We had the opportunity to attend the Disney After Hours event at Hollywood Studios on Wednesday, January 25th. We’ll do a quick overview of the After Hours event in general and then a review of the Hollywood Studios After Hours event we attended.

As of this post, After Hours events are taking place on select Mondays in Magic Kingdom and Wednesday’s at Hollywood Studios. These are hard ticketed events, meaning you need a separate ticket and do not need a theme park ticket. Disney advertises that there are a limited number of tickets to these events though they do not indicate how many tickets are available. Ticket prices vary by date and are between $135 – $155 at Magic Kingdom and $129 – $149 at Hollywood Studios.

The ticket gets you exclusive park access for 3 hours after regular park guests leave. In addition, you can access the park 2-2.5 hours before the event starts.  Also included in the price of the ticket is free soft drinks, popcorn, and Mickey ice cream bars at food stands throughout the park. This is a nice perk, but I wouldn’t look at it as a way to significantly offset the price of the ticket. The real value here is the short lines for attractions and ease of movement throughout the parks. It really is refreshing to be able to walk at a leisurely pace, and in a relative straight line, to your destination. No strollers attacking your ankles. No large groups stopping dead in front of you.

The official Disney After Hours website advertises that the following attractions will be operational during the event at Hollywood Studios:

  • Alien Swirling Saucers
  • Mickey & Minnies Runaway Railway
  • Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run
  • Slinky Dog Dash
  • Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
  • Toy Story Mania!

Spoiler alert! We found that both Tower of Terror and Rockin’ Roller Coaster were also operational during the Hollywood Studios After Hours event. I’m not sure why they don’t advertise those rides as well as they are both popular attractions. The official guide you’re given upon entering the park does list them however. Seems like a big oversight to me. But what do I know.

The forecast called for storms later in the evening from around 11pm-12am. Obviously not ideal, but you’re going to have a bad time if you let yourself get upset about Florida weather. That did change how we planned to tour the park though. Originally we were going to hit Toy Story land and Galaxy’s edge late in the night, but decided we better at least do Slinky Dog early in the night. We weren’t prioritizing Galaxy’s edge as we recently returned from Disneyland and rode both attractions multiple times. We would certainly ride Rise of the Resistance if the opportunity was there though.

Disney After Hours at Hollywood Studios

We got to the park right at 7pm. There was a dedicated entry area for After Hours guests and cast members directing you where to go. We were given wrist bands and then a cast member scanned our magic bands with a tablet and we were in!

First up was the Muppet Vision 3d show. This is a must do for us and was not open during the After Hours event so headed straight for it. We arrived just as a show was about to start and found a very lightly attended show. Perfect.

We thought it would be a good time so we didn’t use up valuable After Hours time with a sit down meal. We opted for mobile ordering at the ABC commissary. We got the Buffalo Chicken Grilled cheese and Shrimp Tacos. Both dishes were good and it was just the right amount of food between the two of us. We unknowingly ordered it just before they closed at 8pm. Lucky timing!

After dinner we saw that Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway had a posted wait time of 35 minutes. That would take us right up to regular park closing. Since we were right there and hadn’t done this before we decided to hop in line. The wait was pretty accurate and we were in the preshow room after around 25 minutes, getting on the ride right around 30 minutes. Unfortunately we experienced around 10 minutes of downtime towards the end of the ride. This took away from our first experience a bit, but we loved the ride overall. The trackless ride system was great. The ride was smooth, yet unpredictable, and the scenes were cute and fun. They incorporated all major characters, including the under-represented and constantly disrespected Donald Duck (my favorite as you might have guessed).

Due to the breakdown we didn’t exit the ride until after regular park close, around 9:10. We headed straight towards Toy Story land. There were cast members checking for wrist bands along the way. We wanted to let the backlog of day guests work through the Slinky Dog queue so we opted for Toy Story Midway Mania. The ride was essentially a walk on. I think we waited maybe 2 minutes at the loading area.

