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What to Expect at Disneyland After Dark Parties in 2023

by Mommy Frog on January 9, 2023 20 Los Angeles

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Summary

Have you ever wished you could have Disneyland or Disney California Adventure mostly to yourself, hopping from ride to ride without any waits or crowds to navigate? Do you love dressing up as your favorite Disney character or creating an outfit based on a certain theme? Do you jump up and down at the chance to meet a rare character who never usually visits the parks (or even your favorite characters in new outfits)? Do you love dance parties? Then, a Disneyland After Dark event may be just the event for you! The Disneyland After Dark events are separately ticketed parties that are held after the park closes to the public. We've been attending Disneyland After Dark events the past few years and are frogcited about the 2023 events!

Disneyland After Dark - Cinderella

 

Overview of Disneyland After Dark Events

Disney After Dark - Mickey and Minnie

Each four-hour party has a different theme and offers unique entertainment. The parties can be a lot of fun with music, special character meet-and-greets, photo-ops, themed dance parties and sometimes even special fireworks shows or other themed entertainment. The special parties are toadally fun, but there are a few things you should be aware of before purchasing tickets. We assembled our Frog Squad, donned our capes and leaped to Disneyland After Dark: Heroes Assemble to accomplish our mission of shedding light on the Disneyland After Dark parties in 2019. Then, we found our scrunchies, leg warmers, jean jackets and neon tracksuits for 80s Nite! Last holiday season, we dressed in our merry best for Disney Merriest Nites in 2021.

In 2022, Leap and I painted the town red for Sweethearts' Nite and explored the galaxy at Star Wars Nite. Then we took trip back to our high school days at Grad Nite! We also attend the Disneyland Halloween Party — Oogie Boogie Bash — every year, but we cover that huge and recurring event in its own post.

Hop along as we share what to expect at one of these special events so you can determine if these separately ticketed events are right for you. Let's hop to it! We cover the Disneyland After Dark events for 2023 and take a look back at past events, as well, in case they return someday.

Demand is much higher for Disneyland events these days than in the past, so you should always plan to purchase early. No theme park reservation is required for party tickets.

2023 Disneyland After Dark Events and Dates

We have two Disneyland After Dark events to look forward to in 2023. One returning event with even more dates and a brand-new one!

Tickets went on sale to the general public on Dec. 14, 2022, (no earlier than 9 a.m. PT) and are subject to availability. Magic Key holders were able to purchase pre-sale starting Dec. 12, 2022 (no earlier than 9 a.m. PT). (A limited number of tickets were available during the pre-sale.)

Sweethearts' Nite at Disneyland - Jan. 31 and Feb. 2, 5, 7, 9, 14 and 16, 2023

Back by popular demand, Sweethearts Nite is the ultimate date night or just a great night our with friends.

What to Expect at Disneyland After Dark Parties in 2023-Castle at Sweetheart's Nite

The popular Sweehearts' Nite returns from 2019, 2020 and 2022, making Disneyland the most romantic place on Earth for seven unfrogettable sold-out nights. Disney fans and their sweeties can make a date at Disneyland. Partygoers gain access to the park as of 6 p.m. The party kicks off at 9 p.m. and ends at 1 a.m. Limit eight tickets per person, per event date.

2023 Sweethearts' Nite Dates and Ticket Prices per guests (3 and up):

  • January 31, 2023 - $129
  • February 2, 2023 - $139
  • February 5, 2023 - $159
  • February 7, 2023 - $129
  • February 9, 2023 -  $139
  • February 14, 2023 - $159
  • February 16, 2023 - $139

All dates are sold out for 2023.

Disneyland After Dark Parties - Couple poses at Aladdin Photo-OpHere's what's included:

What to Expect at Disneyland After Dark Parties in 2023-Mary and Bert

  • A special themed fireworks show
  • Projection effects on Sleeping Beauty Castle and Main Street, U.S.A.
  • A jazz ensemble aboard the Mark Twain Riverboat
  • Island music from a Polynesian trio at The Tropical Hideaway
  • Live entertainment, including a Royal Ball hosted by Jasmine and Aladdin near "it's a small world"
  • Disney couples
  • Fun photo opportunities featuring romantic scenes from iconic Disney films such as Disney films such as “Lady and the Tramp” and “The Little Mermaid.”
  • Lovely décor including projections along Main Street, U.S.A., the castle and "it's a small world"
  • Food and beverage offerings for sale around the park
  • Early admission to Disneyland park starting at 6 p.m., with no theme park reservation required (there is an in-park check-in at Starcade in Tomorrowland if you have a park reservation and want to get an early start in the park)
  • Unlimited PhotoPass downloads. Scan the QR code on your event wristband into the Disneyland app to access PhotoPass photos captured during the event.

