Have you ever wondered what it would be like to wander around Walt Disney World after closing? What if you could ride anything in the park, with absolutely no wait? What if, on this same night, you could eat as many Mickey ice cream bars as you wanted? Well, you can make this dream a reality by attending a Disney After Hours event! We recently had the opportunity to attend the Disney After Hours at Animal Kingdom as a guest blogger for media night and it was so much more than I could ever have even imagined.
When you purchase a ticket to the Disney After Hours event, you gain access to the park during a three-hour window of time that has very low wait times, and free and unlimited ice cream snacks, popcorn, and soda! For the event nights, you can enter the park at 7:00 pm, and get a head start on park fun before the After Hours event officially starts at 8:30 pm.
For this special night, which was also the first ever After Hours event at Animal Kingdom, I brought my 9 year old son, Tucker, along for a special Mother Son Walt Disney World date night. Being the middle child in a family of five children, I was so happy to be able to spend this special time one on one with my kiddo.
We got to Disney’s Animal Kingdom at about 7:30 pm, got our wristbands and event guide, and headed inside. We hadn’t had a chance to read the event guide yet when a cast member said, “Enjoy all of those free Mickey ice cream bars!” Tucker and I stopped in our tracks, turned around, and looked back at him like emojis with our shocked faces! We had no idea this was included, and were so excited about all of these free snacks and drinks!
Since Primeval Whirl is one of Tucker’s favorite rides, and is not open during the event, we headed directly to that attraction before it closed at 8 pm. We were able to ride twice before the official park close! This is a great advantage of the event; you can get into the park before it officially closes, so that you can experience any attractions that you love that may not be included in the After Hours event. At Disney’s After Hours at Animal Kingdom, none of Africa is open, which includes the Kilimanjaro Safaris, so if that is important to you, being able to enter the park at 7 pm is key to being able to check this attraction off of your list!
We really enjoyed the Dino-Riffic Dance Party in Dinoland where Tucker got nearly his own personal dance party with Chip and Dale in their adorable dinosaur costumes! The sky was filled with bubbles and it was such a joy as a mother to watch my son’s face as he laughed and danced with Chip and Dale. Check out this Event Guide for the full list of entertainment, attractions, food and beverage, and merchandise options.
In addition to riding Primeval Whirl twice before the official start of the Disney After Hours Event, we rode every ride twice that was open, except for Dinosaur, which we rode three times, including the last time at 11:27 pm, three minutes before closing! Two of the times that we rode Dinosaur, we had our very own car for the ride. Although I’ve been on this ride many more times than I can count, this was a brand new experience to me! I don’t think Tucker and I will ever forget trying to find “our dino” just the two of us.
One of the entertainment options during the After Hours event is the Animal Kingdom nighttime show, Rivers of Light. It was so perfect to watch this show while enjoying our free Mickey ice cream bars and bottles of water. There’s no bad seat in the theater, and so few people in the park, that we had our choice of prime seats when we got to the theater at 8:59 pm, one minute before the show started! This show is beautiful, and an amazing display of artistry on water.
Although Expedition Everest isn’t Tucker’s favorite ride, he was brave for me, and even agreed to riding it twice! It was a really fun and unique experience to ride it in the dark. The mountain looked so amazingly beautiful with the clear sky full of stars in the background, and the slight chill in the air made it feel like you just might actually see a Yeti around any corner!
Everything about Disney’s After Hours at Animal Kingdom event was amazing, but probably the most noteworthy part was the zero wait time at Avatar Flight of Passage and Na’vi River Journey. If you are at all familiar with this section of the park, you know that 3 hour wait times for Avatar Flight of Passage are not unusual. In fact, on the same night as this After Hours event, the wait time was about 150 minutes right before the official park closing at 8 pm. When Tucker and I rode it at about 10 pm, cast members were just waiting to send us to our boarding area! The sign said a 5 minute wait, but it might have well said 0 minutes. As a frequent Disney guest and Annual Passholder, this was simply unbelievable for Tucker and me. We tried not to make the rest of our family too jealous when we told them all about it afterwards!
So you probably don’t need to guess at this point whether I would recommend this event! This is going to be the new tip that I give out of town guests or first time visitors to Walt Disney World. It’s such a great way to be able to experience so many attractions in such a short time, it’s perfect for those that don’t want to or don’t have the time to spend a full day in the parks, who are concerned about the heat during the day, who don’t like crowds, or for those who just want to feel like a Disney VIP! In typical Disney fashion, all of the Cast Members were so kind and welcoming, from the snack stations to the attractions. They all seemed genuinely interested in making our experience as magical as possible, and we felt like treasured guests at an intimate gathering. It was a night I’ll never forget! Be sure to visit the Walt Disney World website for all of the prices, dates, and more details.
We will be experiencing Disney’s After Hours again soon, as we head to Disney’s Hollywood Studios this weekend! Be sure to follow along on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter for up to the minute news and sneak peeks into our hosted visits to Walt Disney World! If you have any specific questions about Disney After Hours or have feedback on this post, please feel free to