We’ll consider Disney Villains After Hours at Magic Kingdom, the summer version of the popular upcharge event that debuted at the Park a few years ago now.
Disney Villains After Hours is scheduled most Thursdays through the second week in August. It’s the most expensive of the After Hours events with an advance purchase price of $139 and a day-of cost of $144 per person, with no discounts based on age. Annual Passholders and Disney Vacation Club Members pay $109 in advance and should be able to buy tickets for non-Passholders in their group. Note that there are no discounts available on the day-of online. You may be able to receive a discount in person if you are an Annual Passholder or DVC member, but there’s no guarantee. So be sure to buy your tickets no later than the day before if you’re looking for a discount.
Here are the current dates for the regular version of Disney After Hours at Magic Kingdom:
The Villains version of After Hours is about $15 more expensive, per person, than the normal version. We’ll begin by exploring the differences between the two events and whether or not the additions and subtractions are “worth it” compared to what you would experience this fall. It’s not a coincidence that the regular version of After Hours takes over again on August 22nd with the first Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party scheduled on August 16th. Villains After Hours has been described as a “light” version of the Halloween Party, and that may well be true, but the two events are very different.
Disney Villains After Hours is officially scheduled for three hours from 10pm through 1am with ticket holders allowed to enter the Park beginning at 7pm. That allows guests with After Hours tickets to book FastPass+ beginning at 6:20pm with their tickets, in addition to experiencing three hours of normal Magic Kingdom operation. With the Happily Ever After fireworks typically scheduled at 9:15pm, you’ll be able to enjoy that show at your leisure and still take advantage of the full After Hours time. That’s a departure from our experience a couple of years ago, when After Hours officially got underway at 9pm, but the fireworks began at the same time. We elected to watch the show, which took up the first 30 minutes of our very expensive After Hours time. It’s nice that seeing the fireworks won’t cut into the event time this year.
Those with Disney After Hours tickets may enter through the event entrance on the far right. The official start is 7pm, but people are typically admitted closer to 6:45pm and occasionally as early as 6:15pm. The After Hours ticket is all that’s required to attend – you don’t need a regular day ticket. If you’re looking at the Park Hopper upgrade, then you may be able to forgo it by using the After Hours ticket instead. On your After Hours day, you could start the day at Hollywood Studios or any other Park and then head over to Magic Kingdom in the evening using the After Hours ticket. Of course, if you’re planning on hopping more often, then you may still elect to purchase that upgrade.
Those already in the Park may pick up their event wristbands in a variety of locations, including the main entrance pictured above. These cast members can scan your MagicBands/tickets inside the Park, so you don’t need to exit and come back around.
You can also use the Tomorrowland Check-In area across from the old Stitch’s Great Escape entrance and to the right of Buzz Lightyear.
You can also pick up your wristbands at the Ticket Center in Liberty Square to the right of Hall of Presidents, outside Tortuga Tavern in Adventureland, or at City Hall on Main Street. There is no rush to pick up this wristband, but make sure you get yours by the time the event begins at 10pm.
Unlike the After Hours events elsewhere, there’s a concerted effort to clear the Park with several walls of cast members sending those without wristbands towards the exit beginning right at 10pm. If they didn’t, then those who didn’t pay would be able to linger long enough to see some of the event-exclusive entertainment.
24 attractions are open during Villains After Hours. Note that this includes zero Meet and Greets. During Regular After Hours, several Meet and Greets continue operating, including Princess Fairytale Hall, Ariel’s Grotto, and Mickey and Tinker Bell in Town Square Theater. Not only do these characters not meet during Villains Unleashed, but none of the villains meet or take pictures with guests, either. Even if the villains did meet, it’s likely that their lines would exceed an hour each, even with a limited number of tickets sold. These characters are incredibly popular and it would have been relatively disastrous if they did meet and guests ended up paying $139+ to wait in three 90-minute lines to meet all of three or four characters.
Instead, your extra $15 on top of the regular cost of the event pays for two main pieces of entertainment:
Villains Unite the Night is a 22-minute stage show that’s scheduled nightly at 11pm, 12am, and 1am.
The 1am show is a blessing as it will allow you to enjoy the full three hours of exclusive Park time before taking in the show at the very end of the night. Note that this is not an original idea with the 1am show being much more popular than the 11pm or 12am shows. Above is the scene at 1:12am, or 12 minutes into the last show of the night. While it “looks” pretty packed, there’s actually plenty of room to find spots closer to the stage.
I ended up here, front and center, with no real effort.
Here’s the crowd for the 12am show at 12:10am – there’s far fewer people. In most cases, I’d recommend seeing the 1am show anyway, unless crowds are of a particular bother. You’ll be giving up 30 minutes of exclusive After Hours time, otherwise.
