2022 Disneyland After Dark Dates & Info
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.
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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!
I hope this Disneyland After Dark Villains event would happen again in 2023 so I can meet my 8 favorite Disney characters that I haven’t even met. I was at the Oogie Boogie Bash to meet the 10 that I haven’t met, but I only got two: Oogie Boogie and Dr. Facilier.
Tom, first time Disneyland visitors. Our DCA day is now a grad night. We are rope droppers who tend to leave WDW parks at 4:00 or 5:00 PM. Should we stick with this day or change our park reservation to a Friday?
Stick with it.
These events typically result in lower morning crowds before things get worse at mix-in time. Friday will likely be more crowded, as a lot of Californians take that day off work.
I was so excited to hear about Grad Nite Reunion — but there is a fatal flaw. Most Grad Nites were held at Disneyland, not DCA. (Maybe all — I stopped keeping track after mine.) DCA didn’t even exist for most Grad Nites. If the party was at Disneyland, I’d seriously consider going. There’s nothing like reminiscing about being young and dumb.
We attended Merriest Nights, Sweethearts Night, and Villains Night. I’d rank them in that same order. I was most excited for Villains Night and it was just so disappointing. I would attend the other two again for sure. Sweethearts Night was the ultimate date night; great for couples. And Merriest Nights was the perfect formula of Christmas + Muppets – crowds.
The after dark Villains event on Tuesday March 8 was such a disappointment. Mercy was sold out in 30 minutes even though you were suppose to only purchase one of each item. Lines were poorly managed for character interactions… what a waste of money for our group. Disney used to be our favorite adventure but it has been a complete disappointment the last few events…especially if DCA is the host park. It’s almost like they forgot how to manage a park!
I thought Merriest Nites was over priced, definitely not worth the price with no fireworks although the slimmed down crowd for the parade was nice. I certainly wouldn’t do it again.
“it’s hard to see the appeal in Sweethearts’ Nite”
Given the nostalgia many Disneyland fans have, even for things they never got to experience, I would assume that many ex-APers jump at the opportunity to experience the next-gen version of the original separate ticket event, Date Nite at Disneyland. (While it started out as a discounted evening only ticket, like EPCOT After 5, eventually it became so popular that they had to clear out the daytime crowds.) I’m definitely not much of a dancer these days, but the 1958 album they released makes me want to dapper up a bit and dance next to the Mark Twain, if not on it.
Hi Tom, I have a holiday to LA booked for late April early May (coming from Australia) and had chosen the first week of May to visit DL due to predicted low crowds. Unfortunately now we will be locked out of DL for two nights of our stay because of the special Star Wars event. I am seriously thinking about switching our holiday plans and changing our week to visit DL to the last week of April instead as we are not interested in the Star Wars parties and are more focused on hitting the lowest and most manageable crowd numbers. Will this last week in April be a better bet for lower crowds than the Star Wars week. Any input would be greatly appreciated as it is costing us a lot of money to come all the way from Australia and we want to get the best bang for our buck. Thanks, love your website.
I guess these parties are mostly targeted at locals who maybe have had their fill of rides but it strikes me as amusing that they are advertising lower waits for the Star Wars attractions during Star Wars Nite. The target demo for the party sure seems like it would be disproportionally interested in experiencing those 3 attractions, they will either need to cap the attendance at a very low level or have a ton of one off Star Wars themed entertainment to draw guests away from those 3 things. (A Baby Yoda meet and greet sounds both awesome and terrifying, the line would be so long that would probably be all you have time to do.)
I think you hit the nail on the head. At least it won’t coincide with Star Wars Celebration this year (I think?). That seemed like a recipe for disaster and guests disproportionately congregated in one corner of the park.
That’ll still happen, but hopefully not to the same extent.
Oh, in a shocking twist of fate I actually have tickets around one of those Villains After-Dark nights! That alone might make it a must-do for me. Granted, I’ve never done something like it so it might be worth it to see what it’s like…but it does seem weird there is no parade or fireworks. Still, half as much as I’m spending on the Christmas party at WDW…