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Review: ‘Disney After Hours at Magic Kingdom’ event – Is it worth it?

in Disney, Events, Magic Kingdom, Theme Parks, Walt Disney World

A couple of weeks ago Disney announced a new extra ticketed event that seemed to offer something very similar to “Extra Magic Hours” but for a price. Lots of opinions were shared about the event before it even got off the ground and opinions were very divisive. I was lucky enough to be invited to attend the first night of the event at the Magic Kingdom last week. The question you see most people having about this event is whether or not it’s worth it. A hard question to answer but I will give it a shot.

Let’s first take a look at what this “After Hours at Magic Kingdom” event is all about.

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What is After Hours at Magic Kingdom?

Join a very limited number of guests for over 25 attractions, Characters, ice cream and more. For seven magical nights between April 14 and May 19, 2016, more excitement awaits when Magic Kingdom park closes its gates for Disney After Hours—a special ticketed event that lets you make the most of the park for three additional hours after normal closing hours. This is your chance to take advantage of little-to-no waits, all while experiencing over 25 of the most popular attractions in the park. Tickets to the event are $149 per Guest (tax not included). You can get tickets HERE.

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What do you get for the ticket price?

Exclusive access to Magic Kingdom attractions such as:

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
Disney Princess Greetings at Princess Fairytale Hall
Peter Pan’s Flight
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
Space Mountain

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Ice Cream Novelties, Select Beverages and More

In the midst of the laughs and thrills, delight your sweet side with ice cream novelties and select bottled beverages. These treats are included with the cost of your ticket and can be found at carts stationed throughout the park (available during event hours only).

Limited amount of tickets are sold for each night. According to many cast members I talked to the ticket cap was at 3,000.

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Is it worth it?

A question many guests may ask and almost impossible to answer. If an event is worth it to you or not is a total subjective question that depends on your personal characteristics. But here are some thoughts I had on this event.

  • When Disney says you will get exclusive access to the park and its attractions they really mean it. For this first night of the event the park was eerily empty and it was a sold out night. No attraction sported anything longer than a 5 minute wait time and there was plenty of areas of the park where you could have it all to yourself for that perfect photo op.

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  • Free ice cream and bottle beverage stands could be found in multiple locations throughout the park. Plenty of chances to devour $150 worth of ice cream.
  • If you are a frequent reader of this site, a so called “huge Disney fan”, this event is not aimed at you. I believe this event is for the “once in a lifetime” Disney visitor who doesn’t understand the amount of planning a Disney vacation demands nowadays. Disney fans who know they need to be at the park at opening and fully understand how to work the FP+ system don’t really need this. But for the ones who show up at Disney World not fully informed and therefore never get a chance to, for example, ride Seven Dwarfs Mine Train because of the constantly long wait time may be really tempted by this offer.
  • To figure out if this event is worth it to you, you clearly have to weigh how much your time is worth against your budget. If time is of an essence and you rather not waste it in line for attractions, then yes paying $149 may be worth it to you. I have a hard time figuring out any other time when you will see the Magic Kingdom this empty. But if this is your 5th trip to Disney, you can visit Magic Kingdom more than once and plan out your FP+ correctly I see no reason why you wouldn’t be able to experience all the attractions without much of a wait time. Which only leaves you the free ice cream and that surely wouldn’t be enough to be worth the ticket price.
  • If this was offered during Christmas or Fourth of July weekend I could see it having much bigger appeal but as for now it is not.

Are you tempted to buy a ticket to After Hours at Magic Kingdom?

30 Comments

  1. Rob Stevens

    “For this first night of the event the park was eerily empty and it was a sold out night.”

    Define “sold out.” Word in the DVC forums I frequent is that many DVC members staying on points were offered access to this event for free, suggesting Disney wasn’t able to sell enough tickets. There may or may not have been 3000 guests in the park (that is still debatable), but certainly Disney didn’t sell 3000 tickets.

    1. KLC

      Disney only sold maybe 500 and gave the rest away to the DVC members since it would be worth keeping every ride open.

