Disney After Hours has returned to Walt Disney World, and the first event of the 2023 season was at Disney’s Hollywood Studios last night. Disney After Hours is a hard-ticketed event that promises limited attendance and low wait times for a number of attractions. In addition to low wait times, attendees receive free ice cream novelties, popcorn, and select beverages. In our Hollywood Studios Disney After Hours review and guide, we’ll take you along for our experience of the event and cover some of the things you need to know when attending Disney After Hours.
Hollywood Studios Disney After Hours Review & Guide
- What is Disney After Hours?
- Disney After Hours Ticket Prices and Dates
- Event Hours and Disney Park Pass Reservations
- Hollywood Studios After Hours Attraction Lineup
- Entertainment and Characters
- Disney After Hours Wait Times
- Check-In & Mix-In
- To Fantasmic, Or Not To Fantasmic?
- No Man’s Land
- After Hours Event Start: Attractions & Experience
- Final Thoughts
What is Disney After Hours?
Disney After Hours is a special ticketed event that takes place on select nights and allows guests to explore Disney’s Hollywood Studios after regular park hours with lower wait times on some of the most popular attractions.
In addition to lower crowds, soda, snacks, and ice cream novelties are included in the price. Disney After Hours is a unique way to experience Disney’s Hollywood Studios in a more intimate and unique way thanks to lower crowds. Whether you want to run through as many attractions as possible or enjoy a more leisurely evening at Hollywood Studios, Disney After Hours has something for everyone.
Disney After Hours should not be confused with Extended Evening Theme Park Hours, which is a perk for guests staying at Deluxe Resorts. Disney After Hours is also not “Extra Magic Hours”, which is a discontinued perk for Disney World Resort guests.
Disney After Hours Ticket Prices and Dates
Disney After Hours at Disney’s Hollywood Studios takes place on select dates starting with the January 4th event that we attended. The event is currently scheduled to run through April 19, 2023, but we could see more event dates added, or new types of Disney After Hours events announced for the summer and fall seasons at Disney World. Here’s a look at the event dates and prices, including discounts for Annual Passholders and DVC Members.
|Hollywood Studios Disney After Hours Dates||Price (Excludes Tax)||Price for Passholders and Disney Vacation Club Members (Excludes Tax)|
|Wednesday, January 4, 2023||$145||$115|
|Wednesday, January 11, 2023||$129||$99|
|Wednesday, January 18, 2023||$139||$109|
|Wednesday, January 25, 2023||$145||$115|
|Wednesday, February 15, 2023||$149||$119|
|Wednesday, February 22, 2023||$149||$119|
|Wednesday, March 8, 2023||$149||$119|
|Wednesday, March 22, 2023||$149||$119|
|Wednesday, March 29, 2023||$145||$115|
|Sunday, April 2, 2023||$139||$109|
|Wednesday, April 5, 2023||$149||$119|
|Wednesday, April 19, 2023||$145||$115|
Purchase tickets: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/tickets/events/
Event Hours and Disney Park Pass Reservations
The official hours for Disney After Hours at Disney’s Hollywood Studios are from 9:30pm to 12:30am, but guests with a Disney After Hours ticket can enter Hollywood Studios as early as 7pm to get a head start on the fun.
Guests with tickets to Disney After Hours do not need to make a Disney Park Pass reservation in order to enter the park after 7pm. If you wish to visit Disney’s Hollywood Studios before 7pm, you will need to make a Disney Park Pass reservation and purchase separate admission.
Hollywood Studios After Hours Attraction Lineup
The last Disney After Hours event that was held at Disney’s Hollywood Studios was in Spring 2019, which means that there hasn’t been a Disney After Hours event since Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opened. Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway is also a new addition to the event. Here’s the attraction lineup for Disney After Hours at Disney’s Hollywood Studios:
- Alien Swirling Saucers
- Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway
- Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
- Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith
- Slinky Dog Dash
- Star Tours – The Adventures Continue
- Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
- The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
- Toy Story Mania!
Entertainment and Characters
In addition to the attraction lineup, there are also a handful of character encounters and entertainment offered throughout the event. We’ll expand more on the entertainment and characters, but here’s what was offered during the first event:
- Disney Movie Magic: 8:40pm, 11:25pm*
- Wonderful World of Animation: 9pm, 11:45pm*
- Fantasmic: 8pm, 9:30pm
*Exclusive to Disney After Hours
Beyond the entertainment, the following character greetings were available:
- Woody & Bo Peep in Toy Story Land
- Chip & Dale near Chinese Theater
- Star Wars characters in Star Wars Land
Disney After Hours Wait Times
Before we reflect on our experience, we wanted to take a look at some hard data courtesy of thrill-data.com. These are the posted wait times, recorded every 15 minutes throughout the event.
Here’s how the averages break down, with our expected wait times from our event preview article listed alongside them.
