Review: Disney After Hours at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Hi everyone!

We were invited to experience the new Disney After Hours at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Disney After Hours is held on select nights – not only at Disney’s Hollywood Studios but also at the Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom park. It is a “hard ticket” event, meaning you’d buy a ticket for it as you would for experiences like Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. The event itself runs 3 hours and includes little to no waits for attractions and meet and greets, along with select beverages, ice cream novelties and popcorn.

Before sharing more about it in photos and information, I thought a lot about whether I found the evening worth the cost. For $125.00 per guest plus tax ($95.00 plus tax for Annual Passholders and DVC Members), it isn’t an inexpensive ticket. But guests will be able to do as much or more of the open attractions than they would likely do in a full day at the parks. That is a big deal for those looking to predominantly ride attractions such as Slinky Dog Dash or Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. The most we waited for Slinky Dog Dash was 6 minutes. Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, Tower of Terror, and Alien Swirling Saucers were all walk-ons for us. We kept an extremely modest pace, enjoying Sunset Seasons Greetings and Echo Lake, Toy Story Land atmosphere and more – and still our group ended up with a total of 10 or so rides. We could have easily doubled or likely tripled that in the 3 hours if just focusing on rides. Plus, we enjoyed ice cream, popcorn and drinks.

Here is a look at our evening!

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Tickets to Disney After Hours allow for entrance into the park at 7:00pm, but the event did not start officially until 8:30pm. We arrived early to enjoy a little of Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Here is our Mousesteps Weekly Show #294, where we talk about Disney After Hours – then plenty of photos and information below it.

Tickets were still available. Attractions open for Disney After Hours are: Star Tours – The Adventures Continue; Slinky Dog Dash; Alien Swirling Saucers; Toy Story Mania!; Star Wars Launch Bay; Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. Characters available are Olaf; Mickey Mouse & Minnie Mouse; Woody, Jessie and Buzz Lightyear in Toy Story Land; and BB-8, Chewbacca and Kylo Ren at Star Wars Launch Bay.

When the Osborne Lights ended after the 2015-early 2016 holiday season, I wasn’t sure what to expect for the following year. Disney stepped up in a really nice way with Echo Lake, which brought the Christmas tree inside the park – along with Christmas decorations, gorgeous Christmas music and more. This is one of my favorite areas of the Walt Disney World parks for the holiday season. We’ll look at Sunset Seasons Greetings later in the article as well, which was enhanced this year.

The Christmas tree reflection is lovely and much brighter than last year. This was after 7:00pm. The park was bustling but Echo Lake was relatively peaceful as guests gathered for Sunset Seasons Greetings and eventually Jingle Bell! Jingle BAM!

At the official event time of 8:30pm, we headed into Toy Story Land. That is where a lot of guests will go at the beginning of the evening before dispersing to other areas and attractions. Toy Story Land was less busy later in the evening, but by that I mean we waited no minutes instead of the 6 minutes for Slinky Dog Dash that we waited for our first ride. If all we wanted to do was ride Slinky Dog Dash on this night, we could have clocked in at least 20 or so rides since it was a walk-on at the end of the evening.

Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! had started when we walked into Toy Story Land – fireworks could be seen past Jessie and the antler-wearing Rex on Slinky Dog Dash.

Toy Story Mania was a 5 minute or less wait.

The Slinky Dog Dash Stand-by entrance sign swapped between 5 and 10 minutes during our visits into the land.

This was at 11:00pm. By walk-on, I mean there was no wait at all.

Members of our group rode up to 7 times – Jeff rode that many, I went for 3.

Alien Swirling Saucers was also empty when we rode.

Cast Members waited for guests to enter.

We rode just once, and we all took our own ride vehicles because there were still empty ones. Cast Members offered for us to stay on for another ride, I would have but some in our group didn’t hear that and were already out the door.

We looked for the carts offering ice cream, popcorn and drinks. It took a few minutes, but then it felt like the carts were everywhere (except Toy Story Land). This one offered bottled beverages and ice cream novelties – Mickey bars, Mickey ice cream sandwiches and such. These are unlimited to enjoy.

I am partial to the Mickey ice cream sandwich and that was my treat for the evening. You’ll see we were also given wristbands, which we were asked to show numerous times during the evening.

Jeff had the classic Mickey bar.

While there were bottled beverages, at least one location offered soft drinks in a cup. An iced drink over a bottle is my preference and that – and the popcorn below – came in the holiday cup and box.

But guests can also choose the box of popcorn from another cart. This makes it easier for walking around, to be able to save the popcorn to snack on during the evening.

