Guide to Disney After Hours at Walt Disney World - The Points Guy (2024)

I've been going to Disney World since I was a kid, and I've grown accustomed to the routines necessary to get on the most possible rides during my visits. Whether it's getting to the parks before the gates open and beelining to popular attractions like Seven Dwarfs Mine Train or Peter Pan's Flight at rope drop or mastering techniques for using Disney's virtual queue system to get on rides like Tron Lightcycle / Run, I have lots of pixie-dusted tricks up my sleeve.

Related: Are Disney World's after-hours parties worth it?

When I discovered a way to get on practically every ride at the Magic Kingdom without getting up early or waiting in long lines, I knew I had to try it out to see if it was worth adding to my arsenal of Disney tricks. Here is my experience at Disney After Hours at the Magic Kingdom.

What is Disney After Hours?

Guide to Disney After Hours at Walt Disney World - The Points Guy (1)

Disney After Hours is a separately ticketed event that takes place in the evening after the park has closed to daytime guests. These events include access to attractions, character meet-and-greets and complimentary snacks and beverages.

The exact start and end times depend on which park you visit, but each Disney After Hours event lasts three hours. Your Disney After Hours ticket gets you into the park starting at 7 p.m., though, so you can get into the parks and start the fun early. That means you get a total of six hours in the park to enjoy the event.

Disney keeps crowds small by limiting the number of tickets to these events. I attended Disney After Hours at the Magic Kingdom on a Monday evening. By the time daytime guests had cleared the park, it felt like I had the place to myself. The walkways were wide open, I could snap photos of Cinderella Castle without thousands of strangers in the background and most rides had no wait at all.

FOR NO-COST ASSISTANCE WITH PLANNING AND BOOKING YOUR NEXT DISNEY VACATION, CHECK OUT TPG'S DISNEY BOOKING PARTNER, MOUSE COUNSELORS.

You can purchase tickets on Disney's website or through an authorized Disney vacation planner.

Which parks have Disney After Hours events?

Guide to Disney After Hours at Walt Disney World - The Points Guy (2)

Disney After Hours events are held at the Magic Kingdom, Disney's Hollywood Studios and Epcot. The pricing, times and dates vary per park, so let's take a look at each one:

Guide to Disney After Hours at Walt Disney World - The Points Guy (3)

Daily Newsletter

Reward your inbox with the TPG Daily newsletter

Join over 700,000 readers for breaking news, in-depth guides and exclusive deals from TPG’s experts

Magic Kingdom

  • Price: $155 to $175 per person plus tax
  • Time: 10 p.m. to 1 a.m.
  • Dates: Feb. 29, March 4, March 18, April 8, April 22, April 29, May 13, June 13 and June 27

Disney's Hollywood Studios

  • Price: $145 to $175 per person plus tax
  • Time: 9:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.
  • Dates: Feb. 21, Feb. 26, March 13, March 20, March 7, April 3, April 10, May 22, May 29, June 12, June 19, June 26, July 10, July 17, July 31, Aug. 7, Aug. 14, Aug. 21 and Aug. 29

Epcot

  • Price: $149 to $159
  • Time: 10 p.m. to 1 a.m.
  • Dates: March 7, March 28, April 4, April 25, May 9, May 23, May 30, June 6, June 20 and July 18

Annual pass holders and Disney Vacation Club members receive a $30 ticket discount. Disney releases new dates periodically. There may or may not be more event dates this year, as Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party will likely run from August through Halloween, with Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party kicking off soon after.

What is included with Disney After Hours?

Guide to Disney After Hours at Walt Disney World - The Points Guy (4)

Guide to Disney After Hours at Walt Disney World - The Points Guy (5)

1

of

2

During Disney After Hours, you can have unlimited Mickey ice cream bars. TARAH CHIEFFI/THE POINTS GUY

1

The Disney After Hours offerings at each park are slightly different, but each provides access to most attractions — including popular rides that typically have long waits during the day — plus exclusive entertainment or character meet-and-greets and complimentary snacks and drinks. After the park closes, Disney cast members wheel out carts with freshly made popcorn, Mickey ice cream bars, Mickey ice cream sandwiches, fruit-flavored frozen pops, bottled sodas and bottled water.

I chose the Magic Kingdom for my Disney After Hours experience for several reasons.

