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How to Make the Most Out of Disney After Hours Events

by Tad on August 13, 2019 10 Orlando

'Sup! Tad here. We frogs are always excited to experience Disney World in different ways. So when Disney made it possible to attend late-night events at select parks, we leapt at the opportunity! It wasn't hard to convince me to try it out. Free, unlimited popcorn and ice cream plus staying up super late is basically my dream come true.

Disney After Hours events turn Disney World parks into a whole new world. You get to see the parks come to life under the stars, and you don’t have to deal with large crowds or the mid-day Florida heat. It’s a win-win!

On the other hand, Disney After Hours is a time-limited, separately ticketed event, so you also have to consider whether it’s right for your schedule and budget. In this guide, we cover everything you’d need to know, so you can decide if an After Hours event would be a good fit for your frog fam's vacation.

Overview and Dates | Arriving at After Hours | Rides and Entertainment | Character Meet-and-Greets | Food, Drinks and Merchandise | Villains After Hours | After Hours Tips and Strategies | Is After Hours Worth It?

Disney After Hours Events Overview

Disney After Hours - Pamphlet

Disney After Hours events allow guests to stick around the participating parks after normal park hours with limited crowds. Yipee! That means you’ll encounter little-to-no lines while you wait for rides, character meet-and-greets and other experiences at the parks. These three-hour nighttime events typically happen during non-peak periods, and batches of dates are released throughout the year.

Disney After Hours are separately ticketed events starting at $125 and currently taking place at Magic Kingdom and Disney's Animal Kingdom until the end of March 2020.

They may have a similar name, but it’s important to point out that Disney After Hours events are NOT the same as Extra Magic Hours. Extra Magic Hours is an additional no-cost perk for Disney Resort hotel guests and some non-Disney hotel guests that allows them to enter a park one hour early or stay in a park two hours later than normal park hours. Disney After Hours events are open to anyone, but require a separate ticket.

Disney After Hours Dates & Tickets

Disney’s Animal Kingdom (9 p.m. - 12 a.m.)

  • Monday, Aug. 26, 2019
  • Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019
  • Monday, Sept. 9, 2019
  • Monday, Sept. 16, 2019
  • Monday, Sept. 23, 2019
  • Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019
  • Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019
  • Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019
  • Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019
  • Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2019
  • Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019
  • Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2019
  • Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019
  • Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019
  • Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019
  • Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019
  • Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020
  • Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020
  • Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020
  • Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020
  • Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020
  • Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020
  • Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020
  • Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020
  • Thursday, March 5, 2020
  • Thursday, March 12, 2020
  • Thursday, March 19, 2020
  • Thursday, March 26, 2020

Disney’s Magic Kingdom (event times vary)

  • Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019 (10 p.m. - 1 a.m.)
  • Thursday, Aug. 29, 2019 (10 p.m. - 1 a.m.)
  • Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019 (10 p.m. - 1 a.m.)
  • Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019 (10 p.m. - 1 a.m.)
  • Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019 (9 p.m. - 12 a.m.)
  • Thursday, Sept. 26, 2019 (9 p.m. - 12 a.m.)
  • Monday, Nov. 18, 2019 (10 p.m. - 1 a.m.)
  • Monday, Dec. 9, 2019 (10 p.m. - 1 a.m.)
  • Monday, Jan. 6, 2020 (8 p.m. - 11 p.m.)
  • Monday, Jan. 13, 2020 (8 p.m. - 11 p.m.)
  • Friday, Jan. 17, 2020 (9 p.m. - 12 a.m.)
  • Monday, Jan. 20, 2020 (9 p.m. - 12 a.m.)

Tickets are limited for each date and can sell out, so you’ll want to plan ahead and buy them in advance. For events through Sept. 26, 2019, tickets can be purchased in advance for $125 per adult or child, plus tax, or on the day of the event for $129 per adult or child, plus tax. Annual Passholders and Disney Vacation Club Members can take advantage of specially priced advance-purchase tickets for just $95 per adult or child, plus tax.

For events Oct. 5, 2019 through March 26, 2020, tickets can be purchased in advance for $129 per adult or child, plus tax, or on the day of the event for $139 per adult or child, plus tax. Annual Passholders and Disney Vacation Club Members can take advantage of specially priced advance-purchase tickets for just $99 per adult or child, plus tax.

Hoppin' good news! You can also get After Hours tickets for any of the parks — Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom — from your favorite theme park frogs!

Arriving at Disney After Hours Events

Disney After Hours - Park Entrance

Even though Disney After Hours officially starts sometime between 8 p.m. or 10 p.m. (depending on the event), event guests will be able to enter the parks as early as 7 p.m. You’ll definitely want to take advantage of that extra time! If you'd like to enter before then, you’ll need regular park admission.

