On Saturday night, I paid to attend the very first Disney After Hours event at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. I note that I paid once more because most sites providing reviews of this event did not, even though they are now claiming that they attend these AGAIN later as paying guests to provide some credibility to their thoughts. Personally, I’d love to see those receipts. Anyway… the event has existed at The Magic Kingdom for a number of years, and actually just began at Disney’s Animal Kingdom earlier in the week. Here’s how Disney describes the event:
When the sun sets, more magic awaits at Disney’s Hollywood Studios after dark.
Disney After Hours gives a limited number of Guests—including you—access to unforgettable experiences on select nights through April 2019.
Ride exciting attractions, meet favorite Characters and play BIG at Toy Story Land lit up at night! You’ll enjoy little-to-no-wait times at*:
- Slinky Dog Dash
- Alien Swirling Saucers
- Toy Story Mania!
- Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
- Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith
- Star Tours – The Adventures Continue
- Star Wars Launch Bay
- Character Greetings with Toy Story Land Pals, Mickey, Minnie and Olaf
In the midst of the laughs and thrills, be sure to chill out with ice cream novelties, popcorn and select bottled beverages—included in the cost of admission—available at carts stationed throughout Disney’s Hollywood Studios. In addition, you can also purchase menu items at select locations throughout the park.
And remember: only a limited number of tickets are available for each night. Be sure to purchase your tickets today!
For tickets to this special event, call 407-939-7795 or visit any Walt Disney World ticket window.
Admission to Disney After Hours at Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park can be purchased in advance for $125 per adult or child, plus tax—or purchased on the day of the event for $129 per adult or child, plus tax. Annual Passholders and Disney Vacation Club Members can take advantage of specially priced tickets for just $95 per adult or child, plus tax.
Guests with Disney After Hours tickets can enter the park at 7:00 PM every event night.
So, as stated above the event begins at 7:00 pm. If you already have park admission, you can head in early and obtain your wristband for the event at the window by the fountain at the corner of Hollywood and Sunset Boulevard.
If you only have event admission and not a ticket that gets you into Disney’s Hollywood Studios during regular park hours, then you can arrive a little before 7:00 pm and enter through the far right turnstiles in front of the park.
Here’s the full event lineup.
Sadly, a few attractions in the park go out of service at 6:00 pm or earlier, so this is another event where you’ll miss some stuff if you only go to Disney After Hours (most notably MuppetVision 3-D, Walt Disney Presents, Streetmosphere, Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage, the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, and some other entertainment). Fantasmic is currently at 8:00 pm and Jingle Bell, Jingle Bam at 8:30 pm (Galactic Spectacular once we get out of the holiday season), so you could see one of those with this ticket if you really wanted to (provided Fantasmic isn’t full 60 minutes before showtime).
We started the night in Toy Story Land, which ended up being a mistake. Park crowds are still present in this part of the park later in the day, so Slinky Dog Dash didn’t open to After Hours attendees until precisely 8:30pm, at which point it probably boasted the longest wait it would have all event long. Alien Swirling Saucers did open to us before 8:30pm, but we waited at least ten minutes. If we had come later, we could have rode it twice or more in that time. My suggestion would be to start out by Star Tours or on Sunset Boulevard around 8:00 pm.
After completing two rides on Swirling Saucers, two on Slinky Dog Dash, and one on Toy Story Mania, we headed down to Sunset Boulevard as we deemed that the Toy Story character meet and greet lines were just too long. We would have went on Toy Story Mania again, but that exit and queue just takes so long to walk.
Sunset Boulevard was mostly empty during our time there. Unadvertised was the operation of Sunset Seasons Greetings during the event, a nice touch. These are way more enjoyable without the hustle and bustle of crowds and it only takes 10-15 minutes to see them all.
Tower of Terror and Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster were pretty empty, with the ability to stop and watch or just pass through the pre-show experiences. Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster cast members even allowed guests to choose a row if the load area was empty enough. We rode these attractions twice each as well. Star Tours was nearly empty when we got over there.
