Disney rides are great during the day (of course), but there are some rides that become even more EPIC when you experience them at certain other times.
We’ve already shared our list of the BEST rides in Disney World, ranked, and our list of the rides that are even better in the rain (yes, it’s true, some are better in the rain!). But today we’re taking a trip to the DARKER side and sharing a look at the rides that you simply MUST visit at night in Disney World!
Unique Nighttime Experiences
Some rides are must-visits at night because the experience itself is a little bit different. It might have to do with unique lighting, spectacular nighttime views, or just how the night can make the ride feel more spooky/exhilarating. Here’s our list of the rides that can just feel different at night!
- Astro Orbiter — Don’t miss out on those nighttime views of Tomorrowland and Magic Kingdom from above!
- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad — Riding this in the dark just makes it feel more thrilling, plus you can get some great views of the park. Time it to the fireworks and you’ve got perfection!
- Dumbo the Flying Elephant — Even if you don’t ride it, you’ve got to walk past this ride at night for its nighttime lighting so you can grab a photo — spectacular!
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train — Similar to Thunder Mountain, riding Seven Dwarfs at night just makes it feel more thrilling. Is that wind suddenly rushing past you faster?! Couple that with the swinging vehicles and you’ll be surprised how much more fun you might have.
- Splash Mountain — While most of the ride is inside, those moments you get outside, particularly with the big drop, can be extra exciting at night as you look out at the park and its guests all around you.
- Haunted Mansion — The ride is inside so going at night doesn’t really change that experience much (except that your eyes may be better adjusted to the darkness), but visiting the outside and graveyard portion of this ride at night turns the spooky up to 1,000 in a great way.
- Jungle Cruise — The Jungle Cruise is unique at night because of the way certain areas are lit. It’s sort of harder to see things but almost in a good way, adding more mystery to the ride. Plus, the backside of water at night — what’s not to love?
- Prince Charming Regal Carrousel — This is another like Dumbo that is really just great for the photo opportunities. If you’ve never seen this lit up at night, take a second to check it out during your next trip.
- TRON Lightcycle / Run — We place TRON on the honorable mentions list because it isn’t open yet, but given the lighting effects we’ve already seen, we expect this will be a nighttime MUST-DO once it becomes available.
- Living with the Land — Living with the Land is a nighttime must-do specifically during the holiday season when special decor and twinkling lights make this spot extra special.
- Test Track — The inside of this ride really won’t feel different at night, but when you blast out of those doors and hit the ride’s top speeds, it’ll feel even more unique to do it in the dark.
- Journey of Water, Inspired by Moana — This experience won’t be open until late 2023 and isn’t a ride, but instead is a walk-through experience. Still, we think that its placement outdoors will hopefully lead to some beautiful nighttime lighting effects that will make it a must-see once it’s dark.
- Alien Swirling Saucers — Like Dumbo, this ride has some great nighttime lighting that makes it a fun place to visit at night.
- Slinky Dog Dash — Slinky Dog Dash is ridiculously fun during the day but couple an already fun ride with the thrill of darkness and the beauty of colorful lights and effects, and you’ve got a real winner on your hands.
- The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror — Randomized, thrilling drops? Good. Randomized, thrilling drops in the DARK? Better. Trust us. Just be careful that you don’t get any nightmares by looking at some of the creepier decorations in this place.
- Expedition Everest — Legend of the Forbidden Mountain — Zooming past a yeti with the added fear of darkness is just a bit more exhilarating. Plus, you’ll totally be in the mood to dance along with the “Disco Yeti.”
- Kali River Rapids — A little bit of darkness can make this ride feel even wilder, and it’s nice to time it toward the end of your night so you can go directly back to the hotel and change after getting SOAKED.
- TriceraTop Spin — This is another Dumbo-like scenario where some nice nighttime lighting can make this ride feel more special. Plus, you can get a bird’s-eye view of DinoLand U.S.A. all lit up!
