On February 12th, I was the lucky date of my best Galentine, Jennifer, to attend Disneyland’s After Dark event “Sweetheart’s Nite.” Jennifer, or as you may or may not know on Instagram as @randomly_riley , was asked by Mice Chat to write up a blog on her experience at a Disney After Dark event. When she asked me to be her date, of course I didn’t hesitate to say YES. I personally have never been to an after dark event, so I was excited to see what everyone had been talking about. All of the events that I have seen in the past from posts online have looked like so much fun!
“Sweetheart’s Nite” was originally conceptualized with the idea that couples young and old will attend with their “sweethearts.” I thought that attending with your “Galentine” or best girlfriend would be a great alternative to the traditional idea, and boy was it fun! The after hours event check in starts as early as 6pm. What that means is, if you purchased a ticket for the event, you can access Disneyland Park as early as 6pm at no additional cost! I personally am an annual passholder, so this made no difference to me. I did however, think it was pretty neat that you can enjoy the parks for 6 hours total for the cost of your ticket. It may not sound like much, but most of those hours are “after hours” hours, so the lines are minimal for rides once the event begins. We arrived dressed in our Galentine’s Day best about 6pm, and that was a mistake. Major traffic getting into the parking structure, so I would plan ahead on that one and carpool.
Once we we we’re parked, we decided to snag some dinner really quick before checking in. We headed to Disney California Adventure for some baked potato soup at Pacific Wharf Cafe, in which we mobile ordered as soon as we walked into the park. By the time we arrived on our three minute walk, it was ready for us! I highly recommend downloading the Disneyland app and mobile ordering your food when possible. It saves you time in line, which means more time for things you actually want to do. Once we ate, we headed back to the Disneyland gate, where we checked in and got our lanyards for the night. The lanyards act as an indicator to cast members that you are there for the event, because they are in the midst of getting regular guests to exit for the evening. Since there is an overlap of about an hour before things can begin, we grabbed our maps and snagged a locker and headed to The Jolly Holiday to read the map and decide what to do.
The event runs from 9pm-1am. There are a handful of special meet and greet opportunities with rare characters, as well as special food items that are not available in the parks during normal business hours. Aside from that, there are photo opportunities scattered around the park, as well as the option to ride most of the rides in Disneyland with very minimal lines. It is almost impossible to do everything, so making a plan is most important in making the most of your event experience. They often release information about the evening prior to the event, so you can sometimes plan way ahead, if you need to do so. Most people we’re dressed in couple’s cosplay or costume, but because it was nearly 40 degrees the entire event, lots of us covered up in jackets pretty quickly. We decided on the few items we we’re going to eat, as well as the characters we wanted to see and we headed off.
We snagged the “Pucker Up” sour cherry churro in Tomorrowland, which already had a line 30 minutes before opening. This churro was a regular churro base, dusted in sour red sugar. The topping to dip it in was a cream cheese frosting. The entire thing together reminded us of a toaster strudel, which for me was too sweet. I thought the sour sugar topping was pretty yummy, but the dipping sauce was too sweet for my taste. After snagging the churro, we headed towards the castle for the “Sweetheart’s Nite” fireworks show. This show was a custom show created specifically for the event. From Lady And The Tramp to Up, they played the classics while the skies above the castle sparkled. Watching the fireworks always makes me feel like a little kid. Due to the distance that I currently live from the parks, watching the fireworks rarely happens. This was an absolute treat for me and a definite highlight of the night.
Once the fireworks show ended, we started walking around to meet the characters we wanted to meet. We we’re most excited to see Hercules and Meg, because they are NEVER out. Poor Wonder Boy was stuck in this tiny dress of a costume, and it was freezing! The lines for characters felt like forever because the characters take breaks often. So if you want to meet characters, it might be tricky to meet them all. After Meg and Herc, came Anna and Kristoff. They of course we’re the cutest and so fun to hangout with! Milo and Kida from Atlantis we’re also a popular stop, but because i had zero clue who they were, we took a hard skip. Since it was Sweetheart’s Nite, you could of course meet a lot of classic couple characters like Ariel and Eric, Flynn and Rapunzel, as well as Belle and Prince Adam. Fabulous singles like Gaston and Anastasia and Drizella we’re also mingling with guests until the event was over.
