Last night was the very first Villains After Hours event at Magic Kingdom. This is a separately ticketed, upcharge event that runs for three hours from 10pm to 1am on select nights this summer. The event is essentially a villainous spin on the Disney After Hours event that has been going on for some years now. Guests are promised lower waits at some of the top attractions in the park as well as unlimited treats and drinks. We made it out to Magic Kingdom last night to experience the first-ever Villains After Hours and have some photos, videos, and reviews to share with you about our experience. While some blogs will be putting a disclaimer somewhere that they got free tickets from Disney, we paid full price for the event minus the Annual Passholder discount.
Pricing and Dates
We’ll start with one of the most important decisions you can make about your Disney vacation, cost and when to go. Admission to Disney Villains After Hours can be purchased in advance for $139 per adult or child (plus tax) or on the day of the event for $144 per adult or child (plus tax). Annual Passholders and Disney Vacation Club Members can take advantage of specially priced advance purchase tickets for just $109 per adult or child (plus tax).
Disney Villains After Hours takes place from 10:00 PM to 1:00 AM on the following (remaining) dates:
- Thursday, June 13, 2019
- Thursday, June 20, 2019
- Thursday, June 27, 2019
- Monday, July 1, 2019
- Thursday, July 11, 2019
- Thursday, July 18, 2019
- Thursday, July 25, 2019
- Thursday, August 1, 2019
- Thursday, August 8, 2019
We’ll start with the attractions that are open and the waits you can expect to see. Perhaps the biggest selling point of Disney After Hours are the short waits promised at some of the most popular attractions in Magic Kingdom. We’ll talk about the entertainment offerings in a moment, but if you’re there just to get some rides in and can stay focused on that task, you’ll likely have a wonderful time at Villains After Hours. That said, you’re probably going to want to do more, but we’ll talk about that in a bit. As for an attraction lineup, here’s what Disney had open for the first night.
- Swiss Family Treehouse
- The Magic Carpets of Aladdin
- Jungle Cruise
- Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room
- Pirates of the Caribbean (Villainous Adventure enhancement)
- Splash Mountain
- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
- Country Bear Jamboree
- Haunted Mansion
- Prince Charming Regal Carrousel
- Mickey’s PhilharMagic
- Peter Pan’s Flight
- “it’s a small world”
- Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid
- The Barnstormer
- Dumbo the Flying Elephant
- Mad Tea Party
- The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
- Tomorrowland Speedway
- Space Mountain (Villainous Adventure enhancement)
- Astro Orbiter
- Tomorrowland Transit Authority
- Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
24 attractions is certainly a solid lineup and most were less than a 15 minute wait all evening, with some having no wait at all. We only rode Space Mountain and Pirates of the Caribbean, but that’s because we found ourselves distracted by entertainment and food. More on that in a bit.
If you looked at the list above closely, you’re probably wondering what the Villainous Adventure enhancement is for Space Mountain and Pirates of the Caribbean. Going into the event, Disney described these enhancements as “thrilling villain-inspired surprises”. What we found left some to be desired.
We might have set our expectations too high, thinking that Disney would enhance the offerings to be more than what we experienced at the 2018 edition of Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, but they essentially just piggybacked off of those ideas, tweaking them ever so slightly.
The biggest letdown of the evening was the Space Mountain overlay. Disney just can’t figure out how to get a Space Mountain overlay right at Walt Disney World. For Villains After Hours, Disney turned off the lights, played mostly indistinguishable loud music, and added some cackles from Ursula every so often. This was only a slight improvement over the disappointing effort from Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party in 2018 when they added loud rock music and turned off all of the lights. Disney is limited to what they can do in Space Mountain for a quick overlay in Walt Disney World. The trains have no onboard audio, so Disney is stuck blasting music throughout the whole building, leading to no synced audio like you’d find in Ghost Galaxy or Hyperspace Mountain in Disneyland.
From an operational standpoint, rope dropping Space Mountain was a disaster. We waited about an hour for our full experience. Disney cut over the Space Mountain overlay just shortly after 10pm, but because the line of day guest was so long, hundreds of day guests were able to ride the Villains After Hours overlay as Disney worked through the 30 minute line of guests on one side of the attraction, while trying to work through the nearly one hour line of guests on the other side of the attraction. Our touring advice would be to definitely leave Space Mountain to the second half of the event.