What to Expect at Disneyland After Dark Parties in 2023-Tiana and Naveen

Sweethearts' Nite includes dancing, dining and double dating with Disney couples. You can swing your partner around the dance floors at a glitzy royal ball (near "it's a small world"), but it is advisable to wear comfortable shoes that don't slip off. (That's a tip from Cinderella!) Guests can dance at the ball with Disney couples. In 2022, they had to stay six feet apart, but this year they can get in hugging distance! That is certainly something to celebrate in 2023!

What to Expect at Disneyland After Dark Parties in 2023-Snow White and prince

You can meet darling Disney couples, and the event guide has the locations so you know exactly where to find them! The 2023 couples include:

  • Main Street U.S.A.: Donald Duck and Daisy, Mickey and Minnie, and Mary Poppins and Bert
  • New Orleans Square: Bernard and Bianca, and Princess Tiana and Prince Naveen
  • Frontierland: Chip 'n' Dale and Clarice
  • Fantasyland: Belle and The Beast, Esmeralda and Phoebus, Gaston (yes, by himself!), Mulan and Shang, Princess Aurora and Prince Phillip, and Snow White and The Prince
  • Tomorrowland: Stitch and Angel

What to Expect at Disneyland After Dark Parties in 2023-Spaghetti photo op

You can pose for romantic photo-ops, themed after sweet scenes from iconic Disney films. Offerings in 2023 included "Lady and the Tramp," "Tangled" boat scene, Cinderella's carriage, "Aladdin," "Luca," "Together Forever" tombstones and "The Little Mermaid." Newer ones included Mary Poppins Penguins, The Aristocats, Princess and the Frog Story book, Romantic Castle and Wishing Well.

What to Expect at Disneyland After Dark Parties in 2023-Heart-shaped beignet

Around the park, you can find Valentine's-inspired décor, food designed for two, beverages and merchandise offerings. Guests can make advance reservations for prix-fixe meals at Plaza Inn or Cafe Orleans in 2023. Reservations are open now. Read more about these offerings in our Disneyland Dining Packages post. We recommend reserving for 8 p.m. so you can maximize your party time.

What to Expect at Disneyland After Dark Parties in 2023-spaghetti

Do you and your loved one still see fireworks? Well, you will for sure at Sweethearts' Nite! The pyrotechnical spectacle helps guests feel the love in the air. Leap and I are still seeing fireworks after all these years.

Disneyland After Dark Parties - Fireworks at castle

A few attractions are not available for this event:

  • Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
  • Critter Country
  • Mickey’s Toontown
  • Splash Mountain
  • Tarzan's Treehouse
  • Indiana Jones Adventure
  • Haunted Mansion
  • Sailing Ship Columbia

Sweethearts' Nite Tips:

Disneyland After Dark Parties - A couple poses in a carriage in front of the castle

  • Arrive early to avoid long lines at parking and the park gate.
  • Visit the Main Street characters right after fireworks for the shortest waits.
  • If you meet either Daisy and Donald or Mickey and Minnie, hop back in line to meet the other couple when they swap.
  • Food service stops before the park closes to day guests at 8 p.m. but reopens pretty quickly with the After Dark menus. We suggest eating before party time.
  • Dress for the weather. It gets cold at night!
  • Identify your must-do photo-ops or must-see characters and get in line early before they lines close (some may close early).
  • Don't miss the ball! When we hopped back after 12:30 p.m., it was over.
  • Make advance reservations at Plaza Inn or Cafe Orleans if offered.
  • Visit attractions that will be closed for the party between 6 and 8 p.m.
  • Make dining reservations for 8 p.m. to get the most out of your party time.

The newest Disneyland After Dark event is Princess Nite.

Princess Nite at Disneyland - March 7 & 9, 2023

Our Royally Good Guide to Meeting Princesses at Disneyland-rainy

This all-new celebration under the stars immerses you into the adventurous and graceful world of the Disney princesses who ignite the world with kindness, courage, and a touch of magic. Experience shimmering décor, special photo opportunities, themed food and beverage offerings, commemorative keepsakes and characters galore.

Partygoers gain access to the park as of 6 p.m. The party kicks off at 9 p.m. and ends at 1 a.m. Tickets to this event are still available for purchase, with a limit of eight tickets per person, per event date.

