We recently had the chance to attend Moonlight Magic, the after hours Magic Kingdom party for Disney Vacation Club Members at Walt Disney World. We’ve previously done these events in Typhoon Lagoon, Disney California Adventure, and Animal Kingdom, and had enjoyed each of those events for their low crowds, “free” food, rare characters, and other special offerings.
For those who are unfamiliar with Moonlight Magic, it’s pretty similar to Disney After Hours, the $100/night hard ticket event. If you’re not a DVC Member, you might consider the Disney After Hours event as an alternative. Both are low-crowd “after hours” events that offer opportunities to experience attractions with minimal waits and enjoy unlimited food and refreshments.
We didn’t prioritize attractions during Moonlight Magic, but everything we saw was a walk-on or close to it–pretty comparable to what you’d encounter at Disney After Hours, I’m guessing. I think Seven Dwarfs Mine Train was the only thing we passed with any sort of appreciable wait time, and even that was a fraction of the time it’d normally be. As is the case with the Christmas and Halloween Parties, we don’t focus on attractions during these special events.
We’re abnormal in that regard (and so many), but we’d prefer to focus on the unique aspects of these special events, doing things we can’t in a normal day at Magic Kingdom. We come at this from the perspective of people who have done every attraction in Magic Kingdom more times than we can count, will spend several more days there each year, and really have no sense of urgency about attractions.
Special entertainment, rare characters, and really even differing ambiance are going to take priority for us at any Magic Kingdom event. Your mileage may vary depending upon how much you care about experiencing attractions. To this end, Moonlight Magic is a more appealing event to us than Disney After Hours (even setting aside the obvious cost upside of $0 v. $100), as the former has special fireworks, rare characters, random photo ops, and other random stuff.
You can even enjoy an awkward ‘meet and greet’ with DVC executives, making for a great opportunity to share your grievances about limited edition Tsum Tsum plushes. Who knows, could save you from having to make a trip to the annual shareholders meeting and asking Bob Iger about some very important issue. (I kid, but I can only imagine the conversations at these meet & greets are as much an unmitigated train wreck as that Q&A, with DVC execs mostly just patiently smiling and nodding.)
We’re making this comparison between Disney After Hours and Moonlight Magic because we’ve had a surprising number of people ask us about the After Hours event. This is all a long-winded way of saying Disney After Hours is “not for us” but could have appeal for serious ride junkies or those with minimal time to experience attractions. We didn’t double dip with both Disney After Hours and Moonlight Magic this trip for the sake of a head to head comparison, but easyWDW has a good write-up on the regular After Hours event here.
This long-winded comparison might be helpful to those of you considering that hard ticket event, but it’s also somewhat necessary filler, as I don’t have a ton to say about the evening. We met some rare characters, stood around, ate a ton of junk food, and saw an interesting fireworks show.
Aside from one exciting plot twist (gotta keep you reading), that’s really all that happened.
While we were in line for our first set of characters, Cast Members were walking around handing out Hot Chocolate and Peppermint Bark Cookies leftover from Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.
Now, I don’t want to “ruin the magic” for you, as was done for me, so stop reading now if you don’t want the reality of the Christmas Party cookies. It turns out, these are individually pre-packaged cookies Disney orders in bulk. I didn’t realize this, mostly because it’s something I had never given any mind, but it was nonetheless a minor “oh” moment of disappointment.
The Cast Members were quite clearly trying to unload these cookies, and I couldn’t believe my luck. I’ve raved about these new cookies, and was honestly disappointed that we had missed out on them during the Christmas Parties. I grabbed a couple of handfuls, at which point the Cast Member responded, “you want the entire box? You can have the entire box.”
“Haha, no thanks, I don’t want that many” I nervously responded, when in reality that’s exactly what I wanted. For the next 10+ minutes, I talked about the cookies and how excited I was to have them, but also how upset I was that I missed my shot. If I had another chance at a box of cookies, I wouldn’t make the same mistake, I proclaimed. I don’t think anyone else really cared, but they humored me.
Anyway, I’m sure none of you care, either. Thanks to the cookies, our time in that character line flew by. Here are the characters we met there:
I have zero attachment to Fantasia (to be honest, it’s been so long I don’t really even remember it), but I’ve liked these characters since SpectroMagic.
To my knowledge, this was the first time I had seen them out for a meet & greet.
In many cases, the character lines were short, but the waits were more hit or miss. In the case of the Big Bad Wolf and Three Little Pigs, the line took forever. The interactions were long, mostly due to the foursome being pretty playful. Great news if you enjoy prolonged character interactions, not so good if you queued up because the line was short.
About 10 minutes after getting in line, we noticed it hadn’t moved yet, and we started doing ‘that dance’ when you debate between whether to cut your loses and get out of line, or ride it out since you’ve already invested X amount of time. We had that same conversation several times over, until 45 minutes later when we met the group.
