Theme Parks after DarkEndorse the darkside, you know you want to.
From Terri PierceIt's a one of a kind feeling to be in a theme park after night fall. For those of you that have never had a full on experience of your favorite theme parks after dusk I would highly recommend it.
Posted April 8, 2011 at 11:28 AM
On that note I ask,
I personally have not been able to stay in Universal/IOA after dark due to traveling with either very young nieces and nephews or my "elder" parents. ( They're 47 and 56 and refuse to leave hotel after diner) I have been in Magic Kingdom and Epcot after dark though (MK is Amazing! <3 SM)
Comments in chronological order. Most recent at the bottom. Scroll down to respond.
From TH CreativeThere was this one night a friend and I were walking around USF after the park had closed. No one was around. At the time the T-Rex photo op was still at the studio.
Posted April 8, 2011 at 11:43 AM
As we walked by I pointed at the dino and said, "Marissa, go over there and scratch him on the nose."
She turned to me and said, "I'm not going near that thing. You go."
"Um ... let's just keep walking."
From Mike GallagherVoyage, the Beast, and Lightning Racer are wonderful rides in the daylight and totally different animals at night..in a good way. And I'm not the biggest (well, I AM big) fan of Kingda Ka, but in pitch blackness..when all you can see of the tower before the launch are the blinking red airplane warning lights...it's a terrific sensation.
Posted April 8, 2011 at 11:37 AM
I also love riding the sky ride or Ferris Wheel at night at ANY park, for the overall aesthetic appeal of the sensory stimulation of the lights.
From Terri PierceMike,
Posted April 8, 2011 at 1:24 PM
I think the only park that I have been to that has a sky ride left was Busch Gardens. Hardly any have them anymore... and no one I go with has the guts to ride it with me. Really why are these things SO intimidating?!
Good story, what you didn't know was that a night at the museum thing was going on and he was following you two around the park.
From Mike GallagherTerri,
Posted April 8, 2011 at 1:51 PM
Great Adventure still has a Sky Ride that crosses almost the whole park. Cedar Point and HersheyPark both have Sky Rides, but they cover very little ground..especially Hershey's. Still afford a nice view of the park.
They used to intimidate me, too..I always feared getting stuck. But I'm fine on them now. Unfortunately, they have become rare. Knoebels and Lake Compounce have great ones, but they're basically ski lifts up a mountain, and you can only see the park on the downward return trip.
From TH CreativeThere was a thread we batted around years ago that asked the question: "Would you go swimming in the Jaws attraction at night?"
Posted April 8, 2011 at 2:35 PM
From Hermione PotterTH, I wouldn't get in that water if my life depended on it! I saw Jaws for the first time as a kid literally the night before going to the beach... my dad did it on purpose because guess who didn't go swimming all day? (He didn't want to have to watch me all the time.)
Posted April 8, 2011 at 4:15 PM
As for liking parks after dark, I once had the very last dinner reservation of the night at Epcot. We took our sweet time eating (felt bad for the cast members) and when we stepped out of the Norway place (don't ask me to spell it!) we were the only ones left. It was amazing.
From Tony DudaI went to the Expedition Everest 5 Year Anniversary after hours event in March and riding EE after sundown was great. Your eyes are acclimated and you can see all the details inside the mountain and the ending coaster loops outside were totally unlit. Really nice.
Posted April 8, 2011 at 4:18 PM
From James KoehlMike, I'm not sure how long the Great Adventure skyride is, but the Cedar Point skyride runs nearly the entire length of the original midway. The view from the ride is beautiful, esp. at night. With the nearly 100 year old Coliseum on one side and Raptor on the other, it is really an interesting contrast. I actually prefer to ride it during the day, so you can look down at the beautiful flower gardens that run down the middle of the midway. They make new flower designs every year, and you can only really appreciate them from above. Cedar Point isn't just about roller coasters (although we do have the best ;+b).
