(Last updated January 24, 2019)
Since it first began, Disney After Hours at Magic Kingdom has been one of our most favorite special ticketed events and now Disney is offering the same type of exclusive event at Animal Kingdom.
But, with fewer attractions and the same price, the value of Disney After Hours at Animal Kingdom isn't quite the same.
Here's all the info you'll need to decide if the cost is worth it for you.
With very few rides available and a long queue for the main attraction (Flight of Passage), we found it difficult to justify the $125 for this event. Other After Hours events will definitely provide a better bang for the buck.
What is Disney After Hours at Animal Kingdom?
Disney After Hours at Animal Kingdom is one of the many exclusive events or parties that Disney offers its guests.
Unlike Extra Magic Hours (which are free and only available for guests staying on-site), Disney After Hours at Animal Kingdom requires a special ticket and is open to anybody.
You don't have to be staying on-site to attend.
Because Disney strictly limits the ticket sales to these events, the park can almost feel kind of...empty.
And that is usually a good thing because it means that you'll find little to no lines at the attractions, though we found Animal Kingdom to really feel eerily quiet and not "alive" during the After Hours event.
Like with other separately-ticketed events where you get in early (while the park is still open to all guests), purchasing a ticket to Disney After Hours at Animal Kingdom allows you to enter at 7:00 p.m. even though the event starts later.
No lines and getting in early are both fantastic perks and part of what makes the cost worth it for the other 2 Disney After Hours events at Hollywood Studios and Magic Kingdom.
But, it isn't the same for Animal Kingdom, unfortunately.
More on that below.
Like with all parties and special events, when the time draws near you'll need to check-in and receive your credentials (a wristband) for the evening.
You'll typically find Cast Members stationed at both the front of the park (look for the Cast Member with the signs) as well as at a station inside of the park, like this one at Ticket Corner (located near Flame Tree BBQ).
So if your plans have you spending the day at Animal Kingdom, you won't have to go all the way back to the front to check in.
When the park closes, guests without wristbands will be directed towards the front and out of the park.
This usually happens fairly quickly, though expect some overlap between the time the event begins and the presence of daytime park guests.
Before the party starts
Though the ticket allows you to enter at 7:00 p.m., the event doesn't actually begin until 8:30 p.m.
That gives you an hour and a half to knock out a few things that you won't be able to do during the party itself.
Unfortunately, unlike the other 2 parks where Disney After Hours is offered, there isn't much that is open or available during this time that isn't available during the event itself.
Because Animal Kingdom has a lot of attractions with live animals that understandably require more special care than those of the animatronic variety, it is fairly typical for many of the normal attractions to not operate from park opening to park closing.
That's important if your thought is that you'll show up at 7 p.m. and ride Kilimanjaro Safari before the park closes at 8:30.
During the winter months when sunset comes quite early, you'll likely find that many attractions not available during the event will be closing at 6:30 (and sometimes even earlier!).
So, keep that in mind as you plan out your trip. You'll definitely want to check those attraction availability times for your Disney After Hours day so that you aren't disappointed that something has already closed when you arrive at 7 p.m.
Here's what is available during the party:
- Avatar Flight of Passage
- Na’vi River Journey
- Pandora Drummers – Swotu Wayä
- Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain
- Rivers of Light (special showing just for event attendees)
- Tree of Life Awakenings
- It’s Tough to be a Bug!
- TriceraTop Spin
And here's what's NOT:
- The Boneyard*
- Kali River Rapids*
- Kilimanjaro Safaris*
- Primeval Whirl
- Shows like Festival of the Lion King and Finding Nemo - The Musical**
- Trails like the Maharajah Jungle Trek and Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail*
*Because of the animals involved or the evening temperatures, these attractions may close before you'd be allowed in with just your party ticket.
**Shows are scheduled throughout the day, but the final performance is typically before you'd be allowed in with just your party ticket.
Did somebody say snacks?
Included in the price of admission are some of your favorite Disney snacks.
No, you can't get a turkey leg, BUT Mickey Bars (as well as other ice cream treats), popcorn, and bottled beverages are available.
Unfortunately, finding the free treats is a bit of a problem at Animal Kingdom. There just didn't seem to be as many kiosks available as we have found in the other parks which makes it more difficult to snag a snack.
What about table service and quick service restaurants?
Most of the restaurants will be closed during the event; however, if you need something more hearty, you'll be able to find a few spots where you can do just that.
Disney After Hours at Animal Kingdom dates
Disney After Hours at Animal Kingdom runs from 8:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. for all of the dates below.
These are the dates the event is being offered in 2019:
- Tuesday, January 8, 2019
- Wednesday, January 16, 2019
- Tuesday, January 22, 2019
- Thursday, January 31, 2019
- Tuesday, February 5, 2019
- Wednesday, February 6, 2019
- Tuesday, February 12, 2019
- Wednesday, February 13, 2019
- Tuesday, February 19, 2019
- Tuesday, February 26, 2019
- Tuesday, March 5, 2019
- Wednesday, March 20, 2019
- Wednesday, March 27, 2019
- Wednesday, April 3, 2019
Disney After Hours cost
Ticket prices aren't cheap - $125 plus tax (if purchased in advance) or $129 plus tax if purchased the day of the event.
And, unfortunately, there isn't a price difference for kids. That's the price for everybody ages 3 and up.
There are some discounts available, though.
Annual Passholders and Disney Vacation Club members can purchase tickets for $95, so that is a nice bit of savings if you are a member of either of those groups.
How to get tickets
When it comes time to purchase tickets, you have a couple of options:
You can purchase them from a travel professional like the agents at Perfect Story Travel. Just indicate in the notes field that you'd like to buy Disney After Hours tickets and one of the amazing agents there will get back to you ASAP.
Or, if you'd rather, tickets can be purchased online or by calling 407-827-7185.
Planning your time
Here's how we think you can best use your time.
- Arrive at Animal Kingdom just before 7:00 so you can enter the park as soon as you can.
- Visit any attractions or animal exhibits that won't be open during the event (like meeting characters or getting PhotoPass photos).
- See Pandora at night.
- Spend most of your time visiting attractions and seeing Rivers of Light, picking up snacks at kiosks throughout Animal Kingdom as you go. Consider saving Pandora for later in the night to give the daytime guests time to leave the line.
- Grab a bottle or two of beverages to take back to your hotel.
*note: unlike Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios, PhotoPass photographers are not a typical offering during this event.
Is it worth it?
After loving both Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios After Hours, we were ready to love the Animal Kingdom version, too.
Unfortunately, that wasn't the case.
With fewer attractions, hard to find kiosks of snacks, and no PhotoPass photographers to be had, this event is a distant 3rd when compared to the other two.
Sure, you can ride Flight of Passage with virtually no line, but if you dream of being able to hop off and hop right back on you won't find that the case.
The queue for Flight of Passage is LONG, as is the pre-show. And there isn't any skipping it.
Even with no lines, you'll still need to budget at least 20 minutes per ride for the queue, pre-show, and attraction itself.
So, dollar for dollar, if you are trying to pick just 1 or even 2 After Hours events to go to, Magic Kingdom or Hollywood Studios Disney After Hours provide a much better value, and either of those 2 events will leave you feeling like you got your money's worth.
That's simply not the case, in our opinion, with Disney After Hours at Animal Kingdom.