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by Undercover DivaEvery ride at Disneyland is a new experience waiting to happen. Whether you are visiting the park for the first time or the one hundred and first time you are in for a treat. Walt Disney himself put special attention into many of the rides at this world-famous park, and while not all of the original rides are there, the ones that are still twinkle with the magic from Disney’s vision. If you are lucky enough to have small crowds so that you can experience every ride in one day, do it! But if you need to plan your day out a little more so that you can miss crowds, here are a few suggestions for which rides to do at night.

  1. Matterhorn
    This is my number one tip that I share with everyone I can. Watch the line for Matterhorn and judge when you need to get in line, usually 30 minutes before, so that you can be on the ride during the firework display. This is one of my most favorite memories. Matterhorn is great during the day, but it’s a little scarier and a lot more beautiful at night. You fly past the openings in the mountain and you can see all of Disneyland lit up along with one of the best firework display’s in California. It’s definitely not something you can experience during the day! Plus, if you are traveling without little ones it makes for an easier end to the night. Most often the guests with kids will go to either the first showing of Fantasmic or the fireworks (depending on the season) and then they will go home. This leaves more spots open for Fantasmic and you won’t have to start saving your spot at 5pm. The line is usually a little shorter at night since most of the crowd is either at one of the two shows or they have already gone home, otherwise the wait for Matterhorn can be pretty long, especially since there is no FASTPASS for this ride. At night the scream factor is maybe a 4.5. I would probably give it a 3.5 during the day but the dark adds some extra surprises you don’t get during the day.
  2. Big Thunder Mountain
    This is another ride that is great during the day but just a little more exciting at night. Guest have claimed that this ride goes faster the later in the day it gets but there is nothing official to prove this. You can request to go in the back train if you want a wilder ride during any part of the day. Again, this is a great ride to go on during the fireworks display because the line can get pretty long during the day. Luckily this ride does have a FASTPASS so you can cut out a lot of the wait if you want to try it once during the day and once during the night. I would say the scream factor for Big Thunder Mountain is about 4 and goes up to a 4.5 at night.

    DIVA TIP: Big Thunder is currently closed and will be reopening in the fall of 2013. 

  3. Splash Mountain
    If you are a thrill seeker then I highly recommend going on Splash Mountain at night. Even though most of the ride is inside, the finally drop seems just that much scarier when you can’t see the whole thing! It’s lit up at night so it’s not like you are dropping into the dark abyss, but they light it up in a way that highlights the thorns you are dropping into, and so that there are spooky shadows cast to makes you second guess if you really wanted to go on this ride! Of course, I wouldn’t recommend riding at night if you go in the middle of winter. Even though California is notorious for not having a real winter, it can get chilly at night and getting soaked and not having the sun to dry you off can make for an unpleasant rest of the night. But in the heat of the summer, anytime is warm enough to want to cool off on this crazy ride. During the day the scream factor would probably be a 3.5. A lot of the scariness comes from the anticipation of the drop rather than anything that is actually scary. At night I would bump it up to a 4.
  4. Haunted Mansion
    This ride is fully indoors, but there is definitely an added spook factor when you walk in and out of the Haunted Mansion when it is dark outside. The entire ride seems just a little darker and a lot more hunted because, well, we all know the ghosts like to come out at night. The line for this tends to vary but is not usually the worst wait. I think the worst I’ve ever seen it is 45 minutes, except for the Holidays when the ride gets a The Nightmare Before Christmas makeover, then it can be well over an hour. The scream factor on this ride is about a 3. It’s not too scary of a ride unless you are afraid of the dark. At night I would maybe bump it up to a 3.2.
  5. It’s a Small World
    I know, you might think I’m crazy for saying this is better at night. But since I don’t travel with kids most of the time, this ride is lower on my list of must-do’s. I love this ride, I go on it every time I go to Disneyland but I usually go on it as my last ride of the night. Not only can the line for this get very long, especially around nap time, but there is also no FASTPASS so it might be better to plan to use your FASTPASSES during the peak of the day. But I chose to go on it at night because it is a great send off from the park. Walt Disney himself had a big hand in designing this ride. It was originally built for the 1964 World’s Fair and moved to Disneyland after the Fair was over. Some people may prefer to go on one of the bigger rides that normally have longer lines for their last ride, but I think there is something really special about this ride and the 5 minute wait is very worth it.