Posted April 8, 2011 at 5:56 PM
From Anthony MurphyHere are a few rides I enjoy at night:
Posted April 8, 2011 at 7:07 PM
Pirates of the Carribean
From Terri PierceAnthony, other than the queue whats the difference of riding the dark rides during night? I felt haunted mansion was different but that was one because I was in a minnie mouse costumes, and two because it was the halloween party.
Posted April 8, 2011 at 11:38 PM
I understand loving theme parks after dark in general just curious why you picked those as your favorites.
TH- No, HECK no! I would never get in that water! I was probably 5 when I watched that movie and its scared me ****less! Even the first time I rode the Jaws ride (I was 14 or 15) I was scared of that stupid foam thing. It took me riding it enough to learn exactly what happens when to laugh at it. Oh man, if only there was a video of my face during the boat dock part....
Mike- Good to know. I don't have the finacials or time to travel outside of the GA/FL area but in due time I will make it to these other parks. Dad always talks about how much he used to love Cedar Park, but by the time I was old/tall enough to ride everything (I am extra short) he couldn't really do theme parks anymore. Esp not extended trips like that.
From TH CreativeOh come on Murph! Pirates?! It's indoors!!!!
Posted April 9, 2011 at 5:12 AM
Jungle Cruise at night RULES!
From Nick MarkhamAt nighttime, lets see:
Posted April 9, 2011 at 9:34 AM
Walt Disney World:
-Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
-Hollywood Rip, Ride, Orkcit
Sea World Orlando:
Busch Gardens Tampa:
There is my list!
From Colton McLaughlinTH- I would go swimming in a tank with a shark no problem; it's no different than swimming in an ocean. But imagine swimming around the lagoon (ignoring how polluted it probably is), ducking your head under, and seeing the lifeless shark just a few feet from your face! I shudder just thinking about it.
Posted April 9, 2011 at 2:40 PM
My favorite rides at night are:
From Andy MilioI would love to try Jaws and Jurassic Park (at USF and IoA, respectively) at night
Posted April 9, 2011 at 3:48 PM
From TH CreativeJP ... Great call, Andy.
Posted April 9, 2011 at 7:35 PM
From Dan BabbittI have to go with TH on the Jungle Cruise at night. Its great!
Posted April 9, 2011 at 8:50 PM
I know its not at "night" but Ive done Rock N' Roller Coaster and Space Mountain without any show or work lights just complete darkness and its was AWESOME!
From Terri PierceWill be sure to do Jungle Cruise when we do the MCMCP in the "winter"
Posted April 9, 2011 at 9:20 PM
From Paul JeffsOf the few I've been able to ride at night, only 3 really stick out as very different experiences:
Posted April 13, 2011 at 12:40 AM
Jaws at USO
Expedition Everest at DAK
Jungle Cruise at MK
All of the above a well worth trying after dark as they take on very different atmospheres.
From Andy MilioTH, are you being sarcastic? :P I've never rode the ride PERIOD, so I would want to do it at night
Posted April 13, 2011 at 4:06 AM
From Mark SewellGriffon at BGW and Hollywood RipRideRockit at USF are brilliant at night, but personally nothing beats queuing for either the Tower of Terror at Hollywood Studios Haunted Mansion at Magic Kingdom at night- the former for when the doors open in the elevator shaft and everything is lit up beautifully outside, the latter for the sound effects and the lighting effects on the windows of the mansion. Magic.
Posted April 13, 2011 at 4:37 AM
From David SutterIf Im not mistaken the Great Adventure Sky Ride is almost 1.5 miles from end to end. And stands 100 ft. above the park. making it one of the longest and highest cable car rides ever built. And the only one with duel sided. The attration is actually from the 1964-65 New York Worlds Fair. And to ride it at night is one of my favorite experincees.
Posted April 13, 2011 at 5:41 AM
From Market ResearchAny ride that goes through an unlit part of the park. Two notable examples that come to mind:
Posted April 13, 2011 at 5:56 AM
Ravine Flyer II at Waldameer Park in Pennsylvania
From David SutterJust a note from my very old Great Adventure Ops. Manual the sky ride is 1,875 feet from station to station. The supports are 112 feet above ground level.
