Don't Skip These Destinations In Disney Theme Parks That Totally Transform At Night

When planning a Disney World trip, conventional wisdom holds that you should be there right when the parks open to get the most out of each day. You may have even heard that the number one tip for riding the most rides at Disney is to show up at "rope drop." Guests of the official resort hotels can also take advantage of Early Theme Park Entry to get a 30-minute head start on the day. The flip side is that you may be so tired out by the time the sun goes down that you just want to head back to your hotel and vegetate for the night. This is why it's good to conserve some energy, as there are numerous attractions and even entire lands at Disney World that really come alive in a unique way at night.

One example is the Tron Lightcycle / Run coaster (pictured above), which opened at the Magic Kingdom in April 2023. The whole neon-blue, glow-in-the-dark aesthetic of this ride is arguably better suited to nighttime views. Much of the coaster does run through the dark, but part of the track is outdoors. During broad daylight, hitting that outdoor stretch somewhat breaks the illusion that you're in the dark digital realm of the Grid, as seen in the movie "Tron: Legacy." At night, however, you can walk around under the Upload Conduit canopy, see lightcycles whizzing by, and soak up the "Tron"-inspired neon ambiance without even boarding the ride.

The Magic Kingdom and Epcot at night

Like Tron Lightcycle / Run, the Astro Orbiter and PeopleMover attractions provide an elevated view of Tomorrowland when it's illuminated after dark. The more leisurely PeopleMover could be a good option if you've reached the end of a long day at the Magic Kingdom and want to get off your feet. Over in Fantasyland, another spinner attraction where you can take to the skies at night is Dumbo the Flying Elephant. After sunset, its fountains are lit up with changing colors, making it a nice photo op even if you don't want to wait in line.

With the right timing, you could catch the Magic Kingdom's nightly fireworks show from the air while aboard one of these rides. Uber-popular attractions like the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (which includes open-air views of the illuminated park) can also have reduced waits during the fireworks and toward the night's end. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad also combines the thrill of a classic coaster with exhilarating nighttime views of the Magic Kingdom.

Most of Epcot's attractions are indoors, but one exception is Journey of Water, Inspired by Moana. It opened in October 2023, and after dark, it becomes a colorful, misty trail where you can take a refreshing stroll amid vibrant lighting. At present, the fan-favorite ride Test Track — set to temporarily close for a reimagining in June 2024 — also has an outdoor part where you can shoot through the night breeze in a fast-moving vehicle.

Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom

At Disney's Hollywood Studios, the crowds in Star Wars: Galaxy Edge tend to thin out as visitors flock to the nighttime show "Fantasmic." This, combined with the moon overhead and the area's unearthly blue rock spires, makes it feel faithful to its theming as an outpost on another planet. Special events with shorter ride waits, like Disney After Hours, are a tremendous way to see Galaxy's Edge and the neighboring Toy Story Land with fewer people than usual. During the day, the kid-friendly Toy Story Land can seem noisy and somewhat gaudy with all its bright primary colors. It takes on a different feel at night when the many strings of Christmas lights turn on and the Florida sun breaks for the evening.

While Animal Kingdom closes earlier than the other Disney parks, Pandora — The World of Avatar is one area where the look after sundown is baked right into the theme. Filled with glowing alien plant life, the entire land transforms into a bioluminescent playground at night. Even if you've already seen Pandora by day, you can have a completely different experience in it after dark. Resting up in your hotel room after lunch, then reentering the park later, is another way to split the difference between a busy morning and an action-packed evening. While staying on-site at select Disney hotels, you can also take advantage of Extended Evening Theme Park Hours at Epcot and the Magic Kingdom.