- Pandora — The World of Avatar — It’s not a “ride” per se, which is why it goes under honorable mentions, but if you do not visit Pandora — The World of Avatar at night, you are SERIOUSLY missing out. The lighting, glowing plants, and bioluminescent floors are an attraction in and of themselves. You’ll want to stay late in the park just to check this out.
- Kilimanjaro Safaris (when available after dark) — Kilimanjaro Safaris may not always offer its tours after dark (so check the wait times carefully), but when it does, you’ll get to see the animals in a whole different light (literally) and you may even see some different creatures than what you’re used to.
Now, our list above mainly focuses on the rides that are special at night because of lighting or other changes. But there are some rides that you might want to visit at night for another specific reason — wait times.
Oftentimes, Disney World ride wait times can get SHORTER for many rides at night. Now, this isn’t always the case, but you may find on certain occasions that a popular ride that has had a long wait all day long will suddenly have a shorter wait at night after some of the kiddos have gone back to their hotels.
For example, on November 30th, after having shown wait times of 65, 80, and 90 minutes earlier in the day, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train went down to a 55-minute wait at 9PM and 10PM.
That difference of 10-35 minutes could make your wait shorter and allow you to accomplish more things. So consider hopping in line for some of these more popular rides later in the evening to take advantage of shorter wait times.
Just be WARNED. If you wait until the end of the night to hop on a popular attraction and it experiences technical issues, you may not be able to ride the attraction at all if it doesn’t reopen in time.
So if the ride you’ll be getting on is a must-do, make it a priority to get on during the day, and maybe you can sneak in a bonus ride at night when wait times go down. Or you can use that time to accomplish more rides that were lower on your list of priorities.
Here is our list of some of the popular rides that can often have long waits during the day but shorter waits if you’re willing to stick around later in the day. (We’ll be primarily using wait times from Thanksgiving Day 2022 just as an example — see them all here.)
- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad — dropped to 20 minutes at 9PM
- Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin — dropped to 35 minutes at 9PM and 25 at 10PM
- The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh — stayed at around 35 minutes near the end of the day
- Peter Pan’s Flight — dropped to 30 minutes at 9PM
- Seven Dwarf’s Mine Train — dropped to 65 minutes at 9PM (was 85 minutes the hour before)
- Space Mountain — dropped to 40 minutes at 9PM
- Haunted Mansion — dropped to 13 minutes at 9PM
- Frozen Ever After — listed at 70 minutes at 8PM and 9PM (but slightly less packed early in the morning — showed 65 minutes at 10AM)
- Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure — it had some less busy times earlier in the day on Thanksgiving, but we have seen some days where ride wait times can go down later in the evening
- Test Track — 70 minutes at 9PM (this was a particularly busy day but this was still that ride’s lowest wait time of the day)
- Soarin’ — 25 minutes at 9PM (it also was at 25 minutes at 10AM)
- Rise of the Resistance — dropped to 65 minutes at 8PM and 45 minutes at 9PM
- Twilight Zone Tower of Terror — Thanksgiving has proved to be a busy day for Tower of Terror, but we have seen some days where later hours bring lower wait times
- Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith — this was another busy one on Thanksgiving where the early morning was actually a better option, but wait times did lower slightly at 9PM
- Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run — 30 minutes at 9PM (early morning was a good pick with the wait at 15 minutes at 9AM)
- Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway (sometimes) — wait times did drop a bit on Thanksgiving around 9PM, but the wait was shorter at 9AM so you’ll want to look carefully at that one
- Avatar Flight of Passage — dropped to 80 minutes at 7PM after showing a 120-minute wait the hour before (but the wait time was 70 minutes at 9AM)
- Na’vi River Journey — on Thanksgiving its wait times didn’t really decrease in the evening, instead, they were better first thing in the morning, but we have seen other days where nighttime can be a good pick for this ride
Keep in mind that while these are some of the popular rides we’ve highlighted, wait times for several other rides can go down at night. Keep an eye out for our daily wait times posts so you can get a feel for when it might be a good time to go on them.
That’s our list of some of the BEST rides to visit at night. For more Disney World information, check out our posts below.
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What do you think are the BEST Disney rides to go on at night? Tell us in the comments!