Throughout the year, the Disney Vacation Club hosts special events for it’s members – one of the most popular being the Moonlight Magic after hours events. Exclusive access to a Walt Disney World theme park, rare characters, and free ice cream? Sign me up! I was fortunate enough to have a friend who is a DVC member invite me to their 2018 event at Hollywood Studios
Before getting into all the details about DVC Moonlight Magic, did you know that I have a giveaway coming up on Instagram soon? Make sure you are following me at @In.Sight.Full.Life so you don’t miss the announcement!
What is DVC Moonlight Magic?
Moonlight Magic is a special event exclusively for Disney Vacation Members and their guests. They take place in one of Disney theme parks or water parks after normal operating hours giving attendees a chance to ride lines with little to no wait, enjoy complimentary food and beverages, meet rare characters, and experience special entertainment. Already in 2018 events have been held in Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Epcot, and Typhoon Lagoon. And these events aren’t limited to Walt Disney World! The next DVC Moonlight Magic event is coming up in November at Disney’s California Adventure at Disneyland.
Arrival and Event Check-In
Since we had a group of us coming from several different directions, my friends and I met outside the entrance to Disney’s Hollywood Studios at 6:30 PM. Even though the event officially didn’t start until 9:00 PM, we could enter the park beginning at 7:00 PM. Just outside the main gates there was a sign directing people on where to go to sign in and pick up wrist bands for the event. There were also wristband distribution sites at DVC resorts as well as inside the park for those who started their day there earlier. My friend Krissy, who has invited us, gave the Cast Members her name, confirmed her number of guests, and we all received wrist bands, event programs/times guides and our food vouchers for the evening.
Food and Beverage Options
As noted on the food voucher, the following dining options were available during Moonlight Magic:
- Dockside Diner
- KRNR The Rock Station
- Backlot Express
- Rosie’s All-American Cafe
- Catalina Eddie’s
- Fairfaxe Fare
Also opened was BaseLine Tap House, but as they mostly offer beer and snacks, you could not redeem the meal voucher there. You’ll also note that no table service restaurants were open; which does make sense, as Disney’s Hollywood Studios was open to a limited number of guests who would be more likely to use this opportunity for shorter waits for attractions and characters rather than dining at 50s Prime Time Cafe without needing a reservation.
For each of the dining locations that are open, you have access to their full, regular menus. I had not eaten at Fairfax Fare since they updated to a Latin-inspired menu, so I was immediately drawn over there. It didn’t take long to order, but I’m pretty sure the wait to get my food was the longest wait I experienced the entire night. My friends (who ordered from one of the other options on Sunset Boulevard) had ordered, received their food and finished eating by the time I finally made my way to the table. Luckily, I can say that was ultimately my only complaint of the evening.
I ordered the Mojo Pulled Pork Sandwich, served with a fire-roasted corn medley and sweet plantains. You can’t see the pork hiding under the onions and peppers in my picture, but I promise you there was a lot of it (and it was delicious). As far as the corn and plantains, they both worked well as sides with the flavors in the sandwich, but on their own there was nothing overly remarkable about them. It’s a meal I would go back to again, though.
The iconic Mickey Premium ice cream bars were also available at (supposedly) three locations in the park: two areas on Sunset Boulevard ( outside the entrance to Fantasmic and near the Brown Derby Lounge), and one by Echo Lake (near the Epic Stunt Theatre). The Sunset Boulevard locations consistently had long lines for people to obtain their Mickey bars. But, as a self-proclaimed Gertie the Dinosaur superfan, I walked by Echo Lake a number of times and could not find where the third ice cream station was supposed to be located.
Easier to find were stations throughout the park where guests could get water – either in cups available on tables next to the water or you could refill your own empty water bottles.
During Moonlight Magic, the only attractions that were not open are those considered to be shows. That means you could get in line for:
- Star Tours – The Adventure Continues
- Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith
- The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
- Toy Story Mania!
- Alien Swirling Saucers
- Slinky Dog Dash
Many of the other attractions that you can normally visit during the day, like MuppetVision 3-D and Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, were closed so they could be used for the queues for character meet and greets or special entertainment offerings.
My focus for the evening was meeting characters over riding attractions, especially since I had my Passholder Play Time at Toy Story Land later in the week. I did check attraction wait times in the My Disney Experience app though and not surprisingly all of the attractions outside of Toy Story Land had less than a 10-minute wait most of the night. Being such a new area, and with most DVC members not being Orlando locals, the newest attractions in Walt Disney World did still see moderate waits during this event (though still less than a typical evening). The wait time for Slinky Dog Dash was typically anywhere from 30-50 minutes, while Alien Swirling Saucers was a more reasonable 15-25 minute wait (although it did become a walk on towards the end of the evening).
