Saturday, March 4, 2023

Disneyland After Dark

Disneyland has to be the country's best park for the nighttime atmosphere. I don't know of any other theme park that is open until 12AM most days of the year, allowing you plenty of time to see the lights. This post will be the first of two focusing on Disneyland at night, and the second will mostly be about the Main Street Electrical Parade.

Although not in the park itself, the water slide tower at the Disneyland Hotel looks great after dark. I love how the slide supports look just like the real Monorail support columns.
When it's not swarmed by people watching the fireworks like in this shot, being in front of a lighted Sleeping Beauty Castle and the Partners statue is truly special.
We'll save Main Street for next time, but I like this nighttime view down toward the entrance. You can even see the Carthway Circle Theater peeking up in the background.
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is one of the best night rides at the park. It's great fun dipping through the darkness, with parts of the ride's layout in pitch black.
I can't say enough good things about the castle's lighting... if only every park could light up its iconic buildings this well.
I found it funny to see this CM (a lighting technician?) surveying his domain from the rear balcony of the castle. He was standing there still, and I have no idea what he was doing!
If you really want to ride Dumbo, it's a good idea to wait until 11:00pm or so when its target audience of toddlers has mostly gone home. Looking back at these pictures nearly eight months after I was at the park, I can't believe that I was actually there and took photos like this one!
Seeing the King Arthur Carrousel lit up made me very happy. Kennywood's carousel has an identical lighting scheme, just with more burned-out light bulbs.
I mentioned it in my Fantasyland post, but I really appreciate how the Carrousel uses two alternating light bulb colors--it's a subtle detail, but it makes a difference in person.
The lanterns of the Mad Tea Party cast a charming pinkish hue on the ride below, with the Matterhorn looming above.
People always talk about how roller coasters are better at night, but one underrated night ride at Disneyland is the Storybook Land Canal Boats.
It's special to enter Monstro's creepily-lit jaw and emerge in a dim Storybook Land. Although you can't make out much detail in the models, it's tranquil to hear the water lapping against the boat at night.
It's hard to tell that the rose archways have lights during the day, so it's wonderful traveling under them at night to the lull of "A Whole New World."
Here we see Arendelle Castle from Frozen, with the Matterhorn, a full moon, and some of Fantasyland's twinkle lights in the background.
While Big Thunder certainly feels wild at night, Matterhorn is even crazier because the ride is so rough to begin with. It's the best night ride in the park in my opinion!
Although I had seen lots of pictures of Disneyland at night, nothing can truly beat walking by a moonlit Matterhorn and hearing the crash of its waterfalls, the roar of the yeti, and the screams of riders. 
I don't have many pictures of the west side of the park after dark, but the lights in Frontierland and Adventureland, if not as dazzling as Fantasyland, are just as atmospheric.
I love this ominous shot of a full moon over the Haunted Mansion.
Being used to Eastern Time, I was basically up until 3:00 AM on the nights I stayed at the park until closing. But the excitement of being in Disneyland meant I was full of energy until the end.
While we're over here, we might as well take another ride on Splash Mountain. After all, we won't be able to do so forever.
At the opposite side of the park, Tomorrowland looks great in the dark with its dramatic lighting.
One ride I missed out on experiencing at night was the Autopia. My heart is still broken. ;-)
The centerpiece of Tomorrowland is a sight to behold at night. I'm looking forward to seeing Florida's Space Mountain lit up next to the Tron coaster in just over a month.
Space Mountain is one ride where there's no difference in whether you experience it during the day or in the dark!
The ride operator in me could have stood here for a long time watching the efficient dispatch of trains, but the ride was waiting.
Despite not getting to experience the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage, I was still able to appreciate the lighting of the newly-refurbished lagoon.
Oh well, there's always next time...  this peaceful water really adds calm to Tomorrowland.
While Tomorrowland sometimes feels like a jumbled mess during the day, it takes on a whole different feel after the sun goes down.
I had to grab a castle shot framed in one of the old Peoplemover supports!
There's nothing like an amusement park after dark, and Disneyland might be the best park anywhere for a nighttime stroll. Having so much time there was a wonderful gift. Next post, we'll look at Main Street and the Main Street Electrical Parade!