From there we headed towards Slinky Dog. I noticed that Woody’s Lunchbox was open and that they were serving beer. This wasn’t included in the price of the event but why not drink a beer right before riding a roller coaster? We drank about half the beers in the seating area before getting into the Slinky Dog queue. The posted wait was 15 minutes and that was about accurate. The line had a grown while we were on the ride but we decided to just do it again before the storm. The wait was actually around 15 minutes again. When we got up to the loading area the cast member asked us if we had a preference on where to sit and I requested the last row. She acted a little surprised and said good choice. She explained that most people choose the front row. That’s not the best place on this one though. Slinky Dog’s ears and head block a lot of the view from the front. Plus the back really makes you feel every undulation and turn.

The line was actually a little shorter but we thought 2 rides on Slinky Dog Dash was a good and it was time to move on. We stopped for popcorn and soft drinks at the stand outside Slinky Dog. The line seemed long but they move people through incredibly efficiently. It’s basically grab and go. We ate and drank as we walked slowly to Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway again. We hung out outside for a few minutes to finish our refreshments and enjoy the breezy evening.

This was essentially a walk on to the pre-show room. Thankfully, this ride did not have any breakdowns so we were able to enjoy the full uninterrupted experience. We liked it even more the second time!

By the time we had exited Mickey and Minnie’s it had started to rain. We donned our rain gear, which proved to be more “resistant” and “waterproof”, and headed towards Tower of Terror. About halfway down Sunset Boulevard it started to really come down. We ducked into an awning area with a Photopass photographer to find cover. We hung out for about 10 minutes before it lightened up enough to head to Tower of Terror. We walked right into the boiler room and was on the ride in about 10 minutes. It seemed like an exceptionally thrilling ride. That could have been a figment of my imagination though. It had been a few years since I’d been on it.

We headed over to Rockin’ Rollercoaster to find a pretty significant line and a 35 minute posted wait. An announcement was made that the ride had experienced difficulties and the wait may be longer than posted. I’m not a huge fan of this ride. It really feels dated as an Aerosmith themed attraction (do a quick Foo Fighter’s retheme at least!) and the ride itself is quite short. Just not worth any significant wait for us. So we grabbed another beer and headed back to the center of the park.

We caught the tail end of one of the projection shows. I think it was Disney Movie Magic. We were happy for a show while we enjoyed our beers. We found a dry place to sit and figure out our next move.

Don’t try anything, Rebel Scum!

I opened up My Disney Experience to see that Rise of the Resistance was back up and posting a 20 minute wait. It had been down during the heavier rain and I was a little concerned that we wouldn’t get to ride. We jumped at the chance and headed right over. We found absolutely no one in queue. We essentially walked right into the ride with just one other couple. During the ride portion each couple had a ride vehicle to themselves. Definitely an awesome way to experience the ride! We exited the ride to a completely deserted Galaxy’s Edge. Not a soul in sight!

Empty Galaxy’s Edge

At this point there was about 30 minutes left. We considered our options but ultimately decided we didn’t feel the need to ride anything else. We made our way slowly to the front of the park, enjoying the completely surreal experience of having the place almost to ourselves.

So to summarize we were able to experience the following during the After Hours event:

  • Toy Story Midway Mania
  • Slinky Dog Dash x 2
  • Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway
  • Tower of Terror
  • Rise of the Resistance

Adding in stops for refreshments, being derailed by rain, and moving slowly to enjoy the ambiance, it felt like a pretty full 2.5 hours. That said, we definitely could have maximized the time a bit more. We could have went from Rise to Smuggler’s Run and probably to another ride of our choosing before the event ended.

Before the official start of the event we enjoyed Muppets 3d, ate dinner at ABC Commissary, and rode Mickey and Minnie’s in the stand by line. Add that to what was accomplished during the event itself and it made the After Hours evenWe would not hesitate to do an After Hours event again if we had the chance. Heck I would even consider planning a trip around during 2 of these events specifically. They don’t give you access to everything, but they do give you access to all priority attractions and nearly all attractions in general. They are a reasonable replacement for what one might get done touring the park on a given day. In that context the price t feel like a great way to tour the park with almost no friction.

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