After Hour Parties, Holiday Parties, and Extra Magic Hours. Which Late-Night Exclusive Event is Best for Your Upcoming Vacation?

After the parades, shows, and fireworks have all ended for the evening all that’s left to do is pack up and head back to your favorite Disney Resort, right?  Well, not necessarily! If you are craving more park time and want to make the MOST of your next Walt Disney World Vacation, there are several events that happen “late night” for you to enjoy and extend the fun!

Between extra ticketed events like the After Hours Parties and the Holiday Parties, and the COMPLIMENTARY (yes, I said complimentary!) Extra Magic Hours that come with being a Deluxe Resort Guest (perks!!) there are so many ways to extend your park time – which means you can move a bit slower and take it all in during the day! 

Let’s recap some of your vacation options and what makes them so different and special! 

Disney’s After Hour Parties

Walt Disney World Currently offers After Hour Parties as a separate ticketed event at the following locations:

Magic Kingdom
Hollywood Studios
H20 Glow at Typhoon Lagoon

These After Hour Parties typically begin around 7pm (times vary) and you are able to enter the park as early as 4pm.  The park capacity for the parties is much lower than a typical day, which means that you experience much shorter wait times for rides and it feels very exclusive! Included is also bottled drinks, pretzels, popcorn, and ice cream treats throughout the park – which is a huge value especially considering what “theme park pricing” can be during the day! There are increased character sightings, special Memory Maker Moments with the photographers, and dance parties throughout the parks as well! 

On a recent girl’s trip to Orlando, my friends and I jumped on the opportunity to try an After Hours Party in EPCOT.  We were extremely excited not only to experience one of our favorite parks late-night, but it also happened to be the first day of EPCOT’s Food and Wine Festival!  Since we were able to enter the park a few hours before the event began we entered the World Showcase and started on our journey to trying out the different food vendors and tasting incredible foods from around the world!

We found an awesome spot for the fireworks, and that’s when the After Hours Party began!  Cast members were checking for and distributing wristbands for the event and began ushering out the daytime guests so the exclusive event could begin.  We had an amazing time walking on to our favorite rides (not to brag, but we each had our own ride vehicles for Journey Into the Imagination with Figment!) and even the regular queue for Guardians of the Galaxy (no Virtual Queue or Lightning Lane needed!) never exceeded 40min!  

One of my favorite parts was the impromptu dance parties that we would stumble upon as we were walking around the front of the park.  We got to dance with Chip and Dale and some really fun cast members after enjoying a FREE Mickey Ice Cream Bar!   Popcorn was also available and free at this event, which was great for a late-night snack – especially with a complimentary 20oz bottle of Diet Coke!  

Overall, this event was a TON of fun.  The best part? We closed down the Rose and Crown Pub in the UK Pavilion! During the day, this spot is a very popular stop for a brew and an incredibly fun atmosphere, but at the After Hours Party we were the only ones there! We had an amazing time taking pictures and enjoying a cold beverage to end the night.

One thing to note: for the After Hours Party, the World Showcase was closed between France and Norway.  Because there are rides in Mexico, Norway, and France those pavilions stayed open but the rest of the World Showcase was closed.  
This type of event is PERFECT for anyone who is looking for some more quality time in the Disney Parks.  We were able to take our time, ride all the rides with little to no wait time, see lots of characters and enjoy some exclusive experiences!  The added benefit of entering the park a few hours early to take advantage of the fireworks and nighttime entertainment was really fun as well! 

Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party OR Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party and Hollywood Studios Jollywood Nights

Another awesome option for extending your days in the parks is by attending one of the very popular Holiday Parties!  You can experience The Magic Kingdom in all of it’s holiday spirit in two different special events hosted by Mickey Mouse himself – Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party (select nights from August-October) or Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party (select nights from November-December), and new in 2023 was a very special event at Disney’s Hollywood Studios called Jollywood Nights (select nights from November-December).  These events are ticketed separately, and the events are limited to a smaller number of guests – similar to the After Hour Parties – so the benefits of smaller crowds, and significantly shorter ride wait times can be enjoyed throughout the party!

So how do these events differ from the regular After Hour Parties? For starters, there are special parades and nighttime entertainment options that are themed to these particular events and can only be enjoyed by party guests!  

The Boo to You! Parade for the MNSSHP, for instance, begins with a haunting trot down the parade route by none other than the Headless Horseman and features characters in their Halloween costumes and even exclusive characters that don’t typically grace the parade route during the daytime hours! My favorite is the Haunted Mansion portion of the parade… the grave diggers with their shovels that spark on the pavement, and the happy haunts that glide and glow down the parade path really make for an entertaining and awe-inspiring experience!

