I’ve always been a night owl but there’s something serene and fresh about Disney Parks when they open. A few hours after sunrise, the air is still a little cooler and the morning light hits some of the sights just right. The same is true later in the day as the parks hit golden hour and everything just seems right in the world. While we’ve already covered my favorite lands at night, there are certainly some Disney Park lands that stand out in the daylight! In this post, we’ll cover my ten favorite lands in the daylight.
Like our nighttime post, this will only cover the American Parks. If I included Tokyo then this would become just another ode to DisneySea’s vibrant colors and I’m guessing not many people want that. I’ll factor in whether a ride is more fun during the day but will mainly focus on the atmosphere and visuals during the day. There will likely be some crossover between Magic Kingdom and Disneyland and I might not specify as their atmosphere is similar.
I should also mention that some lands will be on both the night and day lists because they’re really good lands. A few on this list provide different experiences between night and day and are worth going to at both times. I guess a strict ‘Top Ten Lands’ post is the logical next step after this one!
Before I get to the list, let’s start with some honorable mentions! I prefer Cars Land, World Showcase and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at night but they are all incredible lands that do offer plenty during the day. Mark them down as ones to see no matter where the sun is. The same could be said for Asia in Animal Kingdom. I do prefer that land at night but Maharajah Jungle Trek made me think twice about not including it in the top ten. Lastly, Tom Sawyer Island is vastly underrated and worth spending an hour of your afternoon on. It’s a vestige to a simpler time and the most relaxing place in both castle parks. On to the list!
10. Africa (Animal Kingdom)
There might be too many Animal Kingdom picks on this list but that makes sense when you think about it. The park is made to be seen, whether that’s plant life or animal life. I certainly adore it at night with some of their wonderful entertainment but it takes on a different life. Africa and the village of Harambe make the list because of the wonderful entertainment offered during the day and the animals to be seen before the sun sets.
9. Liberty Square (Magic Kingdom)
Magic Kingdom’s unique land is best seen in the day when the riverboat is active and the streets feel more alive. The lighting at night is purposefully dim, outside of the beautiful tree lanterns, so the lay of the land is much easier to experience during the day. There is an argument to be made that Haunted Mansion is more of a nighttime attraction but the queue certainly benefits from the daylight and once you’re inside it doesn’t matter much! Bonus points to Liberty Square if the Muppets are hanging out.
Take some life advice from me. When you’re in the middle of a jungle at night, set up camp. When it’s day time, then go ahead and explore. Have I ever been in an actual jungle? No, but I have learned from movies. I don’t think Disney will actually let you set up a tent and camp overnight (that would be a dream), Adventureland is better to explore during the day. There is plant life to see, animals to find in the Jungle Cruise and I like the color of the buildings better in the daylight.
7. Discovery Island & Oasis (Animal Kingdom)
I may have cheated a bit here as the opening section of Animal Kingdom, the Oasis, kind of blends in with the reveal of the Tree of Life and Discovery Island. This opening area of the parks with their meandering trails are best explored during the day because of the beautiful animal habitats and all of the plant life around. Discovery Island has some very fun entertainment at night but it’s also lively during the day with artists around and some other ‘streetmosphere’ entertainment.
6. Critter Country (Disneyland)
This pick might be a little outside of the box but go with me here. Critter Country is cheerful and bright. Both attractions are heartwarming and, while they’re both fun at night, made to ride during the day. There’s also some very cute signage and little (uhhh) critters around to spot. It’s hard to do that at night. And while there’s never a bad time to sit at Hungry Bear Restaurant, catching the late afternoon sun as the Mark Twain sails by is one of the prettiest settings in Disneyland.
5. Grizzly Peak (California Adventure)
Any path that has some hidden trails is probably best experienced during the day. Grizzly Peak has a beautiful one of those that goes through Grizzly River Run on a nice wooden bridge. Add in the fact that Redwood Creek Challenge Trail isn’t open at night and any river rapids ride is usually better during the day and this becomes an easy pick. Why it really makes the list though is because of the beautiful job Grizzly Peak does of enveloping that National Park feeling.
4. Main Street, U.S.A.
The opening land to both castle parks certainly has a different energy during the day than night. At night, Main Street is bustling with anticipation for the nighttime show. During the day, there is more to explore with plenty of entertainment throughout and kinetic energy thanks to the Main Street Vehicles. Turning the corner onto the street and seeing the castle early in the morning is reminiscent, in my mind at least, to when all of the color comes into Wizard of Oz. Main Street is beautiful no matter the time of day but walking down it for the first time in the morning is always memorable.
3. Pandora – World of Avatar (Animal Kingdom)
One of the lands that made both lists is Pandora because of just how different the land is during the day compared to night. I may be in the minority but I actually prefer Pandora during the day just because of how colorful the area is. Imagineers did a magnificent blending real plant life with ‘Pandorian’ (read: fake) plant life. The floating mountains soaring overhead look beautiful in the morning light and the pops of purple and orange really stand out among the green land. While bioluminescence are exciting and add some mystery, seeing Pandora in the day really makes me appreciate all of the work that went in to the land.
There’s a pretty big difference between Magic Kingdom’s and Disneyland’s Frontierland but both of them are wonderful, especially in the daylight. The constant for both of them is the Rivers of America and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and they each look amazing against royal blue sky. Magic Kingdom’s walk along the river is iconic and one of my favorite parts of the entire park. Likewise, the walk from Disneyland’s Frontierland into the back of Fantasyland is beautiful and serene. Wild west shootouts typically happened in the daylight and Frontierland seems to fit the theme better during the day.
1. Fantasyland (Disneyland)
Like Main Street, U.S.A., Fantasyland has very different vibes during the day and night. At night, it can turn into a ghost town and hopping from ride to ride is an absolute blast. But the land is at its best when the air is a little crisp and the morning sun is hitting the Matterhorn just right. The colors of the facades in Fantasyland are best seen during the day, as is the mountain and “it’s a small world”. I singled out Disneyland here because I think their Fantasyland is heads and toes above Magic Kingdom’s version, but that one is also pretty during the day. I’m not sure there’s a Disneyland experience as iconic as enjoying a morning in Fantasyland.
Those are my top ten lands during the day! What are yours? Let us know in the comments! Planning a Disney trip? Check out our Travel Guides to help get you there! If you enjoy what you’re reading here on Wandering in Disney please subscribe to the blog via email or WordPress and like our social media pages. You can find all of those things on the right side of this page. Thank you very much for reading, we appreciate it!