In addition to the loud music, Disney didn’t try to add any special effects, rather opting for a pitch black ride. Again, I’m not sure what Disney could add here for special effects as the ride lacks some of the projection technology needed to pull off Space Mountain overlays in Disneyland. It’s our opinion that if Disney has inherent limitations around Space Mountain in Florida, perhaps they should look elsewhere for overlays. Also, as we’ll touch on later in this post, if you’re going to do the same things you do for Not-So-Scary, what is the point of Villains After Hours?
Moving on to Pirates of the Caribbean, we saw a similar approach to an overlay as we did for Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party in 2018. Some pirates in the queue warn you of your upcoming fate should you continue on the ride, and you meet a pirate along the way.
Disney did make an adjustment here, implementing Barbossa instead of Gunpowder Pete. While the character was different on the ride, the execution was the same. Barbossa was placed high above you on a bridge, making it tough to have any sort of real interaction. Just like the Space Mountain overlay, I’m not sure what else Disney could have done in this situation though. I’m sure they couldn’t put a live actor on the actual sets with the audio-animatronics, so this implementation will have to do.
Overall, I wouldn’t book Villains After Hours just for these two overlays. If you can stick to a plan of knocking out rides throughout the night, you’ll likely have a good time. If you book specifically for the Villainous overlays, it might be viewed as a waste of money. Here’s a full video of the interactions at Pirates of the Caribbean.
The main selling point for Villains After Hours vs a normal Disney After Hours is the entertainment. From an all-new stage show to the fire-breathing Maleficent roaming the streets, Disney was all-in on creating some extra offerings to bring value to a three-hour ticket that costs more than general admission.
We’ll start with the Cinderella Castle stage show – Villains Unite the Night. This 22 minute show combines some amazing projections on the castle with some interesting choreographed fighting scenes, all set to a storyline that we really couldn’t care less about. As you can see in our full video below, Hades has a plan to rule the universe by waiting until five planets align. His plan seemingly gets thrown off track when Jafar, The Queen, Dr. Facilier, and Maleficent arrive. Each villain thinks that they will rule the universe when the planets align (for whatever reason), and they each bring some henchmen that perform some stunts for a few minutes, accompanied by a projection on the castle. Ultimately, Maleficent realizes that the five planets as foretold in the prophecy aren’t really planets, but the five Disney Villains that show up on the stage.
The timing of the show was awkward, the stunts (while impressive) seemed to just be pointless filler and they lasted too long, and the comedic elements generally fell flat. The last time we saw a villainous stage show introduced to Magic Kingdom, it was the highly regarded Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular. A good amount of pyro at the end of the show might leave you feeling a bit better than if it wasn’t there, but the show just didn’t connect for us. Here’s the full 22 minute show for you to judge for yourself.
The second special entertainment offering was seeing the fire-breathing Maleficent make three special appearances at night. This is the first time guests are able to see Maleficent at night, and while the interaction may be short, it was certainly cool to see her in action after sunset. Here’s a short clip of Maleficent making her final pass in front of Cinderella Castle for the evening.
The real problem that we found with the entertainment is that it distracts you from the rest of your evening. With 24 attractions open, you probably want to try and get to as many as possible. A 22 minute stage show actually ends up feeling like it takes up a lot more of your time. I know it’s odd to take issue with too much to do, but you need to try and stay focused on one thing if you want to try and find value.
If you’re planning on trying to take it all in, we suggest doing rides and treats for the first 2.5 hours of the event, and leaving the stage show and Maleficent for the end of the night. The final showing of Villains Unite the Night will come at 1am, with Maleficent making her way along the typical Festival of Fantasy parade route starting in Frontierland around 1:20am. By running Maleficent after the official end of the event, you’re able to squeeze out as much value as possible for the 3-hour upcharge.
In addition to the entertainment, select areas of the park got a villainous makeover, including Rapunzel’s Tower and the Pirates of the Caribbean facade.
Treats and Food
Of course, all this running around will leave you a bit hungry, and you have some options to keep you hopped up on sugar throughout the night.