2023 Princess Nite Dates and Ticket Prices:

  • March 7, 2023 - $129
  • March 9, 2023 - $145

Disney After Dark - Belle Photo-op

Here's what to expect at Princess Nite:

  • Receive a royal welcome at the Disneyland Train Station with Princess Minnie Mouse and Princess Daisy Duck accompanied by fanfare trumpeters.
  • Enjoy an inspiring musical concert, accompanied by live vocalists, that celebrates heartwarming, adventurous heroines such as Moana, Merida and more.
  • Dance the night away at the high-energy, candy-themed dance party at Tomorrowland stage with Vanellope Von Schweetz and female DJs.
  • Get a taste of Tiana’s Southern hospitality while you dance along to jazz music in New Orleans Square.
  • Nibble specialty menu items (for purchase) fit for a  princess.
  • Pose with photo backdrops inspired by Disney films such as “Beauty and the Beast” and “The Princess Diaries.”
  • Enjoy unlimited Disney PhotoPass digital photo downloads from the party. Scan the QR code on your event wristband into the Disneyland app to access photos captured during the event.
  • Have a ball with pre-party mix-in admission to Disneyland park starting at 6 p.m., no theme park reservation required.

Party ticket holders can reserve a special prixe frixe tea service at Cafe Orleans. The Tea Service

includes choice of Twinings of London hot tea alongside a wide selection of exquisite eats, such as:

  • Adult Tea Service: Short Rib, Caviar Egg, Crab Avocado Toast, Monte Fritter, Creole Chicken & Apple Pecan Salad Po’ Boy, Crepe Layer Cake, Blueberry-Almond Scone, Strawberry Shortcake and Strawberry-Chocolate Cream Puff.
  • Adult Tea Service (Plant-Based): Impossible Sandwich, Roasted Potato, Avocado Toast, Ratatouille Sandwich, Cucumber & Watercress Salad Sandwich, Strawberry Shortcake, Chocolate Raspberry Bar, Fruit Cobbler and Blueberry-Almond Scone.
  • Kid’s Tea Service: Peanut Butter & Jelly, Grilled Cheese, Meatball Po’ Boy, Assorted Fruit and Cream Puff.

The packages costs $60 per adult and $30 per child, plus tax and gratuity. A valid special event ticket for Disneyland After Dark: Princess Nite is required to book this dining event and is not included in the price of the package. A great time to reserve is 8 p.m., before the party kicks off.

Attractions and areas that may be unavailable for this event:

  • Mark Twain Riverboat
  • Mickey's Toontown
  • Tarzan's Treehouse
  • Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance.

Past Disneyland After Dark Events

A few other past Disneyland After Dark themes have included these Disneyland Park events: Throwback Nite (taking guests back to the 1950s and 1960s), '90s Nite, '80s Nite and Star Wars Nite. Past Disney California Adventure After Dark events include: Grand Nite Reunion, Pixar Nite, Villains Nite, Heroes Assemble. Each of them offered unique types of entertainment, food and opportunities for fun. One of our favorite recurring seasonal after-hours events at Disney California Adventure is the Oogie Boogie Bash during Halloween Time.

Here's a look at some of the more recent events! Some of them have occurred more than one year, so you never know if one of them will return in the future.

Grad Nite Reunion at Disney California Adventure 

What to Expect at Disneyland After Dark Parties - Mickey and Minnie wear a red cap and gown

What a surprise it was to attend a summer After Dark party in 2022. It was so nice to have a warm summer night in the park with no crowds, short lines and music you cannot help but sing and dance to.

Leap and I enjoyed our date night at the first Grad Nite Reunion. We had so much fun reliving a time when we were young and launching off into adulthood. The hoppin' playlist that spanned the past six decades had us singing and dancing all night!

What to Expect at Disneyland After Dark Parties - Mater rolls through Cars Land in a graduation capUndercover Tourist sold discount tickets to this event, which was super exciting.

