Moonlight Magic parties are returning to Walt Disney World in 2023, with dates at EPCOT, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and Typhoon Lagoon! During these free after hours parties, DVC members can experience a night full of fun: attractions with short wait times, rare character sightings, exclusive entertainment, and free food!
Disney Vacation Club is bringing the fan-favorite membership extra back to the Florida parks. This isn’t as big of a surprise as the return of Moonlight Magic to Disney California Adventure, which is occurring after a lengthy hiatus. By contrast, the events returned to Walt Disney World last year and it sounds like more of the same this year.
We cannot wait–we absolutely love Moonlight Magic, having done this many times in the past, including last year. We’ve attended Moonlight Magic at every single Walt Disney World park except Blizzard Beach (to my recollection, they’ve never done the event there…but I could be wrong) and usually have a blast. More on that in the commentary.
Here’s what Disney Vacation Club has revealed thus far about the 2023 Moonlight Magic parties:
EPCOT Moonlight Magic Event Dates: February 8, 2023 and February 15, 2023.
Initial Registration Window – Opens January 25, 2023: The initial registration window for EPCOT events is open to eligible Members with existing Resort reservations at a Disney-owned-and-operated hotel at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida or at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort—with party size modifications finalized prior to today.
General Registration – Opens February 2, 2023 and February 9, 2023: Event registration for the February 8, 2023 event at EPCOT opens to all eligible Members on February 2, 2023 (pending availability). Event registration for the February 15, 2023 event at EPCOT opens to all eligible Members on February 9, 2023 (pending availability).
Disney’s Hollywood Studios Moonlight Magic Event Dates are May 11, 2023 and September 13, 2023.
DHS Registration Window: Please check back for information about when to register.
Animal Kingdom Moonlight Magic Event Dates are July 11, 2023 and August 2, 2023.
DAK Registration Window: Please check back for information about when to register.
Typhoon Lagoon Moonlight Magic Event Dates: May 23, 2023 and August 23, 2023.
Typhoon Lagoon Registration Window: Please check back for information about when to register.
Per Disney Vacation Club, highlights for the “privileged partiers” at Moonlight Magic include:
Shorter-than-usual wait times for select park attractions
Disney Characters sightings (this presumably means meet & greets and just hasn’t been updated from last year’s “sightings” language)
Complimentary special treats and delectable delights
Moonlight Magic Eligibility – To be eligible for Moonlight Magic, you must be a “blue card” Disney Vacation Club member, meaning that you purchased directly from Disney or bought before the resale restrictions were implemented back in April 2016. If you have a member card, you’re good. This also means that anyone renting Disney Vacation Club points is not eligible for Moonlight Magic. Unlike other on-site perks, Moonlight Magic is based on the membership and not the stay.
Party Size Limits – A Member can register themself and up to 4 additional Guests per Membership (for a total of 5)—or up to the number of Guests on their Resort reservation, provided it was finalized prior to applicable deadlines for each registration window. Children younger than 3 years of age do not need to be registered for this event.
Members With Multiple Resort Reservations – If Members have multiple Resort reservations, additional party size guidelines apply depending on how the reservation was booked:
When staying using Vacation Points or Reservation Points, Members can register themselves and up to the number of individuals on their Resort reservation(s).
When staying on your Interval International Membership using cash or points, Members can register themselves and up to the number of individuals staying in the same room as the Member, per Membership.
When staying on your RCI Membership using cash or points, Members can register themselves and up to the number of individuals staying in the same room as the Member, per Membership.
Modifications & Cancellations – This event cannot be booked or modified through Member Services. If a Member wishes to change their party size within the party size limits, or the date that they are attending Moonlight Magic, they may modify their event registration through the link found in their confirmation email. Please note:
If you cancel your Resort reservation, your event registration will be cancelled automatically.
Cancelling and rebooking an event registration increases the risk of losing one’s registration.
Modifications or cancellations of an event registration cannot be made the same day as booking.
Registering for Another Member on Your Membership – If the primary Member is not registering for the event, another Member with the same Member ID number may be added as an alternate to check in at the event. Valid Disney Vacation Club Digital Membership Card and photo ID are required at check-in.