Once we met a few characters, it was time to enjoy some of the photo backdrops that they had scattered around the parks. Disneyland did a fantastic job recreating some of their film’s most iconic and romantic moments for couples (and Galentines) to enjoy. From Aladdin’s balcony moment on the magic carpet, to Rapunzel and Flynn’s boat ride filled with lanterns, they nailed it! Of course, we couldn’t go to all of the adorable spots, so we picked our favorite few and snapped some cute bestie shots. The photographers loved the break from the romantic mood and we hammed it up as Galentines would! These photo backdrops have very long lines, so again pick your favorite few and be patient. Most locations that are anticipated to be popular have multiple set ups that are identical, so the line goes fast.
Once we did the photo taking and the character meeting, we wanted to experience the Royal Ball, which was a small show held every hour on the hour right out front of It’s A Small World. The show was an impromptu ball that starred a few of the Disney princesses and their princes, as well as some royalty from foreign lands. Royal friends I’m guessing. This evening, we we’re graced with the presence of Aurora and Phillip, Snow White and Prince Charming, Cinderella and her Prince, and finally Aladdin and Jasmine. Since this was royal ball, the three fairies were also in attendance. Things we’re all good, until Maleficent crashed the ball. Clearly, she was not invited, and was not happy and not receiving an invitation. Once she calmed down a bit, the Princesses and Princes asked the guests to dance. I was royally flushed when Cinderella’s Prince asked me to dance. I’m way awkward and must have complimented his shiny outfit ten times. Didn’t know what to say, lol. He was a gentlemen and it completely made my night. Once we enjoyed the ball a bit, we realized it was about time to leave. We had partied until nearly 1am, and I still needed to drive back home to Thousand Oaks. We snagged our stuff from our locker and headed homeward.
Like I said above, this was my very first after dark experience, so I have nothing to compare it to. I do have some tips and opinions on the evening I would like to share with you, in case heading to one of these events is on your bucket list (which it totally should be).
After Dark Event Tips:
- Arrive early. You can access the parks hours before the event actually takes place, so avoid the traffic jam on the road and at the gate and get there early.
- Check the weather beforehand. I loved my outfit and was dedicated to looking cute regardless of the weather. But about an hour in, my jacket was on and I was freezing. I saw lots of cute outfits with freezing people wearing them. Don’t be them. Check ahead of time.
- Plan your outfits! Tet tohis is the moment other than the Halloween events that you can be over the age of 14 and dress up! If costumes are your thing- Go For It!
- If you want the special collector’s pins: Head There First! Apparently, they only hand out a certain amount per evening, and the line is nuts! ask a cast member or check out on the map you’re given where the event merch is being sold, and run as fast as you can in that direction!
- Take Advantage of Photo Pass! The photo employees are there specifically with professional equipment to capture your moments for free! Don’t count on your IPhone in the dark to get those magical shots you waited in line for. It’s not worth it. Let them take them and download the photos to your phone from the app within minutes of taking them.
- If you like rides- Ride! This is the moment where if photos are not your thing, to take advantage of the little to no wait time in line. Most rides are open until 1am. Rise of the Resistance was not open for the event to ride, which I thought was a mistake and a bummer. Maybe for Star Wars After Dark, we’ll see. If you are not a passholder, this is a great opportunity to enjoy the park and ride the rides without the crowds.
- Try the Food! Each event has their own unique offerings, so scope them out and choose your faves. We wanted to try more options, but ran out of time due to waiting for characters.
- ENJOY YOURSELF. Seriously, enjoy yourself. It will be crowded in places and lines can be long in spots. Just enjoy your evening and the company you’re with. Depending on your personal preferences, map out a night for you and your party that you can enjoy.
Despite the chilly weather, I was completely obsessed with my outfit, and rocked it for as long as i could! These overalls we’re sent to me by Pepper Kids Inc. and with the puffy organza top and Chucks, I felt like a straight Minnie Mouse park treat! I’ve linked my outfit below.
Pink Organza Top:https://www.forever21.com/us/shop/catalog/product/f21/top_blouses/2000390590
Mouse Overalls:ADULT DARK DENIM MOUSE OVERALLS
Red High Top Shoes:https://www.converse.com/shop/red-shoes
I would like to thank Mice Chat for hosting our evening of Galentine’s Day fun. Mice Chat is the GO TO spot for all things information regarding Disneyland and other theme parks and entertainment in the So Cal area. To read more and get informed, head to:http://www.micechat.com
If you would like to experience one of these after dark events yourself, don’t worry. There are three more events already scheduled in the future. “Pixar Nite” will be held on March 5th at Disney’s California Adventure Park. “Villain’s Nite” will also be in Disney’s California Adventure Park on April 30th, and “Star Wars Nite” will be on August 27th in Disneyland Park. You can purchase tickets by heading to:http://www.disneyland.com