In recent weeks, I’ve shared some my favorite ways to begin my day at Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure, as well as top picks for finishing a DCA visit, and even places to pause at mid-day around the Resort.
Today, I’m concluding this series with a look at the best options for ending your evening at Disneyland Park. While Disneyland is magical at any time of day, there is something particularly special about those final hours before closing at the original Magic Kingdom. Any one of the following activities (or combination thereof) should guarantee a fitting finale to your day at the Happiest Place on Earth.
Fireworks and Fantasmic!
No one does explosive spectaculars better than Disney, and there is no better one-two punch among theme park pageants than Disneyland’s fireworks and Fantasmic! Whether the show is Remeber…Dreams Come True, Magical, or one of the special seasonal displays, Disneyland’s pyrotechnics are not-to-be-missed. And Disneyland’s Fantasmic! is the ultimate assemblage of animated characters, action stunts, and enormous animatronics. On nights when both shows are performed,first watch the fireworks from the hub near Frontierland, the head immediately towards the river for a seat. Alternatively, stake out a spot early for Fantasmic and you’ll still have a fine view of the overhead sky bursts (though not effects on the castle or Tinker Bell’s flight).
Ride One Last Roller Coaster
Unofficial Guide readers know that the first and last hours of operation are the best time to experience a theme park’s top attractions with minimal waiting. At Disneyland, the end of the day is a great time to get a in a few re-rides on your favorite E-Ticket. A great choice to finish your night is one of the parks outdoor roller coasters. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, which is currently under an extensive refurbishment, is a different (and scarier) experience after sunset. So are the Matterhorn Bobsleds, which offer a single rider line that may let you walk on without waiting (provided you can fold your legs into the redesigned cars), making them my personal top pick for a late-night lap.
Window Shop along Main Street, U.S.A.
The shops along Disneyland’s entrance corridor stay open an hour past the park’s official closing time for your “shopping convenience.” But even if you don’t want to drop a dime, you can stretch out your day with a stroll past their entertaining wares. I alway make a point of perusing the collectibles in the Disney Gallery (currently being augmented with items from the shuttered Disneyana store) and staring into the spinning optical illusion outside the magic shop (try it!). The candy shop (also home to the remnants of the penny arcade), music shop, and Emporium are also ideal for browsing before you say bye-bye.
At the end of a full day at Disneyland, you’ve probably walked five miles or more. Wouldn’t it feel good to just sit down and put your feet up? The are a number of areas around the park where you can find a seat to rest and people-watch, including the Fantasyland motorboat dock and Tommorrowland Terrace. My favorite place to pause while the park is emptying is the “Wizard of Bras” porch on Main Street, U.S.A. You’ll recognize it as the elevated facade with several wooden chairs, located on the left side of the street as you exit. From this vantage point you can reminisce about your day while watching guests from around the world walk towards the front gates. Just be warned, this is a popular spot and you are likely to find all seats occupied — perhaps by me!
Party On at Trader Sam’s
If too much is never enough for you, don’t let your Disneyland adventure end just because the park is closing. Head to Tomorrowland as the clock counts down and hop the last Monorail of the night to Downtown Disney, then take a short stroll to the Disneyland Hotel. Near the recently reimagined pool complex you’ll find a little slice of Adventureland that stays open long past its in-park cousin. Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Room combines the lore of several fabled Disney attractions, including the Jungle Cruise, Indiana Jones Adventure, and WDW’s Adventurers Club with a kooky-kitschy tiki bar and restaurant. The drinks are potent, the Polynesian-inspired food is tasty, and there are surprise effects in store for the unwary (to be explored in an upcoming blog posting). Best of all, at the end of your exhausting evening, you are only steps away from your bed (if staying on-site) or the taxi stand (if not).
What is your ideal way to end a day at Disneyland Park? Let us know in the comments below!