An Evening at the Disneyland Resort With Kids

by Jenna Kahl, contributing writer
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Night time at the Disneyland Resort is one of my favorite times of the day. Whether you are there during the summer, Halloween Time, or holidays, the twinkle of the lights and the cooler breezes give the whole resort a new look and feel. Traveling with little ones can make the evenings that much more magical—or that much more miserable. Since you could see everything from awe-inspiring fireworks to exhaustion-induced tantrums, a little bit of planning can make choosing to stay into the later evening hours can be risky, but worth it.

I think most people will recommend any of the evening shows that are offered across the resort, but, with changing seasons, schedules, and park updates you might want to do your homework in advance.

Paint the Night & Disneyland Forever: This parade of lights, dance, music, and fun is by far my kids current favorite. We typically pair the parade with Disneyland Forever (see below), but if you are looking to just watch the parade and view the fireworks on a different day I recommend scoping out a spot near the restrooms next to Alice in Wonderland.


Paint the Night Parade. Photo by Jenna Kahl.

One of the most popular evening attractions, this firework spectacular is great for kids, but can be hassle free with a little pre-planning. Start by staking out a spot to watch the final Paint the Night Parade of the evening (keep in mind this parade and version of the fireworks are slated to end in September).

While you can watch a parade from various locations, I would recommend a spot along Main Street, the closer to the castle the better. With this location you can easily step into Main Street following the last parade float and have a guaranteed good spot for the upcoming fireworks.

I have provided tips before to make holding a parade spot more tolerable for little ones, and yourself. Packing some cheap ear plugs has been helpful for us, especially if you have a little one who is more sensitive to the loud boom of fireworks. The fireworks show is also seasonal, so going online to get the latest and most up-to-date information is always a good idea. Remember that if you are traveling in the summer, the start times are later in the evening based off of sunset.

If you are in the park for multiple days I would also recommend staying late one night and planning to jump on some attractions while the majority of the other park guests are watching the fireworks. We have had great luck on Pirates of the Caribbean, Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye and The Haunted Mansion during this timeframe on multiple occasions.

World of Color: One of the biggest benefits of World of Color is the Fastpass. I am a planner, and knowing what time and section you are going to when you start your day can be a blessing. If I know by 9 a.m. that we got the latest World of Color showtime, then you can be sure that we are going to be taking a mid-day break for naps and relaxation at the hotel. Fastpasses can be picked up as soon as the park opens and are found near Grizzly River Run. While the intensity of the noise is not like that of Disneyland Forever, the combination of the sound, light, water and heat can be overwhelming at times for little ones, especially if you are right up front. Make sure you arrive at your assigned section at the time stated on your Fastpass so you can find a place that best suits you and your family. You will be allowed to sit until 15 minutes or so before the show begins and at that time everyone is required to stand. My husband and I usually take turns going with our girls on Ariel’s Undersea Adventure, while the other holds our spot. I am also reminded, by a certain husband of mine, that this area is super close to Sonoma Terrace Beer Garden, located up the path that is right behind Embarcadero Gifts.

The same is true for Disney California Adventure Park if you are looking to pack in some attractions in the evening hours when park guests are preoccupied with World of Color. Try the new Soarin' Over the World, Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue, or hit up the Wilderness Explorer Camp, it’s great for spotting the famous cats that live at the park. One place to avoid would be Paradise Pier, as most attractions and lighting are not operating or dimmed to accommodate World of Color.

Jammin’ on the Backlot: If you are traveling prior to September 5 and you have a dancer’s soul, or a 2 year old who loves to boogie, make sure you check out Jammin’ on the Backlot located in Hollywood Land. This family friendly dance party is a great way to relax and let your little ones stretch their legs and their dancing shoes. There are some tasty and unique beverage options, as well, and you can hit up the more boutique shops on your way in or out of the park for the evening.

As parents, we are no strangers to bribes and negotiation, so saving something special for the evening is a great tool to keep kids happy and excited, even if they are fighting off sleep. I find the little things the most effective, like a cup of hot chocolate (my favorite warm beverage at the resort), or a special treat from the Candy Palace.

While mornings are great at the Disneyland Resort and a great way to check lots of "must-sees" and "must dos" off your list, there is something very special about an evening at the resort. With some pre-planning you can make this time magical for everyone.