Walt Disney World (FL)

Magic Kingdom After Hours Strategy

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Disney’s After Hours offers so many attractions! So much food! So few people! Does it live up to the hype? It turns out that After Hours is an excellent choice if any of those things are important to you as you tour the Magic Kingdom. In this post, we’re going to cover some basic information about the After Hours experience in Magic Kingdom, as well as an example strategy (or two or three) if you plan on attending After Hours in the next few months.

Magic Kingdom After Hours Dates and Hours

Currently, the After Hours event is scheduled to happen at Magic Kingdom on the following dates in 2024:

  • February 1, 5, 12, and 29
  • March 4 and 18
  • April 8, 22 and 29
  • May 13
  • June 13 and 27

On each of these nights, the After Hours event begins at 10 p.m. and runs until 1 a.m. But what makes this event even more “worth it” is that you can enter Magic Kingdom as early as 7 p.m. with your event ticket – meaning you can still watch Happily Ever After even without a day ticket! (Note: You can check if additional dates have been added at Disney’s Magic Kingdom After Hours page.)

Because there were 4 different check-in locations, none were overwhelmed by crowds.

How to Get Your Wristband

In order to stay in the park after 10 p.m., you have to check in and get your wristband. If you arrive at the Magic Kingdom after event check-in has started (usually 7 p.m.), you can just check in at the Main Entrance.

If you’ve used regular ticket admission to enter the Magic Kingdom earlier in the day and you’re still in the park when 7 p.m. rolls around, you’ll need to pick your After Hours wristband. You can find in-park check-in at any of the following locations:

  • Liberty Square ticket office
  • Adventureland near Tortuga Tavern
  • Tomorrowland across from Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor

All About the Snacks

After Hours events include all-you-can-enjoy snacks! At the Magic Kingdom, there are seven different snack carts so that you can fuel up no matter what part of the park you’re in. Your snack choices include:

  • Ice cream novelties
  • Popcorn
  • Bottled beverages (water, soda, etc.)

If snacks aren’t quite enough sustenance for you, Casey’s Corner is open – with Mobile Order available – during the entire party. The Main Street Bakery stays open too.

Suggested After Hours Strategy

Here comes the fun part! Tickets for the event are limited to 3,000 people. Spoiler alert: that means very minimal waits during After Hours – you don’t really need to hit rides in any “particularly effective” order once After Hours starts. But the bonus is that by entering the park 3 hours before the event, you can get even more done.

Since you don’t need a strategy to avoid lines once 10 o’clock rolls around, the strategy here is all about what to do after you arrive and before the party officially starts. Here’s what we suggest!

  1. Check in, and then enjoy some of Tomorrowland – ride the PeopleMover and play a round of Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
  2. Start making your way across the park by heading toward Main Street to watch Happily Ever After, which will still be very crowded.
  3. As soon as Happily Ever After is over, work on completing rides on the “left side” of the park. Start by escaping the crowds and walking back to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Then ride Pirates of the Caribbean and then Jungle Cruise. You should be able to finish all three attractions before the After Hours event even begins!
  4. If you need to fill a little time as guests filter out of the park, this is a great time to order a fuel-up from Casey’s Corner so that you can power through the rest of the night!
  5. Once the event starts, ride Haunted Mansion, it’s a small world, and Peter Pan’s Flight
  6. Grab spots for Enchantment at 11 pm in front of the castle
  7. Continue working across Fantasyland by riding Winnie the Pooh, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Under the Sea, and Mad Tea Party
  8. Make sure to pause every now and then for some snacks and to take in the peaceful atmosphere of a mostly empty Magic Kingdom
  9. Finish up the night back in Tomorrowland, riding Space Mountain and TRON and whatever you’d like to repeat.

This attraction list may not exactly match what your party wants to experience during After Hours, but it provides an example of everything you can accomplish with your ticket. Often, more than you could do in a full day on a high-crowd day, and it shouldn’t even feel rushed! Wait times are very, very low throughout the event. Non-headliners are generally walk-on, and even headliners max out at a 25-minute posted wait (including standby at TRON!). And that posted wait is very inflated.

