Magic Kingdom After Hours: Is It Worth the Cost?

by | May 24, 2024 | Magic Kingdom, WDW Blog

Is the Magic Kingdom After Hours event worth it? We’re sharing what you get with Disney After Hours and whether it’s worth the cost when you’re choosing to do the event at Magic Kingdom in Disney World.

Have you ever wanted to visit Disney World but dreaded the idea of having to wait in long lines? Seeing wait times for popular rides skyrocket to 2-3 hours each is reason enough for people to wonder if it’s worth visiting. But what if I told you there’s a way to enjoy all your favorite attractions but barely have to wait in line? And on top of that, get unlimited beverages, snacks, and ice cream treats?

Well, the good news is that you don’t have to be some rich celebrity who can afford to buy out the park for a day. So what is the secret? Disney After Hours!

Disney After Hours: Is It Worth It?

Earlier this year, I was at Disney World for a work conference being held at the Swan & Dolphin hotel. During the planning process, I found out that Magic Kingdom would be hosting After Hours on the day my colleague and I flew in. Having never done an After Hours event and knowing it’d be the only time we’d likely be in a park, we decided to purchase tickets.

Magic Kingdom After Hours Pricing

The admission price was $165 (plus tax) per person. However, After Hours events at Hollywood Studios and EPCOT ran a little cheaper (you can see a complete list of pricing here). As of now, Animal Kingdom does not offer this event. So yes, the ticket prices are pretty steep. However, in my opinion, the value you get makes the cost worth it. 

Dates and Times

After Hours are only held on certain nights of the year. So if you are interested, you will need to plan your trip accordingly. How late does Magic Kingdom After Hours go? The event runs from 10 PM to 1 AM. Obviously, if you are traveling with young children or people who aren’t able to stay up late, this wouldn’t be a logical option.

But wait, you ask. It’s $165 for just 3 hours? Well, kind of. With an After Hours ticket, you can enter the park as early as 7 PM, which is three whole hours before the event! So there’s really no need to buy a park ticket for that day. And honestly, I wouldn’t recommend combining After Hours with a full day in the park. Conserve your energy throughout the day and maximize your time during the night.

When you arrive at Magic Kingdom, you’ll go through a specific entry line where you’ll be given a wristband that designates you as an After Hours attendee. This is important because all other guests will be asked to leave when the event begins at 10 pm. 

Fireworks and Food

Since you can enter the park three hours prior to the event, you can get a head start on some rides, as well as experience the incredible Happily Ever After fireworks show! You can also catch a second fireworks show (Disney Enchantment) at 11 PM. So if you’re a fan of Disney fireworks, this ticket can get you two shows in one night.

Cast Members may also ask you to display your wristband for the included food and drinks. These include bottled water and sodas, popcorn, and a variety of frozen treats, including Mickey ice cream bars! There’s no limit to the number you can have, but be sure to get enough bottles of water in between your other snacks and drinks to stay hydrated throughout the night.

Attractions and Rides

So a bonus fireworks show and unlimited select snacks and beverages are great and all. But what about the short wait times I referred to earlier? This is where After Hours really shine. With limited attendance from 10 pm to 1 am, most of the rides are walk-ons! Nearly every attraction we walked by showed a wait time of five minutes, which typically means by the time you walk through the queue, you’ll either immediately get on the ride or just wait for the next ride vehicle to come.

Even the most popular rides like Peter Pan’s Flight, Big Thunder Mountain, and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train had wait times of only 10-20 minutes… much better than 180 minutes! But the best part is that TRON Lightcycle Run did not use a virtual queue during After Hours! That’s right, it used a standby line, just like any other ride. And by the time we made it over there around midnight, we probably only waited 10 minutes to get on.

What Does An Actual Night During After Hours Look Like?

To give you a better idea of what is possible during After Hours, here is what my co-worker and I were able to fit in. For context, we arrived at the park around 7:30 PM and left around 12:30 AM.

  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Happily Ever After (we could have done more rides, but decided to stake out our spot 45 minutes prior to the show to have a good view of the fireworks)
  • Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
  • PeopleMover
  • Haunted Mansion
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (rode it back to back!)
  • Jungle Cruise
  • Enchantment (we viewed this as we walked to our next attraction)
  • TRON Lightcycle Run
  • Space Mountain
  • Tomorrowland Speedway
  • Peter Pan’s Flight

So in five hours, we got to watch 2 fireworks shows and go on rides 11 times, including those that typically have hour-long waits or more. We probably could have squeezed in 3-4 more rides after our last one, but with our conference starting the next morning, we decided to call it quits a little early. Still, we were able to squeeze more into our night than what some visitors who buy Genie+ do in a full day!

Overall, if you can stay up late and have the opportunity to attend an After Hours event at Magic Kingdom, I would absolutely recommend it. In fact, my co-worker was totally sold on bringing his family next year to do it. And you bet once my kids are old enough, I will be bringing my family as well. 

 

Posts by David Lee

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David is a corporate operations leader by day and a travel writer by night. He is a lifelong Disney fan and a self-proclaimed Dole Whip enthusiast. There's a good chance you'll find him planning the next trip to take his family on, whether it's to Disney World, a National Park, or some remote island halfway across the world. You can follow his other passion (Disney World and travel photography) on Instagram at @smallworlddavid.
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Authored by
David Lee

David is a corporate operations leader by day and a travel writer by night. He is a lifelong Disney fan and a self-proclaimed Dole Whip enthusiast. There's a good chance you'll find him planning the next trip to take his family on, whether it's to Disney World, a National Park, or some remote island halfway across the world. You can follow his other passion (Disney World and travel photography) on Instagram at @smallworlddavid.
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