If you’ve ever dreamed of having Disney World all to yourself… well, I can’t make that happen for you, but here’s the next best thing: More Disney After Hours dates for 2018 have just been announced — and if you score a coveted ticket, you’ll get access to the Magic Kingdom at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla. during hours in which it’s usually closed. What’s more, because there are only so many tickets available for the events, there will be way fewer people than you typically expect to find at a Disney park. It's an introverted Disney lover's dream — by which I mean it is my dream.
This isn’t the first time Disney After Hours has been on the the schedule for the Florida theme park; the first batch of dates for 2018 was announced last fall. Now that those dates are well and truly over, however (they all occurred between Jan. 19 and March 8), the next batch has arrived — and this time, there’s a lot more of them: 11 instead of seven. They’re set to occur from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. on June 28, June 30, July 7, July 9, July 14, July 21, July 28, Aug. 4, and Aug. 11, and from 9 p.m. to 12 a.m. on Aug. 30 and Sept. 20.
On these dates, people with tickets to the special event will have access to more than 25 Magic Kingdom rides, attractions, and character meet-and-greets, including favorites like the Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Space Mountain — and as an added plus, “ice cream novelties and select bottled beverages” are included in the price of the ticket, according to the Disney World website. These tasty treats will be available at carts situated throughout the Magic Kingdom; additionally, if whatever’s on offer isn’t quite to your liking, you’ll be able to buy select items at the Main Street Bakery in the Main Street, U.S.A. section of the park and a few other spots scattered throughout the grounds.
Worth noting: Disney After Hours is not the same thing as Extra Magic Hours. Extra Magic Hours are solely for guests actually staying at Disney’s own resort hotels; during these times, some of the parks either open early or stay open late, enabling resort guests to get a little extra time in and ride select attractions with slightly smaller crowds than usual. Disney After Hours, meanwhile, is open to anyone who snags a ticket for the event, whether or not they’re staying on Walt Disney World grounds. Disney’s website also notes that Disney After Hours events only occur on non-Extra Magic Hours dates.
There’s also one other major caveat to keep in mind: Regular park admission does not give you access to Disney After Hours. Disney After Hours is a separate event with a whole ‘nother ticket — so even if you already have a pass to the Magic Kingdom for one of the Disney After Hours dates, you have to buy an additional ticket to stay late. Single-park admission already costs between $102 and $122 a head, so if you want to do a full day in the Magic Kingdom plus Disney After Hours, it’ll cost you about double: If you get your Disney After Hours tickets in advance, they’re $119 a pop for both adults and children (plus tax); if buy them the day of the event, the price jumps to $124 (again, plus tax); and if you’re an Annual Passholder or Disney Vacation Club member, tickets are $89 plus tax.
I’m also not sure you’ll want to count on being able to get your tickets day-of — there’s only a limited number of them available, so there’s no guarantee there will be any left by the time the actual event days roll around. So, y’know… plan carefully.
So: Knowing all that pricing information, is Disney After Hours worth it? Your mileage may vary. Easy WDW gave a full account of one of the January events, and although they came away feeling “neutral” about it, it does look like the waits for the rides tend to be significantly shorter during Disney After Hours — think 105-minute waits for Space Mountain versus 10-minute ones. WDW Magazine, meanwhile, spoke to someone who also went to an event earlier in 2018 — and they apparently had a lot of fun. My sense is that you’ll get the most bang for your buck if you either already live in the Orlando area, or if you’re traveling to Orlando for something else and were hoping you might be able to fit a little Disney time in around your other commitments; but, I mean, hey. If it sounds appealing and you’ve got the money to burn, go for it, whatever your situation may be. You do you and all that.
BRB, doing what I can to get over the major Disney FOMO I’m experiencing right now. Does anyone have a set of mouse ears I can borrow?