Posted April 13, 2011 at 6:04 AM
From Thomas CrainJAWS at night is legit terrifying. Rode it right after a house at Horror Nights and I still haven't recovered.
Posted April 13, 2011 at 7:24 AM
Disney-wise, Jungle Cruise at night is just the best. The animals actually look better lit only by a spotlight.
From Mike GallagherDavid said...."..the sky ride is 1,875 feet from station to station"
Posted April 13, 2011 at 8:44 AM
Since there's 5,280 feet in a mile, I'm guessing the 1.5 mile estimate was a bit off. It's less than half a mile. Thanks for digging out the manual..I'd love to see that literature, as I've been going to the park since its 1974 opening!
From Mike GallagherTo Market Research's post above, I'd also add Voyage.
Posted April 13, 2011 at 8:48 AM
From Ashleigh NoadJaws at USF and JP at IOA, both awesome at night.
Posted April 13, 2011 at 10:49 AM
The lighting on JP makes the dinosaurs seem more amazing than ever, and the lack of lighting on Jaws, made that ride worth going on! To be honest, I don't go on Jaws any more UNLESS it is at night!
From James RaoEvery outdoor coaster I have ever ridden provides a better ride at night than during the day. They seem faster, are more immersive, and feel more out of control.
Posted April 13, 2011 at 10:50 AM
Locally, the Prowler at Worlds of Fun offers a fantastic night ride, which even Cedar Fair acknowledges and endorses.
Kind of makes you wonder why more park designers don't build indoor coasters? I guess they feel it is too expensive, but in my mind the benefits outweigh the costs.
On the other hand, the only theme parks that do indoor coasters well are Disney and Universal (and I guess Herschend, if you count Fire In The Hole at Silver Dollar City). Cedar Fair's attempts, Flight of Fear and Disaster Transport, pretty much blow.
I will be riding Runaway Mountain at Six Flags Over Texas next month and am anxious to see how it stacks up, but my expectations are not very high.
So maybe money is the issue? But I digress.
From Caroline DavisJungle Cruise definitely number one. I really enjoyed The Incrdible Hulk too at night. Saw:The Ride at Thorpe Park's atmosphere is definitely increased when riding in darkness.
Posted April 13, 2011 at 11:07 AM
The whole of New Orleans square is lovely at night by the Rivers of America after everyone's done with Fantasmic! And doing Splash Mountain with no queue at night and going straight back to the hotel room is lovely. Especially if it's going back to the Grand Californian with dinner at Napa Rose. :D
From David SutterThanks Mike..And your right ..Not really great with the math. But im close and when I looked closer that 1.5 is the total cable for both sides..Opps my bad
Posted April 13, 2011 at 11:10 AM
From Steph RamosAhh...night rides....I must agree with a previous post...pretty much ANY coaster at night is a totally different experince and worth the time.....:)
Posted April 13, 2011 at 11:18 AM
That being said, If I had to share my top fave night rides in the coaster category, it would be the following:
-Tatsu at SFMM: Come on! The tallest flying coaster in the world at night? Hell yeah...sign me up! If you ever wondered what flying above a theme park is like at 62 mph...this is a DEFINATE must...the view of the park and of the Santa Clarita valley is so beautiful (Well...what you mannage to see of it when you're not screaming and diving anyway). Honestly, this is what I imagine a superhero must feel like if they could fly.....:)
-X2 at SFMM: Trust me....the backwards freefall in the middle of the day is pretty intense....but at night and with the soundtrack blairing at you and the fire flaring up at full force...O.O;
-GhostRider at Knotts: Man, despite the less-than-pleasing track conditions....the fact that once night falls in the park, this ride becomes completely pitch dark make it a pretty trilling ride.....If I recall only the drops are lit up with an orange string of lights....giving it one errie looking glow! :D
-Xcelerator at Knotts: being lanuched at 82 mph up a steep track and down again? Sure....why not! :D
Trust me, they're a re plenty more than fall into this category....but these are my top four for the obvious reasons....:)
From Terri PierceThese are all great suggestions. I need to read back through and take notes! ;) One thing I know, you all have gotten me excited to ride Jaws again! I REALLY hope the park is open after dark the next time we go so I can experience it. Although, we'll be getting season passes so I am sure we will catch it at some point. JP is already a must do for us as BF loves it already.
