Today, we are going to take a look at Magic Kingdom’s Villains After Hours event. The Villains version of the event adds a stage show and the chance to see the Maleficent dragon float from Festival of Fantasy roam the park after dark. It also will cost you and extra $14 per person vs the standard MK After Hours event.
In Part 2 of this post, we will dive into whether or not we think the Villains tag is worth the added cost or not. For now however, we are going to look at our 7 pm arrival and the 3 hours we spent during regular park hours prior to the start of the event.
The after hours ticket is completely separate from a standard day ticket at Magic Kingdom. You do not need to purchase a day ticket in addition to the event ticket. The after hours ticket grants you entrance at 7 pm, with after hours officially beginning at 10 pm. This gives you 3 bonus hours essentially, or 6 total.
We arrived via a WDW bus at about 6:50 pm. With my AP I could have entered the park earlier of course, but my niece who I was attending with only had a party ticket for this day. I was immediately a bit worried by the number of folks arriving at this time.
Event guests enter to the far right turnstiles. As you can see there was already quite the crowd waiting for the 7:00 opening.
Below is the schedule for the added entertainment. Much like the holiday parties, the final performance of the stage show is actually right at closing time, allowing you to extend the event by about 20 minutes or so. Here you can even get another 10 minutes as the final Maleficent run takes place right after the last stage show.
There is a lot of event specific merch and food for sale as well.
As with all After Hour events, unlimited complimentary (ie already paid for in your event ticket) popcorn, ice cream and non-alcoholic beverages are available throughout the park.
Upon arrival at Magic Kingdom, it was immediately evident that the park was pretty much packed. You are essentially dealing with two separate gates with the standard day guests, and then all those arriving at 7:00 just for the event.
In the past, we have never noticed this to be much of an issue. This night however, would turn out to be far busier than any other After Hours we had ever attended.
You can still make 3 fast pass selections with the event ticket, but all 3 must be used between 7 and 10 pm. The event itself does not utilize (or typically need) fastpasses. We had a 7 pm fastpass for Splash so we started heading over towards Frontierland.
I am surprised at how long its taking to widen the sidewalk over here to the left of the castle. This project was already well underway when we visited in early May and I would have guess i’d been done by now. Fortunately, it looks like we are not too far off from it being finished.
On our way to Splash, we decided to stop along the way for a viewing of Country Bear Jamboree.
You can read our full tribute to this classic attraction here! Needless to say, we love it!
We arrived at Splash to find a 105 minute standby wait posted, and a fastpass line backed up around the corner from the attraction entrance.
Announcements seemed to indicate the ride was having capacity issues, but we didn’t see anything to indicate that upon boarding. I’m guessing there was just an excessive amount of fastpass returns due to earlier thunderstorms, thus lowering standby capacity even more so than usual.
Even with the long backup, we were at the station ready to board in just over 8 minutes.
We ranked Splash Mountain as our #1 ride at Walt Disney World and we stand by that 100%. It’s pretty much perfection.
We had Big Thunder Mountain fastpasses selected for when we finished at Splash, however the ride was down for unknown reasons.
We decided to use are wild card replacement fast pass at Haunted Mansion instead which was posting a 45 minute wait at the time.
Even though the standby line was backed up beyond the queue entrance, there was literally nobody else on the fastpass line and we were able to walk right into the stretch room.
The DL version of the ride gets the overall edge thanks to the Hatbox Ghost, but I love the exterior of the WDW version.
The ride itself is our #3 ride in all of WDW, and we wouldn’t blame anyone who has it at #1.
It was now about 8:30 so we decided to try and grab a spot for the 9:15 Happily Ever After. On a normal moderately busy day, you can still grab a good spot near “the hump” within about 20 minutes of showtime. Additionally, a whole lot more space is made available last second once all those sitting stand up.
On this particular day, we were barely able to snag a spot even 45 minutes prior to showtime. We were not allowed to sit either as they were trying to create as much space as possible well before showtime. The next few photos provide quite the argument for the Happily Ever After dessert party. Standing packed like sardines in 90 degree / 100% humidity for over an hour is not an enjoyable way to watch this fantastic show.
Luckily, the show is so good its still worth it.
Be prepared for lots of cell phones and shoulder kids in you way though without the buffer of the dessert party area.
I shot these few fireworks photos handheld (not recommended) since I wasn’t even going to attempt to set up my tripod among the tightly packed in crowd.
Another curve ball was thrown our way as our final fastpass was for 7DMT, which was also down after the fireworks ended. Big Thunder was back up at this time so we decided to use our 2nd wild card fastpass there since it was down earlier.
Unfortunately, I think most of the post HEA crowd did the same. The posted wait was 15 minutes, however there is no way that was even close to correct. We waited over 15 minutes to ride via fastpass, and the standby crowd didn’t clear until over a half hour into the After Hours event.
It didn’t help that Disney was running the ride on limited capacity. They had both sides open but after each train departed, it was at least 2 minutes before another one would return to the station. Whether or not this was due to the earlier down time, I’m not sure. It would not surprise me however if it was just Disney running the ride at reduced capacity to save money, which is all to common nowadays.
We finished our ride at 10:02, with After Hours now being officially underway. We will return soon with part 2 of this post, in which we will look at what we were able to accomplish during the event, and whether or not we think it was worth the more expensive ticket for the Villains tag or not.
Until then, thanks for reading and bye for now!