Disney After Hours at Animal Kingdom…is it worth it? What is it? Is it right for my group? In this review, I’ll attempt to answer your questions while sharing the experience Louis and I had at the event. Read on to hear my thoughts!
Disney After Hours at Animal Kingdom is a ticketed event that happens on select nights at Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom (duh.). It costs $129 per person ($125 per person if purchased in advance), and allows you access to the park at 7:00 PM. The special event is from 8:30-11:30 PM when the park is only open to event ticket holders. Guests will receive unlimited popcorn, ice cream and bottled drinks and be able to enjoy the attractions listed below.
- Avatar Flight of Passage
- Na’vi River Journey
- Pandora Drummers — Swotu Wayä
- Expedition Everest — Legend of the Forbidden Mountain
- Rivers of Light
- Tree of Life Awakenings
- It’s Tough to be a Bug!
- TriceraTop Spin
- And more!
Louis and I purchased tickets and attended Disney After Hours at Animal Kingdom on December 12, 2018, and *spoiler alert* WE LOVED IT. It may not be appropriate for everyone’s group, but it was perfect for us and we had an incredible time. We were already in the park before the event began, so we picked up our wristbands as soon as they were available near Discovery Trading Company. Disney cast members checked for these bands throughout the night to ensure only guests that had purchased tickets were enjoying the event.
Our main goal of the evening was to ride our favorite, popular rides as many times as possible since every ride had little-to-no wait time. We knocked out It’s Tough to be a Bug! and DINOSAUR first, since we wanted to spend most of our evening in Asia and Pandora. After DINOSAUR, we stopped for our first “complimentary” snacks in Dinoland U.S.A. We were happy to find popcorn, Mickey Premium Ice Cream Bars, Mickey Ice Cream Sandwiches, Strawberry Fruit Bars and bottled drinks. We grabbed a little bit of everything and set off to find the Yeti on Expedition Everest.
We were able to hop on and off Expedition Everest TEN times breaking occasionally for more free snacks (and/or to keep from barfing) and there was NEVER a wait. On a few expeditions, we were on an almost empty train! Expedition Everest is always one of our favorite rides, but it takes on a special quality at nighttime with the uplighting on the mountain and the extra dark interior sequences. We even caught part of a Rivers of Light performance from the mountain at one point! When we finally had our fill of Everest, we headed over to Pandora — The World of Avatar.
We had been in Pandora earlier in the day when it was swarming with guests, and it was amazing to see the land almost entirely empty. The lighting is beautiful and the atmosphere of the area is much easier to appreciate when you are some of the only people present. Our first stop was the Na’vi River Journey. Throughout our trip, the wait for this ride never dropped below 60 minutes, but at Disney After Hours we were able to walk on the ride, and ride it back-to-back in our own private boat! While the Na’vi River Journey is relaxing and beautiful, I wouldn’t want to wait an hour for it, so riding it during this event was the perfect solution.
Finally, we set our sights on Avatar Flight of Passage. This ride is INCREDIBLE and unlike anything else I’ve ever experienced. If you’ve ridden it, you know what I mean, and if you haven’t, you simply have to try it! Since Pandora is still a new land (and this ride is so amazing), the wait times are always astronomical and Fastpass+ reservations are hard to come by. We snagged two Fastpass+ reservations for our trip, but we knew we would want to ride it much more. Multiple banshee flights during After Hours was the perfect solution! We squeezed in FIVE flights in around an hour, and it really sealed the deal that the Disney After Hours event was worth the money to us! The cast members even let us loop right around back into the pre-show, so we didn’t have to traverse the massive queue each time. Once we had our fill of Flight of Passage, the After Hours event was almost over. We grabbed as many free bottled drinks as we could carry, sprinted back for one last Expedition Everest ride, and then the event ended! Louis obliged my desire for some empty park pictures in front of the Tree of Life, and we caught the last bus back to our resort.
As you may have gathered, we LOVED our Disney After Hours experience. I wanted to share some tips in case you are considering if it’s a good addition for your trip!
Eat dinner before the event begins. Since you only get three hours in the park without other guests, you don’t want to waste prime ride time eating (unless it’s free snacks as you run between attractions!). I’d recommend our forever favorite Flame Tree Barbecue or the new, yummy Satu’li Canteen (pictured below!).
Enjoy any attractions or shows that won’t be open during the event between 7:00 PM and Animal Kingdom closure. Everything we were looking forward to was open during After Hours, but this is something to be aware of!
Consider the heights of everyone in your group before deciding if this is a good value for you. DINOSAUR, Flight of Passage, and Expedition Everest all have height requirements between 40-44″, so if everyone in your party isn’t tall enough to ride, it may not be worth your money to attend Disney After Hours in Animal Kingdom.
Stock up on those “free” snacks! We ate and drank occasionally throughout the evening, but before leaving we grabbed as many bottled drinks as we could carry. Literally. They’re unlimited, so it’s best to get your money’s worth! We loaded up our backpack, threw them all in our mini fridge at the resort, and drank them the rest of our trip instead of buying them in the parks! At Disney, a bottled soda is $4.50 and a bottled water is $3.50, so we “saved” quite a bit by stocking up when these were unlimited.
Make sure to soak up the ambiance as you walk throughout the park. Animal Kingdom is possibly the most beautiful park at Walt Disney World and the lighting and music really make it extra magical in the evening. One of my favorite parts of the night was walking hand-in-hand with Louis through the empty walkways in each area of the park. It was beautiful!
When all was said and done, we calculated that Disney After Hours in Animal Kingdom cost us under $5 a ride. Considering the cost of a Walt Disney World trip, we figured that was a great value for our time. Granted, we are only a couple, and this event would cost much more for a family. If you’re interested in Disney After Hours, but don’t love Animal Kingdom as much as we do, you may want to consider the events at Magic Kingdom or Hollywood Studios (there isn’t one at Epcot yet!).
Have you attended a Disney After Hours event? Let me know what you thought, and which event we should try on our next trip!