Here are some empty queue pics for you to drool over:
Unlike the other Disney After Hours events, there are a fair amount of meet and greets available during the Disney’s Hollywood Studios offering. Mickey and Minnie are accessible in the Red Carpet Dreams space, while Olaf can be met at Celebrity Spotlight. He was completely alone and was staring at us through the doorway as we entered…
He was delightful to meet, as were Mickey and Minnie, who spent a little extra time with us as there wasn’t much of a wait to see them.
We didn’t get to them, but Kylo Ren, Chewbacca, and BB-8 were all available to meet at Star Wars Launch Bay, which was open as well.
While the Animal Kingdom event had the ambiance of an empty Pandora at night, Toy Story Land just doesn’t cut it. Slinky Dog Dash is fun enough, but it doesn’t feel nearly as special. It is nice to be able to meet the Toy Story pals with no wait, especially since that experience is exposed to the elements during the day. You can meet Woody and Jessie together and Buzz Lightyear by himself if you choose, just as are offered during the regular park hours. You’ll want to do these later in the evening to avoid waiting. As we said earlier, save Toy Story Land for last.
Also included in the admission are complimentary snacks: popcorn, Mickey Ice Cream bars, fruit bars, and the Mickey ice cream sandwich. Complimentary bottled beverages include Dasani water, Coke, Diet Coke, and Sprite. If you are hungry or thirsty and this doesn’t fit your needs, Woody’s Lunchbox, Anaheim Produce, and KRNR by Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster are open for business.
So, is Disney After Hours – Disney’s Hollywood Studios worth it? Probably. You can’t have a bad time in a mostly-empty Disney theme park with headliner attractions open; it’s impossible. It is a VIP experience at a price point that doesn’t require as much capital as a VIP tour or something of the like. The determining factor, as always, is the price. $129 plus tax is expensive, especially if you’re taking a child who can’t ride half of these attractions. You just need to decide if you think it is worth it for you based on the above review. I don’t know that I would regularly drop around $100 to do this, but if someone was visiting who doesn’t often come to WDW or for some reason can’t brave the crowds of Slinky Dog Dash, this is something I would book for a special occasion.
I will say I enjoyed this more than the Animal Kingdom event, but I don’t know that most guests will agree with me. My affinity for what’s left of Disney’s Hollywood Studios is well documented, so I may be biased. Tower of Terror, Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster, Star Tours, and Midway Mania are probably on the short list of my favorite rides here in Orlando, certainly ones with a high re-ride value for me.
The sad truth is that the everyday Walt Disney World experience isn’t very enjoyable anymore. The parks are overcrowded and wait times are longer than ever, which would indicate that Disney has not expanded the park lineups enough over time to match the crowd levels they see. There is also so much early planning and reservation luck involved in getting FastPasses or that coveted seat at a popular restaurant, not to mention that more often than not it is miserably hot and some of the newer lands don’t offer much in the way of shade (at this point, I assume you are tired of hearing me berate Toy Story Land by now.)
The overall Disney World experience in 2018 isn’t much fun if you’re trying to do a lot and aren’t more laid-back or “laissez-faire” about it all. I more often than not look around me and see screaming, frustration, exhaustion and worse from guests, which does make the few smiling moments stand out more. In the end, I think the only way to accomplish a lot and not feel miserable by the time your trip is over are these expensive add-on events. I know telling you that does little to fix all of the current problems at the domestic parks, but I’ll recommend these even though a small part of me will die every time I do. I honestly had more fun at the Animal Kingdom Disney After Hours, the Early Morning Magic in Fantasyland, and this event that I have here in Orlando since the early previews of Pandora back in May 2017.
These events are stress-free, take place in the cool evening hours, and are a remarkably good time. Yes, they are expensive, and yes, Disney should care that their normal guest experience is currently miserable, but there’s nothing you or I can do about that. If you personally want to continue to have fun at Walt Disney World and have disposable income, than Disney After Hours is your best bet.