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Theme Parks after Dark

Endorse the darkside, you know you want to.

From Terri Pierce
Posted April 8, 2011 at 11:28 AM
It'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.

On that note I ask,
What are your favorite MUST RIDE rides during night?
What are you favorite activities during night?- Is it just walking about viewing the park in it's greatest state? Or riding your favorite rides?

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 Creative
Posted April 8, 2011 at 11:43 AM
There 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.

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 Gallagher
Posted April 8, 2011 at 11:37 AM
Voyage, 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.

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 Pierce
Posted April 8, 2011 at 1:24 PM
Mike,

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?!

TH,

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 Gallagher
Posted April 8, 2011 at 1:51 PM
Terri,

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 Creative
Posted April 8, 2011 at 2:35 PM
There was a thread we batted around years ago that asked the question: "Would you go swimming in the Jaws attraction at night?"

From Hermione Potter
Posted April 8, 2011 at 4:15 PM
TH, 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.)

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.
Of course, realizing about 10 mins later in a complete panic that the car was parked at MGM which had closed 3.5 hours prior...not so amazing. :)

From Tony Duda
Posted April 8, 2011 at 4:18 PM
I 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.

From James Koehl
Posted April 8, 2011 at 5:56 PM
Mike, 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).

From Anthony Murphy
Posted April 8, 2011 at 7:07 PM
Here are a few rides I enjoy at night:

Pirates of the Carribean
Haunted Mansion
Spaceship Earth
Astro Orbitor
Splash Mountain
Raging Bull
American Eagle

From Terri Pierce
Posted April 8, 2011 at 11:38 PM
Anthony, 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.

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 Creative
Posted April 9, 2011 at 5:12 AM
Oh come on Murph! Pirates?! It's indoors!!!!

Jungle Cruise at night RULES!

From Nick Markham
Posted April 9, 2011 at 9:34 AM
At nighttime, lets see:

SFMM:

-Tatsu
-X2
-Batman: The Ride
-Riddler's Revenge
-Apocalypse
-Scream
-Goliath
-Superman: escape From Krypton

Disneyland Resort:

-California Screamin'
-Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
-Matterhorn

Walt Disney World:

-Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
-Expedition Everest

Universal Orlando:

-Hollywood Rip, Ride, Orkcit
-Incredible Hulk Coaster
-Dragon Challenge

Sea World Orlando:

-Kraken
-Manta

Busch Gardens Tampa:

-Montu
-Kumba
-SheiKra

There is my list!

From Colton McLaughlin
Posted April 9, 2011 at 2:40 PM
TH- 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.

My favorite rides at night are:
El Toro
Kingda Ka
Bizarro
Hulk
Dragon Challenge
Jurassic Park River Adventure
Jungle Cruise
Jaws

From Andy Milio
Posted April 9, 2011 at 3:48 PM
I would love to try Jaws and Jurassic Park (at USF and IoA, respectively) at night

From TH Creative
Posted April 9, 2011 at 7:35 PM
JP ... Great call, Andy.

From Dan Babbitt
Posted April 9, 2011 at 8:50 PM
I have to go with TH on the Jungle Cruise at night. Its great!

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!

Enjoyed:
The Walt Disney World Railroad
Tomorrowlnd Transit Authority
Test Track
Tower of Terror

From Terri Pierce
Posted April 9, 2011 at 9:20 PM
Will be sure to do Jungle Cruise when we do the MCMCP in the "winter"

From Paul Jeffs
Posted April 13, 2011 at 12:40 AM
Of the few I've been able to ride at night, only 3 really stick out as very different experiences:
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 Milio
Posted April 13, 2011 at 4:06 AM
TH, are you being sarcastic? :P I've never rode the ride PERIOD, so I would want to do it at night

From Mark Sewell
Posted April 13, 2011 at 4:37 AM
Griffon 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.

From David Sutter
Posted April 13, 2011 at 5:41 AM
If 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.

From Market Research
Posted April 13, 2011 at 5:56 AM
Any ride that goes through an unlit part of the park. Two notable examples that come to mind:

Ravine Flyer II at Waldameer Park in Pennsylvania
Boulder Dash at Lake Compounce in Connecticut

From David Sutter
Posted April 13, 2011 at 6:04 AM
Just 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.

