There’s nothing more coveted by coaster enthusiasts than an amazing night ride on one of their favorite coasters. As we get into the Halloween season many parks are staying open later. So we thought we’d rank what we consider the ten best parks for night rides. Get ready to add some evening park visits to your bucket list!
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10. Alton Towers (Staffordshire, England)
The U.K. is home to some notoriously short operating days. Thankfully Alton Tower’s popular Scarefest gives enthusiasts the opportunity to experience some of the world’s best coasters after dark. The obvious standout here is Nemesis, but the parks creative use of terrain and its wooded setting result in heightened coaster experiences throughout. Thirteen‘s small size and speed are far less pronounced in the dark, Wickerman‘s theming and fire are all the more dramatic, and Smiler is all the more disorienting.
9. Chimelong Ocean Kingdom (Zhuhai, China)
This Coaster Kings favorite makes this list by balancing an incredible nighttime atmosphere with two lengthy coasters that are augmented by the isolation of darkness. Length really goes a long way in making a memorable night ride and Ocean Kingdom’s Parrot Coaster delivers. With a track length of over 4,000 feet (1,200 meters) and a layout that interacts with both the midway and near miss rock work this B&M wing coaster rides like an epic journey at night. The park’s lengthy Mack water coaster Polar Explorer is also augmented by darkness. Transitions between dark ride and coaster portions are softened while the flume sections feel even more grand and isolated in the dark.
8. Busch Gardens Williamsburg (Williamsburg, U.S.A.)
While both Busch Gardens parks feature incredible night rides the Virginia park benefits from both a wooded setting and dramatic terrain. The park has a long history of utilizing the its unique terrain for coasters. Loch Ness Monster, Alpengeist, Apollo’s Chariot, and Verbolten all feature dramatic dives towards the park’s Rhine River. Every one of these is improved by darkness. Most of the parks less terrain-heavy rides still benefit from the park’s rolling Virginia setting. With the sprawling terrain layout of Pantheon on the horizon it seems this park is going to continue being one of the best night-ride destinations in the world.
7. PortAventura Park (Salou and Vila-seca, Spain)
Did you know this Spanish Park was actually modeled after Busch Gardens? PortAventura Park benefits from a beautiful setting and a collection of lengthy custom rides that transform after night fall. While the Costa Daurada region of Catalonia that the park is situated in isn’t lush or wooded, the geography of the region is none the less stunning and distinctive. The park’s two giant B&Ms Shambala and Dragon Kahn deliver intense night rides that many of our European followers raved about. Don’t overlook the park’s supporting line up! Mine trains are always better in the dark and Diablo-Tren de la Mina is no exception, and despite their shaky reputations both Furious Baco and Stampida are at their best after sunset.
6. Universal’s Islands of Adventure (Orlando, U.S.A.)
What Islands of Adventure lacks in natural terrain it makes up for with an untouchable trio of well-integrated launched coasters. Incredible Hulk‘s water setting has always made for stunning night rides while Dueling Dragons used to offer a more isolated night ride experience. In that regard Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure is very appropriate successor to Dueling Dragons. Hagrid’s also features elaborate theming throughout the ride and multiple launches. Velocicoaster acts as the perfect union of both of these sensibilities. It features both a themed section nested in elaborate rock work and a stunning portion running over the park’s central lagoon. With its beautifully lit trains Velocicoaster was obviously built for night rides and cemented Islands of Adventure as a nighttime destination.
5. Holiday World (Santa Claus, U.S.A.)
It is well known among enthusiasts that coasters have a tendency to “warm up” throughout the day. This doubly true for wooden coasters and Holiday World is one of the wood coaster capitals of the world. Trim-less night rides on the Voyage during the park’s annual Holiwood Nights event are nothing short of legendary. However, one great night ride does not a night ride park make. Luckily Holiday World’s two other woodies are also terrain stunners that are elevated by the night. Its important not to discount the park’s launched wing coaster Thunderbird. While not as long as it’s wooden neighbors, Thunderbird’s powerful launch and near miss barn flyby in the woods make it a worthy addition to this legendary night ride park.
4. Phantasialand (Brühl, Germany)
We’ve spent much of this list discussing natural terrain and foliage but Phantasialand’s mind-boggling compact layout features none of these. What it lacks in natural landscaping it makes up for in elaborate theming. Black Mamba and Taron are obvious standouts with their elaborate rockwork and intense elements. Colorado Adventure‘s lengthy layout offers one of the best nighttime mine-train rides in the world. With the stunning addition of Rookburg and F.L.Y. Phantasialand has earned it’s place as the ultimate park for night rides where natural terrain isn’t a factor.
3. Six Flags Magic Mountain (Valencia, U.S.A.)
Six Flags Magic Mountain’s status as a night ride destination can be found right in it’s name. The park’s mountain setting has resulted in some stunning terrain coasters while its massive coaster count has resulted in some unique ride interactions. West Coast Racers, Full Throttle, and Tatsu are the park’s modern night-ride stand outs. But we cant get over how sublime Viper, Revolution, and Ninja(despite it’s loss of foliage)are at night. While many of the park’s other coasters are amazing after dark they lack the transformative night experiences the last two parks on our list have.
2. Silver Dollar City (Branson, U.S.A.)
Silver Dollar City’s heavily wooded setting in the Ozarks gives this park a night ride advantage and every one of its major coasters utilizes it. The park also benefits from a lower level of light pollution which heightens the darkness. While the insanity of nighttime rides on Outlaw Run and Time Traveler are sure to attract the enthusiasts its important not to lose sight of how incredible the rest of the park’s line-up is at night. Wildfire is a roaring B&M monster who’s sense of speed is heightened. Powder Keg’s fast-paced terrain layout is even more surprising. However, we think it’s the Beast like helices of the park’s Arrow mine train Thundernation that will surprise first time visitors the most.
1. Kings Island (Mason, U.S.A.)
Speaking of the Beast… Kings Island basically invented the night ride when it opened the terrain mammoth in 1979. While the Beast remains the king of night rides the park has steadily added incredible night ride additions. With the majority of its coasters located around its perimeter, Kings Island offers a slew of night rides free of disruption from other attractions. Adventure Express, Diamondback, Banshee, Mystic Timbers and Orion all offer amazing night rides, but the coaster that really puts Kings Island into untouchable status is the suspended Arrow masterpiece Bat. With its isolated wooded setting evening rides on the Bat are second only to the Beast in how “special” they feel. Not only does Kings Island offer more stand out night rides than any other park, it offers the greatest variety of coaster types with those night rides.
That’s it for the top ten parks for night rides! Let us know what you think of our rankings. Are there any parks that we missed?