When Walt Disney designed Disneyland, one thing he always wanted was to make sure the fun didn't end at sunset. One of the early Wonderful World of Disney specials was "Disneyland After Dark," showcasing the special events and fun to be had when night fell. That's lasted to this day, aided by the additions of California Adventure and Downtown Disney.
Being smaller than WDW, Disneyland doesn't have the same amount of great sights at night. But thanks to having some unique attractions Florida doesn't, several Disneyland sights are exclusive, and even ones copied in Florida come off better. These are 15 Disneyland places that are amazing to see at night and showcase how the original park can still be the best for guests.
Cars Land was a fantastic shot in the arm for California Adventure, bringing the world of the beloved Pixar movies to life. At nighttime, the place is even more fantastic, with the neon lights across the various buildings shining well. It's fun being on the "kids" rides under the bright lights that fit the area. Radiator Springs Racers is utterly magnificent at nighttime, with the moody canyons making the ride feel even faster. No matter how busy it gets, Cars Land at night is worth every penny Disney put into it.
It's always interesting how the Matterhorn is the one major Disney ride never replicated at other parks. Then again, it's hard to see another Disney park managing to make it look so beautiful, especially at night. It's a great ride at night, especially when the Yeti pops up, yet just walking around to look at it is lovely, with the spotlights adding some good mood to it. It all comes together to make the Matterhorn a one-of-a-kind attraction that's also a top ride at night.
New Orleans Square
Walt Disney always wanted this area to be classic New Orleans and they succeeded. The Haunted Mansion is, of course, a highlight, with the moody lighting casting sinister shadows across the gothic manor. Pirates of the Caribbean also looks nice with its shadow. But the best part is wandering around the shops with the lighting shifting from vibrant marketplace to mysterious alleyways. It truly feels like the actual city and a lovely area to walk through at night.
This new section for California Adventure is truly something at night. Guardians the Galaxy: Mission Breakout comes alive with stunning colors, so it looks like some alien spaceship about to take off. Spider-Man Web Slingers shines nicely with the red lighting as well and there's the odd sights like Dr. Strange's Sanctum with the photo op of the glowing Orb of Cagliostro. Toss in the SHIELD base with Quinjet, and this is a Marvelous place to walk through at night.
Disneyland's Fantasyland has always been superior to WDW as it's designed like a fancy European village. At nighttime, the place truly becomes magical, with unique lighting for every ride. The Carousel is a marvel of spinning bright lights and music, the Teacups whirl around under lanterns, Alice in Wonderland and Mr. Toad are more fun and It's a Small World's massive clock motif is astounding. Even if the kids are getting tired at the end of the day, seeing Fantasyland at night is a reminder of why it's always been the heart of this Magic Kingdom.
It's changed the name and motif a bit, but this section of California Adventure has never changed in being wonderful at nighttime. The highlight is that massive Ferris Wheel, its colors always shifting, dominated by the huge Mickey face. The Incredicoaster has its own unique lighting, and the Midway, from Toy Story Mania to the various gaming booths, sparkles from across the park. It's the highlight of California Adventure at night to be an exciting place to visit.
Main Street USA
An obvious choice that must be counted, the Disneyland version of Main Street is still terrific. As the original Main Street, it retains a history and charm other parks lack, shining brightly with the various lights around the shops, Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln and the path to Sleeping Beauty's Castle is the highlight of it all. Exiting the park at the end of the night is always a joy, thanks to how this classic street shines.
Disneyland Hotel Pool
The Disneyland Hotel is a great place to stay, and the pool area is a definite highlight. In the daytime, it's bustling and busy with the monorail water slides and cabanas. At night, it becomes lovely with the various lights, and the Tangaroa Terrace has tiki torches lit up to make it better. Throw in the occasional movies by the pool and the water geyser by the Frontier Tower, and it's worth walking around this area at night to enjoy the fun vibe.
While WDW's Magic Kingdom got rid of their sub-ride years ago, Disneyland still has theirs. It's no wonder as it's home to a sight that's dominated postcards and souvenir books for years, with the Monorail cars flowing over the artificial lake. When night falls, the lagoon is lit in unique ways to showcase the Nemo ride better, and the subs themselves seem to glow. When the monorail (which has its own unique motif) flies over it, it's a must-photograph sight and makes this Tomorrowland area better in California.
Rivers of America/Railroad
The Rivers of America section is, of course, notable for Fantasmic. Even without that, though, this spot is a wonder to walk around at nighttime. There's Big Thunder Mountain, which always looks impressive at night, with the spotlights giving it a spooky glow. Watching the large Riverboats passing by with all their bright lights is also good. There's also the Railroad, giving you views of the area from a Native American village to the dinosaur tunnel, as this Old West area retains a special hold at night.
Grizzly River Run
The symbol for California Adventure since it opened, Grizzly Peak at night, is as iconic as any castle. The huge bear face jutting out is spotlighted in a variety of lights to give it unique moods depending on the season. The area around is just as good, with the old-fashioned sawmill, bridges, waterfalls, and smaller rivers combining into a quiet but lovely spot for California Adventure guests to enjoy.
It makes sense this cartoon-themed area looks fun at night. Disney smartly ensures the lighting is different from other areas of the park to look quirkier for the area. The recent reopening is better, showcasing the lights from the buildings to the huge sign to Roger Rabbit ride. The theater for this version of Runaway Railway is vibrant to sell Toontown as a living cartoon world sparkling nicely at night.
Here's a highly underrated spot many Disneyland visitors may not even know about. During the day, Pixie Hollows is a meet and greet for Tinkerbell and other Disney princesses. When night falls, they fade away and instead, the fountains become home to a beautiful light and water show. It's astounding to watch, almost no advertisement for it, but well worth checking out. It shows sometimes it's the smaller spots that are the best to view at Disneyland.
The California version of Adventureland is different than in WDW, feeling even more exciting as an adventurous destination. That's especially true at night, with electrical lights mixing with tiki torches for some great photo ops. There's the Jungle Cruise looking darker; the Treehouse with its terrific old-styled lighting matching the Swiss Family Robinson; Indian Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye set in a deep and shadowy jungle; and the dim but fitting lighting for the restaurants and Enchanted Tiki Room. The place lives up to its name as a true adventure to experience as soon as it's dusk in Disneyland.
Sleeping Beauty's Castle
As with WDW, the Castle is always a highlight of a Disneyland trip, especially at night. Maybe it's not as tall as Cinderella's Castle, but oddly, the squat build aids it with the usually purple lighting to fit the Sleeping Beauty tale. A nice touch is the Wishing Well nearby, with the Snow White and Seven Dwarfs statues by the waterfall looking lovely. Still, few sights in Disneyland are as photographed as the Castle at night to make it a must for any trip.