Everyone on this planet knows how much I love Walt Disney World. While growing up, my parents instilled in me an unwavering commitment to all things Mickey Mouse and I joyfully pass the obsession down to my own three kids–like any good mom would do. 🙂
No one in my family can remember how many times we visited Walt Disney World or Disneyland when we were little. We even did a Disney family cruise when I was in high school, but there is an ongoing debate about which year…
As a mom, I totally keep count: Walt Disney World 8 times–2004, 2006, 2009, 2011, 2014, 2016, 2017 and 2018. Disneyland 2 times–1999 and 2011 and one Disney cruise in 2004.
I could post 10,000 pictures, but I will resist the urge. You are welcome. 🙂
ONE **amazing** Disney experience trumps every other experience from all of those other trips, hands down–and it happened during our most recent vacation.
DISNEY AFTER HOURS
And, OMGGGGGGGGG!!!! Friends and family, Disney After Hours is a GAME CHANGER!
So…what is this SUPER AWESOME Disney After Hours at Magic Kingdom?
Disney After Hours first appeared in the spring of 2016, at the Magic Kingdom park inside Walt Disney World in Florida. As always, Disney constantly tweaks the original offering a little here and there, but the glorious premise remains the same: It is an extraordinary “Disney After Hours” experience.
In other words, guests purchase a ticket to the After Hours event (separate from a theme park ticket), and the ticket grants the unbelievable freedom to enjoy Magic Kingdom after it technically closes to the public–with some super awesome perks!
Below is everything you need to know about this AMAZING event, directly experienced by me and my 3 children (ages 24, 13 and 12) on January 30, 2018.
Disney After Hours is NOT offered every night. In fact, the dates are VERY limited. At the time of this blog entry, the posted dates for 2018 were only January 19, 26, and 30, February 8 and 15 and March 1 and 8. Pretty rare.
From the Disney website, I purchased 4 tickets for $119 EACH. No one knows the exact number (except the all-mighty Disney people), but Disney enthusiasts estimate somewhere around 1,000 tickets per date are sold. Obviously, it sells out quickly. Super exclusive.
I printed 4 paper copies of the tickets and carried those with me to the park on our designated night. The printed tickets allowed me and my children to enter Magic Kingdom at 7:00 p.m.
We arrived at the front gate and saw a cast member holding an “After Hours” sign.
We checked in with her and took this cute pic. 🙂
She handed us each a lanyard with a hard plastic information card–our passes for the night–and we walked into Magic Kingdom!
After we entered the park, we took several fun Photopass pics (The tangled lanterns!) and rode a few exciting rides before the park closed to the other guests at 8:00 p.m
For the After Hours event, these marvelous lanyards grant visitors the ability to stay in the park AFTER CLOSING TIME! More than 25 popular rides remain operational from 8:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., with little to no wait. (Times for this event can vary.)
Once the park closed to the public at 8:00 pm., only lanyard sporting guests were allowed on rides. **I did see other people walking around the park for a little while, but they were turned away at the entrances to the attractions and rides.
I hope you are sitting down for this.
From 8:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., my kids and I rode the following rides:
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad–3 times
Pirates of the Caribbean
Under the Sea–Journey of the Little Mermaid
Peter Pan’s Flight
Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
Mad Tea Party
Space Mountain–3 times
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train–7 times
Tomorrowland Transit Authority People Mover
All in 3 hours! Unbelievable!
We focused on riding all of our personal favorites, but other rides were open, such as the Astro Orbiter, It’s A Small World, and Jungle Cruise. I also noticed Mickey’s Philharmagic and the Princess Fairytale Hall were both accessible.
The event also gave guests an unlimited amount of frozen treats, popcorn and bottled beverages, sold from carts stationed around the park. If you possess the elusive lanyard, you just walk up, flash your card and get ice cream!
Disney heaven on Earth!
The event produced my own personal Christmas morning–my kids and I were laughing and skipping like carefree, unattended children in a candy store–going merrily from ride to ride–without the stress of crowds, long lines and posted wait times–freely eating an obscene amount of Mickey bars and cookies-n-cream ice cream sandwiches.
We wanted to stay ALL. NIGHT. LONG.
OH! And I noticed a SUPER cool phenomenon: For those 3 short hours, all of the guests in the park were members of a special, exclusive club–everyone was OVERLY friendly to one another, all interacting like old college roommates that just won a shared lottery jackpot…a feeling of blissful celebration that I honestly find difficult to accurately describe.
The opportunity to truly act and feel like a kid again.
No stress. No sadness. Free from the weight of our crazy world.
With a little hint of elated disbelief.
A brief breakdown:
For January of 2018, tickets for this event cost $119 each. Prices can vary.
Disney After Hours is a special, ticketed event–it is separate from a theme park ticket and must be purchased separately. **$119 PER PERSON for 4 hours in Magic Kingdom, 3 of those hours represent the event after closing to the public.
The price of the ticket allows guests to enjoy 25+ rides and includes frozen treats, popcorn and bottled beverages, like water and sodas.
Our event was from 8:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. (Magic Kingdom park closing time on January 30, 2018 was 8:00 p.m.) We were allowed to enter the park at 7:00 p.m., one hour before closing time, which gave us 4 hours in the park.
We found little to no wait and NEVER a line at every ride we approached. In total, my children and I rode 21 times (some repeats).
Future After Hours events *might* offer different time windows, different rides or different treats, depending on scheduled park closures and ride refurbishments. Additional food options were available for purchase at restaurants on Main Street.
My final review:
I LOVED every single minute of this experience. What else can I say?
Was it worth $119 a person for only 4 hours? Absolutely!
Would I do it again? Yes, in a heartbeat.
Do I think this ticketed event could replace an entire day at Magic Kingdom? Maybe. It depends on your personal ride preferences and priorities. We rode everything we loved and felt fulfilled when we returned back to our resort.
The most popular question:
If you have a theme park ticket and spend the day at Magic Kingdom, do you still need to spend an additional $119 for this event? Yes, IF you want to stay after closing AND you want to ride the attractions, you MUST purchase the After Hours ticket (in addition to the theme park ticket). However, you DO NOT need a theme park ticket to attend this event. You can just purchase the After Hours ticket and enjoy the park after closing.
Consider this event for a check-in day or a rest day. ** We spent the day at Animal Kingdom and then enjoyed the After Hours event at Magic Kingdom that evening.
***The only thing that could make this event better is if Mickey Mouse and Walt himself were standing on Main Street U.S.A. to say goodnight as guests left the park. 🙂
I will say, this event is best suited for kids and adults that can easily and effortlessly stay up late without a break. Time flies when you are having fun! 🙂 It was the shortest 3 hours of my life! Go! Go! Go!
Once we enjoyed this amazing experience, the rush and urgency to ride the most popular rides on our next day at Magic Kingdom completely disappeared. No more pressure! It opened up our schedule to focus on other attractions and relax longer at our table service dinner at Be Our Guest. For a full restaurant review, read this.
I booked our 2018 vacation 8 months in advance, long before special event options are posted, so the dates of our trip were already in stone. About 2 months before check-in, I noticed a list of dates for Disney After Hours on the Disney website–and one of those dates–January 30th–fell right in the middle of our stay.
Luck or pixie dust?!? You decide. 🙂
Still have questions about Disney’s After Hours event? Email me anytime!
How do I plan our Walt Disney World vacations? Click here.
Everything you need to know about the 2018 Disney Dining Plan–Read this.
A list of all of the Disney character meals? Yep. Right here.
A review of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge–read it here!
Free things to do at Disney? Yes, please! Click here!