Walt Disney World began 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 from 2017 onward as a perk that’s reserved for those who’ve purchased points directly from them and not from the secondary market.
Joe and I have been attending Moonlight Magic events, on and off, ever since they began in 2016. As DVC members since 1991, and as Central FL locals, being able to go to a select park after hours, with minimal crowds, has been a nice perk that we look forward to here and there. As the events became more popular, it had become a little more difficult to sign up in 2018 if you weren’t staying at a WDW DVC property for the event (they get first dibs), but Disney has tweaked the system and we’ve found it easier to get in in 2019 than 2018.
We’d been to the Epcot event in 2017, and in 2019 had been to the event at Magic Kingdom, so we were interested to see how the event had changed, not only from park to park, but from year to year.
The event was scheduled to run from 9:30pm to 12:30am, and attendees could enter as early as 5pm (an admission ticket isn’t required for the event, so if you don’t have park tickets, getting an extra 4-1/2 hours in the parks is very nice). Past events have also run for 3 hours, although the exact start time, and how much earlier people can enter the park have varied, as seen from the past events we attended (we had also attended a couple of events in 2016 but didn’t blog about them):
- Feb. 2017: Magic Kingdom – Enter 7pm (3 hr early) Event 10pm to 1am
- July, 2017: Typhoon Lagoon – Enter 7:30pm (1 hr early), Event 8:30pm to 11:30pm
- Dec., 2017: Epcot – Enter 6:30pm (3.5 hr early), Event 10pm to 1am
- Jan., 2018: Magic Kingdom – Enter 6pm (3 hr early), 9pm to midnight
- Mar., 2018: Disney’s Animal Kingdom – Enter 7:30pm (2 hr early), Event 9:30pm to 12:30am
- Jan., 2019: Magic Kingdom – Enter 6pm (3 hr early), Event 9pm to midnight
Check-in has always been organized and simple – show your ID and DVC membership card so they can find you on the sign-up list, they give you a paper bracelet, schedule of events and, in more recent events, a meal/drink voucher, and you’re good to go. There were 5 places for check-in this year:
- Early Main Entrance Check-In: Vacation Planning Booth, from 12:00 PM – 5:00 PM
- Disney Vacation Club Resort Lobbies: Beginning no earlier than 5:00 PM
- In Park Check-In: Innoventions West, beginning at 5:00 PM
- International Gateway Entrance: Beginning at 5:00 PM
- Epcot® Main Entrance: Beginning at 5:00 PM
We checked in at the Epcot main entrance around 6pm or so with our friends, Nick and Jeff.
There were 13 attractions open for the event, although some were larger than others (really, do they count Advanced Training Lab as an attraction? Cuz we walked through it and apparently no one else did – it was 100% empty LOL):
- Spaceship Earth
- Project Tomorrow: Inventing the Wonders of the Future
- Mission: SPACE (Green and Orange missions. We’re too old for spin-n-puke rides so we went on Green)
- Advanced Training Lab (ummmm….OK)
- Test Track
- The Seas With Nemo and Friends
- Sea Base
- Soarin’ Around the World
- Living With The Land (I can’t say or even type those 4 words without the original theme song going through my head. Anybody else?)
- Journey Into Imagination With Figment
- Disney & Pixar Short Film Festival
- Grand Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros
- Frozen Ever After
These were the waits at 9:30pm, just as the event started. They got much, much shorter very quickly (i.e. when we went on Frozen later on in the event, the sign said it was a 35-minute wait. The queue was about 3/4 full when we got there and it wound up being a 6-minute wait. Don’t tell me that we wouldn’t be better off without Fast Pass LOL!):
For those who love Disney characters, the DVC Moonlight Magic events are awesome because they pull out all the stops, with some characters that you rarely get to see. This event was no exception, as they had meet and greets with:
- Chip ‘n Dale
- “Programs” from Tron (boy, was there a long line for that!)
- Thumper and Miss Bunny
- Hippo and Ostrich from Fantasia
- Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse
- Daisy Duck
- Mulan and Mushu
- Donald Duck
The cool thing about characters at Epcot is you can often see them in non-traditional clothing, so for this event, Daisy was dressed like someone from Norway, Goofy wore a kilt, Donald Duck was dressed like a Canadian Mountie, etc.
The DJ area (a.k.a. “Super Springtime Dance Party”) had some out-of-this-world character visitors too!
Another cool form of entertainment was Mariachi Cobre, who played 3 sets, at 10pm, 11pm and midnight. When Epcot first opened, this group was barely noticed (my dad loved them though…we have a full set on audio tape somewhere from when we went in early 1982), and it was cool to see how popular they’ve become over the years – they even had a crowd waiting for them before their set even started!
British Revolution was also on hand and played sets at 9:30pm, 10:25pm and 11:15pm.
The Moonlight Magic events always offer the opportunity to meet with Disney Vacation Club executives. Joe and I never wind up seeing this part of the event because it’s just one hour long (9:30pm to 10:30pm) and we’re never in the right place at the right time. This time we finally were, and even got a (really dark, sorry – it’s was outdoors and nighttime) picture to remember the moment 😉
There were complimentary food and beverage at five quick service locations, which helped to cut down on food lines a LOT. The food for this event was also much more varied than at past DVC events we had been to:
- Liberty Inn (until 9pm)
- Electric Umbrella – Chicken breast nuggets, burgers, salads & more
- Sunshine Seasons – Salads, sandwiches, grilled entrees and more
- Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe – Pastries, sandwiches, coffee and beer
- Yorkshire County Fish Shop: Fish and chips, chicken and mushroom pie and draft beer
There were also 2 places where you could get complimentary ice cream novelties. And on top of all that, there were a half dozen places where you could purchase other food items that were equally as varied.
Just like all past DVC events, there was Moonlight Magic exclusive merchandise available for purchase, this time in the form of an event-exclusive T-shirt, baseball cap and tumbler. These were available for purchase in the “Gardeners Terrace” (formerly known as the Odyssey restaurant).
Towards the end of the night, we were treated to a special fireworks celebration. I made the mistake of us being in the direction the wind was going, so the fireworks started to look little smoky to us (we also got more than our share of ash and other firework fallout, but what is it that they say? If you get ash if your eyes, Disney’ll buy you a Lexus…[just kidding]).
The smoke in the area right after the fireworks were over made for some very eerie (but cool!) pictures…
We left the event right around closing time.
This was our 8th or 9th Moonlight Magic event since they started in 2016 and honestly, you’d think after so many visits, we’d be less enchanted with them. We are definitely NOT! It’s a fun night out with very, VERY light crowds, which is something you rarely get to experience at WDW anymore. This event was no exception and we’re glad that we could share the night with Nick and Jeff. Fingers crossed that we get into the next event!
Liked this post? We have trip reports of several other DVC Moonlight Magic events:
- Feb. 2017: Magic Kingdom
- July, 2017: Typhoon Lagoon
- Dec., 2017: Epcot
- Jan., 2018: Magic Kingdom
- Mar., 2018: Disney’s Animal Kingdom
- Jan., 2019: Magic Kingdom
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary