I recently spent $149 a person to experience Disney After Hours at the Magic Kingdom. Full disclosure: I accepted up front that this was probably a grand waste of money, and felt really bad about it. I went in very skeptical, but came out very excited about the event, the experience, and especially the cast members we met.2 weeks ago, I was in Orlando (as it seems I am more often than not) because I was personally invited to attend a special meeting at the Contemporary Resort. My husband drove down for the meeting as well, and it just so happened to take place on the same day as one of the Disney After Hours events. So, we planned it out, and purchased our $149+tax tickets and away we went.
We arrived at the Magic Kingdom around 8:30 p.m., and bumped into our good friend Doctor Disney and his lovely wife. Together we enjoyed watching Celebrate The Magic (the Cinderella Castle projection show) as well as Wishes from the flagpole in front of the Main Street U.S.A. train station.
Having just come off of Free Dining week, it was necessary for my husband and I to have a “date night”, so off we went. Our first task….go against the grain of the hoards of people leaving the Magic Kingdom down Main Street U.S.A. As we made our way toward the “hub” in front of the castle, we knew it was going to be a special evening as the crowds were already thinning out, and we saw our first ice cream cart with FREE treats. Yes, Mickey Bars, other ice cream snacks, Cokes, and water were free for the taking. Nice touch !! Consumed: One Mickey Bar, one Mickey ice cream sandwich, one Coke, one water bottle.
Our plan took us through the Castle and into Fantasyland where we were told that Anna & Elsa had a 3 minute wait. We politely passed as we wanted to “walk on” Peter Pan’s Flight….which we did….with no line….and no wait. The price tag was starting to look a little more acceptable, now.
With the crowd dispersed, we ventured to the left and into Liberty Square where we took in a ride with the 999 ghosts on Haunted Mansion. I believe there were about 9 of us in the elevator room.
We then worked our way through an empty Frontierland and over to Splash Mountain. We walked right on. No line. When we got to the loading area, we literally had our choice of seats in our own log. With another “no wait” on a traditionally 60 minute minimum line, the price tag was feeling even less painful.
We had the opportunity to walk right on Big Thunder Mountain as well, but chose to skip it as I usually don’t feel that well after riding.
So off we went to Pirates of the Caribbean. Dare I say there was no line, and we walked right down the queue and right onto the boat? Price tag is now felling really good.
Then we were off to a half-full Jungle Cruise boat that waited for us from the time we reached the entrance until we worked through the queue. The skipper was amazing funny, probably the funniest I’ve ever heard.
One observation we made was the minimal number of children in the park. Most of the guests were young adults, or middle aged couples. I’m sure the price tag had something to do with this, but it was also an experience more designed for the adult crowd.
We skipped past Aladdin’s carpets, and worked our way across the Hub (while picking up some more ice cream and drink), and headed to Tomorrowland. It was time once again to defend my Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin “Champion of the Family” title against my husband as we battled it out – in separate cars – because once again there was no line. None. No one in sight. Empty.
Too much ice cream kept us off of Space Mountain, but it certainly was feasible with the low crowds.
Our mission wasn’t to see every attraction and go commando, it was certainly just to have a relaxing evening together and hit some attractions that are difficult during the regular park hours.
We worked our way up to Fantasyland again and walked right onto Winnie The Pooh. We considered swinging back to Under the Sea Journey of the Little Mermaid and perhaps Dumbo, but opted to just sit and marvel in the “emptiness” of the park. We even passed on a walk on ride of Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.
As we walked back through the Castle on our way to calling it a night, we found some fun and innovative Photopass photographers. The were laying on the ground with guests on the ground taking some creative shots. Some were in front of the castle laying on their backs shooting up as guests stood over them.
It was pretty clear that the number of people in the park was extremely low. I’ve heard that the maximum number of people allowed into the event was 3,000, but my guess was probably less than 1,000 on this particular night. I say that based on the fact that at any one time, it was rare to see more than 20 people in my line of site. It was an amazing site to behold.
We slowly left the park as we walked down a virtually empty, somewhat spooky, but overwhelmingly emotional empty Main Street U.S.A.
So, in the end, what did I think of the $149 price tag for 3 hours in an empty park? Well worth every penny. I will say this is not an event for every family who is coming to Disney for their first vacation. This was perfect for those of us who’ve been to the park many time and appreciate the gift that was included in the price tag – no lines and no crowds. It certainly has it’s place, and it has it’s clientele. I for one, would spend the money again for the experience.
So what would I change? While it was pretty awesome that the Princesses, Anna & Elsa, and Town Square Mickey Mouse were all available for visits, I would have liked to see a few more characters available in the park for meet and greets. Given the nature of the event, and the low crowds, characters could safely wander the park for photo opps, perhaps even take a ride on the carousel with guests. This would be a nice added touch. Otherwise, Disney After Hours was a perfect night.
Oh, we ate a lot more ice cream than I admitted to above. 🙂
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