After attending several Moonlight Madness events in 2017 (Magic Kingdom in February, Typhoon Lagoon in July and Epcot in December), we were happy to hear they were going to continue the events into 2018.
Briefly, the Moonlight Madness events are special, after-hours events at Disney parks (they do them at Disneyland, too!) specifically for select members of Disney Vacation Club (DVC) and their guests. 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 DVC points from Disney more valuable, these Moonlight Madness events have been running since 2016 as a perk that’s reserved for those who’ve purchased points directly from them and not from the secondary market.
We were especially looking forward to this event at the Magic Kingdom (MK), since we had been to the 2017 Moonlight Madness event at that park and wanted to see how they had changed from one year to the next. I’m happy to report that Disney did not disappoint!
Disney had announced the 2018 dates in November 2017 and opened reservations for the MK event in December. Two days before our event (scheduled for January 11. The same event was also scheduled for January 28 and February 6) we received the following email:
You are receiving this email because you registered for the Disney Vacation Club® Moonlight Magic event at Magic Kingdom® Park. We hope you’re ready for an evening filled with magical thrills and delights at this nighttime celebration, now only days away!
During this complimentary, nighttime event at Magic Kingdom® Park, you’ll discover shorter-than-usual wait times at some of your favorite attractions, encounter a variety of unique characters, dance the night away at a DJ dance party and enjoy complimentary light refreshments – all before capping the celebration with a special nighttime spectacular!
Here’s everything you need to know:
Event Date: Thursday, January 11, 2018
Event Time:9:00 PM — 12:00 AM; Members and Special Guests will be able to enter the park as early as 6:00 PM to get a jumpstart on the fun. If you wish to enter before 6:00 PM, valid Theme Park admission is required.
Check-In: Beginning at 6:00 PM, Members can check-in at the following locations:
Disney Vacation Club Resorts (Please check the front desk for specific check-in location).
Magic Kingdom® Park Entrance
In-Park Check In: Tortuga Tavern and Stitch’s Alien Encounter Character Greeting!
Transportation & Parking: Complimentary bus transportation is available before, during and after the event between Magic Kingdom® Park and Disney Vacation Club Resorts for Members and their Guests staying at a Disney Vacation Club Resort. Complimentary monorail transportation will also be available before, during and after the event between Magic Kingdom® Park and Magic Kingdom® Park Resorts.
If you’re not staying at a Resort, complimentary parking will be available at Magic Kingdom® Park upon arrival beginning at 5:30 PM. Members must show their Disney Vacation Club Membership Card at the auto plaza to receive complimentary parking.
Last year’s event at Magic Kingdom had been 10pm to 1am, with arrivals as early as 8pm, so a total of upwards of 5 hours. This year’s event was 9pm to midnight, with arrivals as early as 6pm, which meant 6 hours of fun. An extra hour! WOO HOO!
We arrived a few minutes after 6pm on the day of the event but were having fun on attractions (Seven Dwarfs Mine Train was still a 110 minute wait at that point [remember, the park was still open to everyone at that point] but it was later in the day during slow season, so Jungle Cruise and other attractions were walk-ons) and didn’t get our wristbands until around 7:30 or so. Having so many check in places (at each DVC resort plus 3 places at MK) beginning so early meant literally no wait to get our wristbands. Joe and I were happily surprised to see a friend of ours, Lonnie, working at the wristband area of Stitch’s Alien Encounter Character greeting.
The night was a whole lot of fun! Most attractions were open and those that were closed were down for refurbishment or perhaps other reasons. Lines were MUCH shorter than usual – of note, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train went down to 30 minutes, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad was 15 minutes and many, MANY attractions were walk-ons with no wait at all.
As had been the case with all past Moonlight Magic events, there were DVC executives on hand for about an hour, in case you wanted a photo or just rub elbows and say, “hi.”
There were seven locations that offered one or more of hot dogs, chicken nuggets and veggie burgers, along with potato chips, apple slices and cookies (the cookies were obviously left over from Christmas…they had pieces of peppermint in them. The soda cups [not shown] were also leftovers from the holiday season, with red and green writing and candy canes as part of the decoration). There were also ice cream novelties at Pete’s Silly Sideshow, in “Mickey’s Birthday Land turned Mickey’s Circus Land turned ‘Let’s Call This An Extension of Fantasyland, Even Though It Still Looks Like A Circus’ Land.”