Posted April 13, 2011 at 12:31 PM
And I do agree with everyone saying coasters are better after dark. I think the only ones I've ridden after dark are the ones at my local park (Wild Adventures) but even they were 10x better. I can't even imagine what US/IOA would be like. :)
MK is one where I have ridden a lot of the rides at night as they were open til midnight the day we went and we also did Halloween party a couple days later. We didn't even think about going on Jungle Cruise I will add that to my "must do" at night list. As for the queue for Haunted Mansion I agree 100%. It was eerie standing there with all the sounds. And of course I have already said I love SM at night. I forgot about Thunder Mountain though. With the added scenes at night and the lighting looking over MK it was amazing.
From chris conaTower of Terreor Incredible Hulk Dr. doom and test track
Posted April 13, 2011 at 7:12 PM
From Mark FairleighBig Thunder Mountain! The lantern lighting, the hoodoos against a starry sky, the castle in the background, just not the same during the day.
Posted April 13, 2011 at 9:14 PM
From Anthony O'NealI would have to go with these:
Posted April 13, 2011 at 9:15 PM
All great rides at night, even the Mansion. . . there's just something different about it.
From Manny BarronIt has to be the Matterhorn at Disneyland. It doesn't get any more classic than that. Zipping around the mountain looking at the Tomorrowland lights and basically really quick glimpses of Fantasyland are great.
Posted April 13, 2011 at 11:21 PM
From Terri PierceAnthony- Maybe I'm crazy but doesn't Animal Kingdom usually close around dark? When is it open after dark? Would it be mostly for extra magic hours or are there times during peak where it stays open for the general public. I don't usually go in peak so I honestly have never paid attention to closing times then.
Posted April 14, 2011 at 7:32 AM
From Crystal AI love Sheikra after dark! As well as Astro Orbiter @ Magic Kingdom.
Posted April 14, 2011 at 7:50 AM
From Rob McCulloughRumor has it the Wizzarding World of Harry Potter will soon grow and take over Sinbad's Village and pehaps The Lost city portions of the Lost Continent. Before that happens, try to take a stroll through Sinbad's Village at night. It's was nicer when the park opened and prior to compact floursent light bulbs were installed, but it's still lovely.
Posted April 14, 2011 at 1:47 PM
From Jack CurleyYou know what was a fantastic ride at night?
Posted April 14, 2011 at 3:34 PM
The Big Bad Wolf.
We miss you, my friend.
From Andy MilioAh, Chris. I would love to ride Test Track at night!
Posted April 14, 2011 at 4:43 PM
From Jay PosteraroThe Big Bad Wolf WAS a great night ride!!!!!
Posted April 14, 2011 at 9:38 PM
From Anthony O'NealTerri,
Posted April 14, 2011 at 10:30 PM
My brother and I definitely rode Expedition Everest when it was dark (multiple times that night, actually). I think that the Animal Kingdom typically utilizes the Extra Magic Hours by opening early, rather than staying open late. In this case, I believe it was open until maybe 7 or 8 pm, and because it was December it got dark pretty early. I recall that it usually closed around 5 pm at that time of year (maybe it actually was Extra Magic Hours, I honestly don't remember), but it just happened to be open later that day, and we wanted to take full advantage. This wasn't a Peak time, either. The last two times we've gone, it was early- to mid-December, just before the Christmas crowd showed up. Nevertheless, the Yeti was in full effect and looked very cool!
