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REVIEW: Disney After Hours BOO BASH at the Magic Kingdom is No Party

On Tuesday night, I paid to attend the very first Disney After Hours BOO BASH event of 2021 at The Magic Kingdom. Disney After Hours events have existed at The Magic Kingdom for a number of years, and then expanded to Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios a while ago. The Villains After Hours version debuted in June 2019, and returned for 2020 until the pandemic closed the parks. Now, Disney After Hours is back to replace Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party (at least for this year, possibly forever), so let’s see how the event holds up. Here’s the official description:

Disney After Hours Boo Bash will take place on select nights from August 10 through October 31. Ticket holders will be admitted to Magic Kingdom park as early as 7:00 PM on the valid date of their ticket—giving them even more time to enjoy park favorites before the event begins! These dated tickets do not require an additional day theme park ticket or Disney Park Pass theme park reservation.

Admission to Disney After Hours Boo Bash can be purchased online for $129 to $199 per adult or child (plus tax), depending on the event date. Annual Passholders and Disney Vacation Club Members can take advantage of a $10 discount on event dates in August and September.

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 availability, closures and change or cancellation without notice or liability.

DisneyWorld.com
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So, as stated above the event “begins” at 7:00 pm, which means you get to mix-in with the regular Magic Kingdom guests for a few hours. If you already have park admission, you can head in early and obtain your wristband at the former Stitch’s Great Escape in Tomorrowland or at Tortuga Tavern in Adventureland. 

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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.

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Cast members again adorn the beloved Halloween Party costumes for this event.
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Here’s the full event lineup via the guide map:

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Some nights are 9:30PM-12:30AM, but most are 9PM-12AM.

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Event exclusive food and beverage offerings are available, but no exclusive merchandise.

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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 BOO BASH ticket also gives you the chance to experience the Happily Ever After fireworks spectacular during some event nights before it comes to an end in September. We assume you’ll get to see Disney Enchantment on October dates.

The park was very crowded at 7pm on the night we attended, and wait times sadly did not improve until the event began. Here are the wait times at 7:26pm:

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Some wait times were still rough at 8:41pm, just 4 minutes before Happily Ever After fireworks began.

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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.

Here’s a look at the wait times just after 11pm, with 90 minutes of the event still remaining:

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While Disney’s Hollywood Studios was the first to introduce “themed” Disney After Hours events with their 30th anniversary and Star Wars versions, the Magic Kingdom then offered Disney Villains After Hours, which added 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. The BOO BASH is a strange amalgamation of this event and Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, mostly due to the pandemic. That being said, we have seen Disney shift towards more expensive, less crowded events the last few years, so if successful, this may just be what “parties” will be moving forward.

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Trick-or-Treat trails return, but many are inside, so be ready to put your mask on to be able to go in them. Clearly the event was developed while it seemed like we wouldn’t need to be doing this again.

Carried over from the Halloween parties are the Trick-or-Treat locations, a dance party, the Cadaver Dans, some character appearances (albeit distanced), Disney PhotoPass opportunities, and special music and lighting around the park. Coming over from Disney After Hours are the Snack Carts with ice cream bars, popcorn, and bottled beverages included with your admission, as well as the character cavalcades (technically introduced at Villains After Hours pre-COVID), and the shorter waits at attractions which are the biggest selling point of these events.

As mentioned above, 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, Main Street U.S.A. snack cart, Golden Oak Outpost, Sleepy Hollow Refreshments, Storybook Treats, Auntie Gravity’s Galactic Goodies, & Joffrey’s Coffee and Tea Company “Revive” are all open throughout the exclusive hours. You can read a review of the exclusive 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 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.

We also spotted special PhotoPass opportunities around the park.

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OK, let’s talk about the entertainment…

Mickey’s Happy Halloween Cavalcade

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Performing twice a night, Donald, Daisy, Mickey, Minnie, and Pluto are joined by a group of dancers representing the segments of the now-defunct Mickey’s Boo-To-You Halloween Parade. While this worked as a daily offering last year, just rolling out an old gazebo float and some characters walking feels pretty lazy at these prices.

The first performance does a loop of the parade route, so don’t worry if you miss it on the first pass.

