a better chance of feeling as though you got to see everything.
Peoplemover at Disney’s Magic Kingdom
You absolutely must not under any circumstances bypass the Peoplemover. The Peoplemover at the Magic Kingdom is a Disney Classic and it’s one of the best attractions Tomorrowland has to offer.
In part that’s because it dates back to Walt Disney’s own vision for public transportation. But it’s also a fantastic way to take a break while touring Tomorrowland from above.
Tomorrowland illuminates at night and fully takes on its futuristic appearance with glowing neon lights bouncing off of metallic facades and otherworldly rock formations.
You get a whole new perspective on the land while riding on the Peoplemover at night. Plus you get to see what Walt Disney’s city of tomorrow would have looked like in one of the indoor portions. You can see that part anytime, of course, but for me, it’s a really big selling point for the ride in general.
As much as I love Tomorrowland at night, Fantasyland is a very close second. I love the way it lights up with extra enchantment after sundown.
There are some good outdoor spinner attractions that I feel are excellent to ride at night. Prince Charming’s Carousel and Dumbo both give lovely vantage points of Fantasyland with something extra in the twinkling lights that surround the area.
However, among the other dark rides in Fantasyland is one rollercoaster with indoor and outdoor portions of the ride. That’s the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.
Not only does the darkness in the outdoor elements make the ride more exciting, but I am enthralled by the warm inviting lights that loom over the outdoor queue in the evening.
The whole vibe of the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train queue at night sets up a different expectation for the ride and really helps to create a special mood for the unique Fantasyland attraction.
While technically not a theme park ride, the monorail provides an excellent opportunity for a bar crawl or a progressive dinner after a long day in the Magic Kingdom.
The monorail stops at The Contemporary, The Polynesian Village Resort, and the Grand Floridian. Each of these hotels has outstanding restaurants and lounges and they are just minutes away from each other!
If you have time, don’t miss the opportunity to explore these Disney Resort Hotels. This is a great opportunity to experience the Disney World ambiance without having to have a park ticket.
Which is your favorite Disney World attraction to ride at night?