First, Disney brought back Enchantment, the fireworks show it debuted for the park's 50th anniversary that's now exclusively performed during Disney After Hours. This is in addition to the regular nighttime fireworks showing of Happily Ever After, which takes place during the mix-in portion of the night before the event officially begins. Epcot and Disney's Hollywood Studios don't offer special entertainment during Disney After Hours, but they do have rare character meet-and-greets with Chip and Dale, Stitch and Jiminy Cricket, among other characters.

I was also hopeful that with the smaller crowds, I would be able to enjoy rides that are harder to get on due to long lines or difficult-to-grab virtual queue spots, such as Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Tron Lightcycle / Run.

Finally, I wanted to find out if I could squeeze the same number of rides I can get on during a typical Disney day into Disney After Hours' six or so hours.

How many rides can you get on during Disney After Hours events?

Guide to Disney After Hours at Walt Disney World - The Points Guy (6)

Odds are this is the top question on your mind. Luckily, I kept a detailed list of the average wait times for rides at the Magic Kingdom and my actual wait time for each ride I went on. Keep in mind that many of the rides listed a five-minute wait time, but that usually means there is no wait; it just accounts for the time it takes to walk through the queue.

What you see in the chart below is my actual wait, which was sometimes less than the posted wait. I used a site called Thrill Data to pull average wait times at the Magic Kingdom during the previous month.

AttractionAverage waitMy wait
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train84 minutes10 minutes
Princess Fairytale Hall41 minutes5 minutes
Tron Lightcycle / RunVirtual queue or Lightning Lane30 minutes
Peter Pan's Flight66 minutes5 minutes
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh43 minutes10 minutes
Space Mountain60 minutes15 minutes
Pirates of the Caribbean38 minutes10 minutes
Under the Sea — Journey of The Little Mermaid28 minutes5 minutes
Dumbo the Flying Elephant27 minutes5 minutes
Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin39 minutes5 minutes
Haunted Mansion48 minutes5 minutes
Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room15 minutes5 minutes
Total489 minutes110 minutes

As you can see, even though I was at the park for about half the time I'd be there on a normal day, I knocked out 12 attractions and spent about a quarter of the time in line that the average daytime guest does. I've waited in some long lines at Disney World, and walking right onto most rides with no wait at all felt like a dream come true.

Guide to Disney After Hours at Walt Disney World - The Points Guy (7)

Another perk of Disney After Hours at the Magic Kingdom is that Tron Lightcycle / Run uses a standby queue rather than requiring you to enter a virtual queue or purchase an individual Lightning Lane. I have decent luck snagging a virtual queue spot, but hopping in line was so much easier.

When I got in line at about 11:30 p.m., the wait time was listed as 40 minutes, but I only waited about 30. It would have been even less if I had waited until later in the evening, but I was on that side of the park and figured that was a good time to knock it out.

Guide to Disney After Hours at Walt Disney World - The Points Guy (8)

Because I arrived early, I used the time before the event officially started to experience a few attractions that already had short waits, such as Dumbo the Flying Elephant. What surprised me, though, was that I made time for attractions I sometimes skip because I knew that the wait times for the most popular rides would be shorter later in the evening.

I knew I would have plenty of time to ride my favorite roller coasters, so I took more time early in the evening to relax and enjoy attractions like Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room. I am so happy that this event allowed me to ride the most popular rides and visit my favorite singing birds.

Guide to Disney After Hours at Walt Disney World - The Points Guy (9)

I thought my last ride of the evening would be the Haunted Mansion. The posted wait time was 13 minutes — the equivalent of there being no wait, as the ride chooses this number instead of five minutes to keep with its spooky theme — and I hopped in line around 12:45 a.m.

Guide to Disney After Hours at Walt Disney World - The Points Guy (10)

Much to my surprise, though, when I walked off the ride, it was 12:57 p.m. You can get in line for attractions right up until the end of the event, so instead of ending my visit a few minutes early, I made a beeline for Princess Fairytale Hall to meet Cinderella and Ariel. I was the last person let in for the experience, and having both characters wave and wish me goodnight was the perfect way to end such a fun evening.

Is Disney After Hours worth it?

Guide to Disney After Hours at Walt Disney World - The Points Guy (11)

I'm happy to report that the event exceeded my expectations on all fronts.