I recommend attaching Villains Unite the Night to the end of your…night.
The writing isn’t nearly as tight as the Hocus Pocus show during Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, but it makes great use of Disney’s projection capabilities on Cinderella Castle. The two pictures above were taken just a couple of seconds apart and the look of the Castle is completely different.
A number of acts, including these fire twirlers, appear on stage, each for perhaps a minute too long to really keep up the interest.
But it’s quite the finale.
And you’re not really giving up any After Hours time to see it should you attend the 1am show.
I’m not sure the show is good enough to be a compelling reason to attend After Hours on its own.
But given the fact that there’s no other opportunity to see it outside of the event, I think it’s a nice bonus (that you’re paying for).
The show will also extend your evening by a half hour, which adds value to the ticket.
Here’s a video of the show in case you’d like to see it in action.
The second major piece of entertainment is Maleficent at Night.
She is scheduled to appear at 10:40pm, 11:45pm, and 1:25am. I will admit that I did not have high expectations.
After all, I had seen the Maleficent unit in the Festival of Fantasy Parade a couple dozen times over the years.
But it was really neat seeing her at night.
The supporting characters are hauntingly beautiful.
And they do a great job of intimidating guests up close.
The first procession begins at 10:40pm with the first Villains Unite the Night at 11pm.
The second procession begins at 11:45pm, or 15 minutes before the second Villains Unite the Night at 12am.
And the third procession begins at 1:20am with the third Villains Unite the Night at 1am.
Each procession begins in Frontierland to the left of Splash Mountain before heading to the Hub and continuing forward to Town Square.
The first two processions circle back around the Flag Pole and return to Frontierland.
While the third procession ends on Main Street.
The timing makes it easy to see the float in front of Cinderella Castle either before or after a Villains show.
We followed the float down Main Street.
And watched her exit at 1:40am, or 20 minutes after she began her march through Frontierland. It’s definitely worth seeing, whether you do so casually in Frontierland or on Main Street.
Here’s Maleficent in action.
The Villains Farewell at the train station is an unadvertised goodbye to the event.
I feel like I’m at a weird, friendlier version of the purge pic.twitter.com/ffmdFYv8bS
— josh (@easywdw) June 14, 2019
And a nice reminder of all of the villains that you didn’t get to meet. It’s too bad that there isn’t some way to get a picture with one of the characters, even if Disney handed out a token or something to meet one character of your choosing at some point during the event or was otherwise able to schedule meet and greets in some fashion. But the Villains event at Hollywood Studios from a couple of years ago was a complete disaster with multi-hour waits and confusion over which characters were meeting in which locations. Adding a dozen character meets would probably also increase the cost of the event substantially.
It’s a lot of fun with the Tremaines singing and the Bowler Hat Guy doing whatever it is that he does…trying to fit you with a hat or something.
Taking a trick out of Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party’s bag, we enjoy two ride overlays, the first of which is at Space Mountain:
The Villains Space Trip isn’t particularly inspired. Disney has simply turned off the lights and in the distance, you can sort of hear a couple of villains, such as Ursula, cackling. Probably because you are dumb enough to be riding Space Mountain as an adult.
Unlike the first event, where waits of 20+ minutes were common most of the night, Space Mountain was largely a walk-on, thanks in part to Disney running both sides. Even so, they were only running half of each side, which did end up slowing us down a bit.
Nonetheless, we got in line at 11:25pm and were back out front at 11:40pm, for an experience time of just 15 minutes. If you’d like to experience Space Mountain as normal, then you’ll have to do so before the event begins. I’m not sure the lights-out version is necessarily worth seeking out, but if you’re a fan of Space Mountain then you might as well. It’s just slightly darker than usual.
The other ride overlay is at Pirates of the Caribbean and is also virtually identical to what we saw during the last Halloween Party.
There are two pirates in the queue.
One about here.
And the other about here, shortly before load.
Then instead of Gunpowder Pete, you’ll run into Captain Barbossa on this bridge. I was disappointed in the overlay at the Halloween Party, as I expected to see six or eight pirates throughout the ride, only to catch a glimpse of a single pirate for all of 15 seconds. With lowered expectations, the Barbossa sighting is just fine. The ride is the same as it is otherwise. Since you’ll likely want to ride both Pirates and Space anyway, the differences are, at a minimum, interesting.
A word on atmosphere: According to Disney, “Malevolent music and frightful lighting set the tone for a gruesomely good time.”