  2. EricJ

    “If you are a frequent reader of this site, a so called ‘huge Disney fan’, this event is not aimed at you. I believe this event is for the ‘once in a lifetime’ Disney visitor who doesn’t understand the amount of planning a Disney vacation demands nowadays. ”

    Thank you for being one of the few media articles that says this flat out–None of the others I’ve read across the press seem to get it.
    It’s being pitched at the off-property crowd, because they need the money, and there’s nothing “weaselly” or “greedy” about that. And if guests want to enjoy EMH for free, they can come and stay at the resorts, unless they have to stay on I-Drive for the conventions.

  3. Karen S.

    I was in Magic Kingdom that day and a Cast Member at the Barnstormer told us they were advised that morning that only 300 tickets had been sold so far.

    1. Very interesting. I guess you can’t know unless you try. I would pay up to 350 dollars for my family of 5 to experience an empty park like this once. At current ticket prices, that bill would $750 dollars! unbelievable!

      It seems they’re committed for this run, but I’m actually quite glad that I’m hearing this is not being well received.

      1. Paul s

        My family of 4 bought tickets to the event in April. It was the greatest thing we have ever done! We have went 7 times to DW in last 5 years and this was our favorite day! Our children are 16and 9. I dont understand why you would be happy this isnt well received? Why do you care? If you dont want to pay $149 then dont! Funny thing is its actually a bargain if you really want to break it down! This is coming from a family that has planned every second to get the most out of the parks with all our visits. Thats why we contnue to come back as we enjoy rope drops and using our fast passes efficiently. For an extra couple of hundred dollars we were able to just attend and do what we wanted and not worry about lines. We went on rides we may notmally skip as well. Examples of how great it was – we went on mine train 8 times space mtn 6 times. Pan 6 times. Pooh 6 times. Mine train we didnt get off and stayed on 3 straight times. Splash mtn 4 times buzz light year 4 times is a row. Tmrw land raceway 2 its a small world 1 astro orbit 2 . Jungle cruise 2 aladdin1 and still ate ice cream and went on all other rides once. All that is equivalent to a bunch of DW trips! Yes i understand not everyone can afford it but save the $200 from maybe a meal or another day at the park or maybe souviners and use it towards this!! You can get in the park at 7 with ticket and still see electric parade and fireworks so you can spend 7 hours in MK and go on over 50 rides. Yes 50! If you have normal day ticket its 14 hours and yes its wonderful for all the other activities and day but believe me no matter how well you plan YOU WILL NEVER DO 50 RIDES! Another great thing was the next day we went back to MK and we relaxed and really took in the sights and little things of MK because we had done EVERY ride soooooo many times the night before it was not even a priority so kids enjoyed other things without waiting in a line or wanting to go on that special ride. We simply used our fast passes and watched things and sights and enjoyed meals. Wow what a GREAT relaxing/enjoyable day at the greatest place in the world! I hope and pray Disney does this again as we are waiting and praying for them to announce dates and we will plan a trip around these special dates. One last note is if you are flying late into Disney because of work or school and you are getting charged for the room etc that night this is also great because you can go to park and still get geatest night ever!! Maybe you people who are looking from the outside will now realize this is not a scam or Disney squeezing the sponge but to give people willing to stay up late a SPECiAL opportunity!!!!

        1. kha

          thanks for this review! this is exactly what we would do too!

  4. Brian C

    What time can you enter the park on the day of the event do you need a park ticket! Depending on the time I think It would be a cool one time thing to see the park empty.

    1. Grammar Police

      You can enter the park at 7pm.

  5. Donna

    A Disney insider said these events have exceeded their expectations and more are to be possibly added.
    Like I have said in a previous post, we are pass holders but can not stay on-site for “magic hours” because we use pet friendly hotels only (which Disneyworld does not have) so this is a jackpot for us. Anytime I can avoid the “stroller wielding” aggressive parents, who make it so difficult for adults to enjoy the park unblemished, money is no object. I am so looking forward to strolling around the park at our leisure and little to no lines for rides.

  6. Mary

    I attended the event on April 14 and thought it was great! It was my first Disney visit in 25 years, this event allowed me to spend more time in other parks because I was able to do so much if MK in just a few hours.

