Disney After Hours: Is It Worth It?

If you’re on the fence about whether or not the Disney After Hours event is worth the price, keep reading!

Disney’s Animal Kingdom has recently been added to the Disney After Hours line-up. Photo by Brett Svenson.

Disney After Hours

First, we would like to thank Disney for providing admission for this exclusive event so we could bring you this detailed review!

Before we start talking about the fun stuff, let’s go through the basic event information. Disney After Hours is a separately priced ticket, and takes place on select nights after the park has closed to regular daytime guests. Originally, this event was only available at the Magic Kingdom, but it was recently announced that Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios would soon be available as well!

At Disney After Hours, you’ll get to experience Pandora: The World of Avatar with little to no crowds! Photo by Brett Svenson.

With this ticket, you are able to check-in and enjoy the park as early as 7pm. If you purchase tickets in advance, the price is $125 per person (plus tax). At the gate, tickets are $129 per person (plus tax). If you are an Annual Passholder or Disney Vacation Club member, tickets are $95 per person (plus tax). You can purchase tickets online, through the Disney reservation center, or at the gate. A limited number of tickets are available, so we’d suggest purchasing in advance so you can secure your spot and save a few bucks in the process. If you wish to enjoy the parks before 7pm, you will need to purchase regular daytime admission in addition to your Disney After Hours event ticket.

You might be able to catch the first showing of Rivers of Light if you get to the event at 7pm. Photo by Courtney Reynolds.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Last week, we were invited by Disney to enjoy a night at Animal Kingdom for Disney After Hours. The official start time of the event was 8:30pm, but in order to maximize our park time we arrived at 7pm. Much like Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, you’ll get a wrist band to let cast members know that you’re attending the After Hours event. On our event night, the park closed at 8pm, so we spent an hour with regular daytime guests before they started filtering out.

You can still catch Tree of Life Awakenings during Disney After Hours. Photo by Courtney Reynolds.

Not all areas and attractions will be open during Disney After Hours though, so plan accordingly. The entire Africa section was blocked off and not available to walk through, but there was still so much to do in other areas of the park. Check out the line-up for Animal Kingdom!

There is an additional showing of Rivers of Light exclusively for Disney After Hours guests. Photo by Brett Svenson.

Entertainment

  • Tree of Life Awakenings
  • Pandora Drummers – Swotu Wayä (8:30pm, 9:30pm, 10:30pm)
  • Rivers of Light (9:00pm)
  • Dino-riffic Dance Party!
Our photographers, Brett and Courtney, had a fun time on Expedition Everest! Photo courtesy of Disney Photopass.

Attractions

  • It’s Tough to be a Bug!
  • Na’Vi River Journey
  • Avatar Flight of Passage
  • Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain
  • TriceraTop Spin
  • DINOSAUR
Wait time for Avatar Flight of Passage during Disney After Hours! Photo by Courtney Reynolds.

All of the rides had a five-minute wait – YES, even Avatar Flight of Passage! So if you wanted to, you could spend three hours just riding Flight of Passage over and over and over and over and over and…

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Last week, we were also invited by Disney to enjoy a night at Hollywood Studios for Disney After Hours. We arrived at 7pm for this event as well. Arriving early will give you the opportunity to see Fantasmic or Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! before the event officially starts at 8:30pm. Don’t worry about missing Sunset Season’s Greetings – that will run throughout the night so you’ll have plenty of time to catch it afterwards.

(Note: Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! and Sunset Season’s Greetings are only available during the holiday season.)

Sunset Season’s Greetings will run throughout the night during Disney After Hours. Photo by Courtney Reynolds.

Not all attractions will be open during Disney After Hours though, so plan accordingly. Check out the line-up for Hollywood Studios!

At Disney After Hours, you’ll be able to experience Toy Story Land with little to no crowds! Photo by Courtney Reynolds.

Characters

  • Olaf (Celebrity Spotlight)
  • Mickey & Minnie Mouse (Commissary Lane)
  • Woody, Jessie, & Buzz Lightyear (Toy Story Land)
  • BB-8, Chewbacca, Kylo Ren (Star Wars Launch Bay)
Slinky Dog Dash is so fun to watch at night. Photo by Courtney Reynolds.

Attractions

  • Star Tours – The Adventures Continue
  • Slinky Dog Dash
  • Alien Swirling Saucers
  • Toy Story Mania!
  • Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith
  • The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
Wait time for Slinky Dog Dash during Disney After Hours! Photo by Courtney Reynolds.

Just like Animal Kingdom, all of the rides had a five-minute wait – even Slinky Dog Dash! The longest lines were actually for the characters, but even those weren’t very long at all. I’d guess maybe 10-15 minutes depending on how long the characters spent with each group.

Unlimited popcorn, ice cream, and bottled beverages are included with your Disney After Hours ticket. Photo by Brett Svenson.

Event Perks

If the wait times alone aren’t enticing enough: bottled beverages, popcorn, and ice cream are INCLUDED with your admission. You can stop by any of the snack carts throughout the park as many times as you want throughout the night. Some of the carts will even give you popcorn in a sealable box so you can take it home!

Pandora: The World of Avatar lights up beautifully at night. Photo by Courtney Reynolds.
Pandora: The World of Avatar lights up beautifully at night. Photo by Courtney Reynolds.

Conclusion – Is It Worth It?

This is where personal opinion comes in! What’s worth it for me might not be worth it for you. Only you can decide what is right for your family, for your budget, and for your schedule.

With that being said, I think this event is worth every penny. This is an exclusive experience unlike any other! The crowd level is so low that you truly feel like a V.I.P. at this event. Plus, the unlimited soda and snacks is a great perk that I highly suggest you take advantage of while there! I personally think you can get more done in the three-hour event window (even more if you take advantage of the 7pm check-in) than you can in an entire normal day at either of these parks. Plus, you’ll be a lot more comfortable running around the park at night than standing in line during the day in the hot Florida sun.

This event is also great for photographers or anyone looking for beautiful nighttime park photos without a crowd of other guests in the frame. Just look at how empty it is!

Animal Kingdom was practically empty during Disney After Hours. Photo by Brett Svenson.
Animal Kingdom was practically empty during Disney After Hours. Photo by Brett Svenson.

This is also a great way to be able to ride those highly sought after attractions like Flight of Passage and Slinky Dog! If you’re unable to secure a Fastpass+ for those rides, you could be waiting upwards of two hours in the standby line during the day. To put it in perspective, Disney After Hours is a three-hour event, and in that time you could potentially ride those attractions TEN TIMES if you wanted to.

There’s still time to check out this awesome exclusive event, and I highly encourage you do so if it fits in your budget. They release event dates in batches so if the dates don’t line up with your vacation, keep checking!

Here’s where you can find event dates and purchase event tickets for each park: Magic KingdomAnimal KingdomHollywood Studios.

By Courtney Reynolds

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