There had been seven locations for food last year as well, but I don’t recall seeing the crazy lines at the beginning of the night this time. However that could have been because we (wisely) didn’t even try to go to a restaurant until around 9:30pm, which would have been after the rush. Which isn’t to say things were perfect. We got our food at Pinocchio Village Haus, which seemed a little disorganized – virtually everything was behind the counter so if you wanted chips or apples, you had to ask for them, which meant the Cast Member had to retrieve them, which meant a longer wait per order. At Pecos Bills, snacks were out for people to take, which saved time (unfortunately, as you can see in the photo below, Pecos Bill’s also had a LOT of sodas pre-filled. Now, I understand it saves time during a rush because the Cast Member can just grab a drink, but the melting ice waters soda down very badly, so it’s not my favorite. Trick of the trade: ask for soda with no ice; most of the time it means they’ll fill a cup right there, while you wait).
That being said, Joe said his hot dog was better than the one at the Moonlight Magic event in Epcot in December; not as soggy on the bottom. I thought the chicken nuggets were great but wish the packages of apple slices were larger than 3 ounces (each package is 35 calories and 9 carbs, for those of you who pay attention to such things).
There were LOTS of characters to meet and greet throughout the entire event, including:
Baloo & King Louie
Shenzi, Banzai & Ed
Mickey Mouse & Minnie Mouse (they were wearing patriotic garb…it was adorable!)
Princess Tiana & Prince Naveen
Robin Hook, Friar Tuck & Little John
Hippos and Ostriches from “Fantasia”
Cinderella, Fairy Godmother, Anastasia & Drizella
Snow White, The Prince, Princess Aurora & Prince Phillip
Esmeralda & Clopin
Big Bad Wolf & Three Little Pigs
Chip ‘n’ Dale
Goofy & Pluto
They had different characters at the MK event last year, but I liked the mix & match, so if you had been there last year, you could meet different characters this year. What was VERY cool was when we saw them getting a Mr. Toad vehicle and Herbie the Love Bug into position for, we assume, photo ops. We’re not really character or photo op people, but I still appreciated that attention to detail.
As has become something of a signature attraction at the Moonlight Madness events, a DJ was on hand for the full three hours, playing music (mainly from the 70s and 80s) while characters were on hand to dance with guests. Last year it was called the Try Everything Dance Party and was in Tomorrowland. This year it was the Disney Vacation Club Frontier Friends Dance Party and was held in Frontierland (note: the “meet DVC executives” opportunity was at The Lunching Pad, which was also in Tomorrowland – I wonder if that was why the DJ was relocated). I have to admit it was kind of odd to see disco lights and hear The Jackson 5’s “ABC” in Frontierland, but it didn’t ruin the evening or anything. That being said, the music was loud and I do wonder if it bled through to the Country Bear Jamboree, which was indeed running that evening.
Once again, special limited edition event merchandise was available and the Emporium was open for you to purchase the merchandise (and whatever else they usually sell at the Emporium).
At 11:30pm, they offered us the Moonlight Magic Blast! Fireworks Spectacular, which was a lovely 10-minute firework show. Here’s a video of the show:
The fireworks were at midnight last year, for a 1:00am closing. This time they were 11:30pm for a midnight closing. Since fireworks are almost always an “end of the night” event, I wonder if that was a way to start encouraging people to leave, since there were only 20 minutes left when the fireworks were done (if so, it still didn’t stop us from enjoy ourselves until the very end of the scheduled evening, LOLOL!).
Finally, at the stroke of midnight, we all turned into pumpkins and the party was over. Mickey and Minnie, wearing their pajamas, were on hand at the train station to say goodbye, which I thought was a very nice touch.
Once again, the DVC Moonlight Madness event was a fun night and, I thought, pretty much on par with last year’s event at the same park. Being at the parks in the evening is a novelty for us, and we love the short lines. As we said after other Moonlight Madness events, if we are able to go to more of these, we definitely will!
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