  7. I’m a “west coaster” (Utah actually) so my Disney park is usually Disneyland. My first trip to WDW was 21 years ago (yikes). My parents had saved up and we booked plenty of time to see the Disney parks and a couple of others in the area. We stayed on property and took advantage of the “early entry” when available (I don’t remember specifics around it).

    During that trip they were doing a similar “after hours” promotion. We didn’t even know about it until we were at ~closing time one night and saw some people still being let into attractions so we hopped in line only to be turned away because we didn’t have the after hours pass. Later that week, we picked up a pass for each family member and spent the late hours riding big ticket attractions with no wait again and again. There weren’t any additional perks that I remember (no free ice cream, etc.) but the near empty park was a huge joy to all of us.

    I probably agree that Orlando natives or very frequent WDW attendees may not be willing to plop down the extra cash (especially since it looks to cost about as much as a single day ticket). I can say that my wife and I are planning to take our kids to WDW in 2018. I’ve now been to WDW 6 times (and she’s come with me 4 of those). I may not be an expert, but I’m pretty well versed in park efficiency and making the most of FP+ and other tips/tricks. And yet, if this option is available during the timeframe of our trip, I am fairly certain it would be something we’d look to invest in for one night. (We might use that day to go to another park close by, or do some “resort hopping” and then just show up in the evening for the late night event). It’s definitely a cool once or twice in a lifetime experience worth trying…and I’d love to do it again.

  8. I would consider this if we were to arrive late on our first night to Walt Disney World and our Base Tickets didn’t start until the next day. We usually only go to WDW every 2 years, so this would be a great way to start our vacation.

  9. Ross Christiansen

    Back in 2001 or so, while on a school trip during June, something like this was offered to us while staying at the Contemporary. This was before the Extra Magic Hours, as far as I can remember. It seems to me the add on to our base ticket was something like $25, so for that price, it was awesome. We were able to ride all the rides and stayed at the park until closing with the park being abandoned just like the pictures. For $150 though, it seems like a unnecessary luxury, unless you are not staying at a Disney hotel or don’t take advantage of the Fastpass system.

  10. Rafael

    I think it’s pretty weird to be in a park with no people. You can go on many rides, but the atmosphere is not that fun. Too crowded isn’t good, but empty is even worse.

    1. EricJ

      EMH started back in the late 90’s back before paper FastPass was even imagined, just because people were that desperate to get on Space Mountain.
      Afterwards, and now even with FP+, it’s not been about getting on the rides for the last twelve years, it’s about enjoying the atmosphere. If Epcot’s crowded during the day, World Showcase and Future World are quite relaxed on an “emptier” summer-evening EMH, just to stroll with the lights and music.

  11. Christie

    My husband and I went to this event. We checked in around 7 pm and the park wasn’t too busy as it had stormed and cleared things out (10 minute wait for Pirates; 15 minute wait for Space Mountain). We watched the last parade from Main Street then went back in to enjoy the after hours. We have been to WDW multiple times and went to one of the first Mickey Very Scary nights. It reminded me of the time we did this but this night there were fewer people in the park. We enjoyed the short or nonexistent lines; rode Seven Dwarfs Mine for the first time with no wait and two times in a row. Got to see Anna and Elsa which we weren’t able to do in January when we brought our granddaughter to WDW because of the wait. Enjoyed the free beverages and ice cream treat as well. We hung out until 1:30 am. We could have done the majority of rides in that time frame (7 pm to 2 am).

    Question we asked ourselves though is would we have paid the $300 plus tax to do this? We are DVC members and were able to try the even out at no cost. I enjoyed doing it because it was a different experience. If it is someone’s first time at MK I wouldn’t recommend it as you don’t have the full effect of the park; seeing characters, parades, restaurants, stores, etc. But if you have been to the parks before and want to see it in a new light I think it is worth it. I loved seeing it without a ton of people and to really walk the park at night.