- Tower of Terror: averaged 42 minutes (expected 15 minutes)
- Slinky Dog Dash: averaged 26 minutes (expected 15 minutes)
- Smugglers Run: averaged 21 minutes (expected 10 minutes)
- Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway: averaged 14 minutes (expected 10 minutes)
- Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster: averaged 13 minutes (expected 10 minutes)
- Rise of the Resistance: averaged 10 minutes (expected 15 minutes)
- Alien Swirling Saucers: averaged 6 minutes (expected 5 minutes)
- Toy Story Mania: averaged 5 minutes (expected 5 minutes)
- Star Tours: averaged 5 minutes (expected 5 minutes)
We’ll start with the caveat that posted wait times are not actual wait times. Longtime Disney fans will know that Disney typically inflates posted wait times higher than the actual wait time as a means of guest satisfaction and a little bit of building a buffer for the unexpected. That said, a posted wait time of 35 minutes at Tower of Terror will not likely be a 5-minute wait unless you’re lucky. With that out of the way, let’s take a look at the winners and losers of wait times.
So the obvious offender here is Tower of Terror, which had a significant average wait time that is out of line for a Disney After Hours event. That said, Tower of Terror is operating at half capacity at the moment, which explains the very high wait times and offers hope for guests attending some of the later dates if Disney can complete the maintenance that is affecting capacity.
Another attraction that had a higher-than-expected average wait time was Slinky Dog Dash. Obviously, this is a top ride at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, but whenever we walked by the ride, the line was longer than we wanted to wait – so we skipped it entirely which is something we didn’t expect coming into the night. In actuality, a 26-minute average was probably a 10-15 minute wait.
Finally, we’d say that the Smugglers Run wait times felt out of place too. This is an attraction that can have a very good operational capacity, but it underperformed for the first Disney After Hours event. We wouldn’t be surprised to see it get closer to a 15-minute average in subsequent Disney After Hours events.
In terms of attractions that beat expectations, it’s impossible to overstate how much better Rise of the Resistance did than we expected. While it only beat our expectation by 5 minutes, we had what we assumed was an overly aggressive expectation. We easily could’ve seen Rise of the Resistance averaging 30-45 minutes for the event and people being quite pleased with that. After all, it has been averaging a 170-minute wait over the past month. A posted wait time of just 5 minutes during the majority of the event was not what we were expecting. In all honesty, we probably got caught up in the moment a bit too much and spent more time riding Rise of the Resistance (three times in a row) than we should have. With that, let’s jump into our experience.
Check-In & Mix-In
As we stated above, Disney After Hours officially runs from 9:30pm to 12:30pm. That said, guests with a ticket can enter Disney’s Hollywood Studios as early as 7pm without the need for a day ticket or Disney Park Pass reservations. If you want to enter before 7pm, you will need valid admission and a Disney Park Pass reservation.
We were already in the park, so we were able to check in at the in-park check-in location at Ticket Central at Hollywood Junction where Hollywood Blvd and Sunset Blvd intersect. As with the check-in at the front of the park, a quick scan of your admission media (ticket, watch, phone, or MagicBand), and you’re on your way. Event attendees will receive a wristband to designate that they are attending the event.
To Fantasmic, Or Not To Fantasmic?
When we attended, there was an 8pm showing of Fantasmic scheduled as well as a 9:30pm showing of Fantasmic. The question we wanted to answer was: should you watch Fantasmic with an After Hours ticket? First things first – the logistics. If you’re going to watch Fantasmic with your Disney After Hours ticket, only try for the 8pm showing. The 9:30pm showing is when the event starts and you need to be collecting ice cream and riding rides once the clock starts ticking on Disney After Hours.
So, with it being established that we’re going to try for the 8pm Fantasmic, we then wanted to see if it was possible to get a seat. In short, it likely is, but you’re going to have to go directly to the Hollywood Hills Amphitheater. When we arrived, it was already getting full around 7:30pm for the 8:30pm showing. Of course, this probably feels like a lot of wasted time, and it might be. The show is just under 30 minutes long, and when you combine that with the need to arrive early to secure a seat, you could be looking at a two-hour experience time. That’s a lot of time that could be spent on rides. So, what’s the trade-off?
We attended the January 4th event, which was still in the thick of holiday (or post-holiday) crowds. That meant that during our mix-in time, wait times at attractions were generally high and probably not worth the wait. Because Hollywood Studios has fewer attractions than Magic Kingdom (the other Disney After Hours-eligible park), we didn’t find as much to do during the mix-in that felt “worth it”. That said, we didn’t stay for Fantasmic because we wanted to check out wait times in the rest of the park, but we don’t think that watching the 8pm Fantasmic is a waste of time, especially if After Hours is the only time you’ll get to spend at Hollywood Studios.
During the rest of our mix-in time, we basically spent an hour walking from attraction to attraction hoping to find actual waits below the posted wait times, but we consistently found long waits. This will likely be different if your After Hours date is during a slower period (aka, anything but Spring Break).
