Is the Disney After Hours event worth the money? Read about my experience at the Disney After Hours Event in Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park to get the inside scoop. This special event ticket is available to the public and allows you to stay in the park for three extra hours with access to popular attractions with little to no wait times, character greetings and snacks.
Review ~ Disney After Hours at Animal Kingdom
While attending my daughter’s cheer competition at Disney’s ESPN Sports Complex, I decided to splurge and purchase Disney After Hours special event tickets for Animal Kingdom. At $125 per ticket, I wasn’t sure it would be worth the money, plus I already had a four day hopper pass to the Disney parks. Adding extra tickets to what I had already spent seemed like a bit much. Since I write about family travel and love anything Disney, I thought I would go ahead and pay the extra money for the tickets to see what it was like to share with you.
What does the Disney After Hours Event Include?
First of all, the Disney After Hours events are only available on certain dates and only one park at a time. The events last from 9pm-12am. When you check in, you get a special wrist band, able to ride select rides, watch select shows, get snacks and meet characters. There are a limited amount of tickets and as of now, I don’t think you need any other kind of park ticket to be allowed to purchase an after hours event ticket. Guests with Disney After Hours tickets can enter the park at 7:00 pm every event night. If you didn’t have a park ticket during the day, you can enjoy the park for a few hours before the special event starts.
What we thought of Disney After Hours at Animal Kingdom
It seems like the Disney park people are still working out the details of these After Hours Events. I found out about it by the ad on their website while I was picking out my fast passes. I wish I had known about this before buying my hopper tickets – I could have saved money and bought a 3 day pass instead of a 4 day one. I saw some of my blogger friends at one of these events, but assumed it was a special event for just for influencers and not open to the public. When I saw that there was an after hours event while I was at Disney, I jumped on the chance to get a ticket before they were sold out. Animal Kingdom is our favorite!!
What We Liked About Animal Kingdom’s After Hours Event
Here are six things we enjoyed about the After Hours event at Animal Kingdom.
1. Little to no wait times
Obviously this is the main attraction for going to a Disney After Hours event. The most popular ride, Avatar Flight of Passage, which normally has a wait time of 2 hours, only had a wait of about 15 minutes when the event started. Towards the end of the night, we walked directly on the ride with no line. We rode our other favorite ride, Expedition Everest, over and over with no line and hardly any people around us!
2. The parks at night are cooler and way less bugs
While we were in Orlando, there were “love bugs” EVERYWHERE. These bugs don’t bite or harm you in anyway, but they are annoying and you could have 5-100 bugs on and around you at a time. Apparently there is only an infestation of these bugs in Florida for two weeks, twice a year. And sure enough, while we were visiting! We began avoiding the parks during the day because of this and another reason the late night after hours event looked appealing. No love bugs out at night!
3. Endless treats
We loved the grab and go snack and drink stations around the park. I think the smartest thing Disney did was to have had Mickey ice cream, popcorn, juice bar popsicles and bottled water sitting out on a table near the Pandora entrance where you could just grab your snacks and keep walking. If you preferred a soda, you could wait in a line for one. There are other various snack carts open around the parks with snacks included in your ticket and also something for purchase. Cocktails and beer are not included in your ticket, but available for purchase the whole evening.
4. No Crowds
At times, we felt like the only people in the park! If you prefer a loud, party atmosphere, you might not like the after hours events, but we thought it was the coolest thing ever!
I think we only saw 3 strollers the whole time we were there, compared to daytime when there are numerous strollers parked at every ride entrance.
Comparing the After Hours crowd to a normal night at a park:
A few evenings before, we stayed until closing time (11pm) at Magic Kingdom and saw less strollers and people than during the day. Attractions had much longer wait times on a normal park night though. Some popular rides were still over an hour wait. I have to note the night we stayed late… it had just stormed with hail, plus it rained on and off, so that could have been a big factor for less people, less toddlers in strollers.
5. After Hours Shopping
Our favorite shop was open when we arrived and we were able buy the last few of the much sought after lollipop Mickey ears. It’s really fun to shop with little to no people in the stores!
6. Fun Entertainment
We didn’t know about the entertainment as we were focused on what rides were open and where to find food. Here is what we did:
DJ Dance Party: In DinoLand U.S.A, we accidentally walked into the dance party with bubbles, fun music and a photo booth. We were the only ones dancing, but that is what we liked about it! ha!
