Disneyland After Dark events are unique experiences with limited guests, special food, exclusive entertainment and more. When are these events? Will they affect my trip if I don’t have a ticket? What is it like to attend a Disneyland After Dark event? These questions are more will be answered in this article. This unique experience includes exclusive event entertainment, rare character meet and greets, specialty food items only available for party guests, shorter wait times for your favorite attractions, exclusive photo opportunities and PhotoPass is included with your ticket. Event tickets are limited which means the park is not crowded!
I’ve been to many of these events so let me share with you some tips to make the most out of any Disneyland After Dark event.
Even though the event starts at 9:00 pm you have access to the park as early as 6:00 pm. No theme park reservation is required just your ticket to the event. You’ll receive a wristband, lanyard and don’t forget to grab your event guide when you walk in. I suggest you find somewhere to sit down and look over the event guide. Use this time to come up with a game plan for the evening. Decide where you want to start, what you want to eat and note exclusive entertainment times. Also during this time eat dinner before the event starts. Once it starts you want to use your time to do exclusive event stuff. Then at 8 p.m. all regular park day guests must leave. You’ll get to enjoy the parks for an hour before the entertainment and party officially starts. This is a great time to go on rides and get photos taken.
Mobile order ahead of time
You can place mobile orders in the Disneyland app starting in the morning on the day of the event. Even though the event doesn’t start until 9 p.m. you can place orders before you arrive. Look at the exclusive event menus. Don’t waste time waiting in line for food, plan ahead.
You will see both rare and classic Disney characters throughout the park in different lands. The lines for characters get long during these After Hours events, so go to your must see characters first. Speaking from experience, last year at the Princess Nite it was the first time ever that Princess Leia was going to be out greeting guests. I really wanted to meet her. I went to the area where she would be meeting guests and there was no line at 8 p.m. I checked back again at 8:30 p.m. and a cast member said they would not allow guests to line up until just before 9:00 p.m. So I went on Star Tours, came out and headed to the line at 8:49 p.m. By this point there was already a two hour wait. I was pretty frustrated cause I had been over there twice to get in line. Moral of the story, don’t walk away from the area. If you want to see a character stay in the area and be the first ones to line up. As it was I didn’t stand in the line. I wasn’t willing to spend over two hours to see a character and waste half of the event in line.
The After Dark events include several entertainment options that are exclusive to the event. There could be fireworks or projections at the castle. Sometimes you’ll see a cavalcade, short parade down Main Street. Below is a show that was offered during Princess Nite over along the Rivers of America. Check the guide you get when you arrive or look in the Disneyland app. Look at the entertainment options and decide what time you need to be where. And just another perk of After Hours events, you don’t need to stake out a spot in advance.
Low wait times for attractions
During the event the attractions have shorter wait times. My focus during events like these are enjoying exclusive entertainment, food and characters. But if you want to enjoy the evening going on attractions this is the time to do so. Most attractions have little to no wait time. And especially towards the end of the night you can get on and off several attractions.
PhotoPass is activated on your ticket when you scan in. Take advantage of the PhotoPass that comes with your ticket even before the party starts. Look for unique photo opportunities located throughout the park during the party.
Magic Key perks
Look at the event guide there’s always some exclusive freebie for Magic Key holders.
No ticket, you must leave the park!
The park closes to all other guests at 8:00 pm. If you don’t have a ticket you will be asked to leave. All party guests have a wristband, that’s how they know you’re part of the event. There will be cast members throughout the park blocking areas checking for wristbands.
Upcoming After Dark events
Tickets for these events sell out and sometimes on the same day they go on sale. Make sure you’re following on Instagram or Facebook for ticket sales dates. Here’s a list of After Dark events coming up.
- Disney Channel Nite 3/5 and 3/7
- Star Wars Nites 4/16, 4/18, 4/23, 4/25, 4/30 and 5/2, 5/7 and 5/9
- Pride Nite on June 18 and 20.
If I don’t have a party ticket what are my options?
On the day of an After Dark event you will have to leave the park by 8 p.m. You can park hop over to Disney California Adventure. But if you don’t have a park hopper ticket then your park day is over. If you have to choose, go to Disney California Adventure the whole day, that’s my recommendation. Or if you have park hoppers start your day in Disneyland and hop over in the early evening before the party guests start to show up.
Are there other events that could impact my trip?
Yes there are other events that impact park hours. During the months of May and June Disney offers Grad Nites. Find dates for these events and read more about how it could impact your trip. Then in September and October they offer on select nights the Oogie Boogie Bash. This event takes place in Disney California Adventure. Read more here about dates and how it could affect your vacation.
Would you go all day to a park plus the party?
Me personally, no I would not. If you purchase a separate park ticket, go to the park all day long and then plan to stay until the end of the party, more power to you. That makes for a very long day. The party ticket gets you into the park 3 hours before the event starts plus the event is 4 hours, so that’s 7 hours which is a great amount of time to get so much done! If you’re a Magic Key holder and have a reservation to go into the park that day only go for a few hours before the party mix in time.
What if I’m already in the park, do I have to go back to the front gate to check into the event?
No, you don’t have to go back to the front gate to get your wristband, credentials and park map. There is always an alternate place inside the park to check in. For one of the events I checked in at Star Traders in Tomorrowland.
I really enjoy After Hours events. The park feels empty compared to regular days. There is exclusive entertainment that you don’t have to camp out and save a seat. I’ve done these events with adults. I wouldn’t waste a ticket on a child because of the late evening hours. I feel like the value for what you pay is totally worth it if you maximize your time. I hope this information helps you decide if an After Hours event is for you! I also wrote an article about the Merriest Nites After Dark holiday event they did a few years back if you’d like more information about After Hours events.
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