2023 After Hours at Magic Kingdom: Dates, Details, Tips, Rides & Review

After Hours at Magic Kingdom is a hard ticket event with limited attendance and short wait times for rides in Walt Disney World’s most popular park. This post shares our experiences, info about the event, 2023 dates & details, tips & tricks, and whether it’s worth the money.

This is the latest of the After Hours events, which debuted at Magic Kingdom several years ago and has had several different themes (Villains, Halloween & Christmas) since then. For 2023, the regular or “vanilla” After Hours is once again returning to Magic Kingdom, with dates in the winter and spring, and more likely to come for spring and summer.

After Hours at Magic Kingdom takes place select nights from January 9 until March 27, 2023. This event takes place from 10 pm until 1 am. In addition to that, After Hours attendees can get a head start on the fun by entering the park at 7:00 PM—a few hours before the event officially begins!

Ticket prices for After Hours at Magic Kingdom vary based on date:

Event Date Price (Excludes Tax) Price for Passholders and
Disney Vacation Club
Members (Excludes Tax)
Monday, January 9, 2023 SOLD OUT SOLD OUT
Monday, January 16, 2023 $159 $129
Monday, January 23, 2023 $145 $115
Thursday, February 16, 2023 $159 $129
Monday, February 20, 2023 $159 $129
Monday, February 27, 2023 $155 $125
Thursday, March 2, 2023 $159 $129
Monday, March 6, 2023 $155 $125
Monday, March 13, 2023 $155 $125
Thursday, March 16, 2023 $155 $125
Monday, March 20, 2023 $155 $125
Monday, March 27, 2023 $149 $119

I had been planning on publishing our guide and review of the 2023 After Hours at Magic Kingdom following the first event, which is now sold out. With that plus many dates at DHS also selling fast, I figured it’d be more useful to share info, advice, and recommendations based on our past experiences with After Hours at Magic Kingdom now–before every single date sells out. Posts aimed at helping people determine whether something “is worth it?” tend to be more useful when the thing in question can still be purchased.

In any case, we’ll circle back with an update after attending with the 2023 After Hours at Magic Kingdom with any strategy changes or review updates! For now, here’s a mix of new info and strategy based on prior experiences with After Hours at Magic Kingdom…

One thing that won’t be changing is the hallmark of the After Hours at Walt Disney World: UNLIMITED PREMIUM MICKEY ICE CREAM BARS!!! Those, plus other ice cream novelties, popcorn, and bottled beverages are all included in the cost of After Hours at Magic Kingdom.

You simply walk up to outdoor vending carts stationed throughout the park and grab a Premium Mickey Bar, Coca-Cola, or whatever else. It’s an admittedly nice touch of the event, and although it’s undoubtedly priced into the (very high) cost of tickets, it still has a nice, all-inclusive type of feeling. Perhaps I’m just a man of simple tastes who is easily impressed, but I feel fancy walking away from an ODV with “free” ice cream and pop.

You can also purchase food and beverages at select dining locations, but this is typically a terrible use of the limited event time. Eat before you arrive or fill up on ice cream and other treats on-the-go during After Hours at Magic Kingdom.

Attractions open for After Hours at Magic Kingdom will likely include most or all of the following:

  • Astro Orbiter
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
  • Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin*
  • Country Bear Jamboree
  • Dumbo the Flying Elephant
  • Haunted Mansion*
  • “it’s a small world”*
  • Jungle Cruise*
  • Mad Tea Party
  • Peter Pan’s Flight
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Prince Charming Regal Carrousel
  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train*
  • Space Mountain*
  • Swiss Family Treehouse
  • Goofy’s Barnstormer
  • The Magic Carpets of Aladdin
  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
  • Tomorrowland Speedway
  • Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover
  • Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid

You can learn more about the attraction lineup, pricing, and 2023 Disney After Hours dates on the official website.

*These are the only attractions that Walt Disney World has officially confirmed for 2023 After Hours at Magic Kingdom. The rest of the list is pulled from past After Hours events, with the lineup being fairly consistent. We’ve only removed Splash Mountain from the list, for obvious reasons

With the probable ride roster out of the way, the operative question about After Hours at Magic Kingdom is how many rides can you accomplish? Narrowing that a bit further, we assume most people reading this are concerned with headliners like Seven Dwarfs Mine Train–and how much time can be saved by paying to attend After Hours versus a normal day at Magic Kingdom…

We’ve attended several After Hours events, themed and unthemed, at Magic Kingdom. During the last one we attended, we did the following:

  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Jungle Cruise
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (x2)
  • Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid
  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
  • Tomorrowland Speedway
  • Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover
  • Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
  • Astro Orbiter
  • Space Mountain (x2)
  • Peter Pan’s Flight (x2)
  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

That’s a total of 15 things, and we could’ve done more if efficiency were our lone goal and we didn’t backtrack as much. With Annual Passholder pricing at $115 and up to $159 regular pricing at the event, that breaks down to around $7 to $11 per experience.