Meeting Rare Characters
I’ll be honest. After following along at home for some of the other DVC Moonlight Magic events, I was feeling slightly underwhelmed by this list. Even though several of these characters are not usually available to meet and take pictures, they can still be seen in shows and attractions. Don’t get me wrong, I was still going to wait in line to meet them (especially Sweetums, the character on the list I was the most excited about). But I’d personally been hoping this would be the time they would bring out characters with older ties to the park, like Roger Rabbit. Or they could REALLY make me lose my mind and bring out the characters who used to appear in Here Come the Muppets from the early days of the park. What you should take from this is I will be the first to sign up for any and every event, book film, or panel that focuses on extinct characters and attractions from the parks.
Since so many characters were grouped within Star Wars Launch Bay, that’s where we decided to start off.
Because several of these characters can be met during regular hours, and there was not much to experience in Animation Courtyard outside of the Star Wars Launch Bay, there was absolutely zero wait to meet these characters when we arrived. I had previously met Chewbacca and BB-8 last summer during a family trip to Walt Disney World. But since I was the unofficial videographer on that trip, I stayed behind the camera the entire time and this was my first chance to actually get pictures with them.
Now we’re talking! MuppetVision 3D is a favorite attraction of mine, and one I have to do each trip. Plus, I just have a general love of Muppets, and I’m never going to turn down the opportunity to meet one. When I was one family away from meeting Sweetums, I overheard the character attendant telling the guests ahead of me that there were several characters doing meet and greets that weren’t on the printed character list. My ears perked up immediately. As it turns out, there were four last minute character additions that even the Cast Members didn’t know about until they arrived that day. In addition to the listed characters, also meeting would be Clarabelle Cow and Horace Horsecollar, Wicket and Paploo (two Ewoks), and Oswald the Lucky Rabbit!
Earlier when I walked by the studio building that houses Star Wars: Path of the Jedi, I could see there was a crowd – but nothing in the Moonlight Magic guide indicated what was happening there. So once the Cast Member mentioned it was where the Oswald meet and greet was being held, it made complete sense. In addition to not regularly appearing at Walt Disney World, earlier that week it was announced that the Oswald meet and greet in Disney’s California Adventure was being discontinued – meaning if you frequent any of the Disney Parks in the United States, it would be near impossible to meet him. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to say “Hello” one more time, just in case.
Despite not watching Star Wars as a child, I did grow up with one of the most iconic toys – the Ewok tree house. So even without a strong connection to the films until I was an adult, I’ve always loved the Ewoks. They were hiding out in part of the Star Tours extended queue, so I actually walked by their meet and greet area several times before finding out they were in there. They wound up being my longest wait for a meet, but it was totally worth it. They, along with Oswald, were so fun and animated that it was incredibly entertaining watching their interactions with everyone else while waiting for my turn. Next time I’ll have to come up with a plan to take one home with me!
I really did not take full advantage of the entertainment during this event. I know at a previous event at Magic Kingdom, there was a unique (and from what I hear, amazing) fireworks display. I’ve seen both Fantasmic! and Disney Movie Magic a number of times, and as a non-DVC member, meeting the execs wasn’t exactly a big draw for me. I also didn’t stop in The Batty Bash Dance Party, but I could certainly hear it while walking around Echo Lake. It sounded like the people who were there were having a blast, and I think is a great option if you’re attending this event with younger kids who like characters but are too antsy to wait in lines for them. Granted, in hindsight getting to stand on the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular stage does seem like a pretty cool opportunity, as well as seeing Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Chip & Dale in Halloween costumes that differ than the ones they’re normally wearing during this time of year. If I could do it over again, I think I’d have run in there, even if only for a few minutes.
Overall Thoughts about DVC Moonlight Magic
Since the first Moonlight Magic event in 2015, I’d always been envious of those who had the chance to attend, either as a DVC Member or a guest. These events are similar to the ticketed Disney After Hours, with extra entertainment and minus the $100 price tag. I’ve heard that as a free event, registration can be tense and frustrating for those attempting to get in. But strictly as a guest, this was such a fun way to enjoy all that the Disney theme parks have to offer in a leisurely way, without the crowds, and with a little extra magic. If anybody else wants to bring me as their guest in the future, please contact any of the above ladies for references!
Have you had a chance to attend any of the DVC Moonlight Magic events? Let me know in the comments!