REVIEW: Disney Villains After Hours Adds Wicked Value to Magic Kingdom’s Add-On Nighttime Event
On Thursday night, I paid to attend the very first Disney Villains After Hours event at The Magic Kingdom. 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. As always, 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 and Disney’s Hollywood Studios a few months ago. Here’s how Disney describes the “plussed” Magic Kingdom event:
Grab an apple, pack your potions and discover the joys of being bad as villains shine at this after-hours event!
This summer, Magic Kingdom park presents Disney Villains After Hours, a separately ticketed, special nighttime event showcasing some of Disney’s best-loved baddies! Disney Villains After Hours lets a limited number of Guests experience the park for an additional 3 hours after it closes, with low wait times at more than 20 classic attractions—including Haunted Mansion, Jungle Cruise, Pirates of the Caribbean, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Space Mountain and more. Plus, event tickets provide access to themed cuisine, photo ops, merchandise, entertainment and park entry as early as 7:00 PM.
So whether you’re already devilishly divine or just dipping a toe into the dark side, indulge your inner villain at this sinister soiree. But hurry, ticket availability is limited—choose from 10 nights of incredible mischief you’ll never forget!
Three hours of access to over 20 popular Magic Kingdom attractions with low wait times and thrilling villain-inspired surprises at Pirates of the Caribbean and Space Mountain—all after the park closes
Villains Unite the Night, an all-new, 20-plus minute stage show starring Hades, Meg, The Queen, Maleficent, Jafar and other hilarious hoodlums—at Cinderella Castle
Keep your eyes peeled for the fire-breathing dragon, Maleficent as she slinks her way through the park at night—for the very first time!
Sinfully delicious villain-themed food and beverage offerings available for purchase, including brand-new items and returning favorites such as Evil Emperor Zurg’s Noodles and Not-So-Poison Apple Cupcakes
Event-themed, limited merchandise plus a curated collection of Villains must-haves will be available for purchase
Malevolent music and frightful lighting set the tone for a gruesomely good time
Ever driven to stand out in their unpredictable and audacious fashion, the Villains will be entertaining Guests in the Villains Unite the Night show; however, they will not be participating in Character Greetings during the event.
Ice Cream, Popcorn, & Select Beverages Included! Be sure to chill out with popcorn, ice cream novelties and select bottled beverages—included in the cost of admission—available at carts stationed throughout the park. In addition, you can also purchase select menu items at Main Street Bakery and select locations throughout the park.
For tickets to this special event, you can book online or visit any Walt Disney World ticket window. Tickets may also be purchased by calling (407) 939-2742. Guests under 18 must have parent or guardian permission to call.
Admission to Disney Villains After Hours can be purchased in advance for $139 per adult or child (plus tax) or on the day of the event for $144 per adult or child (plus tax). Annual Passholders and Disney Vacation Club Members can take advantage of specially priced advance purchase tickets for just $109 per adult or child (plus tax).
Disney Villains After Hours takes place from 10:00 PM to 1:00 AM on the following dates:
Thursday, June 6, 2019
Thursday, June 13, 2019
Thursday, June 20, 2019
Thursday, June 27, 2019
Monday, July 1, 2019
Thursday, July 11, 2019
Thursday, July 18, 2019
Thursday, July 25, 2019
Thursday, August 1, 2019
Thursday, August 8, 2019
Guests with Disney Villains After Hours tickets can enter the park at 7:00 PM on the night of the event. Tickets are nontransferable and nonrefundable. The number of tickets available is limited. Tickets are valid only during specific event dates and hours. Prices, entertainment, attractions, experiences, ticket types, entitlements and other event elements subject to change without notice.
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 at a number of locations inside the park. If you only have event admission and not a ticket that gets you into The Magic Kingdom 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 via the guide map:
Event exclusive food, beverage, and merchandise is available, a first for these offerings. You can see all of the merchandise for Disney Villains After Hours (with prices) here.
Unlike other parks, The Magic Kingdom features very little that closes before 7pm, so you can experience almost the entire attraction lineup with an After Hours ticket. The Disney After Hours ticket also gives you the chance to experience the Happily Ever After fireworks spectacular.
Sadly, the park was quite crowded at 7pm last night, so it would have been hard to knock out many 1st, or even 2nd tier attractions (Magic Carpets of Aladdin had a 45 minute wait at 7:30pm) before 10pm. That being said, crowds were light from 10pm onwards and the Magic Kingdom has lots of crowd-absorbing rides and shows that you could do with minimal wait even when the park is still open to everyone. The special entertainment and such also seemed to pull crowds away from the rides that weren’t overlayed, leading most headlining attractions to be a “walk-on” for the event’s duration.