Entertainment We Missed:
Apparently there were character greetings and shows, but we missed them all together on our race to ride the attractions and eat all the food! I’m sad we missed these things and wish I had known ahead of time to plan better:
Character greeting and photos: Meet Mickey and Minnie in Discovery Island
Rivers of Light : Show starts at 10 pm in Asia
Pandora Drummers: 10:30 pm and 11:30 pm in Pandora
What we did at the Animal Kingdom After Hours Event:
- Shopped for about 15 minutes before the event officially started.
- Walked to Pandora to be there at 9pm.
- Rode Avatar Flight of Passage 2 times in a row (about a 10-15 minute wait both times)
- Rode the Na’vi River Journey (walked right on)
- Got fruit bars and water in Pandora
- Walked towards Tree of Life and grabbed ice cream and popcorn to take on the way
- Watched the Tree of Life for a bit
- Stopped for lemonade and more popcorn on the walk to Asia
- Rode Expedition Everest 3 times in a row (walked right on)
- Stopped for more snacks and drinks in Asia
- Walked to Dinoland, rode TriceraTop Spin
- Danced and took photos at the DJ dance party
- Rode DINOSAUR (walked right on)
- Walked back to Pandora to ride Flight of Passage (walked right on)
Once we left Pandora the first time, we only saw 2-20 people at a time around the park the rest of the night.
What we did NOT like:
Don’t get me wrong, we had a blast and enjoyed the park after hours, but here are a few things I didn’t like.
Not enough time: We wish the event was at least 30-60 minutes longer so we could have done more. If they can’t make the event longer, then it would have been great to have gotten the option to skip the Avatar Flight of Passage pre-show to save time.
Not knowing what was going to happen until we got there: I wish we could have been emailed the event plans, what shops were open and the show times for the evening. I feel we missed out on activities, not being able to plan ahead.
Not many characters: I would have liked more characters around the park. Having another photo spot with a character out in the open where we could have seen them would have been great. I also wish they had a character at the dance party, especially since there was a photo booth there.
The park seemed closed: It seemed more like the park was closed and we were just there walking around as they were closing up. I would have enjoyed a more catered feeling to those of us who bought the pricey after hours tickets. I’ve been to special events at parks where we were treated like VIPS – I think Disney needs to add more of a special treatment touch. I would have liked having more cast members welcoming us and answering our questions. We would have enjoyed some fun music throughout the park so it didn’t seem closed. Special gifts such as glow stick necklaces or glowing drinks would have been nice.
Was it worth the money?
Let me break it down by what we ate and drank. Note I’m on a diet and with a 12 year old girl who doesn’t eat much. If my son was with us, he would have eaten a LOT more.
- Mickey’s Premium Ice Cream Bar $5.75 x 2
- Mickey’s Ice Cream Sandwich $5.75 x 1
- Fruits of Mo’ara Fruit Bar 4.50 x 3
- Popcorn 4.50 x 2
- Bottled Soft Drinks 4.50 x 1
- Water: $3.50 x 5
2 tickets + tax was $266.26. Take out our total food: $61.75 and the price was actually $102.25 per ticket for no crowds and to ride our favorite rides over and over.
After experiencing high crowds, Florida heat, 2 hour wait times and the infestation of bugs, I definitely think it was worth the price of admission and would do it again next time if it was offered.
Overall, I we had a BLAST at the Disney After Hours event. It will be a memory that my daughter and I will talk about for years to come!
Tips for Riding Avatar Flight of Passage After Hours
1. Take account for time spent walking the path and the pre-show:
For those of you wanting to plan to ride Flight of Passage numerous times, take note of your time. From the ride’s gate entrance where you show your wrist band, it will take at least 5 minutes to walk the path to the ride entrance point. Then another 7 minutes to watch the two pre-show videos, 6 minutes to ride the ride and another 3-5 minutes to walk the path out of the ride and back to the main entrance. Total time for riding Avatar Flight of Passage is around 22 minutes with no wait time.
2. Enjoy a different experience each time:
When possible, we made sure to switch up where we were in line at the pre-show. If you are with a big group, switch spots with someone else you know. We sat somewhere different each time we rode the ride and it was a totally different experience each time! When I sat on the far outside, I felt like I was flipping upside down, a feeling I didn’t get when in the middle. So be sure to try to change it up while you’re at the after hours event if you can!
3. Just for fun, shout SIVAKO!
Watch for the part during the ride where your Na’vi guide yells “SIVAKO” (see-vah-ko) meaning, rise to the challenge. Be sure to chant it back! We had fun doing that each time. LOL!
Official Disney World After Hours Event Information:
At the time of my review, you can purchase After Hours event tickets at Magic Kingdom park, Disney’s Hollywood Studios or Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park! Click here to learn more.
Originally published on May 10, 2019. Last Updated on May 15, 2021 by Amy Locurto