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EPCOT After Hours Touring Strategy and Information

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At EPCOT’s After Hours, you generally won’t need a strategy. Or at least, not a strategy for avoiding the lines. But the park is large, and you can spend a lot of your event time just getting to everything you want to do. So you’ll still benefit from having an idea of where to start, and where to end up. Let’s take a look at After Hours at EPCOT, including some suggestions for a plan of attack.

If you’re just looking for specific information, click any of the links below to jump straight to that section.

Dates, Tickets, and Check-In

Disney After Hours at EPCOT is scheduled on evenings through midsummer with the final announced event in July. The current schedule includes the following dates in 2024.

  • February 2, 8, 15
  • March 7, 28
  • April 4, 25
  • May 9, 23, 30
  • June 6, 20
  • July 18

Prices range from $149-$159, with discounts available for Disney Vacation Club members and Annual Passholders. Our After Hours Dates and Details post has prices for individual dates, and you can buy tickets online directly from the event page on Disney’s site.

How to Get Your Wristband

After Hours runs from 10 pm to 1 am, and guests can enter the park using their event ticket at 7 pm. EPCOT typically closes at 9 pm, so if you arrive at 7 you’ll have about two hours to enjoy the park before it officially closes to day guests.

Sandwich board for After Hours check-in at the main entrance to EPCOT
After Hours check-in sign at the main entrance

When you get to the park, look for the After Hours sign in the entrance plaza (or at International Gateway if you’re entering there) to find the check-in point. If you’ve spent the day at EPCOT, talk to the Guest Experience team at the Blue Umbrellas to find out how to check in. Sometimes they will be able to check you in directly; otherwise they will direct you how to get it done.

During the Mix-In Period

All the rides will be open during After Hours. So where should you spend your time during the mix-in period from 7 to 9 pm? There are a few options.

  • You can visit some attractions, especially those that will not be open during the event
  • Tour the countries of the World Showcase, which will not be open during the event
  • Take in some of the entertainment & see Luminous
  • You can get dinner.

Or, of course, you can do some combination of the above!

Entertainment & Nighttime Spectaculars

Most of the park’s entertainment with a fixed-time schedule will have its last performance before the mix-in period begins. You’ll want to check My Disney Experience hours for these attractions in advance to know what is still available after 7 pm. The American Adventure and Morocco’s Atlas Fusion often have a showtime after the mix-in starts, and if you’re visiting during an EPCOT Festival the last concert is usually at 8 pm. Luminous is the park’s nighttime spectacular, and it runs at 9 pm.

Luminous the Story of Us takes place in the center of the World Showcase Lagoon

Meet & Greets

Characters that meet at scheduled times will have all finished for the day. The only two greetings that run “all day” are Anna & Elsa and Mickey & Minnie, and these will also close before the mix-in period begins. So unfortunately Meet & Greets aren’t a realistic way to spend your mix-in time. And truth be told, they’re not a major part of the After Hours event, either.

Rides to Target Before After Hours Begins

Although you should be able to fit in all the rides during the event if they are your sole focus, the Pavilions in World Nature have both rides and other attractions that won’t be available during the After Hours event. So if you’d like to see those attractions, doing those rides during the mix-in and crossing off entire pavilions can save you some walking later.

Journey into Imagination: If you like, you may choose to combine this with the Pixar Short Film Festival, which is not open during the After Hours. But since the runtime is 18 minutes and those can all be found online, that’s probably not a great use of your limited time during the mix-in.

The Seas with Nemo & Friends: “The Nemo ride” will offer one of the shortest mix-in waits, and while you are nearby you can see Turtle Talk with Crush, which will be closed during the event. If you enjoy the Seas Pavilion, then covering it all during the mix-in is a solid strategy.

Soarin’: You’ll want to check the waits on this one, but Living with the Land should definitely have a short wait, and if you’d like to see Awesome Planet it’s not open during the event. So similar to the Seas, if the Soarin’ waits are favorable then heading to the Land can allow you to scratch off the whole group in this pavilion before the park closes.

EPCOT After Hours Food & Drink

Free snacks included with the event include popcorn, soda, Mickey bars, Mickey ice cream sandwiches, and non-dairy strawberry FrozFruit bars. You can find these at a variety of snack carts around the park; these carts will switch over at 10 pm and, so you will not be able to collect free snacks before that. A winner in EPCOT’s free snacks game is the Maple Popcorn in Canada, which is not available at events in other parks.

Maple Popcorn is available as part of the EPCOT After Hours free snacks lineup

If you’re looking for something more, Connections Cafe & Eatery are both open until 10 pm when the event officially begins. The Yorkshire County Fish Shop is open until 11 pm, and Kringla Bakeri og Cafe and the World Discovery Hot Dog Cart are open throughout the event. Realistically, if you’re looking for something more substantial than a snack, your best bet is to grab it before the event officially begins. If you’re visiting during a Festival, the Festival booths will be open until the end of regular park hours.