The atmosphere is kind of strange at villains unleashed both because the villains aren’t really unleashed anywhere you can’t meet them but also because of the foreboding music with just the normal rides and stuff around. I don’t think anybody is scared of the rapunzel bathrooms pic.twitter.com/fu02QXfCKN
— josh (@easywdw) June 14, 2019
I found said music and lighting a bit out of place. As part of a Halloween event, even one scheduled in August, it makes some amount of sense. In June, when there are really no villains around, it’s a bit more of a stretch. Instead of the usual, upbeat music, it basically sounds like you’ve gone to a Nine Inch Nails concert as you walk around Magic Kingdom. The video above is a good example of that.
This is why you spend the big bucks
I’m out here living my best life pic.twitter.com/ym1fiQ1C9W
— josh (@easywdw) June 14, 2019
Here I am on Dumbo, where the music might work a little better given some of the darker themes of the newest live-action movie.
Overall, I thought the music and overall “feel” didn’t really work. There is nothing ominous about it’s a small world, other than the singing characters, no matter what lights you shine on the facade. On the other hand, it is another unique aspect to the event. Instead of the atmosphere being like any other night at Magic Kingdom, or a throwback to those late-night three-hour sets of Evening Extra Magic Hours circa 2011, you do come away with something different.
For the most part, the lighting is on the subtle side with lots of reds and purples.
There are a few projections – this one is across from Journey of the Little Mermaid.
Another in Tomorrowland.
Here on the rocks in front of Tomorrowland with another projection on the purple wall behind them.
And on the other side.
There are a couple of backdrops too with one in the distance near the Buzz Lightyear exit.
It’s pretty similar to what we saw during the Incredible Summer/Expo.
This one is to the right of Ariel’s Grotto in Fantasyland.
There are about a half dozen PhotoPass photographers set up, some of which offer Magic Shots, like this one to the right of Pinocchio Village Haus.
Officially, these are the Magic Shots:
- Scar Magic Shot – Adventureland, across from Sunshine Tree Terrace
- Oogie Boogie Magic Shot – Bridge leading to Tomorrowland, near rock formations
- Maleficent Dragon Magic Shot – Castle Wall near Pinocchio Village Haus
- Hades Animated Magic Shot – In front of Cinderella Castle
Cinderella Castle also remains lit up during the event. It’s kind of hard to make out, but there’s a DJ spinning tunes most of the night.
That basically means the Hub turns into a dance party when a Villains show isn’t going on.
Cinderella Castle is a highlight with the spooky projections surrounding the Castle.
You’ll enjoy the view from all around the Park.
Outside of Mickey’s PhilharMagic, a face-painting station is set up:
I’m not sure how one becomes a face paint model.
Styles run $18-$25 and you can make an appointment to come back so you don’t have to wait in line.
Merchandise, including shirts and cups, is available exclusively to Villains participants.
I’m not real sure who is buying these sorts of things.
But it will all show up at the Outlets soon enough.
Thirty bucks for a hat with a date.
You can also look at yourself if you want.
Perhaps watch your face as you reconsider buying any of this stuff.
You’ll also find a variety of specialty food and beverage:
This “feels” somewhat superfluous given the fact that the usual treats are included with your admission.
You can pick up as many Mickey Premium Ice Cream Bars, Mickey’s Premium Ice Cream Sandwiches, and Strawberry Fruit Bars as you like, in addition to 20-ounce bottles of Coca Cola, Diet Coke, Sprite, and Dasani Water. But if you’d like to pay even more for another treat, they’re very available.
I’d recommend instead eating a sound meal before the event with plans to grab a couple of ice cream bars/sandwiches during the Villains time.
Popcorn is also included. Waits for the various carts were short to nonexistent for the duration event. I don’t think we waited more than two minutes, which was nice.
Here to the right of Tomorrowland Speedway, we walked right up for an ice cream bar and Diet Coke.
Popcorn is available closer to Space Mountain.
Here we are outside Pinocchio Village Haus for more ice cream.
At the end of the night, you might consider grabbing a couple drinks “for the road.” Dasani is ordinarily $3.50, while Coke products run $4.50 each. Popcorn is ordinarily $5, while Mickey Ice Cream Bars are $5.75 each. So if you drink two bottles of Dasani, guzzle a Diet Coke, and eat a popcorn and two Mickey Ice Cream Bars, you will have consumed $28 worth of stuff, which is a pretty big chunk of the ticket cost. Grab a couple more Diet Cokes or eat a couple more Mickey Bars and you’re “doing even better” for yourself.
Now 2,700+ words into the review, it’s time to discuss the reason that you’re probably attending Disney After Hours, Villains or not – low waits at the rides.