Villains Night at Disney California Adventure 

You could unleash your inner scoundrel at this sinister soiree. This party included:

  • Live music where Villains crooned the night away in a live performance with villainous virtuosos, malevolent musicians and a few spellbinding surprises!
  • Ursula’s Seaside Sing-a-long, where you could channel your inner Ariel ("now sing!") at Pacific Wharf.
  • The Underworld Dance Party, hosted by Hades.
  • Special photo backdrops inspired by favorite villains
  • Encounters with Disney’s famously nefarious fiends — or their henchmen
  • Delightfully decadent food and beverage offerings
  • Dastardly décor and merchandise

Star Wars Nite at Disneyland

Are Disneyland After Dark Parties Worth It? (Plus a New Party in Summer 2022!) - Projections on Small World

Fans celebrated with:

  • A special "Star Wars"themed fireworks spectacular
  • A galactic dance party on Main Street U.S.A.
  • Character encounters
  • "Star Wars"-themed attractions such as Star Tours, Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
  • Enhanced decor and event collectible merchandise
  • Unlimited PhotoPass downloads
  • Mickey in an R2-D2 outfit
  • A costume parade/lightsaber march down Main Street U.S.A.
  • A Lightsaber group photo at the Millennium Falcon
  • March of the First Order in Tomorrowland
  • Lightsaber training in front of "it's a small world"
  • Projection on the castle, Main Street and "it's a small world"

Are Disneyland After Dark Parties Worth It? (Plus a New Party in Summer 2022!) - Guest poses with character

We visited Star Wars Nite in May 2022. The Force was strong that night with many guests in costume and with their lightsabers.

Disney Merriest Nites

This was the first and only Disneyland Holiday Time after-hours event. Disney Merriest Nites occurred on five nights in November and December 2021.

Disneyland After Dark Parties - Goofy and Scrooge greet guests from afarWhat we love about after-hours parties is seeing rare characters and new entertainment while getting to dress up in costumes. This party did not disappoint with Mickey's Christmas Carol characters played by Mickey, Minnie, Scrooge McDuck and Goofy (as the Ghost of Jacob Marley). Character interactions were still somewhat distanced, but the most unique experience of them all was seeing the Muppets travel down Main Street, U.S.A. singing carols. Guests received a light-up Christmas light lanyard, which helped light up the night.

Disney Merriest Nites had six different themed holiday parties hoppening across different lands. The parties included live bands or DJ dance parties. A Disney or Pixar character hosted each party:

  • Mickey Mouse was the host of a Victorian party on Main Street, U.S.A. He was joined by the Muppets singing Christmas carols from a special traveling coach. Seeing the Muppets at Disneyland was enough for me! I heard that news and did not hesitate to buy a ticket to see this sight.
  • Lilo and Stitch hosted a tropical party in Adventureland.
  • On the other end of the thermometer, Queen Elsa from "Frozen" took over Fantasyland with an icy cheer that warmed our hearts.
  • Buzz Lightyear from "Toy Story" hosted an out-of-this-world party with a DJ in Tomorrowland.
  • Princess Tiana from "The Princess and the Frog" took us down to the Bayou for beads, beignets and more jazzy fun in New Orleans Square. We embarked on a holiday jazz cruise on the Mark Twain Riverboat.
  • Miguel Rivera from "Coco" hosted a fiesta that has us all singing "Feliz Navidad" in Frontierland.

Disneyland After Dark Parties - The Muppet singing Christmas carols

Party guests were treated to A Christmas Fantasy Parade, though it was the same parade that usually takes place during normal days of Holiday Time and was not unique to the event.

'80s Nite at Disneyland 

Disneyland After Dark Parties - Videopolis

This event celebrated the toadally awesome '80s! As a tadpole of the '80s, I toadally wish every year that Disneyland would bring back this After Dark party. I had my day-glow colors, stone-washed jeans, vintage jean jacket and frosty makeup ready to go, and Leap put on his neon tracksuit!

Does anyone remember Videopolis in the '80s? Teens could dance to hits of the day with state-of-the-art videos and lighting. Well, we went old school with a "Flashback to Videopolis" takeover of Fantasyland Theatre. There was a live DJ, music videos and dancing to hits of the '80s. Videopolis was hoppin'! All of the dance parties were full of people singing and dancing all night long. We did not hear a song we didn't love!

We got into the groove with a live bands and DJs around the park. Projections decorated the castle, Main Street U.S.A. buildings and what we fondly referred to as "Radderhorn Mountain." But the cutest dance party — Totally Minnie! — took place in Tomorrowland with Minnie, Goofy, Donald and Pluto!

What to Expect at a Disneyland After Dark Event

Now, onto the general details of what you might generally expect at a Disneyland After Dark event! You may also be interested in our tips for deciding whether a Disneyland After Dark event is right your family, which we'll share a little later.

Disneyland After Dark events are few and far between. They are more likely to occur in the winter or spring months and not at peak times because they may cause the parks to close earlier than usual. The exceptions are the Halloween Time Oogie Boogie Bash, and the Grad Nite Reunion in June 2022.

