Disneyland After Dark parties return in 2022! Star Wars, Villains, and Sweethearts Nites will come back, with more nights than ever of the limited-time, after-hours events. In this post, we’ll share details and offer commentary about these hard ticket events in California.
In case you’re unfamiliar with it, Disneyland After Dark parties take place after regular park hours and feature unique themes, festivities, special nighttime entertainment, access to attractions with reduced wait times, and more. Parking fees are not included in the ticket price.
With each separately ticketed Disneyland After Dark event, you get 4 hours of party time after the parks close to day guests. Plus, there’s a 3-hour pre-party mix-in at the same park as the event. That amounts to a total of 7 hours park time, minus however long it takes to check into the event (30 minutes to an hour, if Merriest Nites or Oogie Boogie Bash are any indication).
Additionally, at each of these events, you’ll receive unlimited digital downloads of Disney PhotoPass photos taken during the party, plus commemorative keepsakes including a souvenir credential and event guide map. Here are the details for each of the upcoming themed nights…
Star Wars Nite – May 3, 4 and 27, 2022 at Disneyland
Disneyland After Dark: Star Wars Nite will be the ultimate Star Wars extravaganza, packed with galactic fun on three separate nights at Disneyland park in May 2022.
Highlights of Star Wars Nite include:
An amazing pyrotechnical spectacle that will illuminate the skies with a Star Wars-themed fireworks show
March of the First Order, featuring Captain Phasma and her elite unit of Stormtroopers
A Galactic dance party
Sightings of various Star Wars characters throughout the evening
Star Wars-themed attractions, including Star Tours: The Adventures Continue, Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run, and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance (subject to availability, which may vary and is not guaranteed) usually with shorter wait times
Star Wars-themed eats and treats, merchandise, photo opportunities, and more
Early admission to Disneyland starting at 6 p.m., no theme park reservation required
Starting at $134 per person
Star Wars Nite has a lot of potential, especially if it adds something special or unique to Galaxy’s Edge, or brings about the long-rumored Baby Yoda and Mandalorian meet & greet. The idea of a Star Wars fireworks show is also attractive, and that was always a big hit at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Of course, it’ll come down to execution–the previous Star Wars Nite struck me as a cash grab to take advantage of Star Wars Celebration at the Anaheim Convention Center.
Disneyland After Dark: Grad Nite Reunion – June 2022 at DCA
Get ready for a throwback to your high school grad night! It’s a reunion party celebrating the last 6 decades. On select nights in June 2022, this separately ticketed Disneyland After Dark event invites you to remember the fun, reunite with friends, and get a little nostalgic.
From entertainment experiences to unique cafeteria-inspired food, it’s an evening of Grad Nite’s “Greatest Hits” at Disney California Adventure. Revel in a lively, last-hurrah atmosphere and enjoy that carefree feeling of being a recent high school grad.
DCA comes to life with unique experiences—including live music and dance parties—that transform into a pep rally to bring back familiar tunes. Adding to the immersive experience, you’re encouraged to dress in retro fashions and themed attire that celebrates your favorite decade and school spirit.
Disneyland After Dark: Grad Nite Reunion will be offered on June 23, 28, and 30, 2022. Tickets will go on sale on Disneyland.com, beginning April 28, 2022, no earlier than noon PT.
Here are some of the details for what you can expect at Disneyland After Dark: Grad Nite Reunion.
Enjoy sightings of beloved Disney characters throughout the evening with a few favorites proudly wearing their cap and gown
March-along pep-rally style with some favorite Disney friends
Dance through the decades to hits of today and yesterday
Retro photo opportunities
Unlimited downloads of PhotoPass digital photos you take during the party
Commemorative credential and guide
Unique, cafeteria-inspired food and beverage offerings
Special after-hours access to most of the park’s attractions
Party attire encouraged. Don’t forget to show your school spirit!
I’m probably not the best person to offer commentary about Disneyland After Dark: Grad Nite Reunion. I realize that this event was a rite of passage for many Southern Californians, and the de facto high school graduation party for many locals. I attended high school in Michigan; my grad party is a drunken blur of miniature golf and subpar pizza. I have zero desire to revisit that.
