In a previous blog, I reviewed Magic Kingdom After Hours. Though it was in 2019, it remains pretty much the same event. This was by far my favorite Disney experience- next to the Early Morning Magic- which have not returned, as of yet. I would 100% do both of these events again in a minute. To be 100% honest, I would consider ONLY doing After Hours Events, instead of regular park days if I had to choose.
For the purpose of this blog- I will discuss my most recent After Hours experiences at Hollywood Studios (HS) & Epcot.
For our trip in June, I booked both HS & Epcot After Hours (AH) events that just happened to be going on back to back nights during our visit. It made for LONG days as we had park hopper park tickets, as well. I was REALLY excited for the Epcot AH, as there were a few new rides there that I wanted to be sure to experience PLUS I LOVE Soarin. My family was most excited for HS AH because they LOVE Tower of Terror and Rockin' Roller Coaster. And we all were excited to go on both Star Wars rides without long waits.
Hollywood Studios After Hours
This was just the best. We entered the park around 5:30PM, having been in Magic Kingdom most of the day. Mind you, it was summer and hotter than I cared for it to be- that sun was brutal, so the evening experience was perfect- weather wise. We went directly to the Toy Story area to ride Toy Story Mania and to make our dinner reservation at Roundup Rodeo. We rode what we could, in regular lines & used Genie+ until it was time for the park to close to regular guests. Around 8:50ish we headed towards the park entrance to get our After Hours bands.
Once After Hours began, we headed to Star Tours and walked right on, then proceeded to do the same thing at every other ride we wanted to ride. We walked right on the Star Wars rides- the queues were the only thing we had to wait in and that is just part of the ride, really. It was fantastic. The area was virtually empty, so I got some GREAT photos without all the people mucking it up too.
The ONLY ride that had a line that we decided wasn't worth a wait was Slinky Dog. For whatever reason- it maintained about a 30 minute wait the entire time- so if that is a priority, hit it first. While the family hit up their thrill rides, I rode Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway a few times with no wait at all and just loved every minute of it. I had particularly been wanting to re-experience this- as the only time I had ridden it before was that dreaded 2020 trip and had to wear masks and they had plexiglass partitions up and it was near impossible to enjoy the ride with all the reflection hitting off the glass. This time, however, I LOVED it.
We stopped only briefly to grab some of the 'free' snacks and relax before hitting as many attractions as we could squeeze in. I left a little before the family did because they wanted to end the night riding their thrill rides over and over and I wanted to go relax on our balcony at the Contemporary.
It was a great night and worth it 100%. I will absolutely book this every time it is available during our visits.
To be fair, full disclosure for this experience is that this was a BUSY day. We started the morning at Magic Kingdom, headed back to our resort for a short break, then headed to Disney Springs because my favorite Disney artist was there, (I'll post about that later), then back to the resort to freshen up, then to Epcot for After Hours around 6:30ish PM. This was our last day of 4 consecutive days in the parks running around like maniacs- and I was fresh out of energy. Fresh out.
After Hours didn't begin until 10PM- so we had some time to kill. We had dinner reservations at Garden Grill around 7:15PM so we had a little time to do my favorite ride- Soarin Around the World.
For Epcot, we checked into After Hours upon arrival, so we did NOT have to go back to the park entrance like HS. That was a good thing- because Epcot was under construction (when is it not?) and had walled barriers galore. Literally there were so many walls up that it was disorienting. Once it got dark- I was clueless where I was and the map on the app really did little to help me. Full disclosure- I am not known for my sense of direction. For those heading there now- many of the barriers are down- not sure how many remain, but it should be a better experience than our trip.
Having ridden Guardians of the Galaxy (GotG) earlier in the week- I had no interest in doing it again- it made me nauseous. However, my family thinks it is the best ride they have ever been on and were willing to wait in the 30-40min. line to do it again. They would have stayed on it and rode it multiple times, but like Slinky Dog, the there was a considerable wait, throughout the AH event, so they only rode it once. So hit that early if it is a must do.
While they rode GotG, I headed over to a ride more my speed, Living with the Land. Stopping only for a quick Mickey Bar ice cream treat, it was quite the walk that took more time than I expected due to detours.
We had to wait in a relatively short line for Ratatouille, which is absolutely precious and a new favorite. And though there were lines, we were able to ride pretty much everything we wanted to, with the exception of multiple rides on GotG.
Here is my main issue with Epcot's After Hours- I think they let too many people in for the amount of rides available, which caused there to be lines on many of the rides. Not as long as regular hours, but longer than I cared for- for an event I'm paying that much to attend. Time is of the essence at an After Hours Event, and time spent in line is time and money wasted. Also, Epcot is SO SPREAD OUT- and due to the walled barriers- long, out of the way detours also wasted valuable time.
I don't regret spending the money on the event, but I wouldn't do it again at Epcot. Instead I will simply visit the park at rope drop or during extended hours for deluxe resort guests and take advantage of Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lanes. Now, if you have more stamina and don't mind waiting in a bit of a line during a pay event- or you have NO other time to visit Epcot during your visit to Disney, I would say it could be worth it to you.