Disneyland Resort at night – fireworks, shows and neon lights

World of Color, Mickey's Fun Wheel
World of Color, Mickey’s Fun Wheel

There is something extra magical about Disneyland and Disney California Adventure at night.  I’m not sure if it really takes on a whole new vibe or whether its just that Disney magic and trick lighting.

Depending on the time of year, usually a couple of times a week (or more in the busy times), at around 9.30pm, is a fireworks display at Disneyland.  This is spectacular!  From then on, any other fireworks show you will ever see will seem like rubbish – you have been warned!

There are a number of different shows during the year and actually during our last trip back in September, it was one show one week and a different show the next.   The main two on regular rotation are Magical featuring Tinkerbell over the castle and Remember Dreams Come True featuring Dumbo.    There also are special fireworks displays on 4th of July, the Halloween Party (separate admission), Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

There are a number of places you can see the fireworks, personally I recommend a spot on Main Street, towards the castle end rather than the train station end.  Do watch that trees are not obstructing your view and you can see the above the castle clearly.  You can see the fireworks from other locations, but the angle is not ideal.

Also at Disneyland during the evening is a show on the Rivers of America called Fantasmic.  This is the typical Disney good versus evil story.  The cool part about it is that they use Tom Sawyer island as the stage and utilise the Mark Twain river boat and the sailing ship Columbia within the show.

For good viewing, you need to be able to see Tom Sawyer Island so if you have small children you may wish to arrive early to get a spot in the seating only area, but be aware that you are sitting on the concrete so “numb-bum” maybe an issue.  You may also get misted on so in cooler seasons this might be an issue.  For adults, you may just want to rock up around 20 minutes prior to show start.  I recommend somewhere within the central viewing area and avoid the ends of the viewing area for the best viewing.  Also be aware that this maybe a little intense for young children as it has a dragon, fire effects and a cannon shot.

Paradise Pier at night
Paradise Pier at night

Over at Disney California Adventure is World of Color on the main lagoon.  It is possible to get a fast pass for guaranteed admission to a seat area.  On busy nights there are sometimes two shows.  Fairly central is the best spot if you have a choice, something with a clear, straight ahead view of Mickey’s Fun Wheel.  Again note if you are close to the water you may get wet.  This show is more of a montage of Disney movies, primarily songs.  They also change out parts of it at times to keep it current which is great for the repeat visitor.

Flo's V8 Cafe at night
Flo’s V8 Cafe at night

I have heard another fun thing to do is the Cars Land neon lighting ceremony which occurs at dusk.  I haven’t personally done this and its on our list of things to do next time we visit Disneyland.  Cars Land at night takes on a whole new life with the amazing neon lighting and is worth a visit just to see the lights.

Although it sounds strange, some attractions are also better at night or at least have a different feel to them.  Big Thunder Mountain at night seems faster for some reason.   Some of the indoor or dark rides are better at night, firstly they are often less crowded as the families with young children have left for the day, so the wait times can be shorter, and secondly, your eyes are adjusted to the darkness so you see more.  Colours are brighter and more details can be seen.

If nothing else, wander around, grab dessert or a drink and just soak up the atmosphere at the happiest place on earth!


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