Walt Disney World has been hosting a variety of After Hours experiences at Magic Kingdom this year. I've written before about how much I've enjoyed them and the unique park experiences that they offer.
Having experienced the magic that is the Magic Kingdom after closing, I was so excited when Disney announced that they were rolling out a series of hard ticket after hours events at Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. I was able to check out the first of these events at Hollywood Studios last Saturday night and am so excited to share the full scoop with you!!
Of course always subject to change, the tickets are currently $125 per person with a DVC/AP discount that takes the price down to just about $100.
I'm going to start right now by saying that I know this isn't cheap – especially when you start multiplying the individual ticket price by the number of people in a family. And for that reason I want to assure you that these events are NOT necessary to make or break your vacation. If this isn't in the budget do not sweat it one bit. But if it is – whether you're a local looking for an amazing date night or unique intimate park experience or a vacationer looking for a single evening to have unfettered access to the park of your choosing – these events are a WONDERFUL option to consider.
For starters, here is the current information sheet that you get about goings on at the After Hours event when you check in for it at Hollywood Studios.
As you can see, you'll find lots of character meet & greet opportunities, all of the usual attractions, and free popcorn, ice cream treats, water, and soft drinks throughout the park. Certain menu items were also available for purchase at Woody's Lunchbox, Anaheim Produce, and the KRNR food truck stand by Rock ‘n' Rollercoaster.
So let's break that amazing list down….
The event will run on select nights from – , 2019. You can find purchase information and more at this link. The evening that we attended (December 8th), it started at 8:30 p.m. and ended at 11:30 p.m. I loved the timing because the park closed its regular hours at 8 p.m. with fireworks at 8:30 p.m. This worked incredibly well because the park guests that weren't staying for the event gathered for fireworks in front of the Chinese Theater and then left afterwards – which did a lot to eliminate all crowds right away. And also made for some incredible firework views on Slinky Dog Dash.
You've paid for your ticket, so eat your fill. Throughout the park at last weekend's event, you could find snack carts loaded with free Mickey Bars, Mickey Ice Cream Sandwiches, and strawberry bars. Popcorn carts also doled out all of the popcorn that you wanted for free. (I know, I know – built into the price of the ticket. But still….) And the bottles of water and soda that are usually sold at the snack carts for a pretty penny were also there for the taking at no additional cost to wash down your treats.
And if for some reason you don't think that Mickey Bars and popcorn make for a balanced late night dinner, certain menu items are also available for purchase at Woody's Lunchbox, Anaheim Produce, and the KKNR food truck stand by Rock ‘n' Rollercoaster.
There might not be a million rides at Hollywood Studios these days – but every one was open for the event. And there were no. lines. anywhere. Everything from Slinky Dog Dash to Toy Story Mania to Rock ‘n' Rollercoaster to Tower of Terror was walk on.
That's right. Toy Story land was peaceful and quiet and you could walk on Slinky Dog as many times as you wanted.
And the attractions weren't the only things with no wait at all. There were wonderful character meet & greet opportunities throughout the park and you could walk up and spend time with every one. From Mickey and Minnie to Olaf…
To Woody and Jessie – and Buzz Lightyear in holiday garb!!
And Launch Bay…
Oh my goodness…Launch Bay. Peaceful and quiet with nothing to keep you from exploring every detail.
Not to mention meet with every character with absolutely no wait.
To Kylo Ren…
It was one of those moments when you think to yourself: Remember this. Because next time you're in here there will be 1,000 other people here too.
The Chance to Explore the Park
But character meet & greets and walk on attractions and free snacks aside, my favorite thing about these events is simply the chance to walk around a park that's usually packed with people with peace and quiet and the chance to explore.
If you get lucky, you might even happen upon a cast member that's able to allow you access to things that would be impossible with normal park crowds. Like the incredible CM who invited us to see what it's like under the foot of the AT-AT Walker in the Star Tours queue.
The Beauty of the Season
And last but not least – it won't apply to every Disney After Hours event – but it is impossible for me to reflect on this experience without taking the time to acknowledge the beauty of Hollywood Studios at this time of year. Having the opportunity to roam this beautiful park – from the snow falling on Sunset Boulevard to the projections on Tower of Terror to Echo Lake's floating ornaments, I've always loved Hollywood Studios and its throwback vintage decor at this time of year – perhaps all the more because the season juxtaposes so well against the tall palm trees that line the streets.
Having the opportunity to roam around quiet streets and just take it all in was wonderful.
All in all, I adored this event and cannot wait for the next after hours opportunity. Having the chance to take in the parks quietly and enjoy them in all of their detailed glory is so lovely.
All in all, to steal a line from one of my favorite movies: “Two very enthusiastic thumbs up. Fine holiday fun.” 😉
Have you been to one of these after hours events yet? What park would you most like to experience in this way?