Renting Out Disney World on a Budget - Disney After Hours

The empty streets of Hollywood Studios are a dream come true!

How awesome would it be to rent out the Walt Disney World parks? Imagine enjoying the freedom of riding all of the rides, eating as much popcorn and ice cream as you wanted, and enjoying the atmosphere of the park all while its empty. Sounds to good to be true right?!

It’s not too good to be true! You can do this pretty easily now and no, it won’t cost you millions of dollars either. 

All you have to do is visit the Walt Disney World website and purchase a ticket to any of their Disney After Hours events! This separate ticketed event available at Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios allows guests to experience the park after its closed to the general public. That’s right, you’ll have 4-5 hours of fun without the crowds, sun, and long lines - oh and yes popcorn, ice cream, and soda is included and unlimited! We strongly believe that Disney After Hours was created for people like us who secretly wish that we owned it. 

We’ve been to the After Hours event at Magic Kingdom before but recently Disney invited us out to experience their new After Hours events at both Hollywood and Animal Kingdom resorts and we had a blast! Here’s some reason why Disney After Hours is just as good as spending millions of dollars renting out the Walt Disney World parks for a night.

Lines Don’t Exist at Disney After Hours

A beautiful sight to see - a five minute wait at Pandora’s Flight of Passage!

A beautiful sight to see - a five minute wait at Pandora’s Flight of Passage!

If you’ve ever been to a Walt Disney World park, you know that the long lines during peak season seem pretty much unavoidable. By peak season, I am referring to the rush of traffic that falls before and during every holiday event like Spring Break, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Even as Annual Passholders to the Walt Disney World parks, we still have to take the time to get on a ride using pre-planned Fast Passes - sometimes up to a month in advance for the really busy rides! 

Animal Kingdom’s Avatar Flight of Passage at Pandora is a prime example of this with Fast Passes unavailable for months and months in advance. If you’re brave enough to wait in the wrath that is the line for this breathtaking ride, it will take you more than an hour on average. As I am writing this, the wait time for Flight of Passage is literally 145 minutes long.

During After Hours at Animal Kingdom, we rode on Flight of Passage 3 times in a row and we could have easily gone on more than that. The wait was only 5 minutes, which is basically the time it takes to walk from the front of the queue to the actual ride within the building. It was so empty in there, that I could ask the cast member which floor and seat I wanted to be on! It was so empty, that sometimes there was no one else in line besides us! That is a dream to us come true!

During the Hollywood Studios After Hours event, the Slinky Dog Rollercoaster at Toy Story was the same way. Usually, the Slinky Dog ride is 90+ minutes wait however, during After Hours the wait time estimated 10 minutes. We only waited 5 minutes in “line” that night and definitely could have kept going on but we wanted to make sure we took advantage of the fact that Tower of Terror and Rockin’ Rollercoaster were “walk-ons” as well. Honestly this fact alone makes the tickets worth it.

There are Still Character Meet and Greets

Mickey, Minnie, and the whole gang are attending the After Hours events as well with little to no wait in line! Even some of the new meet and greets with Buzz and Woody in their new holiday outfits at Hollywood Studios were only a 5-10 minute wait. We met up with a few of our favorites and had a blast!

Steve singing “I Believe I Can Fly” to a very festive Buzz

Steve singing “I Believe I Can Fly” to a very festive Buzz

There’s No Crowd and No Heat

Not only are the wait times and lines non-existent, you’ll also find that there is really no one around you. You can have peace of mind enjoying the atmosphere, background music, decorations, and time with friends and family without the interruption of other people. This is not only great for introverts, but it also is a great solution for people who struggle with sensory and claustrophobia issues. 

Plus, photographers will finally be able to get photos of the Disney landscapes without people blocking the view.

If you are intolerant to the sun or just overall despise the Florida humidity, I would definitely recommend buying a ticket to Disney After Hours. Since the event takes place at night, there’s no sun in your eyes or on your skin. It’s quite comfortable.

Free popcorn is the best kind of popcorn.

Free popcorn is the best kind of popcorn.

Free Popcorn, Ice Cream, and Soda

Think about how much money you spend at the parks in a day. Now, take out the cost of popcorn, ice cream, and soda. How much money did you save? Because a family of four could easily save $200-$300 on snacks by just attending the After Hours Event.

The popcorn is freshly popped and delicious as always. The ice cream options are Mickey Bars, Mickey ice cream sandwiches, and frozen fruit bars. The soda options are Coca Cola flavors served bottled and ice cold all night. It just doesn’t get better than that.

You Can Still Catch the Fireworks

Since After Hours lets you into the parks one hour before everything closes down for the event, you can usually get a pretty good spot for the fireworks before the After Hours night begins. At Magic Kingdom, we used this time to grab a good meal at Skipper Canteen and then hurried over to watch the Happily Ever After fireworks. Hollywood made it even easier and we had no trouble viewing the Movie Magic and Jingle Bell Jingle Bam shows right in front of the Chinese Theater when we got in. At Animal Kingdom, we took some time to relax and have a drink at Nomad Lounge before the festivities.

Some people we knew used this time to ride some rides or enjoy experiences that may not be open with After Hours. However, we personally think that there are enough experiences available, even a private showing of Rivers of Light was available at Animal Kingdom! 

To see a list of what attractions are available, check out the Walt Disney World Website.

It’s Worth Your Money

We had a RAWRing good time!

We had a RAWRing good time!

Overall, we will always recommend that you book an After Hours event at least once to enjoy with your friends and family. You’ll feel like the park is all to yourself, especially during peak season times when the parks are at their highest capacity. We would say that it’s almost as good as a day-ticket if you don’t mind all of the low-light pictures! Disney After Hours will be going on until the middle of April, so make sure that you grab your tickets before they sell out. As you can imagine, space for these events are very limited. 

The pricing is the same as a regular day ticket to the park and is discounted further if you have an Annual Pass to Walt Disney World or if you’re a Disney Vacation Club member. Click here to grab tickets for Disney After Hours!

We had so much fun at these After Hours events and would definitely spend the money to go back! We want to thank Disney for inviting us out and for coming up with this idea. 

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