At MVMCP, my favorite viewing spot for the parade is right on Main Street USA – where it snows throughout the event!  There’s something so magical about sitting in the snow fall (or “snoap” as Disney fans lovingly refer to it!) with Christmas music playing and looking up at Cinderella’s Castle!  It’s always a joy to see the marching wooden soldiers, the gingerbread men, and of course… Santa! Concluding at the big Magic Kingdom Christmas Tree, it’s a magical celebration I never want to miss.

There are also different stage shows for each event – like the Sanderson Sisters at MNSSHP – and party-specific Fireworks Shows that transform Cindy’s Castle in all of its holiday splendor.  I love when Jack Skellington makes his entrance at the MNSSHP Fireworks show, and the Christmas projections on the castle at MVMCP can’t be missed!  These shows also happen multiple times throughout the event so you can experience everything the party has to offer without missing the big event! In addition to stage shows, there are also ride “overlays” to enhance the experience of the rides!  For example, at MNSSHP guests can ride Space Mountain in COMPLETE darkness, or get the chance to see real pirates at Pirates of the Caribbean!  Both parties feature specially themed shows at Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor, too. 

Something special about the holiday parties are the party-specific meet and greets with exclusive characters – like Jack and Sally at MNSSHP and Santa Claus at MVMCP!  You also get to experience party exclusive snacks and beverages that are not available for daytime guests, which gives guests the opportunity to enjoy tasty treats that only a ticket to the event

provides! Jollywood Nights at Hollywood Studios is FAMOUS for these special experiences, with different lounges and areas of the park themed for different eras of Hollywood Splendor!  

A special note about Jollywood Nights – guest reviews from last year were pretty unanimous that this is a very adult-friendly event.. With specialty cocktails and creative food dishes being at the forefront of these night-club or street-party vibing areas within the parks.  If you’re traveling with children, this particular travel agent highly recommends the MVMCP over Jollywood Nights.  However, I can’t wait for this winter when I plan a quick adult weekend with friends and my husband to check out Jollywood Nights for myself! 

Lastly, let’s talk about the fun that’s included with the price of the ticket! MVMCP has an awesome Cookie Trail in the park – several dining locations are transformed into cookie dispensaries throughout the park at no additional cost!  A frosted cookie and some warm apple cider may be served at Pinnocchio’s Village Haus, or a chocolate chip cookie with hot cocoa may be available at Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe – the options are all tasty and wonderful, and the kids LOVE finding the spots along the way around the park.  Personally, my Loungefly backpack was full of cookies that we couldn’t finish or wanted to “save for later” which was an awesome treat for the hotel room the next day or the flight home!  But hands down the best experience in Magic Kingdom has to be the Trick Or Treating at MNSSHP!!  Upon your arrival to the party, each guests receives a trick or treat bag and there are cast members throughout the park stationed with buckets of candy that is handed out by the handful! Come dressed in your best Halloween costume (or don’t – it doesn’t matter to Mickey!) and have a blast running around the park collecting candy!

Extra Magic Hours for Deluxe Resort Guests

The last option for late-night Disney fans is Extra Magic Hours for Deluxe Resort Guests.  By far this is the greatest perk that Deluxe Resort Guests get to enjoy, with certain parks staying open later in the evening for their enjoyment!  This summer, guests can get some Extra Magic at Magic Kingdom and Epcot – and in the fall Animal Kingdom is added to the list.  The latter was by far the best experience – seeing Pandora and the world of Avatar all lit up in its bioluminescent wonder was by far the highlight of our last Disney trip!  There are no special experiences or character sightings at these events, but all the other benefits are there: lower wait times for rides, no crowds, and the beauty of the theme parks lit up at night were so very special to us.  Plus, when you stay at a Deluxe Resort… you want to spend time at your resort!  On our Extra Magic Epcot day we spent the morning in the park, walked the 5min walk back to the Yacht Club, spent the afternoon at Stormalong Bay’s sandy-bottomed pool, lazy river, and awesome water slide, went for some ice cream at Beaches and Cream’s to-go window, then freshened up and walked back to Epcot like we never missed a beat!  These Extra Magic Hours extend your fun – and the value – of an incredible Disney Vacation that won’t soon be forgotten!

Are you ready to embark on a magical Disney adventure? As your dedicated Disney-focused travel agent, I offer personalized planning services to ensure every moment of your trip is filled with enchantment and joy. From booking your accommodations at the most charming Disney resorts to securing coveted FastPasses and dining reservations, I’ll handle all the details so you can focus on making memories with your loved ones. Let’s turn your Disney dreams into a reality – reach out to me today and let the magic begin!”

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