Event Date Limits – In order to allow as many Members as possible to enjoy Moonlight Magic, only one event date for each participating park will be available per Membership.
Other Important Information
Registration is required and limited. Unfortunately, walk-ins will not be permitted.
Valid Disney Vacation Club Digital Membership Card and photo ID required at check-in. Member listed on the Digital Membership Card must be in attendance.
Complimentary admission to the after-hours event is valid for the duration of the event. If you wish to enter a park before the event, valid theme park admission and reservation are required.
This offer is complimentary, nontransferable and cannot be sold. It is subject to availability, change or termination without notice.
Attendees under 18 years of age must be accompanied by a participating parent or guardian.
This is a rain-or-shine event; some experiences may be cancelled due to inclement weather.
We request that Members cancel at least 48 hours in advance.
Disney Genie, Disney Genie+ and individual Lightning Lanes are not available for use during Moonlight Magic Events.
Reservations must be made by the person listed as the “owner” on the Membership and can be booked with points through Disney Vacation Club or with cash through the Disney Reservation Center or a travel provider. Please note that Members who have a Resort reservation booked under another Member’s membership are not eligible for early booking.
As noted at the top, we’ve attended many Moonlight Magic parties since the event began several years ago. Many highlights exist, from stumbling upon rare characters from “a bug’s life” with zero lines to playing mini-golf with Disney Afternoon characters at DCA to being offered an entire box of cookies from Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. (A wholesale sized box that had to have contained 200-500 cookies. I “settled” for filling my camera bag and a shopping bag.)
We even attended the very last Moonlight Magic that was held in Magic Kingdom, back in March 2020. That also ended up being our last evening in the park before the multi-month closure. I still think back to that evening fondly, remembering scarfing down multiple hot dogs from Casey’s Corner before seeing the fireworks and meeting Disney fur character royalty.
In looking back at some of our party reports, I see there were downsides to each event. There have been instances of surprisingly long lines for food, characters, or attractions since the beginning. There were also events early on when some members literally brought coolers to stock up on ice cream and other snacks, causing the kiosks to run out.
However, we largely ‘smooth over’ the negatives in our minds, fondly recollecting the positives–special fireworks, rare characters, free food, and other unique moments enjoying (mostly) empty parks. Even with issues here and there, the Moonlight Magic events are absolutely fantastic.
Perhaps its recency bias, but last year did seem to have more problems than normal. There were still some rare characters, but not as many. Entertainment was lighter than normal, particularly exclusive nighttime spectaculars or special fireworks. The distribution of special popcorn buckets and snacks left a lot to be desired.
a lot of that can be attributed to staffing shortages that meant fewer Cast Members for character meet & greets and to operate more food & beverage locations. (Passing the popcorn buckets out at the entrance or another centralized location might’ve solved some of this–and maybe they did that at later events; I’m not sure.)
There’s also the reality that there were fewer Moonlight Magic events than pre-closure, which is a trend that continues in 2023. Due to there being fewer Moonlight Magic parties, I also suspect that Disney Vacation Club increased the attendance caps, resulting in larger crowds. (Perhaps that’s simply my perception, though. Not 100% sure on that one.)
Ultimately, Moonlight Magic is still great, and the pros of the free event far outweigh the cons–even last year. I’m hoping that Moonlight Magic goes smoother in 2023, with improved staffing remedying some of these issues and lessons learned from last year fixing others.
Even with the hiccups, Moonlight Magic is a great event that is essentially a free version of After Hours for DVC Members, with a few extra enhancements that make it better than After Hours, in our view. It’s a great perk for those who are able to take advantage; we’ve loved attending over the years, and hope the 2023 Moonlight Magic parties mark more of a return to normal. We’ll be experiencing the first Moonlight Magic of the year next week, and will report back on how it goes!
Planning on registering for one of the 2023 Moonlight Magic party nights? Excited to see this free event returning as a benefit for DVC members? Have you attended one of the Moonlight Magic events at Walt Disney World? Did you meet any rare characters or enjoy special entertainment? What did you think of the experience? Any questions or thoughts about anything in this party report? Hearing your feedback about your experiences is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts or questions below in the comments!