Walt Disney World begin their “Moonlight Magic” events in 2016 to celebrate Disney Vacation Club’s (DVC) 25th anniversary. DVC, as Disney’s version of a timeshare, can cost significantly less when you purchase points on the secondary market (as opposed to buying them directly from Disney). To make buying from Disney more valuable, they have continued the Moonlight Magic events into 2017 as a perk that’s reserved for those who’ve purchased points directly from them and not from the secondary market. The plan must be working well for them, because Disney has already announced several more Moonlight Magic events in 2018.
Joe and I had already gone to a Moonlight Magic event at Magic Kingdom in 2016, and again in February 2017 (we did a write-up of that one), and we also went to one at Typhoon Lagoon in July 2017 (we posted about that one, too). This was the first time we were going to one at Epcot, which was a replacement for the Merry Member Mixer, an annual “DJ-playing, pin-trading, ornament-making, holiday-snacks-and-photo-ops-taking appreciation party” holiday gathering they offered to DVC members since at least 2004. We were going with our friends Pippa and Pete, who were visiting from England. Pippa was a big fan of the Merry Member Mixer, so it was going to be interesting to see how she felt about it as (A) her first time going to a Moonlight Magic event and (B) as a replacement of the Merry Member Mixer.
The event was scheduled to run from 10pm to 1am, although you could check in starting at 6:30pm at the DVC resorts or from 7:30pm onward at Epcot’s front entrance. The event, like all the previous ones, had inclusion via reservation months before (availability was first open to DVC members who were staying on property and then, if there was still space, to members who were not [i.e. locals with DVC points, DVC members who were staying “not on points” or offsite, etc.]) so with a flash of ID and a DVC card, the 3 of us (Pete was feeling under the weather and had stayed “home” at their DVC resort) were wristbanded and in!
Because the number of guests allowed into the event is limited, one of the highlights of Moonlight Magic is being able to experience attractions and event highlights with little to no waits. For the Epcot event, nearly all of Future World’s available attractions were open, although access to World Showcase was much more limited; just 2 attractions:
- Spaceship Earth
- Mission: SPACE
- Test Track
- Living With The Land
- The Seas With Nemo & Friends
- Turtle Talk With Crush
- Journey Into Imagination With Figment
- Disney & Pixar Short Film Festival
- Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros
- Frozen Ever After
Despite only 11 attractions being open, between the limited admission and enough “other stuff” going on, the queues were minimal. Spaceship Earth, Living With The Land, Gran Fiesta Tour, The Seas With Nemo & Friends and Journey Into Imagination With Figment were walk-ons (I know, I know….JIIWF is ALWAYS a walk-on), Soarin’, Turtle Talk and the short films were just a wait until the next show, and even the Frozen ride was only a 14-minute wait (if you’ve been to Epcot in the last few years, you KNOW that is UNHEARD of). The background music in the Mexico and Norway areas was dance music instead of the usual nation-specific tunes. It was a little off-putting at first, but not overly so, and pretty easy to ignore after a few minutes.
Complimentary snacks & beverages were available at Electric Umbrella and Sunshine Seasons. The set up was different from previous Moonlight Magic events and instead of being able to grab your choice of cookies, chips or (when available) hot food, everything was pre-prepared (1 hot dog, 1 chocolate chip cookie & 1 bag of Lay’s in a cardboard holder) so all you had to do was grab a box and go. It made getting the food MUCH more organized than in the past, but for people who only wanted some chips and not the other stuff, or who didn’t like chocolate chip cookies, well, they seemed to have to be prepared to waste a hot dog, or just be out of luck (I admittedly wasn’t committed enough ask the Cast Members preparing the boxes if “chips only” or a different flavor of cookie, or if maybe more than 1 cookie were options. I also didn’t ask about the availability of carrots and apple slices that the event brochure mentioned). Joe was the only one of us to eat a hot dog – he said it was lukewarm and the roll was dried out, except for the damp bottom, sort of like one that had been standing in its aluminum wrapper for too long). The drinks were upgraded from other events, with free fountain drinks, as well as hot cocoa (previous events had lemonade and water from large pitchers or jugs). There were also 3 beer carts available for those who wished to pay for more adult beverages, as well as 4 locations where ice cream novelties were being given out.
As with every other Moonlight Magic event, merchandise was available for purchase, this time in the form of a pin and a long-sleeved T-shirt with front and back printing. Reader Michelle M. says there was also a Christmas ornament but I guess they were sold out by the time we got there – we didn’t see any. There were 2 kiosks selling these, which made queues relatively short (I remember the queues at the Typhoon Lagoon event were crazy).
A Disney Vacation Club dance party ran for the entire event, with a DJ playing dance music from the 80s onwards. Characters such as Pluto, Daily Duck, Goofy, Clarice and Chip ‘n’ Dale joined in and danced with the kids (and adults) on and off throughout the evening.
Guests at the event were also able to meet the Disney Vacation Club executives from 10pm to 11:30pm, but we didn’t take the opportunity.
Finally, there was lots of entertainment on hand, from meet & greets with characters (many were in holiday attire) to performances by El Mariachi Coco de Santa Cecilia (who looked and sounded very much like Mariachi Cobre, the resident live musical entertainment in the Mexico pavilion).
At 11:45pm, Disney Vacation Club offered us a special fireworks show over the World Showcase lagoon. It was short, only about 5 minutes, but had some beautiful fireworks that are never shown at Epcot because their regular show, Illuminations, has been running since 1999 and the fireworks timed for that show are of an older, simpler generation of pyrotechnics. But don’t take my word for it…judge for yourself..
Once the fireworks were over, we decided to call it a night. As Moonlight Magic old timers, Joe and I thought it was on par with the other events we had attended, albeit with a change in the how you got your food, which had, we thought, its plusses and minuses. Pippa said she had a good time but was kind of underwhelmed with the whole event and preferred the Merry Member Mixer. It was still a fun evening overall and if we’re able to attend Moonlight Magic events in the future, we still will.
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