Disney Villains Halloween Cavalcade

The villains float from the Share a Dream Come True Parade will celebrate its 20th anniversary during BOO BASH, and here it is carrying Dr. Facilier, Jafar, and the Wicked Queen. Captain Hook, the Queen of Hearts, the Big Bad Wolf, and Bowler Hat Guy walk in front of this procession.

Jack’s Nightmare Cavalcade

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Also “converted” from daytime cavalcade included with regular admission to BOO BASH nighttime offering is the Nightmare Before Christmas characters aboard a float.

Maleficent’s Fiery Prowl

Returning from Disney Villains After Hours is the Maleficent unit formerly from the Festival of Fantasy Parade.

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It is accompanied by the ravens and vines characters that walked with it in the daytime parade. I remember being pretty harsh about this offering in the past, but it was so nice to see this float back in action after such a long absence.

Character Sightings

A small variety of characters made appearances around the Magic Kingdom at 5 locations. At Pirates of the Caribbean, you’ll find Pirate Goofy.

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in Frontierland, by the Country Bear Jamboree, Chip and Dale are out intermittently as a pirate and a vampire.

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At The Haunted Mansion, three residents of Gracey Manor receive guests: Miss Carlotta, Miss Renatta, and their faithful servant, Broome the Butler.

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Above Pinocchio Village Haus, Foulfellow and Gideon can be found.

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The Pooh characters in their Halloween costumes are on the balcony of the Crystal Palace on Main Street.

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The Cadaver Dans

The Dapper Dans become the Cadaver Dans for Halloween four times nightly. They also perform on the rooftops of Frontierland near the Country Bear Jamboree.

Should You Attend “Disney Villains After Hours” at the Magic Kingdom?

So, is Disney After Hours BOO BASH worth it? It depends who you are. 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. $129-199 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 this money 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. As with past events, I might even recommend not buying a day ticket to Magic Kingdom and just doing this instead since you’ll accomplish more between 7pm and 12:30am than you might with a full day in the park.

The sad truth is that the everyday Walt Disney World experience wasn’t very enjoyable before COVID, and as crowds have risen in the last year, it’s slowly getting back to where it was then. The absence of FastPass is a curse or a blessing depending who you ask, but no one is excited about the prospect of paid FastPass. Whenever that inevitably happens, maybe it just makes more financial sense to attend an event like this and not have to buy a regular park ticket and then add-on front-of-the-line access. I guess we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.

There’s also the ever-changing pandemic to deal with, and as variants develop, maybe there are many guests who are happy to pay more to be around less people and have some peace of mind. Maybe this is the perfect offering for the time period we live in.

In the end, my review stays mostly the same. 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.

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 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 enjoyed Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party purely for the entertainment and character appearances it offered, well, I think you are in the group that will be tremendously disappointed by Disney after Hours BOO BASH. It is not that event, or even close. The cavalcades do not make up for Mickey’s Boo To You Parade not being there, there is no stage show, there is no fireworks show, and there are very few character appearances compared to years past. It bears little resemblance to that past event other than resurrecting a few small bits of it here and there. Disney after Hours isn’t made for the crowd that would go to this event every year, or sometimes even multiple times in a season. It’s clearly aimed at casual tourists alone, as all other Disney After Hours have been. I’m not saying you wouldn’t have fun at the event, but I’d leave all pre-conceived notions from years of attending Not-So-Scary at the door if you want to enjoy yourself and just hope that Disney turns back to the traditional event next year.

For more information on booking your next trip with our official travel agent sponsor, the Vacationeer, visit wdwnt.travel.

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Lou
Lou
1 month ago

This morning I bought a 2 ½ pound bag of assorted Mars mini candies from Target for $12.95 for our trip to Disney World in 2 weeks with the grandkids. The park is already decked out for Halloween and the merchandise is not exclusive. I figure that we’ve saved over $500 and remain unBASHed.

Healthy Hero
Healthy Hero
1 month ago

Boy, I appreciate the review but you’re such a downer.

Campbellscot
Campbellscot
1 month ago

thanks for doing the test run Tom!! Mickey’s Not so Scary Halloween Party was always my absolute favorite Disney experience. It’s ever so slightly depressing to see what is replacing what used to be such a great party. Ugh. Missing pre covid days so much.

