REVIEW: Disney Villains After Hours Returns for 2020 with Enhanced Entertainment, Adding Wicked Value to Magic Kingdom’s Add-On Nighttime Event
On Friday night, I paid to attend the very first Disney Villains After Hours event of 2020 at The Magic Kingdom. 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 while ago. The Villains After Hours version debuted in June 2019, but is back for 2020 with some pretty big changes. 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!
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. Enjoy frightfully fun entertainment, photo ops, cuisine 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—don’t miss your chance to scare up a good time at this wicked event!
Event Highlights Disney Villains After Hours is brimming with frightful fun. Highlights include:
Edgy entertainment featuring favorite villains
Three hours of access to over 20 popular Magic Kingdom attractions and experiences with low wait times and thrilling villain-inspired surprises at Pirates of the Caribbean and Space Mountain—all after the park closes
Ice cream novelties, popcorn and select bottled beverages—all included with your event admission, available at cards stationed throughout the park
Event-themed, limited merchandise plus a curated collection of Villains must-haves will be available for purchase
Sinfully delicious villain-themed food and beverage offerings available for purchase
Thrill to enhanced entertainment in 2020, with more villainous fun than ever before.
New this year, the Villains’ Cursed Caravan will join Maleficent—the fire-breathing dragon—as she slinks her way through the park twice nightly. Be on the lookout for Ursula, Gaston, Oogie Boogie, Cruella DeVil, Captain Hook and more as part of this wicked procession.
Popular entertainment offerings will return, including:
Villains Unite the Night, a stage show at Cinderella Castle starring Hades, Meg, The Queen, Maleficent, Jafar and other hilarious hoodlums
Villain-inspired enhancements at Pirates of the Caribbean and Space Mountain
A dance party with a DJ spinning monstrous music in front of Cinderella Castle
Themed photo opportunities throughout the park
Malevolent music and frightful lighting, which set the tone for a gruesomely good time
Note: This event does not include character greetings. Attractions, entertainment and experiences are subject to change without notice.
Delight in devilishly good snacks and beverages—some included with your admission.
Ice Cream, Popcorn & Select Beverages Included! Your event admission includes ice cream novelties, popcorn and select bottled beverages, available at carts stationed throughout the park.
More Delectable Options Discover an assortment of villain-themed food and beverage offerings available for purchase at select locations throughout the park.
Booking your tickets in advance is highly recommended and can be done on this page. Same-day tickets can be purchased on a limited basis and are subject to availability.
Tickets Purchased in Advance: $145 per person, plus tax
Same-Day Ticket: $155 per person, plus tax
Annual Passholder or Disney Vacation Club Member Ticket: $115 per person, plus tax
Schedule Disney Villains After Hours takes place from 9:00 PM to 12:00 AM on the following dates:
Friday, February 7, 2020
Friday, February 21, 2020
Friday, March 6, 2020
Disney Villains After Hours takes place from 10:00 PM to 1:00 AM on the following dates:
Friday, February 14, 2020
Friday, February 28, 2020
Wednesday, March 11, 2020
Wednesday, March 18, 2020
Friday, March 27, 2020
Friday, April 3, 2020
Friday, April 10, 2020
Friday, April 17, 2020
Friday, April 24, 2020
Friday, May 1, 2020
Friday, May 8, 2020
Thursday, May 14, 2020
Friday, May 22, 2020
Friday, May 29, 2020
Friday, June 5, 2020
Friday, June 12, 2020
Friday, June 19, 2020
Friday, June 26, 2020
Monday, June 29, 2020
Monday, July 6, 2020
Friday, July 10, 2020
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 turnstiles indicated as an “Event Entrance” in front of the park. I’d usually tell you where this is, but it keeps moving with all of the construction out in front of the Magic Kingdom.
Here’s the full event lineup via the guide map:
Some nights are 9PM-12AM, but most are 10PM-1AM.
There are now two Villains Unite the Night shows and two parades. The show is never crowded enough to be hard to see, so reducing the number doesn’t effect much. Sadly, the show right at closing time is gone, so it will eat in to some ride time if that is important to you.
Event exclusive food, beverage, and merchandise is available. 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.
The park was a little crowded at 7pm on the night we attended, but by 8pm wait times were getting very reasonable. That being said, crowds were light from the start of the event 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 rides, leading most headlining attractions to be a “walk-on” for the event’s duration.
Let’s look over some wait times at 8:25pm, just 35 minutes before the event began and guests will require a wristband to get into what rides and such will be open:
Here are wait times at 10:33PM, pretty much at the half-way point of the event:
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 at these links:
Why you would buy a ton of snack items when the complimentary offerings are available for free with your ticket is beyond me. That being said, a few of them were actually pretty good this year and I might recommend them. Stick with the Mickey-shaped treats and popcorn if the night is already too expensive for you, but you won’t regret the beignets and a few other items (just check out the reviews above to see what you should get).
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 personally wouldn’t waste time that could be used to ride attractions on this.
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. The rest of the evening, a live DJ will be present on the stage.
“Villains Cursed Caravan” Parade
A vast improvement over the “Maleficent at Night” offering from last year, this small parade features rare villains and ever-rare sidekicks (in some cases) presented in really thoughtful ways. It’s nice to be able to walk up to the parade route just moments before this starts (thanks to the lower crowds), and it’s pretty cool to get some attention from the characters in the parade since there are way less guests to look at in the crowd. I won’t spoil the devilish surprises, but you can watch the full video below to see all of the characters who appear.
Villains Cursed Caravan is presented twice during the event, with the final performance concluding on Main Street. The first parade begins and ends in Frontierland, making a circle around the Hub in front of Cinderella Castle.
Surprise Villains “Kiss Goodnight”
The second parade ends on Main Street, allowing the villains to disembark at the train station and ascend to the patio above guests. 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, and the Queen of Hearts at the end of our evening at the event. All 5 characters have 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’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 actually extends the length of the event for you by 15 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 created 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. $145/155 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 $150 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. The $115 price for annual passholders is a pretty good deal in my opinion.
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 2020 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 (I know it’s February, but these do run into July), 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, then Disney After Hours is your best bet. If you like Disney characters, the Villainous add-on is just the icing on the cake of an already enjoyable evening.