Mickey bars are available throughout the evening

Unlike After Hours at the Magic Kingdom, the event is not dry – you’ll find select outdoor bars are open throughout the event. And if you prefer to sit and drink, the Rose & Crown Pub is also open through EPCOT’s After Hours.

Characters & Entertainment

Characters are not a major feature of the EPCOT After Hours experience. Characters that meet during regular hours will have finished their day before 7 pm when the mix-in period begins. During the event itself, you’ll reliably encounter Chip & Dale at their dance party, and Mickey Mouse at the Walt-the-Dreamer statue in World Celebration. Other characters will be as you happen upon them.

We found Pluto in World Showcase, but there were not many characters out and about

On the entertainment front, you can dance in World Discovery throughout the night; the DJ sets up in this location and the music is piped throughout the park. In World Showcase, you can see Mariachi Cobre and live bands on the Mill Stage in Canada at scheduled times.

Shopping and Other After Hours Experiences

Although there is no After Hours specific merchandise, several shops are open. In particular, all of the gift shops in the pavilions at the front of the park – Worlds Nature, Discovery, and Celebration – are open, including the Creations Shop. In World Showcase, only World Traveler and Plaza de los Amigos are open.

In addition to shopping, you’ll find a variety of PhotoPass stations around the park. You’ll have plenty of time to grab a few Magic Shots to look back on later.

The Tink’s Lantern Magic Shot

Suggested Touring Plan for EPCOT After Hours

Take good note of the word “suggested” in the heading above. I’ll explain the logic behind some of these decisions, but we never forget that thing about different strokes for different folks. If something below doesn’t suit you, mix it up until it does! And although only attractions are listed in the plan, feel free to take some time for photo stops, snacking, and soaking up the vibe. You’ll have plenty of time to get the rides in, even including second rides on some of your favorites.

After 9 pm, wristbands will be checked at the entrance to every ride. We visited on a sold-out night, but our experience was that every ride except Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind was a walk-on. Even at Guardians, which uses a standby queue during After Hours, there was only a 20-minute wait that was basically the length of the preshow. However, it’s not uncommon for Guardians, Remy, or Frozen Ever After to have outages during the event, so you may need to make adjustments as you go.

  1. Arrive at EPCOT in time to be checked in for the event and ready to go at 7 pm.
  2. During the mix-in, choose either
    1. Take in the World Showcase, including shops and movies that will be closed during the event. If you’re visiting during the Festival, grab a few snacks and maybe see the 8 pm concert.
    2. Visit the Pavilions in World Nature, taking in both the attractions and any associated shows that will be closed once the park’s regular hours are over.
  3. Be in position to watch Luminous at about 8:45 pm.

When watching Luminous, choose your spot based on where you plan on leaving the park. If you will be leaving via the International Gateway, aim for a spot on the Norway side of the Mexico Pavilion. If you will be leaving by the main entrance, aim for something near France. Your goal will be to start with a nearby World Showcase attraction to avoid getting slowed down by the crowds leaving the park, and take in the remaining attractions in a way that finishes up near your desired exit.

If you’ll be leaving through the International Gateway

  1. Head directly to Frozen Ever After and Gran Fiesta Tour once Luminous is finished. You can do these in either order.
  2. Pass along the outside of the Odyssey building to World Discovery, and ride Test Track, Mission Space, and Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind as you come to them.
  3. Take a bit of time at the Dance Party in World Celebration, and get a photo with Mickey by the Walt the Dreamer statue.
  4. Ride Spaceship Earth and then cross into World Nature
  5. See Journey of Water, Inspired by Moana
  6. Ride The Seas with Nemo and Friends
  7. Head to the Land Pavilion and ride Soarin’ and Living with the Land
  8. Continue on to Journey into Imagination with Figment as you work your way up World Nature toward World Showcase
  9. Head up the right side of World Showcase past Canada and the UK towards France to ride Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure. Don’t forget to stop for your maple popcorn!

If you’ll be leaving through the main entrance

  1. Head directly to Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure and ride. By the time you are done, the crowds exiting the park should have died down some.
  2. Make your way to Norway/Mexico and ride Frozen Ever After and the Gran Fiesta Tour, in either order.
  3. Head back toward Refreshment Port and turn into World Nature toward the Land Pavilion. You can make a small side trip to Canada for some maple popcorn on the way if you’d like. Ride Journey into Imagination with Figment.
  4. Ride Soarin’ and Living with the Land
  5. Head to the Seas pavilion and ride the Seas with Nemo & Friends
  6. See Journey of Water, Inspired by Moana
  7. Take a bit of time at the Dance Party in World Celebration, and get a photo with Mickey by the Walt the Dreamer statue.
  8. Head to Test Track in World Discovery, and ride Test Track, Mission Space, and Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind as you come to them.
  9. Ride Spaceship Earth

Have you been to EPCOT After Hours? What was your approach? Let us know in the comments below!

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Jennifer Heymont

Jennifer has a background in math and biology, so she ended up in Data Science where she gets to do both. She lives just north of Boston with her husband, kids, and assorted animal members of the family. Although it took three visits for the Disney bug to "take", she now really wishes she lived a lot closer to the Parks.

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