You can purchase tickets on the event's page. Children ages 2 and under do not need a ticket, but they may need a nap first and may prefer to stay with a babysitter or family member than stay out that late. (We leave Lily with Grandma when we attend.) Tickets sell out in advance, and parking is not included in the ticket price. The parking shuttles and buses for the structures and Toy Story lots are extended until one hour after party end time on party nights.

Arriving at a Disneyland After Dark Event

Disneyland After Dark Parties - Entrance

If you have been to a Disneyland Halloween Party such as the Oogie Boogie Bash at Disney California Adventure, then you’ll find that the Disneyland After Dark events work in a similar way. The party hours can vary per event, but if a party runs from 9 p.m. until 1 a.m., then the park closes to the public at 8 p.m. (each party time may vary slightly).

Party guests can usually enter the park three hours early and start mixing in with the daytime guests beginning at 6 p.m. For some parties, a popular meet and greet line might open early. That's what hoppened with the Ewok meet at '80s Nite, so be sure to ask about those when you arrive. All times may vary based on the specific party. There are separate entrances for Special Event tickets up until the event starts.

Disneyland After Dark Parties - Event WristbandThe Special Event Tickets turnstiles lead into a roped area to pick up a wristband and credentials. The wristband may be color-coded and include the event name and date. The credentials are essential for staying in the park after the park closes. You'll want to pick up a program with a park map. If you're already in the park during the day, ask about in-park check-in so you don't have to exit and reenter.

The program points you in the right direction to find characters around the park (who might be in very different areas than they normally are during regular park hours). It also highlights themed foods, entertainment and any can’t-miss moments. It's very helpful, so don’t froget to read it, especially since there are not always many specific details released before you arrive.

If you arrive before the party gets underway, you can go on rides, take pictures while the lighting (and maybe hair and makeup) may be better, and jump in line early to meet your favorite character. (FYI: At '80s Nite, nobody's hair was better! It was fun to see the big bangs, crimped hair and colorful bows, though.) You can scout out the lines to purchase limited-edition merchandise you must have in your life and must-try foods, but none of the special menu items will be available until the party officially starts.

Plan your meals and shopping into your party itinerary. On normal nights, the shops on Buena Vista Street or Main Street, U.S.A. are still open after the parks close so you can get some souvenirs or a caramel apple and other yummy treats. But at Disneyland After Dark events, the shops close up as soon as the event ends. We have learned this the hard way.

Be aware that the mix-in time will be more crowded than the actual party until the daytime guests leave the park. Cast members will do sweeps and have checkpoints to look for bracelets and credentials throughout the night to make sure only party guests are partaking in the fun. Guests without wristbands will be escorted to the exit and not allowed to participate or purchase event foods.

Food, Drink and Merchandise at Disneyland After Dark Events

Disneyland After Dark Parties - Hulk Smash Drink

During the event, you can enjoy specially-themed food, drinks and special merchandise. These special items become available when the party starts and not at mix-in time. Be sure to allow time to go shopping or dining during the actual event hours. You don’t want to miss those limited-edition beverages and treats! Also, the parks close as soon as the party ends. That means the shops and restaurants are closed then too. Party food is usually available starting one hour before party time. Use mobile order to skip the lines.

Are Disneyland After Dark Parties Worth It? (Plus a New Party in Summer 2022!) - Special Yoda beignets for Star Wars Nite

If you know of any limited must-have merchandise, hop on that and purchase ASAP. Do your research ahead of time and identify any must-have items to purchase right away.

Sweethearts' Nite has special romantic meals that ticket holders can reserve in advance. These dining packages are available at Plaza Inn and Cafe Orleans. You can reserve online or in the Disneyland app.

Costume Guidelines for Disneyland After Dark

Disneyland After Dark Parties - Guardians of the Galaxy Costumes and Photo-Ops

Capes? Or no capes? One of the reasons many guests love the Disneyland After Dark events is that adults can wear costumes or dress in themed outfits. At Throwback Nite, many folks were dressed all dapper. You’ll see many people dressing in themed outfits and DisneyBounding as their favorite characters at these events. The costume guidelines are similar to the Halloween Party guidelines. Be creative, but use good common sense.