Mike
Mike
1 month ago

good for guests who don’t have littles who need an early bed time!

mis
mis
1 month ago

unfortunately, it appears the former disney does not fit in with the cheapact d minus amaro model of what disney should be. i was lucky to attend the not so scary holloween with my grandchildren. it was a joy to say the least. sad to hear how cheapact and d minus amaro have diminshed that experiance so much.

Pat
Pat
1 month ago

Wdw is completely diminishing the entertainment. That’s what the Disney company was built on. There are still about 100 performers furloughed struggling and hundreds more displaced. The lack of entertainment that is being provided at the largest Disney park in the world is ridiculous. Disneyland is even offering more entertainment options. There’s many options for socially distanced meet and greets at this point, they’re just getting cheaper and cheaper while raising prices.

Bernie Skoch
Bernie Skoch
1 month ago

What a well written review.

We are (hopefully) coming down for Boo Bash next month, and this gives us an idea of what we can expect. Thanks.

Now if covid would just cooperate…

dikfore
dikfore
1 month ago

Excellent review Tom! I’m sure you’ve spoken to how Disney can improve the everyday experience, but it seems like the only way is to reduce traffic in the park. The only two ways to conceivably do that: Artificially – Limit the number of reservations each day. However, less people in means less people buying food and souvenirs. Naturally (economics) – Raise the price so high that less people can afford to come. This has been in practice for years and will continue to be the case. Most middle-income families have already been priced out of a Walt Disney World vacation.… Read more »

M W
M W
1 month ago

FastPass+ was available pre-COVID, correct? You mention that the Disney experience just wasn’t enjoyable pre-COVID and has slowly been going back to that as capacities increase again. What would your solution be? I don’t think simply bringing FastPass+ back, in a paid or free form, will fix the issues you mention – especially if it was available pre-COVID and wasn’t helping any. If they keep limiting capacity, people will complain they can’t go to the parks when they want to go. With higher capacity the wait times for rides becomes an issue, and the same people would still be complaining.… Read more »

Mary H
Mary H
1 month ago

I’m reading this knowing our plans are for the Christmas event in Nov and Dec, and have mixed emotions. It sounds fun, but not really magical. Wondering if we should cut Disney from our trip and extend our time at Universal.

Alina
Alina
13 days ago
Reply to  Mary H

Yes. The magic is fizzling. As a 15 year gold/plat pass holder- boo Bash extremely lackluster- parades were duds. Three hour time frame- ridiculous. Price tag – way too hefty for what get out of experience. Not So Scary was Amazing- this is simply a three hour commercial with a few free Mickey ice cream bars to act as distractor.

Jason
Jason
1 month ago

thanks again for the honest assessment, Tom. i’ve bought a couple of these tickets now with the expressed purpose of “managed expectations.” im coming for the cooler temps, shorter wait times, and always enjoyable nighttime ambience of magic kingdom.

although i wish it wasnt so expensive to experience this idealized version of the park experience, if it basically translates to a higher price point to avoid the crowds….im payin it, regardless the theme of the event.

Judy
Judy
1 month ago

Thanks for the review! We are attending next week. Do you need to bring trick or treat bags with you, or are they provided?

Dawn
Dawn
25 days ago
Reply to  Judy

They are provided. You do get a lot of candy so you may want to bring a backpack or something to dump it in from the event bags.

Gloria moore
Gloria moore
12 days ago

I went this past Sunday the 5th. My daughter had a great time and I had a great time just watching her enjoying the night and less crowd rides. However it was very disappointing for me to find that there are no special show in the castle, no special fireworks, no special significant food offering for this occasion, just 4 drinks that the description did not sound interesting, just churros???? Trick or treat good as always, cavalcade meh…. Since the dragon broke on fire last time was easier to shot this part down that try to look for a safe… Read more »

Richard Metheny
Richard Metheny
11 days ago

Thanks for the review. We have tickets for 9.24. One thing I was curious about was the wristband color – the one in your review looks cream, but I’ve seen other colors online…is there a significance to the color, e.g. changes nightly or weekly, or are they random?

Richard Metheny
Richard Metheny
10 days ago
Reply to  Tom Corless

now my daughter is interested in collecting the colors…is there a market for used wristbands?