The price of Disney After Hours is comparable to a regular daytime ticket. In fact, on the date of my visit, it was only a dollar more than a one-day Magic Kingdom ticket. Considering everything included and how much you can get done, I felt like the event provided great value.

I rode just as many, if not more, attractions than I would on a regular day and in a fraction of the time. I also wasn't battling the Florida sun or hordes of people as I bounced from ride to ride. I unashamedly ate multiple Mickey ice cream bars and snacked on popcorn while waiting in line for rides, and all those free Diet co*kes kept me awake until the wee hours (don't worry, I stayed hydrated with the complimentary bottled water, too).

Who should go to Disney After Hours?

Guide to Disney After Hours at Walt Disney World - The Points Guy (12)

While I'd love to keep Disney After Hours all to myself, there are some specific times when I'd recommend others partake in the event.

If you want to ride every ride in the park in 1 day

If your main goal when you visit Disney World is to ride as many rides as possible and on multiple occasions, plan on combining a daytime ticket with a Disney After Hours ticket. During the event, you can re-ride your favorites again and again or hit the rides you skipped during the day because of the higher wait times.

If you don't want to deal with Disney Genie+

During Disney After Hours, all rides use a standby queue. If waking up early to vie for a virtual queue spot or spending time (and money) to schedule rides using Disney Genie+ is not your idea of a vacation, you'll enjoy hopping in short standby queues on a whim during Disney After Hours.

If you are a night owl

If the thought of waking up at 6 a.m. and rushing to the parks to be first in line when they swing open the gates makes you want to throw the covers over your head and go back to sleep, Disney After Hours is the perfect alternative. You can purchase a Disney After Hours ticket instead of a regular daytime ticket and enjoy the same number of rides as you would during the day without getting up early.

Who shouldn't go to Disney After Hours?

Despite my glowing review, there are a few instances where Disney After Hours may not be right for you.

If you are visiting with young children

While I saw a fair share of young kids being pushed around in strollers during my visit, I would not have brought my younger children to this event. My oldest is 10, and I think this event would be perfect for him. However, I wouldn't want to spend that money to bring my 5- and 7-year-olds to Disney After Hours.

On top of not getting as much done (their little legs can't move as fast as mine), I don't think they would have been able to stay awake until the end of the event. This may not be the case for all kids, but it's something to consider before buying a ticket.

If it's your first time visiting a park

Although the crowds are not as thick and select characters are out greeting guests, you won't get the full Disney World experience during these events. I wouldn't recommend attending Disney After Hours at a park you've never visited during daytime hours. You'll miss out on some of the dining, entertainment and atmosphere that you can only experience with a regular daytime ticket.

If you are hoping for exclusive experiences

Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party and Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party are full of exclusive experiences like nighttime spectaculars, dance parties, parades, live entertainment and rare characters. Disney After Hours doesn't have as much of this. While I loved seeing Enchantment, it wasn't my sole reason for going to Disney After Hours.

The most obvious benefit of this event is how much you can get done in a short amount of time with smaller crowds. If exclusive experiences are your goal, I recommend one of the holiday-themed after-hours parties instead.

Bottom line

I had a blast at Disney After Hours, and I've already begun recommending it to my friends and family. Whether you've been to Disney World dozens of times and are looking to try something new or you love squeezing in as many rides as possible during your Disney trips, Disney After Hours is a great way to see the parks in a different light — or, to be more accurate, in the dark.

Related reading:

  • A magical guide for how to plan a trip to Disney World this year
  • The best Disney World hotels for your 2024 stay
  • How to use points to buy Disney tickets
  • Are the Disney Visa credit cards worth it?
  • How you can save hundreds of dollars by renting Disney Vacation Club points

Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Guide to Disney After Hours at Walt Disney World - The Points Guy (2024)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Allyn Kozey

Last Updated:

Views: 6232

Rating: 4.2 / 5 (43 voted)

Reviews: 90% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Allyn Kozey

Birthday: 1993-12-21

Address: Suite 454 40343 Larson Union, Port Melia, TX 16164

Phone: +2456904400762

Job: Investor Administrator

Hobby: Sketching, Puzzles, Pet, Mountaineering, Skydiving, Dowsing, Sports

Introduction: My name is Allyn Kozey, I am a outstanding, colorful, adventurous, encouraging, zealous, tender, helpful person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.