Have you ever wondered what happens when the crowds clear and the pixie dusted gates to the Magic Kingdom close at Walt Disney World in Florida? Does anyone ever stay to play in the royal courtyard and neighboring lands or is all the magic carefully stored away for the night? Well, grab your favorite Disney mug filled with milk and find yourself a comfy chair because I have a bedtime story to tell you all about our magical evening at a very special event called Disney After Hours.
Disclaimer #1: I was invited by Walt Disney World to attend the Disney After Hours event. I received two complimentary event tickets, which covered park entrance and complimentary snacks / beverages in exchange for my honest review of the event. All opinions are mine and mine alone.
Pixie Dust Does Exist
Most of you know that Hubby and I have been dating around World Showcase for weeks now. While we love what we’re doing, we decided to take a quick detour from our regular date night to enjoy a very special event at Magic Kingdom. As the recipient of my very first pixie-dusted invitation (yes, that was me you heard screaming the day I opened the email ~ I truly apologize for any earaches I may have caused), I and my guest (that was Hubby this time) had the opportunity to explore the kingdom when the crowds were small and the park was open only to those holding the “golden ticket.”
Actually, it was a very colorful lanyard they were handing out that night, but that is neither here, nor there.
So what is “Disney After Hours”?
I’m glad you asked! From now until the end of September 2018, Magic Kingdom is hosting several Disney After Hours events for Guests visiting the Resort. During these events, ticketed Guests have three designated hours all to themselves to roam the magical realm with greater ease and more opportunity to find pixie dust in every nook and cranny of the park.
Like many of the special events at Walt Disney World (such as Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party and Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party), this is a hard ticketed event. Well, what does that mean? It means that it is a separate purchase and not associated with regular daily admission to the park. Now, while the events themselves do not normally start until 9 or 10 PM, the parks typically allows event Guests to enter early in order to enjoy a little of the magic while the sun is still shining. So, in essence, a Guest may enjoy up to about six hours of park time.
Hubby and I personally arrived for our evening at 8 PM. This was later than I wanted, but we both felt that an afternoon nap was necessary in this case. When we arrived, we picked up our lanyards at the Transportation and Ticket Center and boarded the monorail. When we reached Magic Kingdom, we entered the park through a designated gate for event attendees. From there, we headed straight for the bathroom.
By that point, we were approaching 8:30 PM, so we casually strolled to the Hub to find ourselves a coveted piece of pavement. Guests were just starting to claim their spots for the evening fireworks display, Happily Ever After.
Starting the Evening Right
To be honest, in the end, I’m glad we started the evening off with Happily Ever After. While I would have loved to have spent more time roaming the park while everyone else was glaring at Cinderella Castle, this seemed like the perfect way to begin the festivities for us. For me personally, the song Happily Ever After has special meaning. It capped off my birthday this year, which was the first day I began this new writing adventure full-time, and here I am listening to it on the night of my very first pixie dusted invite. It just seemed to fit right into place.
Is it Worth it?
So, I actually had a young lady ask me this question in the restroom around 8:15 PM that night. This was her first late night event and she was curious (and almost a little skeptical) if it was going to be worth the price of her special event ticket. I shared with her that I had attended a few of the Magic Kingdom holiday parties and two events opened to Disney Vacation Club members. However, I also told her that this was my very first Disney After Hours event, too. In that light, I simply shared with her what I thought she could expect and encouraged her to enthusiastically find the magic in everything the event offered.
But what makes the price of this ticket so worth it? Why should anyone consider visiting Magic Kingdom into the wee hours of the morning?
Okay – here is where I have the distinct pleasure of sharing with you some of the “bennies” of attending Disney After Hours! It’s honestly my favorite part! (I’m giddy with excitement!!)
25 Open Attractions
Most of us know and have made FastPass selections before. Most of us also know how long some of these stand-by lines can be for some of our favorite attractions at any of the parks. During the select nights for Disney After Hours, the number of guests is purposely limited. That way, smaller crowds mean dramatically lower wait times for attractions. Access to your favorites becomes easy-peasy!
Yes – you heard me. Like – hardly any wait time at all (maybe five minutes on those more frequented)
There are 25 Magic Kingdom attractions open to Guests during the three hour event. In just the span of two hours, Hubby and I had enjoyed Jungle Cruise, Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, The Haunted Mansion, Peter Pan’s Flight, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Dumbo (TWICE). Our longest wait? That was for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and it was literally only five to eight minutes. We certainly could have fit in a few more ~ but Hubby was getting a little Sleepy and I was afraid he was going to get Dopey on me if I didn’t get him home.
(Anyone? Did anyone chuckle at that?)
