2024 EPCOT Disney After Hours Review & Recap: Is It Worth It?

    After Hollywood Studios and Magic Kingdom launched their Disney After Hours for 2024 earlier this year, it’s EPCOT’s turn with the first events held in February and running into summer. We attended this year’s EPCOT Disney After Hours event on February 8th and wanted to provide a recap of our evening along with a review of the event to help you determine if it’s worth it. We’ll start with some of the basics of the event before launching into a play-by-play of our evening, followed by a look at the value of the event, and if it’s worth spending money on. Let’s dive in!

    What is Disney After Hours?

    Disney After Hours is a special ticketed event that takes place on select nights and allows guests to explore EPCOT 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 EPCOT 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 EPCOT, 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 events are also being held at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Magic Kingdom this year.

    EPCOT After Hours 2024 Dates & Prices

    Disney After Hours at EPCOT takes place on select nights from February 2 through July 18, 2024.

    On January 18th, Disney World announced that it would be adding more dates for Disney After Hours events at all three of the participating theme parks. At the time, two Magic Kingdom After Hours events and only one Hollywood Studios After Hours events had taken place. Obviously, no EPCOT After Hours events had taken place before Disney more than doubled the number of events on the calendar.

    Ticket prices vary based on date:

    Event DatePrice (Excludes Tax)Price for Passholders
    and DVC Members (Excludes Tax)
    Friday, February 2$149$119
    Thursday, February 8$149$119
    Thursday, February 15$159$129
    Thursday, March 7$159$129
    Thursday, March 28$159$129
    Thursday, April 4$159$129
    Thursday, April 25 $159$129
    Thursday, May 9 $159$129
    Thursday, May 23$159$129
    Thursday, May 30 $159$129
    Thursday, June 6 $149$119
    Thursday, June 20 $149$119
    Thursday, July 18 $149$119

    EPCOT After Hours 2024 Event Hours

    Event Times
    This event takes place from 10:00 PM to 1:00 AM. You can get a head start on the fun by entering the park at 7:00 PM – a few hours before the event officially begins.

    If you plan to arrive earlier than 7:00 PM, valid theme park admission will be required. A theme park reservation for EPCOT may also be required.

    When you arrive early, you’ll have extra time to enjoy attractions and entertainment. Plus, you can enjoy EPCOT’s nightly fireworks show Luminous The Symphony of Us!

    Check the My Disney Experience app for show times on the day of your visit. Outdoor shows are subject to cancellation due to inclement weather.

    After Hours Food & Complimentary Treats

    Guests attending Disney After Hours can enjoy complimentary popcorn, Mickey Bars, ice cream, soda, and beverages. Snack carts around the park will have grab-and-go treats and drinks.

    You can find complimentary ice cream and soda at the following locations:

    • World Discovery Popcorn Stand near Mission: SPACE
    • World Celebration Popcorn Stand near Creations Shop
    • World Celebration Popcorn Stand near Imagination Pavilion
    • Norway snack cart
    • Ice cream snack cart near The Seas with Nemo & Friends
    • Canada Popcorn Stand

    If you want to find something else to eat, the following locations are open until and have food available for purchase:

    • Connections Eatery (open until 10pm)
    • Connections Cafe (open until 10pm)
    • World Discovery Hot Dog Cart
    • Kingla Bakeri Og Kafe
    • Yorkshire County Fish Shop (open until 11pm)
    • Rose & Crown Pub

    EPCOT After Hours Attractions & Guide

    Most guests attending Disney After Hours are doing so thanks to the promise of lower wait times on some of EPCOT’s most popular attractions. The biggest news of EPCOT Disney After Hours is that the popular Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind opens its standby queue for the vent and you’re able to ride as many times as you’d like! With Cosmic Rewind still (confusingly) behind the Virtual Queue system that has been in place since it opened in May 2022, the allure of being able to ride multiple times on a whim is extremely tempting for a lot of guests. Before we get to a list of attractions open during Disney After Hours at EPCOT, here’s a look at the official event guide.

