Have you ever wanted to just be able to walk onto popular Hollywood Studios attractions like Slinky Dog Dash, Tower of Terror, and Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster with no wait? How about being able to do that while eating all of the popcorn, soda, and Mickey bars you can possibly hold?
Sounds like a dream, right? Well, guess what: it’s actually exactly what happens at After Hours at Disney’s Hollywood Studios! We’re here to tell you all about it, including our thoughts and how to determine if these events are a good investment for you. Ready? As Slinky Dog says, “hold on!”
How After Hours Events Work
After Hours events are currently offered at Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. These special ticketed events started at Magic Kingdom a few years ago, but they’re new for Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom.
For three hours after the park closes, After Hours guests enjoy nearly empty parks, short wait times for popular attractions, and unlimited popcorn, ice cream novelties, and select non-alcoholic beverages. Tickets are $125 each if purchased in advance or $129 each if purchased on the day of the event. (Disney Vacation Club members and Annual Passholders may be eligible for a discount, bringing the ticket down to about $99 including tax.)
After Hours at Disney’s Hollywood Studios officially runs from 8:30 PM – 11:30 PM, but guests are able to enter the park as early as 7:00 PM.
Upon check-in at the park entrance, you’ll receive a wristband and a guide that lists the attractions, entertainment, and food available for the night. The wristband is important, because you’ll need to show it to move around the park and to pick up your complimentary snacks and drinks.
During our After Hours experience at Hollywood Studios, the following attractions were open:
- Star Tours — The Adventures Continue
- Slinky Dog Dash
- Alien Swirling Saucers
- Toy Story Mania!
- Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith
- The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
At Star Tours, the wait was never more than five minutes.
We had only three people in our Starspeeder 1000 for the trip to Tatooine and Geonosis. (We may or may not have been the Rebel Spy, too!)
Over in Toy Story Land, the wait for Slinky Dog Dash was just TEN MINUTES.
Alien Swirling Saucers, another attraction in Andy’s Backyard, had a five minute wait time the entire evening. Oooooh!
Wait times for the popular Toy Story Mania attraction ranged from 5 – 10 minutes.
We literally walked through the Toy Story Mania queue without encountering another human!
Meanwhile, over at Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, you’d have to wait no more than five minutes to hop in a car and experience the streets of Los Angeles.
And at Tower of Terror, the wait time was an appropriately-spooky 13 minutes.
Characters and Entertainment
Character Meet and Greets
During our visit, Hollywood Studios had a great variety of characters available to meet, and the waits were never longer than five minutes.
- Minnie Mouse and Mickey Mouse
- Toy Story Pals, including Buzz Lightyear, Woody, and Jessie
- Kylo Ren
Olaf happily showed us his bottle of summer sunscreen.
Wait times to see Sorcerer Mickey and Hollywood Minnie can often reach 60 minutes or more on a regular day in the park. But at After Hours? We met ’em both in under 5 minutes.
It was so fun to see Minnie and Mickey in these picture-perfect costumes!
At Star Wars Launch Bay, Chewbacca posed for a photo and then greeted us with the best Wookiee hug.
BB-8 was impossibly cute.
Kylo Ren, not surprisingly, tried to convert us to the Dark Side.
Sunset Seasons Greetings – complete with faux snowfall! – played throughout the night on Sunset Boulevard. Since Sunset Boulevard can sometimes get a bit crowded with guests during normal evening park hours, it was magical to be able to experience this show on a practically empty street multiple times throughout the night.
The film at Star Wars Launch Bay was also available to experience approximately every 10 minutes throughout the evening.
Food and Beverage
One of the major perks to the After Hours events is that unlimited select snacks and drinks are included with the price of your ticket!
At Hollywood Studios, the following complimentary snacks and drinks were available at popcorn carts and snack stands throughout the Hollywood Boulevard and Sunset Boulevard areas:
- Ice cream novelties, including Mickey Premium Ice Cream Bars, Mickey Premium Cookies and Cream Ice Cream Sandwiches, and Edy’s Fruit Bars
- Bottled drinks, including Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite, and Dasani Water
The snack stands were plentiful and we never had wait in line. Just walk up, ask for what you want, and enjoy!
Normal pricing is $5 for popcorn, $5.75 for Mickey bars and sandwiches, and just under $4 for bottled sodas and water, so depending on how much you plan to snack, this could work out to offset the cost of your ticket quite a bit — especially if you’re choosing to do After Hours in place of a day in the park, which costs a similar amount, but doesn’t include unlimited snacks and drinks.
