Disney,  Travel

Disney After Hours at Hollywood Studios: Visit Like a VIP

Last week, I had the chance to visit Disney’s Animal Kingdom for their first Disney After Hours event and I shared how amazing it was to feel like you had the park completely to yourself! Well, a few days after that visit, I was invited back to Walt Disney World to experience Hollywood Studios for their first Disney After Hours event! As a mom of five, it’s always so special to have time with just one child, and for this event, my oldest was my special guest. As a huge Disney fan himself, he was thrilled to experience all that Disney After Hours at Hollywood Studios had to offer, and to feel like a real VIP for a night!

In case you missed it in my last post, Disney After Hours is a separate ticket event, which allows you to get into the park after normal operating hours and includes unlimited Mickey ice cream bars, some other ice cream treats, popcorn, and bottled water and soda. We attended the very first After Hours event at Hollywood Studios and the official times for the event were from 8:30 pm-11:30 pm. However, you could enter the park as early as 7 pm, or even slightly earlier. This is a really nice perk because you then still have time to see the nighttime entertainment, such as Fantastmic or Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! We chose to see Movie Magic, which is a brief but beautiful projection show featuring live action Disney movies from Mary Poppins to Moana, with so many favorites in between! Soon after this show is over, at 8 pm on the night we visited, Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! begins, which is a festive search for Santa, including projections, lasers, small fireworks, and a great soundtrack. You can watch a longer clip of the show on my YouTube channel.

After Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! we headed over to Star Tours to allow time for the Toy Story Land crowd to die down after the normal park close at 8 pm. We walked right on this ride with absolutely no wait! We even stopped to take in some of the queue entertainment while we had so much time and no one waiting behind us. My son is really interested in Disney Park trivia, and this was the perfect opportunity for him to explore some things he had only had the chance to read about. The most amazing aspect of both of the Disney After Hours events I have attended is the complete and total lack of lines. For someone that has been going to Walt Disney World for my entire life, waiting in line is just part of the process. So when you are at an After Hours event and there are cast members just waiting to usher you into a ride, it all really feels like a dream.
After Star Tours, we headed over to meet Mickey and Minnie. Again, there were no other guests in this area at all, and it was as if Mickey and Minnie were just waiting for our arrival! I love their outfits in this part of the park! And although we didn’t take advantage of it, Olaf was also greeting guests, and had no wait time.

Next, we got our first of many ice cream treats, and enjoyed them while walking around empty parts of the park. Attending this event would be a photographer’s dream come true! You could get any people-free shot you wanted during a Disney After Hours event, if you had enough patience. I could have sat in the Muppets courtyard for hours, but there was lots more fun to be had!

After we finished our ice cream, we went to visit the Star Wars characters at the Launch Bay. In the course of about 15 minutes total, we visited Chewbacca, Kylo Ren, and BB-8. All of these characters really enjoyed my son’s shirt and “discussed” it with him in depth. Visiting this area always make us beyond excited for the new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, coming to Hollywood Studios in 2019!

Finally, we headed over to the most anticipated part of Disney After Hours at Hollywood Studios, Toy Story Land! This part of Walt Disney World is very special to me, as it was the location of the first Disney media event I attended, when we had the very special opportunity to interview the Imagineers and cast membersthat helped create this magical part of Hollywood Studios. When we walked into Toy Story Land this evening, it was the first time we had the chance to see it in all of the holiday splendor! And right after entering Toy Story Land, you are greeted by Buzz Lightyear in the cutest Santa hat! We hopped in the very short line to meet him, and I was so happy to capture this magical moment with my son!

We rode Toy Story Mania with absolutely no wait, and were able to ride it twice in a row without even getting off. Of course, my son beat me both times! Next, we went over to Alien Swirling Saucers and again, rode two times in a row with no wait whatsoever, and we were able to just stay on for our second ride. Unbelievable!

Finally, we headed over to Slinky Dog Dash! No line. Yep, you heard me correctly. We walked right up and were able to choose whatever seat we wanted! First, we sat in the middle. Next, we sat in the very first row. And finally, we sat in the last row! We could have continued to ride over and over, but wanted to experience the Sunset Boulevard attractions before the night was over. But can we just take a minute to focus on Slinky Dog Dash THREE TIMES in a row?! It was incredible and so much fun to just run around like a kid, feeling like you had the place to yourself and not a care in the world!

After taking all of the pictures and eating all of the things in the beautiful Toy Story Land, we headed over to Rockin’ Rollercoaster and Tower of Terror. We rode both of these attractions twice and had our choice of seats each time. Tower of Terror is my all-time favorite ride in the world, and it was a very memorable moment to experience it on this very special night with my firstborn.
During the holidays, Sunset Boulevard features Sunset Seasons Greetings, which is a beautiful holiday projection and laser show with “snow” and a festive soundtrack featuring your favorite characters. This area is usually quite full of guests wanting to experience this show, but at the end of the night during the Disney After Hours event, you felt like this show was being presented just for you, like a real VIP. It’s really hard to describe the beauty and the wonder of this experience through words and pictures. You’ll just have to go and experience it for yourself!

Is Disney After Hours worth it? That’s a question I’ve been asked many times on Instagram after sharing about our first experience at Animal Kingdom. In my opinion, 100% yes! Regularly priced at $125 or $95 for DVC members and Annual Passholders, it is similarly priced to other special events or parties around Walt Disney World. I have attended and written about many different Disney experiences, and this is honestly one of my favorites. If you are looking for a way to experience a great dal of attractions, there’s no better event. If you want to experience lots of entertainment or stage shows, or see every single attraction in a park, this probably wouldn’t be your best bet, but it really just depends on what type of experience you would love. Personally, I would highly recommend this event. And although I was an invited guest of Walt Disney World for both times I have visited, I have already been looking at upcoming Disney After Hours events and planning for which tickets I might purchase in the future!

Disney After Hours at Hollywood Studios is a magical and unique experience with extremely low crowds, unlimited snacks and drinks, and lots of character meet and greets. Be sure to check the Walt Disney World website for the full list of upcoming dates at all three parks where it is offered, and purchase your tickets in advance. Remember, only a limited number of tickets are available for each event!
Be sure to follow along on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter for all of my family’s adventures!
*We were provided admission in exchange for my honest and unbiased review. All opinions are my own.

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