Bonus: you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy a bizarrely empty Main Street and hub!

Optional Add-Ons

You could easily add in Magic Carpets, Prince Charming’s Regal Carrousel, Barnstormer, Dumbo, and Tomorrowland Speedway into the plan above. You would probably have to skip some snacks. But they don’t have great satisfaction scores, so I didn’t want to include them in the plan. If you like the idea of a magical carrousel ride at midnight, or a late-night spin on the Speedway, go for it!

Alternate Ideas!

Maybe you just want to do those “big” attractions during After Hours. If so – based on wait times during the first event, you could likely accomplish the following just between 10 pm and 1 am (excluding pre-event time):

  • 2x Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
  • 2x Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
  • 2x Space Mountain
  • 2x TRON

Or you could enjoy a mix of classics and headliners:

  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Haunted Mansion
  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
  • 2x Space Mountain
  • TRON
  • TTA PeopleMover

Do have tickets for an upcoming After Hours event at Magic Kingdom? How would you spend your three hours with almost no lines?

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Becky Gandillon

Becky Gandillon was trained in biomedical engineering, but is now a full-time data and analytics nerd. She loves problem solving and travelling. She and her husband, Jeff, live in St. Louis with their two daughters and they have Disney family movie night every Saturday. You can follow her on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/becky-gandillon/ or instagram @raisingminniemes

14 thoughts on “Magic Kingdom After Hours Strategy

  • After I did the after hours event in 2023, I said I would get it every time. I was so glad they added more dates for my April trip. This is a pretty accurate description of what can be done. The longest line I waited in in 2023 was 15min for 7DMT and that was before the park officially closed. We were the only people on some of the rides it was amazing.

  • This is the first time I’ve seen a cap number for After Hours. You state it is 3000. For comparison, what is the cap during a normal day?

    • That 3,000 number is based on asking Cast Members at the event both years, it’s definitely not published anywhere official.
      Theoretically, the Magic Kingdom can hold up to 100,000 guests, but a typical average across the year is more like 60,000 guests. So it’s like experiencing Magic Kingdom when it has 95% less people than normal.
      To put it into context – the Haunted Mansion handles about 3,000 guests per hour when running smoothly. So if you’re at the Magic Kingdom and Haunted Mansion has an hour-long wait, there may be 3,000 people just in that one line.

  • After Hours in Magic Kingdom is absolutely worth every penny. If you are on the fence, I can’t recommend it enough. Absolutely my best time in the park was with my daughters After Hours, and it was as much for the fascination we shared in the empty park between rides as it was for the walk-ons for all the rides. Special night.

    We also tried After Hours at Hollywood Studios once, and I want my money back!!! HA!

  • Do you think you could apply this same strategy to Extended Evening hours for Deluxe Guests? We are going Wednesday Feb 7, with EE hours from 10 to midnight.

    • Hi! I’m curious about this as well. Disney’s website shows what attractions are available during the Extended Evening Theme Park Hours. If that is accurate, some of the attractions in this article are not part of Extended Evening, plus characters and snacks are not part of it either. Becky has an older blog article with Extended Evening plan ideas that may help!

  • You reposted the article today (January 31, 2024), but list dates it will be offered in “2023.” That’s a typo that should be corrected. I believe you have listed the correct 2024 dates.

    • Thanks for the catch, Tom. I’m still adjusting to the new year 😉

  • Is there an article like this for Hollywood Studios? Tickets are purchased for 6/28 🙂

  • Is that 3,000-person limit official, or is it just a rumored number that matches the estimates bloggers have made based on their observations?

    • Based on what cast members were saying at the event.

  • We got After Hours tickets for Feb 20th and I’m so excited! Last year at MK it was so busy, we didn’t get much done. I’m very excited to hit up all the rides with little to no wait! I’ve watched a few vlogs on YouTube and it looks amazing!

  • My family and I really enjoyed the DAH at HS back in 2019? Forget when we went but we had the best time with low wait times and not worrying about getting fast passes. I would love to try the DAH at MK to see how it compares to EEH. Rides rides rides! So fun.

  • Did it once.

    Best money I have ever spent.


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