If you’re like me, you probably experience Walt Disney World like this: wake up early, get to the parks at rope drop, then bang out as many attractions, shows, meals, etc. all day long. By the time nighttime rolls around, I’m kind of spent! When it’s dark at Walt Disney World, I can usually be found back at my resort or experiencing one of the fireworks displays or nighttime spectaculars that WDW has to offer.
Here’s my best advice: don’t be like me!
There are SO MANY attractions in Walt Disney World that are completely different experiences at night than they are in the daytime. Here are the five attractions you have to experience at night:
Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
You think it’s a little creepy waiting in the queue for this one during the day, right? Then you absolutely have to give this one a shot at night! The attraction really starts when you make that right turn onto Sunset Boulevard from Hollywood Boulevard and you see the ominous Hollywood Tower Hotel in the distance. The lighting of the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at night is nothing short of phenomenal.
Once you do get to the queue at night everything just seems a little bit different. The darkness really sets the mood outside this attraction and while the inside part of the queue is the same as during the day, the BIG payoff from going at night is during the attraction’s finale. When those doors open and you’re at the top of the 13th floor, the view of the park and the neon lights below is amazing! Of course, you don’t see it for very long before you drop into the darkness below!
The roller coaster is a totally different experience at night with the first lift hill almost shrouded in complete darkness. While flying through the town of Tumbleweed you’ll see awesome lighting effects (the lights on the mountain itself and purple mood lighting are both especially well done) and you’ll notice ride details that you’d never see if you were riding during the day.
Actually the whole area around Big Thunder Mountain Railroad has a completely different feel and vibe at night. It feels like a true old western town with the background music, the old-fashioned lanterns lighting the pathways, and the smell of the turkey legs in the distance. You’ll definitely have to give “The Wildest Ride in the Wilderness” a shot the next time you’re in the Magic Kingdom after dark!
This one is a short walk from Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and may be an even better experience at night! The main reason is the view of the Magic Kingdom and especially Cinderella Castle that you can take in from the top of Chick A Pin Hill right before you take that huge drop into the Briar Patch. I don’t think there’s a better view of the castle anywhere else in the park! If you’re brave, you can have your camera or smartphone ready and take an amazing picture of the park below. And if you time this one perfectly, you’ll get to take that plunge with the Wishes fireworks show going on directly in front of you! Splash Mountain is a fantastic attraction whenever you choose to ride, but riding at night really does take the experience up a notch!
Dumbo the Flying Elephant
Disney’s Imagineers really hit the Dumbo re-imagining out of the park! From the water effects to the awesome lighting of the attraction at night, Dumbo is one of our family’s favorite attractions to ride after sundown. With the business of Storybook Circus beneath you and all of the sights and sounds of New Fantasyland off in the distance, you’ll get some amazing photo opportunities if you have your iPhone ready!
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
Admittedly, my list is extremely Magic Kingdom-heavy, but this is one you’ll absolutely have to try at night the next time you’re on a WDW vacation! The audio-animatronics of the dwarfs and the indoor scenes are fantastic any time of day, but there is something really incredible about zipping over the hills and under the bridges of this attraction in the dark.
I wouldn’t recommend having your camera out for this one, though, as the roller coaster cars can move pretty quickly from side to side and you may be down a camera after your ride is over. Just try to look around and take in all of New Fantasyland around you and Cinderella Castle off in the distance! Oh, and this one tends to have some pretty long lines, even at night, so it’s one attraction you might want to get a FastPass + reservation for if you’re planning on spending the night at the Magic Kingdom!