We also ate about a half dozen ice cream novelties and had a few Cokes, the value of which would’ve exceeded $50 were we paying out of pocket. However, I would never buy a bottle of water at Walt Disney World in the first place, much less 6 of them in a day. So ascribing $50 of value to the snacks is a bit of a stretch. I’d actually say that added about $15 worth of value, as I did dinner in sugar-infused form.

As noted above, After Hours at Magic Kingdom does not require regular theme park admission and allows entry as early as 7 pm. Unlike the Disney’s Hollywood Studios version of the event, the special event begins right at official park closing time–at 10:00 p.m., and runs for 3 hours until 1:00 a.m. This means you can see the fireworks or knock out a few less-popular attractions before After Hours officially kicks off.

The last time we attended, we did exactly that–accomplishing another half-dozen attractions (including several not open during After Hours) during the mix-in hours. It also helps that Walt Disney World tends to inflate wait times on party nights in an effort to “gently discourage” day guests from jumping in line at the last minute for one last ride.

As noted above, we’ve attended After Hours at Magic Kingdom on multiple occasions. If one thing has been consistent, it’s the inconsistency of crowds. When these events first started, they seldom sold out and were absolutely glorious. Over time, they’ve become more popular and started selling out.

Unsurprisingly, there’s a big difference in crowds between parties that are sold out and ones that are not. More surprisingly, there has also been variance in wait times and attendance even among sold out nights. Walt Disney World seems to have oversold some After Hours nights in late 2019 and early 2020, resulting in worse crowds. However, that was not our experience with the themed After Hours nights in 2021.

The 2023 After Hours at Magic Kingdom are already starting to sell out, but it’s impossible to say what these parties hold in terms of crowds. Our guess is that the capacity is in line with the Halloween and Christmas After Hours, but with the key distinction that those had entertainment to help absorb crowds–meaning wait times could be slightly higher at the 2023 events. Hopefully, that’s an incorrect assumption on my part–and ticket sales are more limited. We shall see, and will report back!

Typically, lines are short and manageable during After Hours at Magic Kingdom. Once the event gets started, most attractions are walk-ons and are dispatching ride vehicles with empty seats. A handful might have 5 to 10 minute waits, with a couple being worse than that.

The two rides that usually have measurable wait times in the first couple of hours are Peter Pan’s Flight and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. The latter is really the biggest offender, and we’ve done multiple After Hours at Magic Kingdom during which the line never really died down for that. In other cases, it has had a <15 minute wait time in the final hour.

In terms of tips, our advice would be to start in Adventureland and continue to Frontierland, before knocking out most of Fantasyland and all of Tomorrowland. Finally, finish off by backtracking and hitting Peter Pan’s Flight (potentially multiple times) and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.

If you want bang for your buck, the popular attractions that are easiest to knock out over and over again either by re-riding or quickly returning to the queue are Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Peter Pan’s Flight, and Astro Orbiter. Space Mountain almost qualifies, but the long queue and exit does add up.

As with a normal night, you can jump into line for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train with one minute left in the event. In other words, if you only want to do this ride once, the wait time is mostly irrelevant, as you’ll be lining up at 12:59 am and doing most of your waiting after the party has concluded, anyway.

If you want to do Seven Dwarfs Mine Train more than once, you’ll probably want to do prior rides in the 12 am hour–perhaps alternating between it and Peter Pan’s Flight if you want to switch things up.

As for whether After Hours at Magic Kingdom is worth the money, that really depends. If you’re staying at a Deluxe Resort and have access to Extended Evening Hours at Magic Kingdom, I would not even consider shelling out $100+ per person for this event unless money is absolutely no object. (In which case, why are you reading this review?)

We’ve done Extended Evening Hours at Magic Kingdom several times, and have had a blast at that. On average, we accomplish 8-10 attractions during that 2-hour window. In our experience, it is very comparable to After Hours, minus the included refreshments and extra hour. Do that instead, pay for snacks out of pocket, and put the difference towards a different splurge.

If you are not eligible for Extended Evening Hours and are thus debating whether to do After Hours instead…have you considered doing a split stay and splurging on a night at a Deluxe Resort? (See How to Do Split Stays at Walt Disney World Hotels.) You could also pair that with Club Level at a Magic Kingdom area resort, taking advantage of the early/late hours and enjoying the club during the middle of the day.

Seriously. If you have a party of 4, you’re looking at an outlay of ~$500 for After Hours at Magic Kingdom. That’s enough for staying at a Deluxe Resort for one night, especially if you book the Swan & Dolphin or do Disney Vacation Club Point Rentals. While split stays are not for everyone, we love them–to each their own on that, though.