Because of that, I have a hard time getting even remotely excited for Disneyland After Dark: Grad Nite Reunion. Usually, I can at least read a description and understand how it’ll appeal to the target audience, even if that’s not me. Not the case here. I’m really scratching my head, wondering how does this appeal to anyone?!
I’m all for Disney trying new concepts with the Disneyland After Dark events, and even leaning heavily into nostalgia. I hope this one finds an audience and realize that it’ll probably appeal to nostalgic Californians. I just do not get why. Cafeteria food and a pep rally? That’s a hard pass from me.
Sweethearts’ Nite – February at Disneyland
Disneyland After Dark: Sweethearts’ Nite will be hosted on five separate evenings in February. There’s sure to be heartfelt fun for everyone as Valentine’s Day is celebrated during Sweethearts’ Nite.
Here’s some of what you can expect during Sweethearts’ Nite:
A special themed fireworks show
Projection effects on Sleeping Beauty Castle and Main Street, U.S.A.
A jazz ensemble aboard the Mark Twain Riverboat, plus other live entertainment, including a Royal Ball and a dance party with a DJ
Spot the most darling Disney couples, and take selfies with your favorites
Fun photo opportunities featuring romantic scenes from iconic Disney films
Lovely décor, along with food and beverage offerings around the park
Early admission to Disneyland starting at 5 pm, no theme park reservation required
Tickets start at $114 per person
Villains Nite – March at Disney California Adventure
Disneyland After Dark: Villains Nite offers a party with some of the most mischievous misfits at Disney California Adventure. These wonderfully wicked events will take place on two separate evenings in March.
Villains Nite includes:
The Cauldron, a cunningly-crafted cabaret featuring a cast of villainous virtuosos showing off their talents through song and dance
Ursula’s Seaside Sing-a-long, where you can find your voice and sing along
The Underworld Dance Party, which allows you to bust a move at a dastardly DJ dance party in the Hollywood Backlot
Special photo backdrops, featuring scenes inspired by some favorite villains
Some of Disney’s famously nefarious fiends — or their henchmen — at special locations around the park
Delightfully decadent food and beverage offerings
Early admission to Disney California Adventure beginning at 5 p.m., no theme park reservation required
Starting at $119 per person
In terms of commentary, my biggest thought is that Disneyland should be focused on satisfying regular demand and getting the parks up to 100% capacity during normal operating hours before focusing on hard ticket events. I have no issue whatsoever with a scattering of special events throughout the year, especially when they’re easy to plan around and don’t consume multiple nights per week of the calendar.
However, park reservations have been filling up for Magic Key passholders months in advance. (The above calendar is from last week–reservations were just refilled this morning, so perhaps the problem is being resolved? I guess we’ll see how quickly this round vanishes.) It’s one thing to schedule upcharge events on off-season evenings when normal demand is being fulfilled–it’s another to have staffing shortages causing issues with the normal park experience, yet somehow being sufficient to do these extras.
To me, what’s most remarkable about Disneyland After Dark is that it sounds like an inferior paid replacement for the free Annual Passholder nights that used to occur prior to the Diamond Celebration. We attended several of those, and always had a blast.
As for Disneyland After Dark, two of these events sound fairly underwhelming. A jazz ensemble aboard the Mark Twain Riverboat and special fireworks will be nice, but otherwise, it’s hard to see the appeal in Sweethearts’ Nite. The Cauldron could be cool, but without a parade or a special World of Color, a hard ticket event in DCA is a tough sell for me.
Notably, there’s no 90s or 80s Nites (the events we really wanted to attend) or Pixar Nite on the Disneyland After Dark schedule for 2022. It’s somewhat surprising to me that the decade-themed events didn’t sell well enough to bring them back, especially given the pull of nostalgia. We still haven’t decided which, if any, of these Disneyland After Dark parties we’ll do. There’s nothing here that piques our interest like Oogie Boogie Bash or Merriest Nites, so it’ll probably be a matter of waiting until closer to event dates to see whether anything extra is added.
Are you excited for the return of Disneyland After Dark in 2022? Disappointed about another special event, or think it’ll be a worthwhile “value add” of entertainment? Which of these “Nites” do you think looks like it has the best lineup? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment? Any questions? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!