Any fan of Disney’s Magic Kingdom has likely had the same dream: to have the park all to themselves. Sure you can feel the magic on even the busiest of days, but we’ve all wondered what it would be like to experience it without the large crowd, right? Well, dreams really do come true! Disney After Hours allows Disney and theme park fans alike to explore the (much more roomy) Kingdom after the regular park day concludes. So, let’s take a look and see if Disney after hours is worth it.
How Does Disney After Hours Work?
Disney After Hours is a separately ticketed event. This means that it is not included in your annual pass or regular park day ticket. Disney sells only a limited amount of tickets for this event, which is no doubt its main draw. The event times vary by date and are subject to change, but most typically allow for early entry at 7:00 pm, with the event officially beginning at 10:00 pm and ending at 1:00 am. So in all, you get about three hours of magic. Be sure to check Disney’s website to verify the hours for the date you’ve selected!
How to Purchase and Use Tickets
Tickets can be purchased through your favorite travel agency or via the Walt Disney World website. Your after hours tickets will either be linked to your magic band or you will receive a physical ticket. Just like a regular day at the park, you will enter, go through security, and scan your magic band or ticket. Afterward, you will be directed to a Cast Member to “check-in” to receive your special event wristband or lanyard. Then, you are good to go!
If you have tickets for the park that day or annual passes that allow you to be in the park prior to 7:00 pm, there’s no need to exit the park just to re-enter again, simply ask the nearest cast member where you can check-in for the event and receive your wristband!
The Crowd Level at Disney After Hours
As previously mentioned, Disney World only sells a very limited amount of tickets to this event. This means the crowd levels are at a guaranteed all time low. We have been to quite a few Halloween and Christmas parties at the Magic Kingdom and can certainly say that the After Hours crowd was substantially lower compared to those parties, and it’s miles apart from the crowd level during a regular day at the park!
It really is a whole new world to explore during this event. It’s a truly unexplainable and wonderful feeling skipping around the park with only a few people in sight. You will discover nuances and details within the park that you’ve never noticed before, which is a theme park connoisseur’s absolute dream! Without having to swim and push through a large crowd, the magic of the park feels even more real as you simply stroll along. The tranquil, quiet, and peaceful atmosphere is by far one of my favorite aspects of this event.
Wait Times at Disney After Hours
What do you get with low crowds? Low wait times, of course! In my opinion, this event was designed with ride lovers in mind. There are hardly any wait times, and if you do happen to see a wait time, they’re extraordinarily low ones. We rode Space Mountain three times in a row within only a matter of minutes. (Which was awesome!) I have no real memory of waiting in a line over five minutes for any ride during this event. Given that the ride is open, the Magic Kingdom After Hours event ensures that you will be able to hop on all of your “must rides” – and then have time for a couple more too!
Is Disney After Hours Worth The Cost?
The magic comes at a price. These tickets currently average at about $129.00 apiece. If that number didn’t shock you then I would say that the cost for Disney after hours may be worth it. Don’t worry if that number did shock you because there are plenty of awesome benefits that you get for attending such as free sodas, ice cream, popcorn and more! If you hit up enough snack carts throughout the event then you can easily get your money’s worth.
Free Snacks at Disney After Hours
Oh, we had so much fun with the complimentary treats. Where to begin? During the hours of the event, we were able to grab complimentary popcorn, ice-cream, and bottled drinks. Not to mention, these are all totally unlimited throughout the event, so be sure to get your fill and enjoy!
The bottled drinks were surprisingly my favorite. We typically wouldn’t spring for the five buck bottles on a normal park day, but with them being free during the event…it was insanely refreshing sipping on an ice-cold soda whenever I wanted one! We even grabbed a couple on our way out and enjoyed it on the journey back to the hotel.
There are snack carts located throughout the park, so you’ll always be able to enjoy a snack or beverage within reach.
We ate before the event began, so we didn’t purchase any food while at the park.
Having those complimentary snacks and beverages really give this event a welcome edge. In the rush of trying to hit up your favorite rides, it’s nice to just grab and go!
- The after hour tickets do come at a fairly steep price. Usually around $129 per ticket.
(Subject to change – discounts available for select guests)
- It may not be the best choice for those with small children or for those who tire easily. This event starts late and runs late, typically to 1:00 am. That’s not even including the time it will actually take to exit the park and return back home. If that immediately does not sound like a situation your family would enjoy, it very well may not be worth spending the dough for it right now.
On the flip side, those who are night owls, however, will absolutely love it. Not to mention, seeing the park all lit up late at night is indescribably magical and breathtaking!