I don’t know what’s going on here…
No one else in our group was really interested in fireworks, but there were my main priority. I headed up to Main Street, which was totally dead. I haven’t seen it that dead before fireworks in ages, if ever. It was a bit eerie. While I did this, Sarah continued to meet characters:
My original plan was to shoot from ‘the hump’ on Main Street since I haven’t done any straightforward fireworks photos for a while, but I couldn’t pass up such a low-crowd opportunity, so I headed to the Partners flowerbed. I used to love this spot, but in recent years I’ve found it almost impossible to shoot from here since people stand on the backside of the flowerbed (nothing like a scene with Walt & Mickey, Cinderella Castle, fireworks…and Random Dad from Ohio).
I was apprehensive that this would still happen (even though there was a ton of open space in that direction) or at the last minute a wayward giant would stumble into my frame, since that’s just my luck. However, even if it did happen, I could quickly move back. There was still a ton of empty space.
In the end, neither of those things happened. Sure, you can see some heads in my photo, but that’s part of any fireworks photo. I probably should’ve used a higher angle rather than a lower one to minimize that. Oh well.
The fireworks were…interesting? The music was largely pop remixes of Disney songs, which I felt ‘worked’ in a setting like this but not something I’d want in a regular Magic Kingdom fireworks show.
The arrangements of bursts was also pretty different. In some cases, the pyro seemed choreographed to the music in a meaningful way. In other spots, it seemed like a deluge of leftover fireworks from other shows. I ended up enjoying it quite a bit, probably in large part because it photographed well. Although I’ve only had time to edit these few photos, I have around a dozen more that I consider keepers.
After the fireworks, I raced back to find the rest of the group waiting in line for more characters in Fantasyland. With only 10 minutes left in the event, I had one last shot for more refreshments. I headed over to Pinocchio Village Haus, hoping they were still open.
Once at the counter, I asked for a few cookies. The Cast Member requested a specific number. I responded coyly, “eh..maybe 4? Actually, 6 or 8?” She looked back, staring deeply into my soul, knowing I really wanted many more cookies than 8. She returned with an entire box of cookies. A full, unopened case. “You should take the full box!”
I froze, a deer in headlights. Like a character in a Lin Manuel Miranda musical, I burst into song, hyping myself up about this opportunity, and how I wasn’t going to blow the chance. “I’m young, scrappy, and hungry” I kept repeating. “You don’t look that young,” retorted the Cast Member, probably a CP annoyed at having to endure my singing, and regretting ever having made the box of cookies offer in the first place.
Okay, maybe I didn’t actually sing, but I did stand there agonizing over the decision for an inordinate amount of time. After so much bluster, I was now debating whether to take the very thing I so desperately wanted just hours ago. As with any Monday morning quarterback, I’m only resolute with choices I can’t make. Once made a reality, I thought about the actual downsides. Namely, what eating an entire box of cookies (which I’d undoubtedly do if I had an entire box of cookies) would do to my body.
Ultimately, I chose not to take the entire box, instead grabbing several large handfuls and putting those into an empty cookie box. All told, I had about one-quarter of a case in the box. When our friends saw me walking back to the line with a case in hand, their faces swelled with pride. That instantly vanished once they saw that the box was not full.
I ended up giving away a lot of cookies after being reminded that I don’t even “need” a quarter of a case, but I still had enough to fill the bottom of my camera bag. (Thankfully, I recently broke my Nikon 70-200mm, so I had plenty of extra space for cookies–proof everything happens for a reason!)
Still a sufficient supply of cookies; I had them for breakfast every morning of the trip, and for many late night snacks.
As you might’ve surmised by now, this whole post was simply a ruse in order for me to boast about my cookie acquisition during the event.
Cookies or no, Moonlight Magic was a lot of fun. Aside from the AP discount and maybe the Imagination Lounge in Epcot, this is probably our favorite Disney Vacation Club perk. We schedule trips around these events every year, and while I wouldn’t recommend booking a flight to Florida just for one of these parties, I would time a flexible annual trip during a certain time of year to coincide with one of the Moonlight Magic events. They’re definitely fun, and if Disney After Hours is something you’d otherwise do, there’s arguably $100/person in value to Moonlight Magic. Personally, I wouldn’t pay that much to attend, but it’s definitely worth something.
Planning a Walt Disney World trip? For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know. If you’re considering joining DVC, first be sure to read our Ultimate Guide to Disney Vacation Club. If you still can’t decide whether membership is right for you, “try before you buy” and rent points from DVC Rental Store. If you are convinced a membership is for you, check out the discounted options at DVC Resale Market.
Have you attended one of the Moonlight Magic events at Walt Disney World? What did you think of the experience? Take home a lot of free cookies? Would you recommend the event to others? 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!