We’ll start with a reminder of the free options included in your ticket for the evening. This includes the Mickey Premium Ice Cream Bar, Mickey Ice Cream Sandwich, and the Strawberry Fruit Bar. In addition to those ice cream treats, you can also get popcorn and soda for free, included with your ticket price. All of these can be found at carts stationed throughout the park, and Cast Members are more than generous with passing you as many Mickey Premium Ice Cream Bars as your heart desires.
In addition to the free treats, Disney rolled out some new items for purchase as well as some returning highlights from Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. We made a lap around Magic Kingdom last night and purchased everything we could to give you the highlights and lowlights of the offerings. Here’s our full rundown.
Evil Emperor Zurg’s Noodles – $5.99 (Cool Ship)
Chilled Noodle Salad with Snap Peas, Red Onion, and Red Peppers topped with Sesame Soy Sauce
We started at Cool Ship with these noodles and the Llama Potion. The noodles were actually one of the highlights of the night. A decent portion is presented with perfect purple coloring. The sesame soy sauce is different than the sweet garlic chili sauce advertised on the Disney Parks Blog, but that’s why we’re here. The whole dish was well put together, with the snap peas adding a nice crunch to the noodle dish. $6 seemed like a fair Disney price for what we received, and this presents a nice alternative to what we’ll see offered for the rest of the evening. It earns a recommendation.
Yzma’s Llama Potion – $6.99 (Cool Ship)
Next up is Disney’s latest take on a dry ice drink. Yzma’s Llama Potion amounts to little more than the advertised Strawberry Fanta. It’s a small portion for $7 and while the dry ice can be fun, it’s probably not enough for us to recommend this drink.
Dragon’s Breath Float – $6.49 (Storybook Treats)
Lemon Soft-serve, Cherry-flavored Syrup, Sprite, and Green Cherries on Top
We were very pleasantly surprised to see the presentation on this treat was as advertised. So often it can be difficult to produce treats en masse and still produce something like what you see on the menu board, that we have to give Storybook Treats good marks for their delivery on this. As far as taste, the lemon soft-serve is a nice, tart offering which pairs nicely with the cherry-sprite base. The cherry and sprite combine wonderfully to present a fizzy contrast to the ice cream. I’m not normally a cherry fan, but I enjoyed the cherry and sprite combo. The worst part about the treat was the green cherries. They can, and did, end up in the garbage. Overall though, this earns a recommendation.
Maleficent Cone – $5.99 (Storybook Treats)
Lime Soft-serve topped with Chocolate Horns and Purple Sprinkles
This treat actually makes a triumphant return from Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. The lime soft-serve is tart and flavorful, walking right up to the line of overdoing it, but still remaining delicious. The chocolate horns are a nice addition and it’s all served in a tasty waffle cone. We can certainly recommend this treat,
Headless Horseman Browkie – $5.75 (Liberty Square Popcorn Cart)
Half-Cookie and Half-Brownie topped with Headless Horseman Chocolate Piece
We see the return of the Browkie concept that we last reviewed when it was the limited-time Haunted Mansion version. What it amounts to is essentially a very thick, rich brownie that has bits of cookie. Probably 70% brownie, and that’s ok. For nearly $6, and less decoration than the Haunted Mansion version, this probably earns a pass from us. That said, if you’re looking for a shareable size brownie and a chocolate fix, this is the best you can do all evening.
Dr. Facilier’s Tarot Card Tart – $6.99 (Sleepy Hollow)
Tart topped with Tarot Card Chocolate Piece or Transfer Sheet
This chocolate crusted tart is filled with a peanut butter cream. Does chocolate and peanut butter go well together? Of course it does! That said, it’s a good thing that Disney offers free drinks (including bottled water), because this will dry your mouth out pretty quick. We were surprised to see that Disney didn’t list that this was a peanut butter and chocolate offering. Keep in mind that the peanut butter is quite present throughout, despite the lack of signage indicating it as such. If you have a drink nearby (probably not the drink pictured), you can enjoy the peanut butter and chocolate combo. I’m on the fence about recommending it, but it gets a tentative thumbs up.
A Drink from the Other Side – $4.99 (Sleepy Hollow)
A Non-Alcoholic Hurricane Garnished with a Cherry and an Orange Slice
This non-alcoholic take on a the popular New Orleans staple – the hurricane, is a sugary concoction of citrus flavors. It is probably heavier on the passion fruit than any other citrus and that’s what came through on the tongue. It might be borderline undrinkable based on your tolerance for sugar at midnight. It earns a pass from us.