We did find one ride with a low wait time – Star Tours. It was a walk-on around 8:10pm and we decided to take a spin on Flight 1401. Our total experience time on Star Tours was around 12 minutes.
From there, we decided to try and stick to our preview plan of starting on Sunset Blvd before eventually making our way to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. The thought was that Star Wars: Galxay’s Edge and Toy Story Land would be busy at the start of the evening and then die down. That couldn’t have been further from the truth for our event. While our experience with Disney After Horus at Magic Kingdom was essentially textbook, Hollywood Studios was a bit more chaotic. As we made our way to Sunset Blvd for the end of normal park hours, we found the 8:30pm showing of Fantasmic had let out right on Sunset Blvd and we were now competing with day guests for rides on Tower of Terror and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. That was a bad idea, so we decided to completely abandon our plan for the evening and head to Toy Story Land.
No Man’s Land
There is a 30-minute period between 9pm park close and the 9:30pm start of the event that is sort of a no man’s land. Attractions are open for After Hours guests, albeit still dealing with the remaining day guests, but the Disney After Hours event hasn’t started, so you can’t collect your free soda and snacks just yet.
This might be a good time to try and get a ride or two in. No more days guests are allowed into the queues starting at 9pm, but event attendees can show their wristbands and get into the ride. This means that wait times could be lower than expected, but not quite as low as during the event.
During the mix-in time, we heard that Bo Peep would make her return to Toy Story Land, so we decided to wait in line to meet her and Woody, but if you had different priorities, that would’ve been a good time to jump in line for Alien Swirling Saucers or event Toy Story Mania.
After Hours Event Start: Attractions & Experience
Ok, the clock struck 9:30pm and the event was underway. After we met with Bob Peep and Woody, the Green Army Drum Corps came through Toy Story Land and we stopped to watch them for a few minutes before hopping onto Alien Swirling Saucers. Because demand for the ride was so low, Cast Members let guests stay on the ride to re-ride if they’d like to. We elected to do so before heading over to Toy Story Mania. By the time we got in line for Toy Story Mania, it was 10:10pm and crowds were essentially non-existent.
We ended up riding Toy Story Mania twice before heading over to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge to check on wait times and crowds. The wait times were so low for Rise of the Resistance that we actually lost track of time while riding it three times in a row. We documented our experience in a separate article, but we’ll cover the important bits here.
During Disney After Hours, Rise of the Resistance averaged just a 10-minute wait. For most of the evening, Rise of the Resistance had a shockingly low wait time of just 5 minutes.
We actually plan on returning to Disney After Hours in the future to spend less time riding Rise of the Resistance simply because of how long the experience takes. In our three rides, the full experience took 28 minutes, 24 minutes, and 22 minutes, respectively. That means that we spent 74 minutes riding Rise of the Resistance three times – more than 1/3rd of the event. There is no way to skip pre-show elements or to instantly re-ride like you might be able to do at other attractions by simply staying on the ride vehicle. Everyone must exit the ride vehicle and go through all of the pre-show experiences, regardless of the length of the line. Now, if riding Rise of the Resistance over and over again is your top priority, have at it! You will very likely have little to no wait and it’s a fun experience. That said, if you’re looking to get a few more rides out of the night beyond Rise of the Resistance, make sure you realize just how much time the full experience takes.
If you’re going to only want to ride Rise of the Resistance once during the event, the data says you should do so in the second half of the night. There will still be some leftover day guests in line to kick off the event, but once they clear through, the wait times should drop to 5-10 minutes.
By the time we were done with our third ride, it was just past midnight and we probably had time for one or two more rides. It was time to head back to Sunset Blvd to take a look at wit times and come up with a plan. With Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster posting a 20-minute wait and Tower of Terror posting a 35-minute wait, we had to choose one or the other. We decided to ride Tower of Terror given that it is currently experiencing a reduced capacity due to ongoing maintenance on one side of the attraction. As it would turn out, our actual wait would be 25 minutes, but still took us past 12:30am and the end of Disney After Hours.
Overall, we think that there is some really good value to Disney Ater Hours. Yes, the event is expensive, but we rode Rise of the Resistance three times with no wait. There really has to be some value in being able to experience Walt Disney Imagineering’s crown jewel with no wait. Other rides such as Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster has some very low waits too.
We’ll be back to another Hollywood Studios After Hours event to focus more on riding everything once instead of having such a Star Wars-heavy evening. That said, the averages don’t lie. If you were to focus on riding everything just once (even with higher holiday crowds impacting the first 30 minutes of the event), you will be able to ride everything once and catch Fantasmic. Not a bad night at Hollywood Studios!
As always, keep checking back with us here at BlogMickey.com as we continue to bring you the latest news, photos, and info from around the Disney Parks!