On the way to Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror, we took in an extended look at Sunset Seasons Greetings. Different this year is the lasers, which look like a festive canopy above guests. But they also block some of the view of the Tower of Terror, so I took in the projections from closer to the Tower as well.

Here is a closer look, as the Tower of Terror is turned into a gingerbread house. This is the second year for Sunset Seasons Greetings, and I enjoy this show.

I don’t recall the stars being anything but red in previous years. There are a lot of changes not only on Sunset Boulevard, but I am happy to see so many new and refreshed decorations around Walt Disney World property this year.

Kermit and Miss Piggy can be seen here, and Fozzie Bear as a gingerbread man on the side.

Here is one last photo from the show. I was close to the Tower and you can see the lasers but not in front of the Tower. It is nice to try different perspectives.

Next, we headed to Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster.

The wait time said 5 minutes. The ride was actually a walk-on without any wait at all and the pre-show was not running.

Some in our group rode Tower of Terror. This was also a walk-on.

The only real wait I saw all night was for Woody and Jessie, 10 – 15 minutes at most. There were other meet and greets, we didn’t go to them this time but they were Olaf, Mickey & Minnie, and Star Wars characters BB-8, Chewbacca and Kylo Ren. They were not posting waits all night when we passed by except the standard 5 minutes.

Woody’s Lunchbox was open for guests to purchase food, and was not too busy during the evening. There were a couple of other food choices as well – Anaheim Produce and KRNR the Rock Station. If you want to have dinner, though, I’d recommend eating before the event to maximize time and have a wider variety of choices.

We went to the Grand Avenue (former Muppets Courtyard) area for photos. The attraction was not open but it was a nice place to relax.

I mentioned this was a really chill type evening for us, catching up with friends and yet our group rode at least 10 attractions, including a lot of Slinky Dog Dash. A few in our group also rode Star Tours early in the evening. Because of the low crowds, 3 hours felt like a lot of time to me. We already had met Woody, Jessie and Buzz very recently in their holiday costumes at Toy Story Land so we skipped the meet and greets this time around. The really nice thing about Disney After Hours is you can choose what to do and go at your own pace – everyone will have a different experience. One guest may ride Slinky Dog Dash 20 times, another may hit up all the meet and greets and run through all the rides once or twice. In my perfect world, I’d ride Slinky Dog Dash a few times and then take my tripod out for photos during the rest of the night. There are so many options here.

The Jingle Belles are back in the window of the Celebrity 5 & 10, this is always a fun photo or video clip to get.

Disney After Hours isn’t for everyone, but there are a lot of guests who will find great benefit in it. For example, teenagers who want to ride some of the most fun attractions at Walt Disney World over and over. I visited Walt Disney World as a kid and teenager in the 70s and 80s and would have loved this. Even as an adult I do, although I stop more for atmosphere these days. If a guest doesn’t have a park ticket for one day of their trip, then this can be that ticket. Enjoy Disney Springs or holiday decorations and gingerbread displays at Walt Disney World and then spend the evening at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The event does not take the place though of a full day at the park. There are attractions, restaurants, shops and such not open at this time. Elements of Toy Story Land are not running, such as the Green Army Men.

As I am writing this on a Monday morning, Slinky Dog Dash has a 90 minute wait, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster 65 and Alien Swirling Saucers 45. That is over 3 hours for 3 attractions. Our wait time for these equalled about 6 minutes, taking into account the longest Slinky Dog Dash line and then walk-ons for the other two rides. I enjoy Slinky Dog Dash enough that I will wait an hour for it. But it was so much nicer not to.

Thank you to Disney for inviting us to Disney After Hours at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. We were unable to make the event at Disney’s Animal Kingdom park, but guests rode Flight of Passage over and over with no wait and that can be a tough Fastpass to secure. I went light on snacks and drinks, but what I did have was a $20 to $25 Disney retail value. I do recommend Disney After Hours for guests looking to enjoy a few hours of low crowds and low wait times for favorite attractions and the snacks and drinks are a bonus to me. Dates for 2018/2019 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios are:

The event takes place from 8:30 PM to 11:30 PM:

  • Saturday, December 8, 2018
  • Saturday, December 15, 2018
  • Saturday, December 22, 2018
  • Saturday, January 5, 2019
  • Saturday, January 12, 2019
  • Saturday, January 19, 2019
  • Saturday, February 2, 2019
  • Saturday, February 9, 2019
  • Saturday, February 16, 2019
  • Saturday, March 2, 2019
  • Saturday, March 9, 2019
And 9:00 PM to midnight:
  • Saturday, March 16, 2019
  • Saturday, March 23, 2019
  • Saturday, March 30, 2019
  • Saturday, April 6, 2019
  • Saturday, April 13, 2019