After Hours at Disney’s Hollywood Studios is a hard ticket event with incredibly limited attendance and wait times of 10 minutes or less for some of Walt Disney World’s most popular attractions. In this post, we’ll share our experience, offer tips for getting the most out of it, and whether it’s worth the money.
This is the latest of the After Hours events, which debuted at Magic Kingdom a couple years ago and have recently spread here and to Animal Kingdom (you can read our Animal Kingdom After Hours Review & Tips post here). The DHS incarnation of After Hours is very comparable to the Animal Kingdom event, so you’ll probably notice some similarities here if you’ve read that review.
The operative question about After Hours at Disney’s Hollywood Studios is how many rides can you accomplish? Narrowing that a bit further, we assume most people reading this are concerned with headliners like Slinky Dog Dash–and how much time can be saved by paying to attend After Hours versus a normal day at DHS…
During After Hours at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, we did the following:
- Slinky Dog Dash (x6)
- Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster (x4)
- Tower of Terror (x2)
- Alien Swirling Saucers (x1)
- Toy Story Mania (x1)
- Buzz Lightyear Meet & Greet (x1)
- Woody & Jessie Meet & Greet (x1)
That’s a total of 16 things, and we could’ve easily done more if efficiency were our lone goal and we didn’t crisscross the park as much. With Annual Passholder pricing of $95 or $125 regular pricing at our event, that breaks down to around $6-$8 per experience.
We also ate about a half dozen ice cream novelties and had a few Cokes, each of which are also unlimited/included in the cost of admission during the event. You can learn more about pricing and 2019 Disney After Hours dates on the official website.
After Hours at Disney’s Hollywood Studios does not require regular theme park admission and allows entry as early as 7 p.m. As with the Disney’s Hollywood Studios version of the event, the special event begins 30 minutes after official park closing–at 8:30 p.m., and runs for 3 hours until 11:30 p.m.
We did Slinky Dog Dash as soon as the event began at 8:30 p.m., and the line had already nearly or totally cleared of day guests. Unfortunately, everyone else who had arrived for After Hours had this same idea, so the line was roughly 10 minutes long. On the plus side, we got to watch the fireworks while riding.
We probably could’ve done a bit more variety and fewer rides on the roller coasters, but those are the things with the longest daytime waits, so they were our focus. Just with the top two items, we conservatively saved 10 hours of time in line (give or take).
Of course, not many people are going to choose to wait in line an hour-plus for Slinky Dog Dash twice in the same day, much less six times, so the amount of time “saved” here is slightly deceptive. I mean, we also had countless Mickey Premium Bars, bottled water, and Coke–the value of which would’ve exceeded $50 were we paying out of pocket, but I would never buy a bottle of water at Walt Disney World in the first place, much less 6 of them in a day.
Speaking of cost, in the interest of full disclosure, we were invited guests to Disney to this event, and our admission was comped. We nonetheless strive for objectivity, but you can discount our opinion if you think that’s warranted.
As before, we’d suggest that our editorializing doesn’t matter much either way, as the number of attractions is experienced is an objective metric by which you can measure the event. While I still fully intend to ramble on for another 1,000 words or so, those don’t really matter.
Throughout the night, the only attraction with any line was Slinky Dog Dash, which tended to be around 3-7 minutes, with a longer line at the beginning of the night and a large surge immediately after the fireworks. Tower of Terror also had a wait in the boiler room, but that’s a result of how it loads and not a function of crowds.
Everything else was a near walk-on for the entirety of the night. On Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, we had our own train once, and most rides on that were less than one-third full. The good news with both RnRC and Tower of Terror is that the pre-shows were optional. We watched each once (because unlike Flight of Passage, they’re awesome) and then skipped both on subsequent rides.
Despite this, Disney’s Hollywood Studios felt slightly busier than the After Hours at Animal Kingdom event. Part of this is a function of park size, DHS being far more compact. We’d also hazard a guess that there were more attendees at the Disney’s Hollywood Studios event.