I will say that riding the attractions at night felt just a little more magical for some reason. I may have even giggled a little bit more, too. Seriously, though. The number of things we were able to accomplish and experience during the course of that three hours was astonishing!
Character Meet and Greets
While it’s true that the holiday parties have some very special meet-and-greets with Characters not normally seen in the park, the Disney After Hours event boasts shorter lines to see even more of your favorites that visit with Guests during the course of the day. While we were there, we visited with Rapunzel and Tiana over at Princess Fairy Tale Hall. We also took opportunity to visit with Tinker Bell over at Mickey’s Town Theater. Though we didn’t visit with him this time, Mickey Mouse was visiting with Guests in his special backstage room at Town Theater. I believe that Cinderella and another one of the Disney princesses were waiting for Guests in Princess Fairy Tale Hall, as well.
I have to say that Tinker Bell was especially bubbly that evening. We met with her just after her flight from Cinderella Castle and she was on a “fresh air high.” She was ready to fly off on another adventure and asked us about ours. She even asked if we would alert her the next time we are going on one so that she could possibly join us.
You got it, Tink!! I’ll have my people call your people.
Food, Food, Food….and More Food!
Believe it or not, food is INCLUDED with the price of your event ticket and there is no limit to how much you can enjoy! I wouldn’t recommend making yourself sick on Mickey ice cream bars, but certainly a healthy indulgence would be permissible at such a time as this.
Hubby and I shared some popcorn (fresh and hot, too!!), had a few ice cream treats and stayed hydrated with bottled Dasani® during the course of our adventure. Anytime we needed something, we just had to find a designated station and ask. It was THAT easy!
Oh, for those needing the caffeine, other bottled Coca-Cola® beverages were being offered, as well.
As the crowds are limited, the lines for snacks and beverages were honestly not all that terrible. Seeing as there was no need to scan a Magic Band or wait for a credit car authorization, it was pretty much say what you want, get it and go! Who can argue with that? (but use manners – Cast Members are people, too).
HYDRATION ADVICE! Please remember that, even at night, Florida is HOT in the summer. Stay hydrated throughout the day, but don’t forget to keep drinking water if out and about at night. This has been a public service announcement.
My favorite part of an event like this
While I love experiencing the attractions, biting into a Mickey ice cream bar and visiting with some of my favorite characters, nothing is more magical and satisfying to me than standing on Main Street USA, staring down in awe at Cinderella Castle and seeing absolutely nothing, except spectacular lights and dreams come true. It truly brings a sense of peace to my heart and a joyful tear to my eye. It’s the opportunity to reflect upon the fact that one man’s fantastic dream has become everybody’s else’s magical reality.
Thanks, Uncle Walt….
Are You Ready For Disney After Hours?
Have I inspired you to attend your own Disney After Hours event? If so, you’ll have to jump on it pretty quickly. The summer dates are running out! There are six more dates available now through September 20th, 2018, and remember. Tickets ARE purposely limited in order to preserve the magic intended to be experienced.
If you are local or plan on visiting Walt Disney World Resort & Parks during any of the dates listed below, you can either book your special event tickets online or contact the Disney Reservation Center.
The event takes place 10:00 PM to 1:00 AM:
- Saturday, July 21, 2018
- Saturday, July 28, 2018
- Saturday, August 4, 2018
- Saturday, August 11, 2018
And 9:00 PM to midnight:
- Thursday, August 30, 2018
- Thursday, September 20, 2018
Disney After Hours tickets purchased in advance are $119 per adult or child, plus tax. Tickets, if available (remember, they do limit the number), can be purchased the day of the event, but cost $124 per adult or child, plus tax.
So – discounts. Do any apply? Yes!! Annual Passholders and Disney Vacation Club Members have the opportunity to take advantage of specially priced tickets for just $89 per adult or child, plus tax.
So, My Final Magical Thoughts
This particular Disney After Hours evening may be over, but I have so much and cherish from the event. For instance,
- I will forever remember Skipper Maggie and her hilarious execution of puns during our Jungle Cruise. As we experienced the “back side of water,” she had us laughing hysterically! We almost “lost our heads” on the journey that seemed to go for “Niles and Niles.”
- I will remember the spectacular view of Cinderella Castle just before the plunge from the top of Splash Mountain.
- My husband will remember the giggles I always seem to get when I ride Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.
- We will both remember our time on Dumbo, which was particularly special as we were the only Guests on the attraction TWO TIMES IN A ROW. The Cast Members even called us VIPs!!!
And I will never forget Tink’s smile as she talked our ears off about going on an adventure. Nor will I forget her warm, pixie dusted hug as we were leaving the Hollow. The evening could not have ended on a more perfect note. Honestly, that was the perfect way to cap off the evening.
I can only your experience would be just as magical as ours.
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