If you’d like a more substantial meal or an adult beverage, there are plenty of other food and drink items available for purchase. Woody’s Lunchbox in Toy Story Land, Anaheim Produce on Sunset Boulevard, and KRNR The Rock Station outside of Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster were open and serving their full menus.
There was also a drink stand offering a special themed After Hours Midnight Margarita. This adult beverage was available for purchase outside of Sunshine Day Cafe.
While most of the merchandise locations in the park were closed, there were still plenty of opportunities to shop in practically empty stores. Mickey’s of Hollywood, Rock Around the Shop, Tower Hotel Gifts, Tatooine Traders, Launch Bay Cargo, and stands throughout Toy Story Land were all open for After Hours at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
This reviewer had never attended an After Hours event before and was admittedly skeptical, but we honestly had a great experience. No lines. Tasty snacks. Cute characters. A nearly-empty park.
As an added bonus, After Hours at Disney’s Hollywood Studios felt especially magical to experience during the holiday season. The Christmas decor, carols, and falling snow on Sunset Boulevard were absolutely magical, and being able to have an unobstructed view was such a treat.
Check out all of those wide open spaces!
Back in the Muppet Courtyard, it really felt like we were alone in the park.
Even better? Every Cast Member we encountered was especially cheerful, kind, and helpful, which made After Hours at Disney’s Hollywood Studios even more fun.
Is After Hours at Disney’s Hollywood Studios Right for You?
If you want to experience popular attractions with no wait while stuffing yourself with delicious popcorn and Mickey bars, then yes. We think these After Hours events would be particularly good for adults or families with older kids.
Little ones might not enjoy After Hours as much due to the late night schedule, absence of Disney Junior characters (Sofia the First, Vampirina, and Jake from Jake and the Neverland Pirates were already asleep for the night), and lack of kid-oriented shows (no Frozen Singalong or Voyage of the Little Mermaid). Also, tickets for kids are the same price as tickets for adults.
We get it: at $125 per ticket, these events are not cheap. So here are a few things to consider as you make your decision:
- After Hours costs about as much as a day ticket to the park on a busy day. If your goal is riding popular rides as much as possible, booking an After Hours event instead of purchasing a Magic Your Way ticket for that day may make more sense for you. It’s a similar cost, but more access to rides without the hassle of booking fastpasses or dealing with crazy crowds; PLUS you can offset the cost with complimentary snacks and drinks.
- If you can’t stand crowds and lines or are traveling with a guest who has sensory processing difficulties, this could be a decent solution for you.
- Some After Hours events — especially those at Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom — are probably not a good deal for small children. Most child-oriented rides, attractions, and shows in these parks aren’t open for After Hours. This is not necessarily the case in Magic Kingdom, where fantasyland rides are available.
- While After Hours only officially runs for three hours, guests have reported being able to get into the park at 7PM with their After Hours ticket. Depending on the official closing time for the park that day, that could get you an extra 1 to 3 hours in a park during its regular operating hours to take advantage of rides and attractions that might be closed during After Hours.
- At around $125 a pop, After Hours can get very expensive if you’re traveling with a large group or big family and are planning on also paying for a regular park ticket on the day you’re attending the event.
So if you are into popular rides, want to accomplish a lot in a just few hours — or just really enjoy eating heaps of ice cream — checking out an After Hours event at Walt Disney World might just be worth it for you. But crunch the numbers and make sure it’s right for YOUR family before pulling the trigger.
PS: Don’t forget to check out our review of After Hours at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, too!
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Have you experienced After Hours at Disney’s Hollywood Studios? Leave a comment and let us know what you thought!
Disclosure: In nearly all circumstances, Disney Food Blog writers and photographers pay full price for their own travel, hotel, food, beverage, and event tickets. We do this because it’s important to us as journalists to ensure not only that we give you unbiased opinions, but also that you can trust us to do so since we’re paying our own way. On rare occasions, when we are invited by a company to attend a preview as media, and when we choose to accept that invitation, we will always make you, our readers, aware of that situation. Today, we were invited by Disney World to attend After Hours at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Note that when we attend events as media we are 1) Not required to review that event/food on any of our channels, and 2) Not required to review that event/food favorably. You can always count on DFB to give you a 100% unbiased and honest review of any event that we attend, food that we eat, or beverage that we drink. You can see more in our Disclosure Policy. Thank you for reading. — AJ