    EPCOT Disney After Hours Guide

    EPCOT After Hours Attraction Lineup
    As we noted earlier, guests can find extremely short wait times during the Disney After Hours event thanks to a limited number of tickets sold to manage capacity. We’ll talk about it some more during our play-by-play section of this article, but it’s worth noting here that although EPCOT closes to day guests at 9pm and Disney After Hours doesn’t start until 10pm, guests with Disney After Hours wristbands are able to ride attractions during that “buffer hour”. Here’s a list of attractions available during the After Hours event at EPCOT.

    World Discovery

    • Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind
    • Mission: SPACE (green and orange)
    • Test Track

    World Celebration

    • Spaceship Earth
    • Journey into Imagination with Figment

    World Nature

    • Journey of Water – Inspired by Moana
    • Soarin’
    • Living with the Land
    • The Seas with Nemo & Friends

    World Showcase

    • Gran Fiesta Tour starring the Three Caballeros
    • Frozen Ever After
    • Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure

    After Hours Entertainment & Characters

    We’ve already mentioned that if you show up during the mix-in time starting at 7pm, you’ll be able to watch Luminous The Symphony of Us along with regular day guests, but what entertainment is available during the EPCOT Disney After Hours event?

    Whereas Hollywood Studios had an extensive character lineup, and Magic Kingdom had an entirely exclusive fireworks show, EPCOT has a DJ. Technically, there are also performances of Mariachi Cobre (10:10pm, 11:10pm, and 12:10am), and a band at the Canada Mill Stage (10:30pm and 11:30pm), but as much as I love Mariachi Cobre, there really isn’t a big swing-for-the-fences attempt at entertainment during Disney After Hours at EPCOT.

    Guests can also meet with a very limited number of characters:

    • Mickey Mouse (France Pavilion)
    • Pluto (World Celebration Gardens)
    • Chip & Dale (Dancing with World Discovery DJ)

    EPCOT Disney After Hours Wait Times

    As you’d expect, wait times during Disney After Hours were much lower than what you’d find during daily operations. This meant that we were able to ride some of the most popular attractions at EPCOT over and over again until we wanted to move on to the next ride or experience. Here’s a look at the average wait times during the February 8th Disney After Hours event that we attended (info via thrill-data).

    Attraction NameAfter Hours Average Wait Time2024 Average Wait Time
    Frozen Ever After7 minutes81 minutes
    Gran Fiesta Tour5 minutes11 minutes
    Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind20 minutesN/A (Virtual Queue only)
    Journey into Imagination with Figment5 minutes14 minutes
    Living with the Land5 minutes13 minutes
    Mission: SPACE15 minutes24 minutes
    Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure9 minutes86 minutes
    Soarin’15 minutes42 minutes
    Spaceship Earth5 minutes20 minutes
    Test Track20 minutes70 minutes
    The Seas with Nemo & Friends5 minutes15 minutes

    Obviously, the big winners here are Cosmic Rewind, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, Frozen Ever After, and Test Track. It should come as no surprise that those are the rides we’d focus on during the event, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves just yet.

    After Hours Check-In & Arrival Timing

    Ok, with some of the info and data out of the way, it’s time for boots on the ground as we check in to our evening at EPCOT for Disney After Hours and provide a play-by-play recap of our evening.

    As you may know, EPCOT is rather unique in that it has two entrances to the park. While Animal Kingdom also technically qualifies, we typically don’t count it. There is the main entrance that everyone knows about, and then there’s a second entrance for the EPCOT area resorts called International Gateway. Both entrances are open for Disney After Hours guests to use to check into the event.

    In terms of arrival timing, there are really two thoughts here. One is that you arrive right at 7pm (or even a bit earlier) and that you try to fully maximize your time riding attractions. That’s what our approach was for the evening. Another more laid-back approach is to arrive closer to 10pm and just take advantage of the marketed After Hours times after maybe a day at the resort and a late dinner somewhere outside of the park.

    At the main entrance to EPCOT, the check-in area is to the far left side of the tappoints. There is signage and Cast Members around the entrance plaza to direct you where you need to go. You’ll simply tap your MagicBand, MagicMobile-enabled device, or card to enter the park and validate your After Hours admission before receiving a wristband and being offered an event guide.