Here are the costume guidelines for Disneyland After Dark:

Disneyland After Dark Parties - Tron Couple

  • Costumes must be family-friendly and may not be obstructive, offensive, objectionable or violent.
  • All guests may dress as their favorite character, but may not pose for pictures or sign autographs for other guests.
  • Costumes may not contain any items that resemble (or could easily be mistaken for) an actual weapon.
  • Costumes may not contain sharp/pointed objects or materials that may accidentally strike another guest.
  • Layered costumes or costume props that surround the entire body are strongly discouraged and may be subject to additional security screening.
  • Costumes may not reach or drag on the ground (e.g., full-length princess dresses).

For Guests Ages 13 and Under

  • Costumes may be worn, as well as some masks, as long as the entire face isn’t covered and eyes are visible.

For Guests Ages 14 and Older

  • Capes cannot go below the waist.
  • Themed T-shirts, blouses, sweatshirts and hats are permitted.
  • Acceptable accessories include transparent wings, plastic light sabers, toy swords and tutus.
  • Headwear may not cover the face.
  • No masks of any kind, except for medical purposes.

The above rules apply only during event hours (and mix-in time when you're allowed to enter the park a little early for the event) — standard theme park attire rules apply during all other times. All rules, regulations and guidelines are subject to change without notice. If you don't adhere to the guidelines, Disney may remove you from the event, unless you can modify the costume to meet the above standards.

Some of the classic Disney characters may also wear special costumes or outfits for the event. Be sure to hop by to compliment them on their party clothes! Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Goofy were all decked out in the '80s attire at '80s Nite!

Character Meet-Ups at Disneyland After Dark

Are Disneyland After Dark Parties Worth It? (Plus a New Party in Summer 2022!)- Tuskens at Star Wars Nite

One of the most exciting aspects of Disneyland After Dark is getting to rub elbows with very rare or never-before-seen characters. The hardest part about meeting these rare characters is the that the lines can get prohibitively long. We advise staking out a couple must-see characters and hopping in their line before the party starts.

Disneyland After Dark Parties - SebastianIf you are in a line to meet a character when the event ends, you can remain in line to meet them. But don't necessarily wait until the very end to jump in line as some lines may close early. Ask a cast member if you aren't sure.

Rides at Disneyland After Dark

Most rides are open during the After Dark events. Be aware that Toontown, Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge and Critter Country sometimes close at Disneyland Park events — it just depends on the event's theme. You can access these areas during mix-in time if it's on your must-do list, but don't waste valuable party time in line for a ride that will still be there the next day. The party waits for no one.

Disneyland After Dark Parties - No wait for Matterhorn

We were jumping up and down with excitement over being able to hop on toadally cool and popular rides such as Guardians of the Galaxy — Mission: BREAKOUT!, Radiator Springs Racers, Incredicoaster and Toy Story Midway Mania without a wait at Heroes Assemble. Being able to simply walk into Guardians of the Galaxy and enjoy looking at the collection in the lobby area without any people in the way or pressure to keep moving was such a treat!

There was little to no wait for rides at Disneyland during '80s Nite. When else can you hop on the Matterhorn Bobsleds, Dumbo or Space Mountain without a wait? This is a major plus for people who want to ride a lot of rides without any kind of wait. In fact, even Disney Genie+ isn't available. Keep in mind that Hyperspace Mountain, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance and Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run had the longest lines during Star Wars Nite. The rest of the rides had very short lines.

PhotoPass and Photo-Ops at Disneyland After Dark Events

Disneyland After Dark Parties - Yeti Photo-ops

Free PhotoPass downloads are included in the After Dark events. You'll have 45 days to download the images. With PhotoPass, you have great professional photos of special moments when meeting those favorite characters and posing for photo-ops. Capture that perfect costume or outfit! Each Disneyland After Dark event presents uniquely themed photo-ops in line with the event. Scout out your favorites and prioritize because lines can get long. Disneyland After Dark events have many themed props and backdrops for striking your favorite pose.

Sweehearts' Nite has backdrops themed to various movies and their most romantic scenes. Throwback Nite had nostalgic Disneyland-themed backdrops such as an old Skyway bucket and a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse backdrop.

Our favorite photo-ops from Heroes Assemble were the "Guardians of the Galaxy" glass cages (traps, really). Guests were able to temporarily climb in and become part of Taneleer Tivan's collection and pose with his servants.

PhotoPass photographers are available at character meet-ups, as well. Link your PhotoPass code in your bracelet to the app or wear a MagicBand+. You can have the photographer scan your wrist. The cast members are so helpful at holding your stuff and using your camera and phone to take pics while you focus on not going all fangirl or fanboy on your favorite character. As Tad would tell us, “Stay cool!”

Is a Disneyland After Dark Event Right for You?

