By Melanie Rose
I was so happy when Joann asked me to be a guest writer for her blog! We have been friends for many years and I consider it an honor. I share in Joann’s love of all things Disney! My daughter and I went to Walt Disney World during the Thanksgiving holidays this past year to celebrate her Senior year of high school. We were there for seven days and had a wonderful time! We went to multiple character dining meals, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, and the Pirates & Pals Cruise to name a few things we did. Something I had not been familiar with previously was the Disney After Hours event which is what Joann has asked me to tell you about.
Disney After Hours is a separate ticketed event which costs $125. This is on top of a regular park ticket. It is a bit pricey; however, we discovered it to be more than worth it! We attended the After-Hours event at the Magic Kingdom although Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom have recently jumped on board. The purpose of the event is to allow guests to experience attractions with low to no wait times. You also receive complimentary snacks! Guests with After Hours tickets can enter the park at 7:00pm on event nights. Depending on the day, event hours can fluctuate slightly so be sure to check park hours on the day you are attending!
When I plan a trip, I follow crowd calendars such as those by Touring Plans or Kenny the Pirate. Our After-Hours event was on our 7th and last day at Disney World. By then my daughter and I were completely exhausted and even entertained the notion of not going. I was just going to consider the $250 I paid for the event tickets a loss. We weren’t sure we would make it until 1:00am and just wanted to sleep. The Magic Kingdom on that day was a red day for a red park and Kenny the Pirate advised to AVOID MK completely! We had an appointment at 9:00am at MK with Disney Fine Arts Photography for a mini-photo session at the castle as part of her Senior photos. We got there before park opening and I managed to snap a couple of photos of my daughter in front of the castle with no crowds (always a goal!), ride the Tea Cups and Winnie the Pooh prior to her appointment. Then we walked over to what used to be the Rose Garden where the photo session would take place. By the time we did that, the park was getting full fast! Kenny’s calendar was exactly right! We made our way out of the park and headed to Epcot to get out of the crowd. We had a great day in the World Showcase before we went back to the Magic Kingdom for our 5:30pm dinner reservation at Be Our Guest.
On the way to MK we had a sudden downpour. We purchased ponchos as soon as we got there. MK was still packed but people were beginning to make their way out because of the rain. We had a fabulous dinner. By the time we were done, it was close to 8:00pm so we went to get our wristbands for the After Hours event. You must have a wristband to stay in the park. They will check to be sure you have one before you are allowed to ride any rides once the event begins. Check-in started at 7:00pm; however, the actual event was scheduled from 10:00pm (regular park closing) until 1:00am. Three hours doesn’t sound like a lot for the money, but we did so much in that span of time. (And technically, it is five-six hours you can have in the park but only three are actually After Hours.) Even though we were exhausted, once we got caught up in the excitement of having the park to ourselves for those three hours, we got our second wind and just went for it! Rides that typically have ridiculous wait times such as Peter Pan’s Flight and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train were literally walk-on. There was no wait at all! We rode 16 rides (some were duplicates such as riding 7DMT twice and Dumbo three times), met Rapunzel, Tiana, Elena and Cinderella (all with no wait). Free snacks consisted of popcorn, ice cream bars, and bottled water. The snacks were unlimited, so you could visit any and all the stations. Photopass photographers were also available which was wonderful to get castle pictures with few to no people in the background!
You may be asking yourself if the event is truly worth $125 per person (children also have to pay the same price) but it truly was for us. My daughter said it was her favorite part of the entire trip. That in itself made it worth it to me but I had to agree with her. It is my understanding that Disney typically sells 3,000 tickets for After Hours. However, the night we were there I was told that there were only approximately 750 people in the park! I’m inclined to believe that because it was virtually empty! I will definitely purchase these event tickets for a future trip if After Hours is scheduled while we’re there. I don’t know anyone personally who has attended After Hours at Animal Kingdom, but I have heard that the event at Hollywood Studios is wonderful to experience the new Toy Story Land without all the crowds!
Please let Joann and I know if you attend a Disney After Hours event! I look forward to hearing about your experience! Also, if you have any questions, feel free to ask and I will answer as best I can!