    We rolled in just after 6:30pm and found that the check-in was already open. This was an improvement over last year, where hundreds of guests waited for 7pm on the dot. There was almost nobody in front of us, and the check-in process was a breeze. Keep in mind that EPCOT does not have an in-park check-in location, so guests who are already in the park will have to exit at either the main entrance or International Gateway to reenter and receive their wristband.

    After Hours Mix-In & Buffer Hour

    There are two phrases that we’ll use to describe different times during our evening. When we’re talking about the “Mix-In” time, that’s from 7pm to 9pm. During the mix-in time, After Hours guests will be able to ride any of the available attractions that daytime guests are able to ride without any special access. When we talk about the “Buffer Hour”, that’s from 9pm to 10pm where some of the rides may be open exclusively to After Hours guests before the event officially begins. Because day guests can enter any attraction queue until 8:59pm, there may be some day guests in line during the Buffer Hour, but only guests with Disney After Hours wristbands will be able to enter the lines starting at 9pm.

    Like in previous Disney After Hours events, we had a self-imposed rule of not riding any attractions with wait times higher than what we’d expect to find during Disney After Hours before the event began. This means that we’ll exclusively focus on rides with wait times of roughly 10 minutes or less during the mix-in time before heading over to Cosmic Rewind during the buffer hour.

    We began our evening where any self-respecting blogger would start: Journey into Imagination with Figment. Unlike during the After Hours event, we wanted to keep each attraction to one ride during the mix-in time to try and maximize our experiences.

    There really isn’t a lot to be gained in terms of advantage over the average wait time for many of the attractions that we’d choose to ride during the mix-in time, but it was nice to get some of our lower-priority rides out of the way early in the evening and not feel the need to “waste” After Hours event time on things like The Seas with Nemo & Friends. This is especially great if you’re purchasing an After Hours ticket instead of a regular day ticket to EPCOT. Being able to have extra time during the mix-in and buffer hour really adds value to an event that otherwise can feel rushed depending on your priorities.

    Here’s a look at wait times as of 6:55pm, just before the mix-in time begins. Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure being closed doesn’t impact our mix-in time because it was one of the attractions that we’d save for the After Hours event, but it’s worth keeping an eye on to see if it continues to have operational struggles.

    In the meantime, we’re going to target low-wait attractions that are physically close to one another. That means we’d start with Journey into Imagination and then shoot for something else like Living with the Land or The Seas with Nemo & Friends before re-evaluating.

    A posted wait time of 5 minutes usually translates to a walk-on situation, which is what we experienced at Journey into Imagination with Figment (7:01pm), The Seas with Nemo & Friends (7:18pm), and Living with the Land (7:32pm).

    By the time we had finished Living with the Land, Soarin’ was a posted wait of 20 minutes just before 8pm. The goal was to try and get as many attractions done before the 9pm “rope drop” for Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind during the buffer hour, so we decided to give Soarin’ a go just because we were already in the area. As it turned out, there was nobody in front of us in line and it was a walk-on despite the posted 20-minute wait.

    We finished Soarin’ around 8:10pm and had time for one or two more attractions before we’d have to ensure that we were in front of Cosmic Rewind to take advantage of the buffer hour. Spaceship Earth had dropped from a 15-minute wait down to a 5-minute wait, so we decided to head over and check out the line. As it turns out (you guessed it), there was nobody in front of us.

    Some light research on how to enjoy a Disney World vacation

    We made it to the front of Cosmic Rewind around 8:50pm as we waited for the buffer hour to kick off. Because Cosmic Rewind is still operating a Virtual Queue, the only way to ride it before 9pm is to have a confirmed Boarding Group. Typically, the final hour or so of daily operation is relatively light on crowds due to most of the Boarding Groups being processed already, but the attraction must remain Virtual Queue only until the park officially closes to guests to allow anyone with a valid Boarding Group to jump in at the last minute.

    That translated to a lot of After Hours guests waiting around while almost nobody entered the queue. Then, the clock struck 9pm and…nothing. The Cast Members had advised guests that they needed to process all day guests before they could open up the queue to After Hours guests during the buffer hour. This is a cautionary tale. Know that even though they should open the standby queue to After Hours guests starting at 9pm, it doesn’t mean that they will.

