Walt Disney World Expands After Hours Event to Epcot

February 21, 2023, 4:03 PM · Looking for a way to ride Epcot's new Guardians of the Galaxy roller coaster without the hassles of a virtual queue or long standby line?

Walt Disney World today announced it is adding Epcot to its Disney After Hours event line-up. Disney After Hours is a hard-ticket event that runs select evenings and includes limited-capacity, after-hours admission to a Disney World theme park, plus free snacks and character meet and greets.

Disney After Hours started at the Magic Kingdom, then expanded to Disney's Hollywood Studios and the Disney's Typhoon Lagoon water park (as Disney H2O Glow After Hours) and now will happen at Epcot, the home of the new Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind indoor roller coaster.

The event runs from 10pm to 1am, with ticket-holders allowed to enter the park without an additional ticket or reservation starting at 7pm. Disney After Hours will run on 11 Thursdays and one Wednesday between June 1 and August 24 this summer, with ticket prices running $129 to $139 plus tax per person, depending upon the date. Walt Disney World annual passholders and Disney Vacation Club members can get tickets for $99 plus tax.

Tickets will go on sale to guests of select WDW hotels on February 28, with the sale opening to the public on March 3.

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Replies (13)

February 22, 2023 at 7:37 AM

I don't see the appeal here other than more money in Mickey's piggy bank. EPCOT is a massive park, and I can't imagine that Disney will have everything open during the additional hours. People visit EPCOT very different than other Disney parks, and it's not always about the rides. Yes, EPCOT has some solid rides now, but most of those are not re-rideable without getting excruciatingly bored.

I'm a bit surprised that Disney is not doing this as a trial first, and then if successful rolling out more events to meet demand. However, they're going full bore with this on 12 dates over 3 months. I just don't see the rationale for this at EPCOT.

February 22, 2023 at 8:11 AM

"I don't see the appeal here other than more money in Mickey's piggy bank."
I mean...that is the whole point of any company making any decision.

The reality is that for many people $130 to be able to ride Guardians, Frozen, and Test Track with minimal wait is worth the money and the same can be said about the other parks as well (the tickets for these events actually sell really well). TBH if I was having a date night I think paying $260 for the 3 hours of it being dead is a way better value than paying $260 to wait in line all day being hot and be around screaming children. Now of course this used to be the point of EMH but Disney has so many hotels now that they are able to capitalize off the fact that EMH isn't nearly as much of a value as it used to be (though I agree with having it for 30 minutes every day at every park as opposed to the way it used to be at one park per day for 2 hours. That was a mess for years, way too many people in one park).

The main problem I have with this is with so many extra things going on the parks third shift maintenance takes a back seat as the parks are used by corporate as a cash register that never stops churning and it is very noticeable.

February 22, 2023 at 9:53 AM

@the_man2 - Isn't that the point behind Genie+ and ILL? You can spend $20 and then another $40 for ILLs and get short waits for all those top rides in EPCOT during the day. I realize GotG:CR is really popular, but EPCOT isn't really a ride park, and most of the rides don't warrant multiple visits - and frankly if it weren't for the rotating soundtrack, GotG:CR isn't the type of coaster that needs to be ridden over and over.

I totally agree that keeping parks open later can impact maintenance, but it seemed like Disney was able to pull it off in the 00's with EMHs often extending operations from 6/7 am to midnight, so I'll take a wait and see position on whether conditions start deteriorating. However, from the guest perspective, I just don't see the value here at a park like EPCOT.

I'll also note that while ticketed guests can get into the park at 7 pm, they'll be mixing with normal park guests, and be stuck in long lines until after 10 pm. Then, because the park is so large, you'll still be dealing with mixing of regular guests and After Hours guests probably until 11 pm, meaning there will probably only be about 2 hours of exclusive time for guests to enjoy a relatively empty park. Tack on the shear size of EPCOT (it probably takes a solid 10-15 minutes to walk between the 3 top attractions - Frozen, Ratatouille, and GotG:CR), and you're looking at @30-45 minutes of walking during that 2 hours just to get between the best attractions in the park. Even the lesser attractions are really spread out. Again, I just don't see the point of doing this at EPCOT.

