Since 2016, the hard-ticketed event Disney After Hours has provided guests the opportunity to spend an additional three hours in the Magic Kingdom after normal park close with very low crowds. In addition to having extremely limited wait times on popular attractions, guests also get unlimited ice cream novelties, popcorn and bottled beverages. This event returned this year at a lower price than previous dates, at $119 for the general public and $89 for Disney Vacation Club Members and Annual Passholders. A limited number of tickets are sold, ensuring low crowds for guests. I had the opportunity to attend the first After Hours event of 2018 on January 19th, and I could not recommend this event enough.
It is published that guests can pick up their credentials for the event at the entrance to Magic Kingdom at 7 pm. We arrived around 6:45 pm and were able to walk right up to the touch points to get our lanyards. The first night was sold out, so I was a little worried going in that crowds would be a little unmanageable considering what the event was publicized as, but was hopeful that Disney would keep their promise of very limited wait times. The night’s event ran 8 pm – 11 pm, with the Happily Ever After fireworks beginning at 8 pm. When the event began, we watched the first bit of the fireworks from the bridge in Frontierland going towards Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, then rode the coaster in the middle of the fireworks with no wait (that ride provides a super fun fireworks view), and then returned to the bridge to watch the end of the fireworks. It was a great place to see the fireworks in a different way and gave us great access to attractions.
Throughout the next three hours, my group managed to ride 14 attractions in addition to meeting Rapunzel and Tiana (in addition to getting lots of ice cream treats). The large majority of attractions were open for the event and it gave me the chance to ride attractions that I otherwise never go on. While there was some wait early on in the night, I had the opportunity to walk straight onto Peter Pan’s Flight near the end of the event. I also got to ride the Tomorrowland Speedway for the first time in ten years with no wait. I appreciated the fact that I could go on attractions that I never feel are necessarily worth using a FastPass on and do not want to spend an hour waiting for in line during normal park hours. Almost all attractions were a walk-on at some point in the evening. I was a little disappointed in the wait time for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, but if that is the only thing I did not get to ride, I cannot really complain. Considering it was a sold-out night, I was amazed on how minimal all the waits were — I would be very interested to see what the waits are on a quieter night. Some have said that Disney sells a maximum of only 3,000 tickets for this event, which is obviously significantly different than the typical tens of thousands of people who are normally at the Magic Kingdom.
This event, in my opinion, is beyond just the short wait times and free ice cream. It gives you the extremely rare opportunity to roam through a near-empty Magic Kingdom. While a few thousand people may sound like a lot, when you are at the park it feels like nothing. It is so cool to walk down the streets of Frontierland and only see two other families. You can stop and literally sit on the ground in front of Cinderella Castle to take a photo without the worry of anyone tripping over you or anyone getting in your photo. In my opinion, seeing the park empty just adds to one’s appreciation of the small details of the park.
Overall, Disney After Hours is well worth the money spent. The lower price point they introduced this year is very reasonable considering just how many attractions you will get to go on. It gives you opportunities that you would not normally have, and will add to the magic of your Walt Disney World vacation.