If you arrive at (or after) 7 p.m., a cast member will give you a special event wristband when you check in at the entrance. But if you have regular park admission and you’re already inside the park for the afternoon, you won’t have to go all the way to the entrance. There are stations inside the park. For example, when we went to Animal Kingdom’s After Hours, cast members were distributing wristbands at Ticket Corner outside Discovery Trading Company. Just be on the lookout for special event signs!

Once the park closes, guests without wristbands are directed toward the front to exit the park. Expect some overlap, especially near the front of the park as they are leaving at the beginning of the event, but the process happens fairly quickly.

Disney After Hours Rides and Entertainment

Disney After Hours Events - Rivers of Light

As one of the most significant perks of Disney After Hours, you’ll be able to hop right onto your favorite rides with no — or very short — lines. However, it’s important to note that while most rides will be available, not all attractions will be open during the event.

Here are all of the rides, shows and experiences that are offered at each park’s After Hours event (subject to change without notice):

Disney After Hours Events - Magic Kingdom Wait Times

Magic Kingdom

  • Astro Orbiter
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
  • Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
  • Disney Princess Greetings at Princess Fairytale Hall
  • Haunted Mansion
  • it’s a small world
  • Jungle Cruise
  • Mickey’s PhilharMagic
  • Peter Pan’s Flight
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
  • Space Mountain
  • Splash Mountain
  • Under the Sea - Journey of the Little Mermaid

Animal Kingdom

  • Avatar Flight of Passage
  • DJ Dance Party
  • Na’vi River Journey
  • Expedition Everest - Legend of the Forbidden Mountain
  • DINOSAUR
  • Mickey & Minnie Greeting at Adventurers Outpost
  • TriceraTop Spin
  • It’s Tough to be a Bug!
  • Rivers of Light
  • Tree of Life Awakenings
  • Pandora Drummers - Swotu Wayä

Disney After Hours Events - Flight of Passage

As you can see, this list includes many of the most in-demand rides. When we went to Animal Kingdom’s After Hours, we were able to hit nearly everything on the list — only missing the Pandora Drummers. Our longest wait of the night was Avatar Flight of Passage (no surprise there), but we were in and out of the ride, including its pre-show and the ride itself, just a few minutes short of a half hour. We hopped right onto Expedition Everest and even had the back rows all to ourselves on our first ride. (You bet I conquered that mountain more than once!)

It’s toadally up to you if you want to attempt everything or just take on your favorites again and again!

Disney After Hours Characters

Disney After Hours Events - Mickey and Minnie

Character meet-and-greets are also available at every After Hours event. However, character greeting locations may be limited. While we loved being only second in line to meet Mickey and Minnie in their safari gear, we wish more friends had joined them at Animal Kingdom when we attended.

Here’s a full list of character greetings at each park’s After Hours event (subject to change without notice):

Magic Kingdom

  • Disney Princesses at Princess Fairytale Hall

Animal Kingdom

  • Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse at Adventurers Outpost

Disney After Hours Food, Drinks and Merchandise

While exploring the park after hours, you’ll definitely crave a late-night snack. Included in the cost of event admission, unlimited ice cream treats, popcorn and select beverages (bottled water, Sprite, Coke, Diet Coke) will be available at carts stationed throughout the park. Most table-service and quick-service restaurants will be closed, but some select locations may remain open.

Disney Villains After Hours

Disney After Hours Events - Villains Unite the Night

Disney introduced a wicked twist to this themed After Hours event in summer 2019. For select nights from June 6 to Aug. 8, 2019 at Magic Kingdom, malevolent music and frightful lighting took over the park … it was time for Disney Villains to shine! Like any other After Hours event, guests had exclusive three-hour access to over 20 attractions after the park closed, but the event also featured an all-new stage show, a live DJ and specially themed ride overlays. It was wicked of fun, and we are crossing our froggy fingers that it will return in summer 2020!

Tips and Strategies for Disney After Hours Events

Disney After Hours Events - Pandora

  • Arrive at 7 p.m. for early access during normal park hours. You’ll want to maximize your time during the event, and this allows up to two or three extra hours that you can spend inside the park before the event officially begins.
  • If you arrive before After Hours officially begins, visit any attraction or show that is unavailable during event hours. For example, we made sure to ride Primeval Whirl and Kilimanjaro Safaris at Animal Kingdom during our extra pre-event time while they were still open!
  • Eat dinner before you arrive. While snacks and drinks are provided, only select food locations remain open. You’ll probably want to spend more time in line for rides and character meet-and-greets anyway!
  • Prioritize your options. We highly recommend figuring out which rides or experiences are must-dos, and tackling those as soon as you get there. Three hours pass by in the blink of an eye!
  • Start with your #1 must-do experience and continue to move from one part of the park to the next. You don’t want to lose precious time hopping back and forth from opposite sides of the park.
  • Don’t hesitate to take a short break. You might feel pressured to get everything done in the short amount of time, but don’t get so overwhelmed that you don’t enjoy the experience. (Plus, a break is the best time to eat a Mickey ice cream bar.)