    In reality, a manager at the attraction gave the all-clear at 9:01pm, and the buffer hour had officially begun! Somehow, the buffer hour remains the best-kept secret of Disney After Hours (demonstrating the lack of reach and influence of this blog), and there were only a few dozen guests entering the ride at 9:01am. In fact, I quickly found myself at the end of the “line” after snapping a few photos as groups passed by me. Here’s a look back at the Galaxarium at 9:03pm.

    Here’s a look at the first “wave” of After Hours guests in one of the pre-show rooms. If you’re a fan of Cosmic Rewind, being able to ride it back-to-back-to-back (or more) during the first hour or so of Disney After Hours with little to no wait is a real treat. Of course, you have to go through the pre-show experience every single time, so that does tend to slow things down a bit, but we rode 3 times during the buffer hour and could’ve kept riding if we wanted to with almost no wait.

    After our final ride on Cosmic Rewind (for now), it was time for Disney After Hours to officially begin! Before we jump into the official event hours, here’s a look at what we were able to accomplish during the mix-in and buffer hour:

    • 7:01pm | Journey into Imagination with Figment
    • 7:17pm | The Seas with Nemo & Friends
    • 7:33pm | Living with the Land
    • 7:54pm | Soarin’ Over California (now Soarin’ Around the World)
    • 8:20pm | Spaceship Earth
    • 9:01pm | Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind
    • 9:25pm | Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind
    • 9:47pm | Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind

    EPCOT After Hours Officially Begins

    Our third ride on Cosmic Rewind wrapped up around 10:15pm and we decided to employ the same strategy this year as last year: eliminate the corners. EPCOT is a large enough theme park that you really have distinct corners that have attractions worth visiting. Thanks to our mix-in and buffer hour, we had just about eliminated two of the four corners of EPCOT.

    The final remaining attraction that we were interested in riding in the World Discovery neighborhood was Test Track. I’m not a huge fan of Mission: SPACE, and if I want to shake up my inner ear fluid, I’ll save it for Cosmic Rewind.

    By the time I got to Test Track, it was 10:17pm and there was a posted 30-minute wait. Knowing that there would be no Lightning Lane to slow down standby, and being able to see that there was nobody in the first room, meant that I was willing to bet that it wasn’t anywhere close to a 30-minute wait. In reality, it was a walk-on.

    We rode Test Track twice from 10:17pm to 10:40pm. With World Discovery complete, it was time to head to World Showcase and either go for Frozen Ever After or Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure. While walking through the Test Track queue, we kept an eye on the My Disney Experience app and noticed that Frozen Ever After was closed from roughly 10:10pm to 10:40pm. We were done with Test Track around the time that Frozen Ever After reopened, and it was closer to us than Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, so we decided to head over to the Norway Pavilion.

    We were happy to find just a dozen or so people in line ahead of us and a mostly empty queue! This was much better than our 2023 experience when this room was mostly full. Granted, we probably got a little lucky given that we were able to catch it relatively quickly after it reopened. It could’ve been a much worse experience if we would’ve been in line or on the ride when it broke down.

    From 10:47pm to 11:11pm, we were able to ride Frozen Ever After twice, with the second ride having a moderately longer line due to more guests realizing that the ride had reopened. We probably could’ve ridden a third time with a 10-15 minute wait, but we would spend that time walking back to the France Pavilion instead.

    With three of the four “corners” completed, it would be smooth sailing from here on out. Here’s a recap of what we’ve completed so far now that we’re about halfway through the official Disney After Hours event time:

    • 7:01pm | Journey into Imagination with Figment
    • 7:17pm | The Seas with Nemo & Friends
    • 7:33pm | Living with the Land
    • 7:54pm | Soarin’ Over California (now Soarin’ Around the World)
    • 8:20pm | Spaceship Earth
    • 9:01pm | Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind
    • 9:25pm | Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind
    • 9:47pm | Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind
    • 10:17pm | Test Track
    • 10:30pm | Test Track
    • 10:47pm | Frozen Ever After
    • 11:00pm | Frozen Ever After

    Feeling good about where we’re at with the evening, a more leisurely stroll to the France Pavilion included stopping in at the Canada popcorn stand for some delicious maple popcorn, which is included as part of the complimentary snack offering. There was no line when we visited at 11:20ish, but we’ve heard some reports that it can get popular and it’s not as quickly prepared and distributed as the the regular popcorn.