February 22, 2023 at 9:55 AM

I’m also skeptical that this results in very short waits for the reasons Russell brought up. It’s still a large number of people fighting over three worthwhile attractions.

February 22, 2023 at 10:17 AM

This is absolutely brilliant. Mostly because it's during the summer. Orlando is my favorite place to visit in the world but it's on a strict no-go list for my family from May-August. That summer sun and heat is intense and not at all ideal in spending our hard earned money and vacation time on! This gives an option for those who still want to check out Epcot in the much more comfortable night hours.

It's not a perfect, fool proof plan. Guardians will still have a 30-40 minute wait most of the night. Speaking from experience, those 6 hours will fly by. But if you gave me the option of visiting Epcot in its typical 9-9 hours in the summer or this after hours event... I'll take the after hours in a heartbeat. Once you factor Genie+ and ILL, the pricing is similar.

A sample touring plan for this would be something like this:

From 7-9: Future world stuff on "right" side as you enter (soarin, Spaceship Earth, land pavilion, nemo)

9-11: world showcase (ratatouille and frozen are the big ones)

11-1: Test track, mission space, Guardians of the galaxy (with some re rides hopefully)

The potential is there for a pleasant summer night.

February 22, 2023 at 11:31 AM

I agree with Russell. Touring Plans tested an after hours party at EPCOT last year. Yes, the lines were shorter than they were during the day, but much of their time was spent walking from one attraction to the next.

February 22, 2023 at 11:58 AM

.... but you can get on Guardians for free using the VQ at either 7am, or 1pm ...

I'll never understand tourists !!

Just add it to the credit card, I suppose?

February 22, 2023 at 12:43 PM

@Makorider - Until the VQ goes away, which might not be that far away given how long spots have been available in recent days. My guess is that the VQ will retired sometime after Spring Break, which is pretty consistent with other attractions that ran with a VQ for @1 year.

February 22, 2023 at 3:37 PM

As I sit here sipping on my cocktail at the Enchanted Rose lounge at the Grand Floridaian, and just finishing my Disney After Hours event on Tuesday, I have to say in a little shocked about them expanding it to Epcot. Since MK attraction line up keeps rider wait time to 10 mins or less, with the exception of SDMT of about 20mins, I wonder if they will decrease the amount of tickets for Epcot due to less attractions? Either way, I rather have 3 extra hours, in addition to the 3 with the park being open, with little to no guest, than 12 hours of a jam packed park.

February 22, 2023 at 3:42 PM

@Russell, this is my 4th time participating in this event, the others were before covid, most ppl who arrive at 7 typically eat, catch the firework or shop, and hold off on the rides until 10. Unlike years before, at 10 they give us access to our own queue to avoid waiting in line with those trying to get a last ride before the park closes.

February 23, 2023 at 7:47 AM

@sxymike - That seems like a reasonable approach, but again if you wait until the day guests leave to start riding, you still have to physically get around the park to all of those attraction. As I noted above, just to ride the top 3 attractions, you'd spend 30-45 minutes just walking between them. Add in the 20-30 minutes it takes to actually experience the attractions and some minimal waits, and you've burned nearly half of your ERT doing just 3 rides.

I'm sure plenty of guests will take advantage of these events, but I think Disney should have trialed them at EPCOT first before committing to a full summer schedule of them.

February 23, 2023 at 10:56 AM

I guess Touring Plans didn't test an after hours event at EPCOT, but extended evening hours back in May 2022. However, during that time they rode only 5 rides in two hours (Remy, Frozen, Test Track, Mission Space for some reason, & Soarin'). It took about 1.3 miles of walking just inside the park to get to all five rides.

February 25, 2023 at 5:22 PM

@Russell the amount of time to walk from SM to HM was literally about an 8 minute walk. At 10 we got in the "after hours LL" for SM, headed to HM, got a snack, hit up BTM before heading to the restroom all within the first hour. We were done riding the additional attractions of POTC, SDMT in addition to a few others with another ride on SM before 12:30 and spent the last 30 mins taking pictures. To each its own, but considering that I love being in the park at night, and with everything I've listed previously, I definitely prefer this over the regular park hours.

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