I am recently back from the most magical place on earth and battling the Disney blues by reliving some fantastic new memories. During our last visit, Ben and I were able to enjoy a Disney Vacation Club (DVC) perk called Moonlight Magic at Animal Kingdom — and it sure was magical!
What is Moonlight Magic?
Moonlight Magic is the name given to a special after-hours event available for free to DVC members who purchased their DVC points direct from Disney. (To learn more about buying into DVC, check out part 1 of my intro series here!) These events are sporadically scheduled at each of the four WDW parks, in Disneyland, and even at Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon and grant DVC members and their guests access to select park attractions and special bonuses for a few hours after the park has closed for other guests.
As I mention above, Moonlight Magic is a perk for DVC members, but those members are welcome to bring guests! DVC members can bring up to 3 guests each (per registration by a member) or as many people as are listed on their Disney hotel reservation (but the eligible DVC member must also be listed on that reservation).
As a free limited-attendance event, it’s not suprising that Moonlight Magic registration hits capacity well in advance of the event date. Registration opens for each Moonlight Magic event on a different date and guests with Disney resort reservations are able to register a few days before other DVC members. Ben and I registered for the August 8 event back in the first week of June, so if you think you might attend, make sure to look up registration dates EARLY! All currently-scheduled events are sold out, but check here for dates in the future!
Once you figure out your registration date, set an alarm and be ready to go right when the queue opens. You’ll be put into a virtual queue. Try not to get discouraged by the number of your place in line. We were a few thousand places back and made it! Often times, the number you see is inaccurate as guests use multiple devices to try to register (but members also bring guests, so it’s really hard to tell how many people are ahead of you).
Disney does not disclose the number of spots open at Moonlight Magic, but from attending, I can tell you crowds are significantly lower than during normal park hours!
Arriving at Moonlight Magic
Our event was scheduled from 9:30 until midnight on August 8, with Animal Kingdom closing at 9. We planned to spend our afternoon at Animal Kingdom and arrived just after 3pm. We were able to check in for the event and get our wristbands and vouchers from ticketing before entering Animal Kingdom.
Before 6pm, this was the only place to check in, but later in the evening, attendees could pick up wristbands from locations within Animal Kingdom. Make sure you have your whole party together when you check in. The person who registered will need to present their DVC member card and a photo ID.
Then, we were off to enjoy a normal afternoon at Animal Kingdom until park close!
What Can You Do?
Based on what we received, it seems like attendees get different perks at each park. For our night at Animal Kingdom, we were given plastic snap-on (non-removable) wristbands to allow us freedom to wander the parks (and there were regular checkpoints where Cast Members were checking wristbands — like at the entrance to Pandora), two vouchers for games in Dinoland USA, two meal vouchers (which could be redeemed at Flame Tree Barbecue, Pizzafari, Satu’li Canteen, or Restaurantosaurus), and a pamphlet with a schedule of special events.
Ben and I had a plan in mind for what we wanted to do during the event, but we did not plan on the free meal. We actually had a 6:00 reservation at Tiffins (which was delicious and a story for another day). While it would have been great to enjoy a free meal, it was kind of nice to have gotten food out of the way before the event because we had a jam-packed night!
First off, Ben and I knew we wanted to hop on Flight of Passage during the event when the wait time would a fraction of that during normal park hours. Just after 9:30, it actually showed a wait time of only 35 minutes!! We jumped in line, and while we ended up waiting closer to 50 minutes, we still got to ride much faster than if we had waited in the 155-minute line that was posted all day long.
While we’d eaten dinner, we’d never say no to free ice cream, so we headed over to the Starbucks in Animal Kingdom for some free Mickey Premium Ice Cream Bars! The location also offered some refreshing-looking strawberry popsicle bars and had plentiful water stations outside. It was night but it was still HOT at AK.
After that, Ben and I were off to meet some characters. Our event offered the opportunity to meet rare characters who you likely won’t see out and about on most park days as well as some familiar friends. We could have met: Dug, Russell, and Carl Fredricksen; Flik and Princess Atta; Pocahontas and Meeko; Tarzan and Terk; Br’er Bear and Br’er Fox; Baloo and Mowgli; Mickey and Minnie Mouse; and Korda and Kenai.
Each group of characters had its own designated meet-and-greet spot, so if you got in the right line, you knew who you were going to meet. I’ve heard that at some other events, characters swap out, and there’s a chance you could wait for a while and end up meeting a character you were less excited to see.
On the top of our list was Carl Fredricksen. Ben and I did our first dance at our wedding to “Married Life” from Up, so meeting Carl was incredibly special. While Dug and Russell are around Animal Kingdom frequently, we also hadn’t met them, so we were extremely excited. The wait was decent, but the interaction was magnificent. Just look at his scooter!! (I’m not crying; you’re crying.)
Ben – ever the fan of “classic Disney” had to meet Br’er Bear and Br’er Fox next. Splash Mountain is such a quintissential Disney attraction, and these two felt like rare Pokémon we just had to catch. I’ll be honest – I wasn’t that excited. BOY WAS I WRONG.
These two tricksters were such a blast to meet! It was clear that the Cast Member who was helping to organize us loves her job because she played it up with us all and we ended up having a magical experience. Ben teased them about being unable to catch “that rabbit!” (neither liked that too much). But Br’er Fox did show me his Laughin’ Place (btw – it’s right over there, off to the side of Discovery Island tucked back by some bushes).
There wasn’t much time left during the event, so we scurried off to Expedition Everest and walked right on. With a few minutes until midnight, we hopped back on again. (Let me tell you that ride is a RUSH in the dark)!
Surprisingly enough, that took us right up to midnight! It may not feel like we did a lot, but Ben and I had such an amazing time. In between, we got some great photos of an empty park and I enjoyed bouncing around a dance party with Kevin! I stayed up WAY past my bedtime (I’m old) and loved every minute.
Have you gone to any after-hours events? What did you think? Drop me a note in the comments or reach out on Instagram at @castleboundkim!