    Beyond the specialty popcorn, the Canada popcorn stand was also offering Powerade, which we haven’t seen at other Disney After Hours events. Typically, it’s only soda and water.

    Continuing our walk, crowd levels are generally pretty low when navigating around the park. We arrived in the France Pavilion at 11:30pm. The idea was to continue the trend of riding everything twice, especially given how long of a walk it was from Frozen to France, and how long our walk would be back to the front of the park.

    Before we made it back to Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, we spotted Mickey Mouse in the gazebo. We mentioned it before, but you certainly won’t want to attend the event if characters are a priority. The lineup is pretty abysmal, but it’s always great to see Mickey!

    We made it to the entrance to Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure at 11:36am for our first ride of the evening. When we attended the 2023 version of the event, we were met with a “long” line and a pretty poor experience for an upcharge After Hours event. Thankfully, our 2024 experience would be much better!

    In total, we were able to ride Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure twice in under 20 minutes. The attraction was a walk-on both times.

    With two rides under our belts and just under an hour until the event came to an end, it was time for a walk back toward World Celebration, and a chance to get a ride or two done before the event concludes.

    EPCOT Disney After Hours crowds

    The walk back to World Celebration took over 10 minutes, which is why we really like the “eliminate the corners” strategy, never doubling back until we’ve ridden everything we wanted to at least once.

    Finally, we would make it back to Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind by 12:24pm, and we would be able to ride it two more times before the 1am deadline.

    Here are a few photos on the way out, and a recap of our evening before we try to decide if a Disney After Hours ticket is worth it or not.

    Here are the attractions we were able to experience with our Disney After Hours ticket, keeping in mind that you can get into the park starting at 7pm:

    • 7:01pm | Journey into Imagination with Figment
    • 7:17pm | The Seas with Nemo & Friends
    • 7:33pm | Living with the Land
    • 7:54pm | Soarin’ Over California (now Soarin’ Around the World)
    • 8:20pm | Spaceship Earth
    • 9:01pm | Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind
    • 9:25pm | Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind
    • 9:47pm | Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind
    • 10:17pm | Test Track
    • 10:30pm | Test Track
    • 10:47pm | Frozen Ever After
    • 11:00pm | Frozen Ever After
    • 11:36pm | Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure
    • 11:48pm | Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure
    • 12:24am | Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind
    • 12:55am | Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind

    Is EPCOT Disney After Hours Worth It?

    We’re some 3,800 words into our review, but now it’s time to wrap it up and decide if it’s worth it. Honestly, the list of attractions we experienced is probably more than enough to convince you that an After Hours ticket is worth it. Heck, it’s hard to argue against 16 attractions and five of those being rides on Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind. That’s a wonderful evening in the park. That said, with Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios stepping their games up this year, it might be interesting to ask: “are low wait times enough”?

    Hollywood Studios has an excellent character lineup and low waits at some of the most popular attractions at all of Walt Disney World. At Magic Kingdom, there is an exclusive fireworks show. EPCOT did have some entertainment, but we would’ve liked to have seen more of an effort. Whether that meant more characters or even activating the impressive spotlight display from the Luminous barges, there could’ve been a bit more.

    That said, we simply can’t argue against the attraction-heavy evening we had. It was awesome. At its core, Disney After Hours is an attraction-based event, and while there are wonderful efforts from Hollywood Studios and Magic Kingdom this year in the entertainment department, until Disney World rolls out another themed After Hours event like Villains After Hours, we can’t deduct points for a lack of entertainment.

    That said, there are distinct differences between the three After Hours events this year, and we’ll be back shortly with a comparison of the offerings, and help you decide which one might be best for your upcoming vacation.

    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!

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