From Thomas Crain
Posted April 13, 2011 at 7:24 AM
JAWS at night is legit terrifying. Rode it right after a house at Horror Nights and I still haven't recovered.

Disney-wise, Jungle Cruise at night is just the best. The animals actually look better lit only by a spotlight.

From Mike Gallagher
Posted April 13, 2011 at 8:44 AM
David said...."..the sky ride is 1,875 feet from station to station"

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 Gallagher
Posted April 13, 2011 at 8:48 AM
To Market Research's post above, I'd also add Voyage.

From Ashleigh Noad
Posted April 13, 2011 at 10:49 AM
Jaws at USF and JP at IOA, both awesome at night.
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 Rao
Posted April 13, 2011 at 10:50 AM
Every 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.

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 Davis
Posted April 13, 2011 at 11:07 AM
Jungle 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.

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 Sutter
Posted April 13, 2011 at 11:10 AM
Thanks 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

From Steph Ramos
Posted April 13, 2011 at 11:18 AM
Ahh...night rides....I must agree with a previous post...pretty much ANY coaster at night is a totally different experince and worth the time.....:)

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;
Also, the lack of visibilty as you head up the track make for one HELL of a ride....

-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 Pierce
Posted April 13, 2011 at 12:31 PM
These 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.

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 cona
Posted April 13, 2011 at 7:12 PM
Tower of Terreor Incredible Hulk Dr. doom and test track

From Mark Fairleigh
Posted April 13, 2011 at 9:14 PM
Big Thunder Mountain! The lantern lighting, the hoodoos against a starry sky, the castle in the background, just not the same during the day.

From Anthony O'Neal
Posted April 13, 2011 at 9:15 PM
I would have to go with these:

Haunted Mansion
Splash Mountain
Raging Bull (LOVE THIS ONE!)
American Eagle
Expedition Everest
Top Thrill Dragster

All great rides at night, even the Mansion. . . there's just something different about it.

From Manny Barron
Posted April 13, 2011 at 11:21 PM
It 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.

From Terri Pierce
Posted April 14, 2011 at 7:32 AM
Anthony- 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.

From Crystal A
Posted April 14, 2011 at 7:50 AM
I love Sheikra after dark! As well as Astro Orbiter @ Magic Kingdom.

From Rob McCullough
Posted April 14, 2011 at 1:47 PM
Rumor 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.

From Jack Curley
Posted April 14, 2011 at 3:34 PM
You know what was a fantastic ride at night?

The Big Bad Wolf.

We miss you, my friend.

From Andy Milio
Posted April 14, 2011 at 4:43 PM
Ah, Chris. I would love to ride Test Track at night!

From Jay Posteraro
Posted April 14, 2011 at 9:38 PM
The Big Bad Wolf WAS a great night ride!!!!!

From Anthony O'Neal
Posted April 14, 2011 at 10:30 PM
Terri,

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 Creative
Posted April 15, 2011 at 2:47 PM
Astro Orbitor -- good call!

From Terri Pierce
Posted April 15, 2011 at 9:49 PM
Good 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.

From Anthony O'Neal
Posted April 16, 2011 at 10:24 PM
Talked 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.

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 Sewell
Posted April 18, 2011 at 5:47 AM
Manta at SeaWorld Orlando while the fireworks are going off in the background...we timed it perfectly and could see them throughout the ride!

From Terri Pierce
Posted April 18, 2011 at 9:58 AM
Mark, I hear Astro Orbitor is also like that at WDW. If you can get on it right when the fireworks start its amazing.

From Dan Babbitt
Posted April 18, 2011 at 4:07 PM
The Tomorrowland Transit Authority is really nice at night for the fireworks.

From Terri Pierce
Posted April 24, 2011 at 10:35 PM
I 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!

From Lily Wright
Posted April 25, 2011 at 6:53 AM
I like chips

From Tyler Bell
Posted April 25, 2011 at 7:30 AM
kraken manta rip ride rockit

From Orrin Carstarphen
Posted April 25, 2011 at 2:01 PM
Jurassic Park, Rip Saw Falls, and the Hulk.

From Tony Duda
Posted April 25, 2011 at 3:23 PM
Terri, 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.

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