Hades Nachos – $5.49 (Tortuga Tavern)
Black Bean Nacho Chips with Fiery Buffalo Chicken
We last saw these chips at the 2018 Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. At the party these were north of $12, so seeing them priced at half of that makes us think that the serving size would be equivalently small. That said, we didn’t order them last night, so we’ll comment on the taste instead.
The chips, while colored differently than your standard tortilla chips, are standard in taste. That said, the dish really shines with the nacho cheese and fiery buffalo chicken elements. The chicken packs some heat, but not too much to be unenjoyable. A kick from the chicken is somewhat tamed by the nacho cheese sauce, making this a smartly prepared offering. We can certainly recommend it based on what we tasted from the 2018 Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party alone.
Hades Temptation Mocktail – $5.99 (Tortuga Tavern)
Non-Alcoholic Purple Cosmo Frozen Mocktail in a Plastic Martini Glass topped with a Gummy Worm.
No, your eyes aren’t deceiving you, this isn’t served in the plastic martini glass as advertised. The whole “mocktail” schtick breaks down immediately if you can’t serve it in the vessel advertised, so we’ll simply comment on the taste alone. This drink combines lemonade with a violet monin syrup to create something that is somewhat floral with a bit of a tart, lemonade base. It’s not the worst thing in the world, and it’s actually less sugary than A Drink from the Other Side, so it can earn a recommendation from us. We’d like to see Disney actually follow through here and serve it in the advertised plastic martini glass to complete the “mocktail” experience.
Not-So-Poison Apple Cupcake – $6.99 (Main Street Bakery)
Red Spiced Jumbo Apple Cupcake with Pecan Crunch and Buttercream
A massive cupcake is the very definition of sharable. A moist cupcake interior is met with a nice pecan crunch on the inside. It’s a huge cupcake that is as delicious as it is pretty. We can recommend this offering.
De Vil’s Treat (Casey’s Corner – SOLD OUT)
By the time we made our way back to Main Street USA to try De Vil’s Treat, it was sold out for the night. It doesn’t look to be too complicated of an offering though, described by Disney has a brownie topped with black and white icing.
Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween-in-Summer Party
So, what is Villains After Hours? Is it Disney After Hours with some villainous additions? Is it Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween-in-Summer Party? Or some combination of both?
Between the extra entertainment and additional food offerings, this is clearly positioned as more than a regular Disney After Hours event. In its purest form, Disney After Hours is a good way to get in a bunch of popular rides in a short amount of time, all the while eating as many Mickey’s Premium Ice Cream Bars as possible. Villains After Hours complicates the whole concept. By providing extra entertainment to distract you from the task at hand (riding more rides than you ever have before in such a short amount of time), you can easily see the value of your premium ticket slip away.
In our three hours, we waited nearly an hour for Space Mountain at the beginning of the event, had treats at four different locations, watched Villains Unite the Night, watched Maleficent, and rode Pirates of the Caribbean. I can’t stress enough how much you need to stay focused on one thing. Disney is almost offering two different experiences in one event while removing the ability to experience both in the time allotted. You can either ride all the rides like a normal Disney After Hours event, or experience all of the villainous additions, not really both. Even if we had only waited 30 minutes for Space Mountain, that would likely only allow us to get a single ride in on Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.
The event tries to be a light version of Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party by removing the Boo to You Parade and fireworks show (although you can get in at 7pm to watch Happily Ever After with your event ticket), but charges more than Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. By using some of the same treats and essentially the same attraction overlays, this has to be compared to Not-So-Scary. If Disney had tried different attraction overlays and didn’t reuse some of the treats, maybe we could avoid the comparison, but as the event was presented last night, the comparison is unavoidable.
To wrap up, we really wouldn’t recommend Villains After Hours. The villainous additions were a nice attempt, but didn’t live up to the premium price tag, especially when considering that they serve to distract you from taking advantage of very low wait times around the park. If you’re looking to just do the attractions, do note that this event is more expensive than a normal Disney After Hours to subsidize the cost of the villainous additions. Our recommendation would be to skip the Villains After Hours event and do the Animal Kingdom or Hollywood Studios offerings instead.