This is always a hard question to answer. The tickets are only good for four hours (plus three hours of mix-in time). The parties do offer some unique experiences, but the hours fly by so quickly that it's challenging to do it all. It may be a good choice for you if any of the following apply:

  • You really love dressing up in costume, themed outfits or DisneyBound attire.
  • You're toadally excited about the party theme.
  • Seeing one particular rare character would make your night.
  • You love all things Disney and just want to be part of the magic.
  • The main reason to go is to experience rides without wait times.
  • You want a new or different experience in a Disney park.
  • You like meeting others who share the same interests.
  • Exclusive party merchandise really excites you.
  • You're OK with long lines for photo-ops and character greetings.
  • You love dancing in a Disney park.
  • You like staying up late.

Disneyland After Dark Parties - A couple dressed up as the Beast and Belle

Even if you don’t care about the theme and really just want to focus on riding all of the rides without a wait, then the Disneyland After Dark events may be well worth it. If '80s Nite returns, we will toadally be there! Sweethearts' Nite has some fun character couples and photo-ops, too.

You need realistic expectations to tackle these events. If you want to do it all (characters, food, photo-ops, rides and other entertainment), you may get a little frustrated when time flies (did someone say flies? Yum!) while you’re having fun and you miss out on experiences before the party ends. We felt a little like Cinderella at the ball, getting caught up in the fun and frogetting to watch the clock. (Thank goodness we left the park with both of our shoes!)

If you have a favorite rare character you’d love to meet, then expect long waits. Use pre-party time as eating or wait time so you can enjoy more of the party when it starts. The experiences will vary per theme, so it’s hard to predict the must-see attraction or merchandise of the night. Chances are, if it's exciting to you, you're not alone and others want that same experience, so you'll have competition. Guests who are standing in line before the party ends can remain in line. We find that lines usually drop off toward the end of the night. If your favorite character has a long line, hop in place before the party ends to extend your wait time post-party hours. However, a long line can close early so watch out for that.

Disneyland After Dark Parties - 80s Nite CastleAt '80s Nite, the hot ticket meet-up was the Ewoks. We waited over an hour to meet them, but that included a cool lightsaber photo-op and much of our wait was pre-party. That line opened early and the Ewoks were moving guests through well before the party began. Keep an eye out for experiences that open early!

You can skip the long lines and look for shorter lines, but all of the characters have lines. You may need to be flexible or set priorities. We would've been disappointed to miss a favorite character, but we would've been more disappointed if a three-hour wait to meet them took up three out of four hours of actual party time. So, when we come across a long line once the party starts, we readjust our plan. We wave or snap a pic from afar and hop on to a different experience instead because we frogs keep hoppin' to stay happy. You’ll best enjoy the event if you can be flexible and set realistic expectations. And remember, the rides will always be there for another visit. The rare characters, photo-ops and exclusive party merchandise will not.

Are you ready to experience Disneyland After Dark? If you want to attend Grad Nite reunion, you can save with discount tickets from Undercover Tourist!

Related: Full Schedule of Disneyland Events

Hoppy planning!

Keep hopping, Mommy Frog!
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Jan 19, 2023 at 1:34 a.m. jessica Says...

Any intel on when the 2023 dates for Star Wars Nite will drop? Or when park hours for April/May be posted? We are wondering if the after dark party will affect the dates we will be visiting. Last year, we inadvertently went to Disneyland on May 4th haha! It was cool to be there that day and we were so sad to learn it was closing at 8p as we were visiting from out-of-state, it was out last day, and we didn't have a park hopper pass.

It looks like last year the Star Wars nite tickets went on sale January 11. With no mention of the Star Wars nite yet, does that mean they may skip this year? Perhaps it would be all speculation at this point. But I consider you can offer a highly educated/experienced guess... :)

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Jan 19, 2023 at 9:27 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Jessica!

We toadally wish we had more insight, but we can only guess the same as you unless Disney announces its return. However, we can say that park hours and the entertainment schedule are typically posted six weeks in advance.

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Reply
Dec 13, 2022 at 12:48 a.m. Shannon Says...

Our Disneyland trip, Feb 6th & 7th, now falls on one of the newly announced Sweetheart nights, which we will not be purchasing tickets for. As far as possible crowds, would you recommend DP on that Monday with most likely longer hours, with DCA on Tues? Or the other way around with DP on the Sweetheart nite?

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Dec 14, 2022 at 12:02 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Shannon!

