This part weekend marked the very first VIPassholder after hours event at Typhoon Lagoon!!
I’ve talked before about other after hours events at Walt Disney World – from hard ticket to DVC to AP at the Magic Kingdom to ticketed events at Hollywood Studios. I also had the chance to attend H2O Glow Nights at Typhoon Lagoon last year – a hard ticket event that’s also being offered this year. I shared my rave review of that event here and am excited to go again this year.
Walt Disney World recently expanded the annual passholder after hours events that they have been offering from time to time to include a couple of events at Typhoon Lagoon, the first of which was this past Saturday, May 18th.
I would encourage thinking about these free events for annual passholders as a sort of extra magic hours for passholders. The parks don’t feel nearly as empty as for a paid after hours event. They aren’t giving away free food. They’re just a sort of nod to annual passholders. And you have to figure that Disney is in a tough spot. This isn’t like DVC events, where most people that could go are from out of town and would need to make travel arrangements to attend. This is a free event geared mainly toward people who are local – or at least have easy enough access to the parks to warrant having an annual pass. (Not that everyone with an AP is local by a long shot. We had them when we lived in MD. But you see my point as percentage of locals as compared to, say, DVC members.) So how do you please everyone with AP after hours events without letting in so many people that it starts to feel mobbed?
Crowd level in the wave pool during the event – not empty but not overly packed at all.
That said, when it comes to selecting an after hours event, I think that Typhoon Lagoon is hands down a better option than other parks. For starters, if your annual pass includes the water parks you probably go often and want to chill and experience something different at an AP event – so you probably don’t care how long the line is at Miss Adventure Falls. (For the record, it wasn’t terribly long – but it wasn’t terribly short either.) And if your AP doesn’t include the water parks, this is an amazing way to get a free taste of everything that they have to offer.
So it really doesn’t matter if the park isn’t totally empty.
That said, it’s way emptier than other parks during their VIPassholder events – in part because at Typhoon Lagoon they can actually shut things down for a bit to clear out the regular day’s guests. They did just that, too. At 5 p.m., everything – including the wave pool – was shut down for a bit so that anyone without an event bracelet could be encouraged to head out.
Just seeing the Typhoon Lagoon Surf Pool – which happens to be the largest wave pool in North America(!) – completely calm and empty was pretty amazing!!
It’s also a chill and intimate enough space that you can really relax and enjoy the special offerings – like being able to play in the sand with Lilo or dance with her and Stitch.
Having attended the first one, I can also offer up some tips if you’re planning to attend one in the future.
Firstly, because the parking lot at Typhoon Lagoon is relatively small, it cannot handle the number of people arriving for the event while it’s still full from regular park guests. For that reason, they instruct people to park in the Lime or Orange Garage at Disney Springs and use shuttle transportation to the water park.
So if you can, get there early and park as a normal guest, then stay for the event. At least this time around, if we were already in the Typhoon Lagoon lot we were able to leave our cars.
We arrived at 3 p.m. and the lawn was already almost full of cars, so I imagine they switched to parking at Springs soon after. So plan accordingly. I know people were waiting upwards of 45 minutes for shuttles to the park from Springs, and while hopefully they’ll plan that a little better next time, I’m sure that’s a wait you’d rather avoid if possible.
Also, know that there are check in spots for the event inside the park. So if you *do* have an annual pass that includes the water parks and you arrive before the park closes, you can bypass the line outside by entering normally and checking in inside. And as with any VIPassholder event, remember to bring your annual pass (a Magic Band works) and your ID for check in.
And lastly, enjoy the event for what it is: A free after hours party for passholders. Realize that many, many annual passholders are local – so Disney is stuck either keeping these events tiny and excluding masses of people that would be able to attend or letting everyone in and having complaints that they’re too crowded. I think they do a good job of splitting the difference and allowing a good number of people to register – but not so much that the park is mobbed. And as I mentioned before, Typhoon Lagoon is at least great in that it’s possible to clear out regular guests when the event starts. (This was nearly impossible at Magic Kingdom, so the park never really emptied out at all.) Relax and enjoy the special features and just have a good time. Grab some fun photo ops. And enjoy a park full of knowledgable locals. 😉
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Have you attended any of the VIPassholder events yet? What did you think??