If doing a split stay is a non-starter or you otherwise can’t or won’t do a Deluxe Resort, there are still other options. One is doing Early Entry and rope drop at Magic Kingdom. Generally speaking, that is not a comparable alternative to After Hours at Magic Kingdom.

For one thing, it’s in the morning rather than the best time of day (night) at Magic Kingdom. For another thing, Early Entry is not particularly useful at Magic Kingdom (definitely the worst of the 4 parks for the perk) due to the later park opening time. If your only options are Early Entry or After Hours (a false choice, to be sure), we’d pick the latter.

Finally, there’s Genie+ and Lightning Lanes. If you’ve read any of our many posts about using paid FastPass at Magic Kingdom, you’re likely aware we advocate for buying the service there. (If not, now you know!)

With the largest Lightning Lane ride roster, Genie+ availability is better at Magic Kingdom than any other park. It typically has the best return times and you can strategize so you are not crisscrossing the park and backtracking too much. There’s also less reason to be on your phone constantly playing the refresh game, as Genie+ is typically “easier” at Magic Kingdom.

Nevertheless, we are cognizant of the fact that many guests want no screen time or hassle. After Hours definitely has that advantage over Genie+ and Lightning Lanes. There’s no technology required and zero headaches whatsoever. Of course, the tradeoff is a massively higher price.

Ultimately, that’s my perspective on After Hours at Magic Kingdom. We will go for the sake of “research,” but I would not buy tickets to this if we were the average Walt Disney World visitors. Likewise, we do not recommend it for the bulk of planners, especially those on tight budgets or, paradoxically, willing to splurge on a Deluxe Resort. That’s a change from previous years, when we recommended After Hours at Magic Kingdom.

Ironically enough, I am much less keen on this event than previously. This is because Extended Evening Hours are vastly superior to Evening Extra Magic Hours and Genie+ is better than FastPass+ at Magic Kingdom. That’s ironic because, as a general matter, both of those changes have come with a cost. However, in this specific case, the smaller pools of guests who can or do use both tips the scales in their favor–in other words, their cost is lower than this cost.

Genie+ or Extended Evening Hours essentially marginalize the value of After Hours at Magic Kingdom. At least from my perspective, this is now a somewhat pointless event without a theme attached, as there are viable alternatives that cost less or have more upside (or both). As always, to each their own, though. I’m sure most nights of the 2023 After Hours at Magic Kingdom will sell out, and the vast majority of attendees will have a fantastic time. It’s simply not how I would allocate my “TREAT YO SELF” budget for splurging on a Walt Disney World vacation when choosing from the various options.

To that point, we would (and do!) recommend the 2023 After Hours at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. If you hate crowds, hassles, and are willing to splurge, After Hours at DHS will be a great event for you. This is largely because there are is no (normally-scheduled) Extended Evening Hours, Genie+ can be headache-inducing, and Early Entry is only a viable option for knocking out 2-3 attractions. With that said, After Hours is also not strictly necessary at DHS, either. It’s just a more sensible splurge, from our perspective.

With all of that said, if you arbitrarily set aside the cost or just want to splurge, it’s hard to argue against After Hours. So long as Walt Disney World doesn’t get greedy and increase the attendance cap (as we’ve seen with MNSSHP and MVMCP), it should continue to be an excellent event. Even then, demand for these is way lower than for the Halloween and Christmas Parties, so crowds are unlikely to be a problem. (My hope is that Walt Disney World switches things up and offers a themed After Hours for Spring and Summer 2023, as it’s hard for me to see this as a compelling offering that sets itself apart from Extended Evening Hours.)

At the end of the day, limited-capacity evening events are the most enjoyable way to experience Magic Kingdom–there’s certainly something to be said for nighttime in Walt Disney World’s flagship park while it’s pretty much devoid of people. I personally prefer the Halloween and Christmas parties for their entertainment and atmosphere–but I also don’t care about doing attractions as much, so I know that I’m not the norm.

After Hours at Magic Kingdom is like the vanilla version of those for ride junkies or anyone who wants the lowest crowd levels and the most convenient way to avoid long lines. It may not offer the best value for money from an objective perspective, but it’s nevertheless a strong option for those who are overwhelmed by planning, crowds, or the hassles of visiting Magic Kingdom in the current era. It’s not how we’d choose to splurge, but that doesn’t make it a bad event.

Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!

YOUR THOUGHTS

What do you think of the After Hours events? Planning on doing the 2023 After Hours at Magic Kingdom to see how many times you can ride Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Peter Pan’s Flight, or Space Mountain in a single night? Is this something that interests you, or is the cost too high to justify? Would you prefer to do this, or splurge on a Deluxe Resort and get the 2-hour version for “free”? Do you agree or disagree with our review of the event? Any questions we can help you answer? 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!

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