Disney Continues Quest To Price Out Guests With Latest Announcement

in Walt Disney World

family taking a photo at disney world after hours

Credit: Walt Disney World Resort

Walt Disney World officially doesn’t seem to have an off-season anymore, and it’s now costing people hundreds to thousands of dollars.

Prior to the 2020 COVID pandemic, the Walt Disney World Resort had just started implementing practices in order to bring guests to the park throughout the year. Although the summer was busy at Magic Kingdom, the other three parks, including EPCOT, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom, were fairly slow by comparison. During the beginning of the year, from about January to March, the resort saw a low crowd in attendance across all four parks compared to later in the year.

epcot festival of the arts figment art wall
Credit: Disney

In 2017, EPCOT debuted the International Festival of the Arts in order to bring guests to the park during the park’s typically slow season during that time of year. Now, EPCOT features four festivals that run almost year-round, with just a week or so in between each one. This has all but ensured that the park no longer has a “slow season” to speak of. This year, Hollywood Studios decided to follow suit by introducing their own after-hours holiday party with Jollywood Nights.

Now, it seems as though Disney World is doing everything it can to ensure that even its historically slower times are drawing in crowds of people. It was just announced that Disney World will be bringing back after-hours events in January and February at all of its parks except for Animal Kingdom. Unlike Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party or Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, these after-hour events truly are after hours, allowing guests to enjoy the parks after regular park hours.

Mickey's Verry Merry Christmas Party Parade for the Holidays at Walt Disney World Resort (resized)
Credit: Disney

They also include unlimited snacks, including ice cream, popcorn, and beverages. Unfortunately, these tickets will cost guests about as much as a regular daytime ticket or a holiday party ticket and are a separate ticket purchase than a regular park ticket. For guests wanting to continue the daytime fun late into the night, a full day could cost well over $300 per person. Information about the events were nicely summed up by Disney insider Scott Gustin, including the average cost of the tickets.


MK and DHS: $155-$175

EPCOT: $149-$159

On sale: Resort guests Nov. 7, all Nov. 14

(AP and DVC discounts available)


MK: Jan. 11 – April 8

DHS: Jan. 10 – April 10

EPCOT: Feb. 2 – April 4

Event times:

DHS: 9:30 p.m. – 12:30 a.m.

MK and EPCOT: 10 p.m. – 1:00 a.m.

Unlike the holiday parties, which include special parades, fireworks, castle shows, and character meet and greets, Disney World’s after-hours events are simply that: an “after-hour” event. Disneyland also offers guests after-hours events, called Disneyland After Dark, which are themed events, including Princess Nite, Star Wars Nite, Throwback Nite, and Pride Nite, and offer guests rare characters, snacks, and entertainment throughout the night. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem as though the upcoming dates offered by Walt Disney World will provide a similar experience.

Two guests watch the fireworks at Disneyland.
Credit: Disney Parks Blog

Disney World’s website simply describes the events as

“Experience more magic in less time! With special event tickets to attend Disney After Hours, experience 3 extra hours at one of our theme parks. With a ticket to Disney After Hours, you can explore one of our theme parks like never before—with lower wait times for attractions. In the midst of all the fun and festivities, take time to refuel with ice cream novelties, popcorn and select beverages—included with the cost of admission.”

With a ticket costing as much as, or more than, a regular daytime ticket, the events’ biggest draw for guests is the promise of lower crowds and wait times, as well as unlimited snacks and drinks, which may be worth it for some guests. Unfortunately, the event is only a three-hour event, which may not guarantee guests are able to do everything they might want to do within that time frame.

Guests in front of Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World Resort at an after hours event
Credit: Disney Parks Blog

Previously, the Disney resort offered guests Extra Magic Hours for those staying on property at a Disney World hotel. This provided an extra hour before park opening or after park close on certain days of the week at certain parks. Unfortunately, this perk was removed after the pandemic and was replaced with Early Entry, which allows guests to enter the parks an extra 30 minutes before opening, and Extended Evening Hours, which allows guests to remain for about two hours after park close. Unfortunately, these are only available to guests staying at a Disney Deluxe Resort or Disney Deluxe Villa and are not available to guests staying at a Moderate (or lower cost) Resort.

Complaints have been on the rise about the increasing cost of a Disney trip, and this further solidifies the idea that the parks seem to be pricing out the average guest, despite comments from Bob Iger earlier this year saying that prices had become too high. The cost of a ticket to Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party this year reached about $200 on select nights, almost triple the price of years previous. The same is true of the upcoming Very Merry Christmas Party.

With tickets, food, merchandise, and hotel costs on an ever-increasing rise, it’s starting to make one question glaringly obvious: who are the Disney parks for now? Because they seem to be moving away from the average guest or family that called a Disney park “home” once upon a time. Of course, there will always be guests that continue to visit and purchase tickets, no matter the price. However, the return of Disney After Hours and its cost are just one of many instances of Disney’s seemingly increasing cost problem.

What do you think about the After Hours events? Are they too expensive or are they worth the experience? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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