Going forward, we’d anticipate that attendance will increase at the After Hours as positive word of mouth spreads. However, even if double the number of tickets are sold, we still wouldn’t expect the event to feel significantly different. As noted, most ride vehicles (save for Slinky Dog Dash) were being dispatched partially empty, so there was plenty of capacity to spare in those ‘walk-on’ wait times.
The biggest difference you might see is a 7-10 minute wait for Slinky Dog Dash instead of a 3-7 minute wait. We’ll keep an eye on crowds to see what happens there. On the other hand, maybe this event’s popularity won’t increase–given the attraction lineup, it seems like a niche offering…at least until Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge debuts, but we’re not even going to open that speculative can of worms here.)
Save for a few meet & greets, none of Disney’s Hollywood Studios major entertainment offerings run exclusively during After Hours. This almost necessitates a return visit to the park a different day, unless you’ve already ‘been there, done that’ with all of the shows.
On the plus side, Sunset Season’s Greetings was running throughout the night. We stopped to catch that with virtually no one in a 15′ radius of us at one point.
In terms of tips, our advice would be to start at the Sunset Boulevard rides (Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror) and end with Toy Story Land. The latter was definitely busiest right after fireworks, and by the time that crowd cycled through Slinky Dog Dash a couple of times, it pretty much dissipated.
Our advice would be to plan your arrival to Toy Story Land for the second half of the event. At this point, your average cycle time (wait time plus ride plus exiting) for Slinky Dog Dash or Toy Story Mania should be at or under 15 minutes, and at or under 5 minutes for Alien Swirling Saucers or the meet & greets.
We’d also recommend sticking to one area, doing that on repeat, and not returning. Even though Disney’s Hollywood Studios isn’t huge, the walk from Toy Story Land to Sunset Boulevard is a time eater.
We didn’t follow our own advice here, instead doing each a couple of times, grabbing some of the included refreshments, and then slowly meandering back towards the other while eating our Mickey’s Premium Bars or what have you.
After Hours at Disney’s Hollywood Studios bears similarities to the Animal Kingdom event. As is the case there, this is a headliner-heavy event. Whereas you can go for variety at Magic Kingdom, the lineup here is more limited. To get the most value from a time-savings perspective out of After Hours at DHS, you need to be interested in riding Slinky Dog Dash and/or Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster multiple times.
We think that’s really what the event comes down to. You certainly don’t need to ride them both a combined 10 times as we did, but you’ll want to do them more than a few times. If you’re a roller coaster junkie, this is a great event, and the fact that both of these headliners are near walk-ons (and that you can skip the RnRC pre-show) means you could do loops of both and get your ride counts into the double digits over the course of the night.
Conversely, if you’re only interested in experiencing everything once, arriving for morning Extra Magic Hours, at rope drop (see our DHS Park Opening Strategy & Rope Drop Tips), or even doing our Half-Day Disney’s Hollywood Studios Itinerary with a strong FastPass+ game should be sufficient.
Ultimately, whether you should do After Hours at Disney’s Hollywood Studios comes down to your personal attraction priorities (are you a roller coaster junkie who wants to loop the two major ones here?), budget, and averseness to crowds. If you hate crowds and are willing to splurge, this would be a good event for you.
It’s totally a matter of personal preference, but we liked the Animal Kingdom version of the event better, even having to “suffer” through the Flight of Passage pre-show. That’s something I’d pay to do again, this one is not. I love roller coasters, but despite what our ride count here suggests, I don’t feel the need to do them on repeat. Of course, as Walt Disney World regulars who have experienced each of these rides countless times, our perspective here might very well differ from yours. Moreover, our personal calculus on this is very likely to change significantly once Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opens…but you can be sure that pricing, crowds, and waits will likewise change, so we’ll have to revisit this event in full once that land opens.
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What do you think of Disney’s Hollywood Studios’ After Hours event? Is this something that interests you, or is the cost too high to justify? How many times would you want to do the two coasters in a single night? 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!