Is Disney After Hours Worth It?

We’ve laid out all the details before you, and now it’s time for you to decide. Whether Disney After Hours is worth it truly comes down to whether it’s right for your family, schedule and budget. To sum it all up, these are the main pointers to consider.

After Hours could be a good fit if ...

  • You are a huge Avatar fan and want to hop on those rides with minimal wait times.
  • You want to avoid long lines, large crowds and the daytime heat as much as possible.
  • You're only visiting Disney World for a short vacation and you just want to hit the highlights. This event can help squeeze in a park that you otherwise might miss due to your schedule's time constraints.

After Hours might not be a good fit if ... 

  • You want to experience everything that a park has to offer. Many shows stop performances after the daytime hours, and some rides are not available during After Hours events.
  • You like to visit the animals at Animal Kingdom. Kilimanjaro Safaris Expedition does not operate, trails are closed and the entire section of Africa is blocked off during the event.
  • Your budget can't accommodate the extra ticket cost.
  • You have tadpoles. My sister, Lily, did not come with me on this one, since she's little and heads to bed so early. Instead, my dad, Leap, and I headed in to take advantage of all of the thrills and ice cream we could handle.

Overall, you're bound to have a great time in a nearly empty park with unlimited snacks no matter which event you choose!

If you're ready for a fun night at the parks, be sure to get your Disney After Hours tickets before they sell out. Have any questions? Ask away in the comments below!

Related: All the Glimmering Details of Disney H2O Glow Nights

Stay cool!

Keep hopping, Tad!
View Comments
<<  Newer Posts | Older Posts  >>
Aug 25, 2019 at 3:02 p.m. Jeannie Says...

Hello,

can you tell me which quick service/ table service restaurants at Animal Kingdom after dark are still open?

In the very first picture it looks like they are listed on the paper guide, but it's hard to see from the picture. I'm especially interested if the Pandora quick service is open.

thanks!

Reply
Aug 26, 2019 at 11:28 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Jeannie,

The following locations offer additional food and beverage items for purchase at Animal Kingdom's After Hours events: Pongu Pongu in Pandora, Snack Cart near Tiffins Restaurant, Thirsty River Bar in Asia and Dino Diner in Dinoland U.S.A.

Stay cool!

Tad

Reply
Jul 25, 2019 at 11:02 a.m. Jason Says...

What happens if you have after hours tickets, the park closes at 10pm for traditional guests, and at 10pm there is still a 90 min wait for a ride? If I am after hours, do I have to wait in that line or does after hours get to use a fast pass line?

Reply
Jul 25, 2019 at 8:37 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Jason!

If you were in a line at 10 p.m. as the park closes, you'd still need to wait in the regular line. Our strategy (when lines have been long) have been to hit the most in-demand rides later in the evening after park closing when lines are shorter and instead hit the lines with the shorter rides early to maximize our time.

Stay cool!

Tad

Reply
Jul 21, 2019 at 12:56 a.m. Mandy Says...

Do you recommend eating in the Magic Kingdom, say at 720pm or so. Then watching the fireworks- or would you think it would be a wiser use of time to eat before the after hours event and just do some rides and character meets before the fireworks? We are going to the last villians after hours and it is our first after hours experience!

Reply
Jul 22, 2019 at 8:29 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Mandy!

We would definitely suggest eating prior to the event and planning on taking advantage of some villainous treats during the party itself. Then, you can catch the fireworks and start riding (and/or meeting!) One other tip: take a peek at the rides that will be open during the event (and there's a lot of them, so you're in luck!) If there are any NOT listed, you'll want to ride those before official park closing. Have fun!

Stay cool!

Tad

Reply
Jun 20, 2019 at 5:46 p.m. Alexandra Valdez Says...

What if you are staying at a Disney Resort and get the Extra Magic Hours after the park closes. Can you still enjoy the Disney After Hours Event? Or will you need to buy a separate ticket for the event?

Reply
Jun 21, 2019 at 9:13 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Alexandra,

Good question! Extra Magic Hours and After Hours events do not happen at the same park on the same day. You will need a separate ticket for an After Hours event.

Stay cool!

Tad

Reply
Jun 18, 2019 at 3:19 a.m. Frank Thomas Says...

Will After Hours dates be set for the rest of the year? My family will be visiting WDW in mid-November.

Thanks.

Reply
Jun 19, 2019 at 1:14 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Frank!

Right now, After Hours dates have only been announced up until September at Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom. But from what we've seen, Disney seems to release new batches of dates throughout the year, so keep an eye out for any November dates. We'll update here!

Stay cool!

Tad

Reply
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