- It may complicate vacation planning. Night owl or not, I can not stress enough that you will be exhausted after this event! It is not suggested to spend the entire day prior to the After Hours event in the park. Be sure to plan for some quality rest time before the event begins. Also, it is best to avoid planning any early morning reservations for the following day as you and your family will most likely need to utilize that time to take it easy and catch up on some sleep before venturing out again.
- Time flies. The biggest downside for me personally? The amount of time you are given. In my opinion, the event should be just an hour or two longer. It is honestly very difficult, at least for me, to fully relax and really enjoy the experience on a three hour time crunch. At times it feels like a race of sorts. As much as I’d love to sit, relax, and enjoy my ice cream and popcorn for half an hour, it just can’t happen. Half an hour becomes a huge chunk of time when you are working with a three hour radius. For such a steep price, an additional hour would help make it feel more comfortable and reasonable.
- Not everything is open. Certain dining experiences, performances, attractions, and character meet and greets are closed for the duration of this event. (However, you may be able to catch these attractions if you arrive early at the time you are allowed entry into the park, in most cases, 7:00 pm.
Open Attractions During Disney After Hours at Magic Kingdom
Please note that these attractions may vary by night.
- Disney Princess Greetings at Princess Fairytale Hall
- Astro Orbiter
- Splash Mountain
- Space Mountain
- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
- Haunted Mansion
- Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
- It’s a Small World
- Jungle Cruise
- Peter Pan’s Flight
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
- Mickey’s PhilharMagic
- Pirates of the Carribean
- Dumbo The Flying Elephant
- Goofy’s Barnstormer
- The Magic Carpets of Aladdin
- The People Mover
- The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
- Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid
- And other select attractions…
Should this be my first visit to Magic Kingdom?
Now, that’s a tough question. There’s a certain energy that a typical full day of Magic Kingdom brings.
Strolling through the happily bustling streets of Main Street USA in the morning, being greeted with the sight of the castle, the daily parade, and enjoying a full day concluded with fireworks is a staple memory in any Disney goer’s mind. Most who opt to go to the after hours, knows and loves that experience well, and that love for the Kingdom is what propels them to then seek the opportunity to explore having the park to themselves.
However, if you or (someone you are traveling with) aren’t at all interested in the “typical” Magic Kingdom experience and have a strong disdain for large crowds and wait times, this could very well be the way you need to experience Magic Kingdom!
Disney After Hours Tips and Tricks
- If you are not using Disney resort transportation, be sure to allow for extra time to park, go through security, and make your way over to the Magic Kingdom.
- Get to the park prior to the event! Although timing varies by date, most After Hour Events allow for guests to enter at 7:00 pm. This allows you to experience some of the regular park operations, such as the attractions and the Fireworks show that will not take place once the official event begins.
- Make good use of the complimentary items! If you can, always opt for complimentary beverages and snacks, rather than purchasing other types of refreshments. The carts open as soon as the event begins and closes as soon as it reaches its end time so be sure to enjoy those luxuries while you can. Grab a few sodas or water bottles to enjoy on the ride home too!
- This would be an even more enjoyable experience while staying on property. The whole song and dance over to the transportation and ticket center and the drive back to the hotel is not a fun one when your feet hurt and you are exhausted because it’s nearly 2 am! Simply on a bus, boat, or monorail and getting quickly to your bed would be the ideal situation after an event like this.
So, is Disney After Hours worth it?
The short answer? It simply depends.
If crowds and wait times seriously get under your skin, you will really enjoy the rare opportunity to wander through the parks and the ability to effortlessly hop on rides. The complimentary snacks and beverages will give you that extra special feeling as you enjoy your magical night.
However, if you are at all unsure if your family will enjoy or be able to stay out at such a late hour, this may not be the event for you. It also may disrupt vacation plans if you are working with limited time and planning on attending a rope drop the next morning. Trust me, you will be exhausted after these events and will want just a little time to rest before your next theme park adventure!
If you are working with a limited travel budget, I would not recommend purchasing After Hours tickets either. As great as the event is, I’d suggest splurging that money towards a couple of dining experiences and even a few mementos throughout your Disney vacation.
You may also wonder if it is worth it for an annual passholder to purchase tickets for this event. After all, you already have tickets that allow you into the park during the regular hours. Well, chances are that if you are an annual passholder, this is the type of experience you’re seeking out! We most often find that as annual passholders, we tend to visit Magic Kingdom less frequently than the other parks. Not because we do not love Magic Kingdom, we really do! However, it does tend to be the most crowd heavy. The after hours event truly gives us the opportunity to enjoy the park and hit up all of our favorite rides in record time. If you’re a passholder, it’s worth giving this event a go!
And regardless of the steep price and limited time frame, if you are a hard Disney and theme park super fan like we are, there is no doubt that you will have the absolute time of your life.