After being disappointed with 2018's Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween party, we had an itch that the Halloween party didn't scratch. While keeping an eye on Disney World news running this site, I noticed the After Hours event was happening and even tried to fit it into our schedule for our most recent trip, but ultimately decided to pass on it at first.
The After Hours event is a hard-ticketed event which opens up Magic Kingdom for 3 hours after the park's normal closure. This is separate from the Extra Magic Hours which is free for resort guests and continues to be. This event runs on a Magic Kingdom evening when there is no Extra Magic Hours or other ticketed event like Halloween or Christmas parties taking place.
It was the day before September's only After Hours event, and that fell on September 20th. I was disappointed with the Halloween party, which made me look over the After Hours event once again. After talking it over with the future Mrs, we decided to go for it. We were a little concerned that it was the only event date in September, so it might be a bit busy, and one of the most important concerns was the price. It's not cheap.
The After Hours event hours vary depending on what time of year it is. For our September date it was 9pm until midnight. You are given 3 hours of quiet(er) Magic Kingdom time after the park has closed. Because we take advantage of the 14 day Ultimate Ticket, we can enter Magic Kingdom at any time, but if you're not covered by any ticket, you are still able to enter the Magic Kingdom at 7pm.
The price for 3 hours of Magic Kingdom between 9pm and midnight was $125+tax per person. That is more expensive than a full day Magic Kingdom ticket, and you're only getting 3 hours. The price is something that made me a little uncomfortable, especially as we paid out for the Halloween party and wasn't happy with it. If we did this one and felt the same, I would have likely talked to someone about it. However, after much back and forth we decided to go for it. Worse case scenario it's a lesson learned and we can report back to our readers if it's not worth their extra money.
Included in the cost is unlimited bottled drinks, ice cream and popcorn. There are cart stations all over the park where you can help yourself, and you really can help yourself. I went through about 5 Mickey Ice Cream bars and a box of popcorn before I gave up trying to get my money's worth even more. All major attractions are open, and some meet-and-greets, including the princesses and the talking Mickey Mouse, were open. Only the Emporium was open, all other shops were closed.
On the evening itself, we headed over to the Contemporary for dinner at Chef Mickey's. We then took the Monorail back to the Magic Kingdom, and stayed at the bottom of Main Street U.S.A to watch Happily Ever After from a distance as the park begins to close.
We then sat on the little barriers and watched the people flood out of the park.
We started our evening in Tomorrowland, and it was sort of weird not seeing many people about. We were watching to see who had the pink wristbands on and who didn't, and there were still plenty of people hanging around who didn't have them (which is fine because you were not let on any attractions if you didn't). We went on the Peoplemover to enjoy some relaxation before we get our 3 hours of fitting in as much as we can. We did Space Mountain about 10 minutes after the park closed and I had never seen it so empty. (Apologies for the blurry image, I was very excited).
We then headed over to the cart and helped ourselves to some drinks, popcorn and ice cream.
We kept walking and did Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin, which of course was a walk on. As we exited, we decided to do Space Mountain again because the complete lack of a queue seemed wasted if we didn't take advantage of it again. We then headed north and grabbed some more ice cream and a drink.
We decided to skip Seven Dwarfs Mine Train for now and come back to it later, as that's usually the go-to ride for people. We then got to Peter Pan which I rarely ever do because it's never worth the 90+ minute wait it always is. We got into the queue and there was only about 6 people in the queue ahead of us, can you believe it?
After Peter Pan we headed over to the Haunted Mansion and there were just two other people in the stretching room with us. Two other people.
As we headed over to Splash and Thunder, I was curious if the app was still online and showing accurate wait times for the event, and it turns out, it was!
We rode Splash Mountain and then did Thunder Mountain with no wait for either. What was great is they were letting people stay on Thunder Mountain if there was nobody else in the queue. Unfortunately for us there was always a few people waiting to come on, but we just walked around did it again.
We then took a little breather, got some more drinks and ice cream and headed to Pirates. We almost had the whole boat to ourselves, but there was a party just before us who got in with us. Afterwards, we then headed up past Haunted Mansion (rode it again of course) towards Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. There was a little wait for this, but no more than 5 minutes. So we did it three times a row.
Before we went on Dwarfs for the third time I thought it could be a bit of fun to get the whole train rilled up and clapping. So we requested the front seat and when we hit the lift part with the Heigh-Ho song, we started clapping above our heads as we ascended, and the whole train behind us was clapping along, too. It might sound a little cheesy, but it was incredibly fun.
As midnight came the carts started to close up and people were heading towards the exit. As many of you know, Disney charge $3 for a bottle of water, so at the end of the night, we went to one of carts and filled a carrier bag of water for the room. The cast members didn't mind, in-fact, they encouraged it!
It was amazing seeing the areas around Magic Kingdom not filled with people and the park still technically being open. As we headed to the exit we walked through the castle and spent some time looking down Main Street and back up the lit up castle behind us. We then slowly wandered down outside Casey's and took a seat as we enjoyed the surroundings and atmosphere.
In the 3 hours we were there, we did Space twice, Buzz once, Thunder 3 times, Splash once, Dwarfs 3 times, Haunted twice, Pirates once, Peoplemover once, Peter Pan once as well as plenty of stops for drinks and Ice cream. The event didn't feel particular rushed -- we went around at our own pace.
The event ended in a sort of negative note, as the buses were completely unorganised. There were queues of people at every stop and no buses to be seen at all. It wasn't until 12:30pm we started seeing buses come in and pick people up to take them back to their resort. The Minnie Vans stop at around midnight, too, and they were all booked up pretty quickly so we didn't even get to try to take advantage of that quick exit. It was around 1:30pm when we got into bed.
Is it worth it?
The bottom line is, the After Hours event is completely worth it. At $125, it's a lot of money, but you get so much Magic Kingdom for that money. We got more accomplished in 3 hours than we could in a full normal day, and got to enjoy free drinks and ice cream along the way. I know some people like to do Disney at a slower pace, but as I said, we didn't rush around, we took it at our own pace (but we understand everyone's pace is different).
We would absolutely do this again on our next trip, as long as it doesn't go down the route of what the Halloween Party has become, with Disney selling too many tickets and it being too crowded to enjoy. I am optimistic it won't turn that way, but I'll enjoy it until that day comes.
For us it is worth it because we can both pay for ourselves, however, we understand that is completely out of reach for some people, especially if you're paying for a large family.
As long as Disney don't increase the price too much, or sell more tickets than they already are for each event, this is a fantastic event to try if you have it in your budget.
Our Score 4.5/5
Is it worth the money? It is if you have the spare budget
Would you do it again? As long as crowd levels/tickets sold are the same, yes.
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