My brother is a member on this site, as well, with a much better memory for details like that. He may remember why it was open later that day.
From TH CreativeAstro Orbitor -- good call!
Posted April 15, 2011 at 2:47 PM
From Terri PierceGood to know Anthony. Next trip to WDW I will have to keep my eyes open for a later park open time. Off topic a bit but did you encounter a lot of lines during that time of year? We are going to try and start head down there around that time for a big trip every year to every couple of years.
Posted April 15, 2011 at 9:49 PM
From Anthony O'NealTalked to my brother. He said he checked his notes (we were planning which days in which parks, and had notations to take advantage of Extra Magic Hours), and it was Extra Magic Hours, but I haven't seen them offered later when I have looked.
Posted April 16, 2011 at 10:24 PM
I didn't find it to be particularly busy at that time (Disney is almost always busy, but this was "less busy"). We've gone at that time of year the last two visits (2004 and 2007). The last day of our trip would be like the 17th or the 19th, something like that. All of the holiday decorations are up, and the parks are gorgeous. Now, we did have to wait for some rides (I'm thinking specifically about Soarin'), but most were reasonable waits, if there was one. We went to Busch Gardens in Tampa on one trip, and there were no real waits. We could almost walk-on to everything. The weather was usually in the 60s and 70s, though it dropped down into the high-40s a couple of nights in 2004 and I recall it being in the 80s in 2007.
If I had my choice, I would always go at that time.
From Mark SewellManta at SeaWorld Orlando while the fireworks are going off in the background...we timed it perfectly and could see them throughout the ride!
Posted April 18, 2011 at 5:47 AM
From Terri PierceMark, I hear Astro Orbitor is also like that at WDW. If you can get on it right when the fireworks start its amazing.
Posted April 18, 2011 at 9:58 AM
From Dan BabbittThe Tomorrowland Transit Authority is really nice at night for the fireworks.
Posted April 18, 2011 at 4:07 PM
From Terri PierceI would imagine the transit authority is pretty awesome to watch the fireworks from. I cannot wait to try the astro orbiter at night. It was my favorite ride as a kid (not sure why) but at night I bet it offers great views!
Posted April 24, 2011 at 10:35 PM
From Lily WrightI like chips
Posted April 25, 2011 at 6:53 AM
From Tyler Bellkraken manta rip ride rockit
Posted April 25, 2011 at 7:30 AM
From Orrin CarstarphenJurassic Park, Rip Saw Falls, and the Hulk.
Posted April 25, 2011 at 2:01 PM
From Tony DudaTerri, I did ride the Magic Kingdom TTA during fireworks and it is a unique, fun experience but you miss a lot of them. You are looking left, then right, then ride inside, then outside, then going towards them, then away, etc. Also the roof blocks some views. Do it once but I recommend watching the fireworks the typical way if that is your only chance that trip. And I rode the Astro Orbitor at midnight and liked it very much.
Posted April 25, 2011 at 3:23 PM
This discussion has been archived, and is not accepting additional responses.
Theme Park Insider: Orlando 2014
Get all of Theme Park Insider's reader ratings, tips, and advice for planning a trip to Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, or SeaWorld, in our new 2014 Orlando guidebook! It's more than 200 pages of well-tested, insider information that will help you get the most from your vacation.
Order now: Kindle | iBooks | Paperback | Kindle (UK)
Theme Park Insider Guidebooks
Top U.S. Theme Parks
Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom
Other Top International Parks
Readers' Top Themed Rides
Top Roller Coasters
Top Theme Park Shows
Features, News and Advice
2014 Blog PostsJan. Feb. Mar.
2013 Blog PostsJan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
2012 Blog PostsJan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
2011 Blog PostsJan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
2010 Blog PostsJan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
2009 Blog PostsJan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
2008 Blog PostsJan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
2007 Blog PostsJan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
2006 Blog PostsJan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
2005 Blog PostsDec.
2004-2005Staff column archive