If you're park hopping, you can start at Disneyland Park on the Sweethearts' Nite as the parks are often less crowded on After Dark days because people avoid that day. But if you're not park hopping, then it would still be best to choose Monday for the longer day at Disneyland to maximize your time.

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

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May 4, 2022 at 4:46 p.m. Gabriel Says...

You forgot to mention that the lines for characters and photo ops can get cut early before the event ends. I’ve learned this when I was at Disney’s Merriest Nites which ran from 8 PM to midnight, around 11:15 I tried to get in line to see Belle and the Beast but the cast member operating the line said they needed to make sure Belle and the Beast go to bed on time. So therefore one more tip you should put is do not wait too late to get in line for a character or photo op at the event because they close the lines early.

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May 4, 2022 at 12:43 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Gabriel!

Thanks for sharing your hop tip! In our froggy experience, we have been able to jump in line near the end of the night, but we know that may not always be the case as character sightings and greetings can be subject to change. For that reason, if you have a high-priority character greeting you don't want to miss, we'd recommend hopping in line earlier than later in case something like this hoppens.

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

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May 2, 2022 at 9 p.m. Michelle Says...

Thanks for all this great info! I'm heading to Star Wars night this Wed for May the 4th! How early would you say people start lining up for the After Hours event? An hour before? 2 hours?

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May 3, 2022 at 8:32 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Michelle!

Have so much fun! People generally start lining up about an hour ahead of time.

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Reply
Mar 9, 2022 at 9:48 p.m. Marlisa Says...

Can pass holders attend the event if they have a reservation for that day? If not, would a separate event ticket have to be purchased?

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Mar 10, 2022 at 8:39 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Marlisa!

Since it is a separately ticketed event, you would need to purchase an After Dark ticket to stay. (Villains Nite and Star Wars Nite for this year are already sold out, unfrogtunately.)

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Reply
Feb 28, 2022 at 3:21 a.m. Jodi Says...

So is there any idea what merchandise or food will be available before the event? We are going for Star Wars Nite May 3rd (the first night) and want to plan for food allergies and "must have" merchandise.

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Feb 28, 2022 at 1:36 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Jodi!

Sometimes details can be leaked ahead of time — on the day of the party, you can usually see special menu items in the Disneyland app.

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Reply
Dec 8, 2021 at 7:19 p.m. Cecilia Says...

I just wanted to be clear and make sure I have this right, So we do not have to buy park tickets if we only plan to go to the Disney nites events, right?

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Dec 8, 2021 at 2:33 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Cecilia!

Correct! If you're only attending the party, then you do not need daytime admission or a park reservation (and you can also enter the park as early as 5 p.m. or 6 p.m., depending on the event).

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Reply
Apr 26, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. Caylin Says...

Hi! I wanted to know if they offer Sweethearts Nite at Disney World Fl?

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Apr 27, 2020 at 8:10 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Caylin!

Unfortunately we haven't heard of Sweethearts' Nite at Disney World - Disney World does host some very fun After Hours events that you can read about here, but none with the Sweetheart theming :) Hope this helps!

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

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Mar 19, 2020 at 6:45 p.m. Cat Says...

I feel the need to post about our experience at Pixar Nite at California Adventure on March 5th, 2020. It could not have been worse and was totally not worth the money. The lines were so much worse than during the day -- and that includes the lines for food. It was the biggest waste of money ever. I feel like the After Dark events at Disneyland might be better because there are more rides, but we were just so disappointed with this, we will not do it again. We rode 2 rides in 2 hours, tried waiting in line for food but the line didn't move after 10 minutes so we got out. We finally left and went over to Disneyland Park so we could actually ride some rides and we were able to do a ton. We were not interested in any of the characters, but the lines for those were crazy, too. So much longer than I have seen during park hours. Just not worth the money at all!

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Mar 23, 2020 at 1:45 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Cat!

We are so sorry to hear that. We did not attend that event and had good luck with short ride waits at the other events in both parks once the party officially got started. Unfortunately those character lines are always so long! Your opinion will be valuable in helping other readers decide if After Dark Parties are worth it to them. Thank you for sharing!

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

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Mar 10, 2020 at 1:01 p.m. Dee Says...

Will these be the only four coming this year for Disneyland After Dark? I really enjoyed Hero's Assemble but don't know if it will be returning...

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Mar 16, 2020 at 4:42 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Dee!

There are actually five events that we know of this year, the fifth being the Star Wars Nite in August. We do not know if Heroes Assemble will return as a theme, but we are hopping excited about Avengers Campus opening in July 2020!

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

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