While Disney’s Hollywood Studios was the first to introduce “themed” Disney After Hours events with their 30th anniversary and Star Wars versions in early May, the Magic Kingdom is taking it to a whole new level with Disney Villains After Hours. This event adds a stage show, mini-parade, special PhotoPass opportunities, unique paid food and beverage offerings, as well as ride overlays, lighting and decor changes around the park, and different area music in the various lands. It’s a mini-Halloween or Christmas Party with more restricted crowds, essentially. The crowd restrictions make it way more enjoyable than the annual parties, but that probably evens out with the lesser quality of the added offerings.
The special lighting and music around the park didn’t need to be a part of the event, and sure it costs nearly nothing to add, but it was appreciated. It sets a special mood. While it wasn’t very popular, the live DJ on the castle stage was a nice touch as well for a late-night party. It helped keep energy levels up while waiting for various shows, at least.
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, Main Street Bakery, Casey’s Corner, Tortuga Tavern, the Liberty Square Popcorn Cart, Sleepy Hollow, Storybook Treats, and the Cool Ship are all open for business and even have specialty food overings just for Disney Villains After Hours. You can read a review of all of those food and beverage offerings here.
Why you would buy a snack item when the complimentary offerings are available for free with your ticket is beyond me. None of them were stellar enough to warrant spending extra cash. Stick with the actually-delicious Mickey-shaped treats and popcorn.
We also spotted special PhotoPass opportunities around the park, as well as a paid face painting station in Fantasyland, just outside of Fantasy Faire.
OK, let’s talk about the added offerings of the villainous overlay…
Villains Unite the Night!
Villians Unite the Night is a 23-minute Cinderella Castle stage show featuring side-show style acts mixed with appearances from Disney Villains. While not at the level of the show-stopping spectaculars you might find at the Halloween or Christmas parties, the show is an enjoyable outing and enough of a spectacle to be worth seeing if you are there. I wouldn’t waste time that could be used to ride attractions on this, but there is a show at event-close you can catch without losing any precious time.
The staging is interesting, the actors are some of the best in any character stage show, and the various acts of skill are performed just long enough to be entertaining but not begin to bore the audience. It’s not my favorite show, but I don’t regret having seen it.
Maleficent at Night Parade
The Maleficent at Night parade is literally just the Maleficent unit from the afternoon Festival of Fantasy Parade with different music and some nighttime lighting on the float. It’s cool to see at night, but it’s not much of a show. Also, the parade route lighting was nonexistent in quite a few areas, as you can see in our video.
Surprise Villains “Kiss Goodnight”
As Maleficent passed by the train station for her final performance, we noticed that an ensemble of Disney Villains had gathered. This is completely unadvertised, but a group of villains will assemble here at the end of the night to say goodbye to guests as they leave. We saw the Tremaine family, Gaston, Cruella De Vil, Queen of Hearts, Bowler Hat Guy, Captain Hook, and the Big Bad Wolf at the end of our evening at the event. The Tremaines and Gaston had microphones and were actually talking to guests below during the 10-15 minutes that they appeared. This was my favorite part of the evening, maybe because it was just such a cool surprise. I also LOVE the Big Bad Wolf and he very rarely appears, so I might be a little partial.
I’d usually decimate most of these offerings in a party review, but for a minimal added fee to the regular After Hours offering, these are a nice touch. It’s a bonus. I would love to write a review about Disney being money-hungry, but that’s not the case here. The entertainment folks have nicely plussed an already expensive event for just a few dollars more, and staying through to the later entertainment acually extends the length of the event for you by 30 minutes or more. In my mind, you’re getting more time for not a lot more money. I can’t fathom a way to negatively review this added value.
Pirates of the Carribbean and Space Mountain Villainous Adventures
The ride overlays are what they are. They’re quite similar to the horrendous versions made last year for Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, which is surprising, given reviews from guests. Space Mountain consists of turning off all of the lights in the ride and turning on some ominous music with sound clips from various Villains. Meanwhile, Pirates of the Caribbean adds 3 live actors to the attraction: two giving ominous warnings in the queue, while Barbossa lurks on a bridge along the ride path. Seriously though, it being Barbossa and not some new, nonsense character makes a lot more sense. Also, the Barbossa who appeared for us was more than believable in the role and made for a fun ride.
Should You Attend “Disney Villains After Hours” at the Magic Kingdom?
So, is Disney Villains After Hours 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. $139 plus tax is expensive. 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 The Magic Kingdom in the often 100-plus-degree summers of Orlando, this is something I would book for a special occasion.
While the price is up slightly, there’s definitely an added value. You can enjoy Disney After Hours as usual until 1am, catch the 1:00am Villians Unite the Night show, the 1:20am Maleficent at Night parade, and see the special villainous farewell on the train station as you would normally just be leaving the event, since it is technically already over at that time.
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.) This is only going to get worse come August 29th and the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
The overall Disney World experience in 2019 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, Disney’s Hollywood Studios Disney After Hours, 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. If you like Disney characters, the Villainous add-on this summer is just the icing on the cake of an already enjoyable evening.