Below is a list of the attractions that are open during the event. I’ve ranked each based on how much time experiencing it will save by visiting it during After Hours with a “1” being the lowest priority and a “5” being the highest priority. It makes sense to visit as many higher priority attractions as possible as that’s where you’ll save the most time. I’ve also included the minimum experience time, which is the minimum amount of time that an attraction will take from the time you arrive at the wait time sign to the time that you’ll be back out in front of the entrance:
Here’s the same information in a chart in priority order:
Most people will want to focus on the top priority attractions. Riding Seven Dwarfs Mine Train will save you an average of about 80 minutes in line versus riding during the day. Country Bear Jamboree and Enchanted Tiki Room might save you five or ten minutes, each.
Here’s a look at the posted wait times that you can expect to see during the event:
The only attraction where you should run into an appreciable wait time is Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, where actual waits could be as long as 20 to 30 minutes most of the night.
Capacity reductions can also cause the occasional, odd 5- to 10-minute wait. For example, at 10:30pm, we were the last group to board on the left side of the Tomorrowland Speedway loading area. For the rest of the night, only four cars would load and unload at a time, which can lead to some longer waits as the capacity is basically reduced by 67% compared to the first 90 minutes of the event. And the capacity was only 50% of the maximum to start.
Generally speaking, waits should be under five minutes, though.
With the exception of the Mine Train. If you’re interested in riding it during the event, then my advice would be to get in line at 10:45pm. People will be occupied by the first Villains Unleashed and Maleficent at Night shows. There will also be a lull in between those who head straight for the Mine Train because they think waits will instantaneously drop at the beginning of the event and those who read everyone’s advice, which is to head to the Mine last thing. Above is the line for Mine Train at 12:40am, during the second night of the event, on June 13th. It looked like some technical problems had hurt capacity and the line had stopped moving, but this is a 25+ minute wait, which is what was posted. Ordinarily, I might recommend riding absolute last thing, but we’re planning on seeing the 1am Villains Unite the Night, which won’t make it possible to get in line here at 12:59am and make any meaningful part of the show.
While you may run into a potential snag, waits should be short to nonexistent for the most part. That’s good news.
SO IS IT WORTH IT?
This is my standard Disney After Hours takeaway, ignoring the Villains pricing and add-ons:
The bottom line is that it’s a completely unique way to experience Magic Kingdom. Evening Extra Magic Hours are much more crowded, cover less time, and obviously don’t include the “free” snacks. Wait times are similarly short during Mickey’s Halloween/Christmas Parties, but you’re looking at 20,000 more people in the way as you move from attraction to attraction.
Still, the cost is high. If you give full value to the snacks, you’re looking at something like:
- Two ice cream treats: $11
- Two popcorns: $10
- Two waters: $7
- One Diet Coke: $4.50
That’s over thirty bucks right there, per person. As an Annual Passholder, I then need to find about $60 worth of value from three hours of incredibly low crowds and virtually no wait times. One key to doing that is to forget about the clock and enjoy what you’re able to do in the moment. On my first go-around, I was doing too much, “It’s already 11:16pm.” “We have less than an hour left.” “I don’t know if we have time.” There’s no fun in that. Perhaps like life in general, it’s best to enjoy the time you do have with the people you’re lucky enough to love.
Still, a family of four is looking at spending $528 for the evening, which is probably enough money to add an extra night at the resort and another day to the tickets. With rope drop, an intelligent touring plan, and FastPass+, you could do everything that we were able to do over the course of a few hours, perhaps with the exception of the re-rides on Mine Train. For that reason, After Hours is probably best-suited for those with time constraints. Considering the late night hours, groups consisting primarily of teens and adults are probably best-served.
That’s a pretty positive takeaway. Villains After Hours will set you back another $15 per person. I felt like we got a lot more value than that out of the additional shows and entertainment. Villains Unite the Night, Maleficent at Night, and the Villains Farewell added 45 minutes to the event, an increase of about 25%. There were also a couple of attraction overlays that were worth seeing, though I wasn’t necessarily wowed. The shows and the overlays also helped pull people away from all of the other attractions, reducing wait times further. I’ll cover how we went about our evening separately, but we managed to do 14 attractions during the three exclusive hours, plus the Villains Unite the Night stage show, Maleficent, and the Villains Farewell. We also grabbed snacks at several different locations and enjoyed some of the atmospheric events and PhotoPass opportunities.
While I wasn’t particularly enamored by the atmosphere – walking around Magic Kingdom while listening to Nine Inch Nails was not on my bucket list – it’s certainly a different take on the nighttime experience.
Villains After Hours is certainly not a necessary part of your trip, but there is a lot of value in the easy access to the attractions. There’s certainly no way to experience the Park in a less stressful environment, save for perhaps the audio, which you may not notice very often anyway.
I continue to recommend Disney After Hours for anyone who can swing for the hefty cost. The Villains stuff is a nice plus.