It has recently come to my attention that there are actually people who don’t stay in the park from open to close! Maybe this is a non-Annual-Passholder thing, or maybe it’s because I’m an out-of-towner, or maybe it’s just me, but I was shocked. My family makes use of every last ounce of our park tickets, which makes for long days and late nights, and we aren’t sorry about it one bit. I get it though, especially with babies and small children (sometimes regular sized children) – they get extra tired and cranky when bedtime comes and goes and there you are still dragging them all over the park! But I am here to convince you that it is WORTH keeping the kiddos out so you can see all that Disneyland and Disney California Adventure have to offer after the sun goes down!
1. Nighttime Shows –
The Disneyland Resort does this right, and it’s obvious by the amount of people that line Main Street in the evenings or pack in front of Tom Sawyer’s Island or Mickey’s Fun Wheel at night. Paint the Night Parade, Fantasmic, World of Color, and Disneyland Forever Fireworks display are probably the most magical shows you will see from Disney. The fantastically bright and colorful light, fire, and water displays are all the more jaw-dropping with a pitch black nighttime backdrop.
2. Rides After Dark –
We covered this in our Top 10 Best After Dark Rides post, check it out by clicking here if you haven’t seen it yet, because truly so many rides take on a very different quality when you ride them at night. They seem more magical, mystical, maybe even more frightening (in a fun way) – somehow even the Haunted Mansion feels darker when ridden at night!
3. Main Street, U.S.A. –
There are a few “lands” that deserve credit all their own for the way they transform after the sun goes down and Main Street is one of them. At a certain time every evening, just after the sun has gone down and the sky is just dark enough, all of Main Street lights up. Bulb lights that adorn the roof line of every shop along the way and the marquee of every store’s name create a very inviting and cozy walk down Main Street at night. It makes you want to hold hands with your sweetie, and link arms with your kids. And at the end of the street, Sleeping Beauty’s castle is aglow in the most beautiful way that beckons you to it!
4. Cars Land –
This is the other land that deserves to be noted especially for it’s special “after dark” qualities. If you’ve seen the movie “Cars” then you’ve seen the scene where the little town of Radiator Springs comes to life while “Sh-boom (Life could be a dream)” plays. The neon of every little establishment flickers on, one at a time. The scene is a touching and beautiful one. Imagine that, but in real life, with you standing in the middle of it! Oh yes – Sh-boom and all. And Cadillac Range perfectly lit in the background. It’s truly breath-taking!
5. Extra Magic –
This is basically the category that covers everything else, all the extra magic that you find in the parks after dark. I mean every little nook and cranny of Disneyland changes somehow, it manages to sparkle in a new and different way, and it feels so much more intimate. If it seems like I’m writing a love letter to Disneyland, you are right. Disneyland after dark – the quiet dark and secluded Big Thunder Trail, the lanterns hanging in Rancho del Zocalo, the Ray Bradbury Tree in Frontierland, the evening cricket chirping in Critter Country, the extra creepiness of those hippos on the Jungle Cruise, the futuristic lighting all around Tomorrowland – all of it, is. just. the. best.
If you are worried that your kiddos aren’t going to be able to handle staying up a little later than usual, give them a try! In my experience – they find it just as amazing as adults do, and if not, then the stroller becomes a great place to hit the hay.
What do you think? Is there anything extra special about Disneyland or Disney California Adventure in the dark? What is your favorite thing about the Parks after dark?
If you you think it might be tough to keep the kiddos up late to catch the nighttime entertainment, check out our tips for families who want to celebrate after dark.