    I think for them to make this work they would need to have more people as I can’t imagine 3K is enough. They could probably do 5K and still not have lines. The price is approximately $50 more than a regular park ticket; maybe lower it a little so it isn’t so much more. I think it is something they should continue with some fine tuning,

    1. Keliharvy

      Hi. I’m thinking of taking my 10 year old to DAHours. Do you think the park seemed creepy without everyone in it? That is my only concern. — I think I’ve watched too many horror movies 😉

  12. Paul

    This will be an awesome new ride Sea World needed something new badly and we got it the Mako can’t wait for it to open this summer !!!!!!!

  13. Maggie

    Can anyone let me know if it was mainly adults in the park. We haven’t kids and would love to experience the park without having to deal with strollers and grumpy kids.

    1. Maggie

      Oh, and do you get a discount as an AP holder?

  14. Diane

    I’m quite disappointed to see DVC members getting in free and no mention of a discount for resort guests or AP holders, which is a silly move of Disney not to do so as it will leave a nasty taste in the mouth of those who paid to get in and not really rewarding the loyalty of AP holders. If these numbers continue Disney will be out of pocket as the ticket limit would have been calculated on making a marginal profit after factoring the cost of staffing and running costs, so they probably made a loss that first night if they only sold 500 tickets as reported. I had been considering doing it as a once in a lifetime opportunity, but, paying $160 including taxes and knowing others paid zip has put me off that idea. I can’t afford to be a DVC member, as much as I’d love to be, but, I shell out for my AP year in and year out and even the 10% discount would offset the taxes.

    1. Jake Smitherman

      You kidding…DVC members pay an additional fee annually weather they come to the park or not. plus their benefits are changed constantly to make more money for Disney. It’s great to be a DVC member but after the initial $20,000 plus you keep on paying. Nothing is free at Disney….it’s an illusion just like all their others but I am able to still pay for it now.

    2. Nicole

      I am a Florida Resident Annual Passholder at WDW and I received several offers in my email about attending this event at 50% off the ticket price. ($75)

      Did you miss the emails? They did offer AP a huge discount.

  15. Jake Smitherman

    Disney the capitalist company with the greatest entertainment knows how to make money. They are going to need it when ever Bernie Sanders becomes president to pay the taxes he will be putting on them. But hey we love Disney and will pay any increase.

  16. Christina

    I miss E-Ride nights!! $12 to stay late. They even kept running in the pouring rain back then. More than once we ran around soaked to the bone getting on splash mountain, haunted mansion, etc getting off and going right back on or with splash mountain, just staying on and riding it around. I can’t imagine paying $149 for that privilege, even with the free ice cream.even the half off for ap or dvc is super steep.

  17. R

    My family and I are annual pass holders and most likely wouldn’t have paid for these tickets. But, we were given three free tickets for May 8, 2016 and the experience was awesome. Ice cream and bottled drinks not that big of deal to us; although we did indulge…why not. We felt like we had the park to ourselves. Our wait time for seven dwarfs mine train was maybe two minutes. Peter Pan five seconds and we were able to hang out in Wendy’s room with nobody around. Buzz Lightyear we just stayed on the ride and kept going around. Well worth the $150 per ticket if you want to ride all you want with no wait.

  18. R

    We went May 5, 2016. Not May 8, 2026.

  19. Diane

    Did it on May 12th, half price ticket as AP holder, worth every penny. Fantastic night, hardly any kids and the adults all behaving like big kids having lots of fun. Virtually all the rides were open, free ice cream on drinks.

    Only complaints. I could have done with an extra hour, even though I had done all the rides I was enjoying myself too much to want to leave. The guy hanging around who got on Astro Orbitor without paying for an event ticket, the CM was scared to ask him to leave. So I asked him if he had a ticket and he openly admitted he hadn’t and I was the one bitched at by other guests for objecting to him being there when we had all paid $80 for the privelige, I had to stop myself from telling one guy giving me the hard time to go to guest services and buy the interloper a ticket if he felt so strongly about the guy being allowed on rides.
    Talking to some other guests a couple of days later on a Disney bus who found out I did the event, they all said one thing, they would do the after hours event if they didn’t allow kids in and they would happily pay $75 to do so. So if any Disney execs are looking, I did your survey and told you this, but, seriously, do an after hours event that lasts 4 hours for a reasonable ticket price, only allows adults and have just a few more characters with the same limited admission numbers as with this event then you are on to a winner.

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