Disney Adds Nighttime Events at 2 Florida Theme Parks


Disney (DIS) is hoping to get its Florida visitors to spend more money by introducing park experiences that take place after the attractions close to day guests. That's on top of February price hikes that hit as much as $99 for a one-day ticket to visit the Magic Kingdom.

Epcot After Hours Wind Down, an intimate experience at four of the nation-themed restaurants, takes place after the 9 p.m. Illuminations show closes out the park. Guests can pay $35 per adult to stick around until 11 p.m., enjoying tapas-size tastings and wine pairings.

Epcot After Hours Wind Down didn't turn a lot of heads. The price is somewhat reasonable, by Disney's standards, for an after-hours experience that includes food and drinks. It also takes place after the park is closed, so it's not as if day guests feel as if they are being cheated. However, it may be a different story for the upcoming Harambe Nights.

Hakuna Matata

On Saturdays from June 7 to Aug. 9, visitors to Animal Kingdom after the 7 p.m. close will be able to pay for a three-hour party experience. It will be anchored by the park's restored theatrical performance of "The Lion King" in the new Harambe Theatre in the park's Africa section. Viola Davis, David Allan Grier and Alfre Woodard are just some of the celebrities who will narrate the 55-minute show during the 10-week run. A street party will go on when the show isn't taking place, complete with African treats, desserts and beverages. All for $119.

That's a lot to pay for a three-hour experience on top of the cost of the day's admission. Yes, food and drinks are included, but even Disney buffs who have accepted the media titan's stiff theme park admissions may have a hard time justify paying up for the experience.

In theory, Animal Kingdom is ripe for a nighttime event. The park has often been called a "half-day park" and is probably not doing itself any favors by being able to host a nightly event at 7 -- when its other three parks will be open for several more hours -- because that's when the park closes. As an animal-themed park, it may makes sense to operate during zoo-like daytime hours, but it doesn't seem right that a park now charging $95 for a one-day ticket is still closing at 7 p.m..

The early closings will end when a richly themed "Avatar" section opens in a couple of years. In fact, one of the additions is a nighttime show. The extra hours will relieve park visitors, especially in the summer heat, when the Animal Kingdom isn't a very easy park to tackle. However, it's also a fair bet that Harambe Nights will be gone by the time Avatar opens in 2016 or 2017. This will find Disney in a quandary if Harambe Nights is successful, but that's probably a good problem to have.

Party Time for Investors

Disney's rolling these days. It reported strong quarterly results on Tuesday afternoon with its theme parks division posting an 8 percent increase in revenue and a 19 percent spike in operating income. Disney scored this growth despite the shift of the seasonally potent Easter season from March last year to April this time around.

Shareholders working the math should be giddy. Including those visiting during a late Easter and the addition of hard-ticket events like Harambe Nights and Epcot After Hours Wind Down, the current quarter should be another potent period.

If Harambe Nights can get away with charging $119 -- a price that makes the $99 Magic Kingdom ticket seem like a bargain -- there's no telling what Disney will come up with next.

Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz owns shares of Walt Disney. The Motley Fool recommends Walt Disney.

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I'm from California (Disneyland Park) and can attest to it no longer being the happiest place on earth, good old Walt is spinning in his grave! His dream was to create a place for families to spend time together away from regular life. In the beginning admission was free, you paid to use the attractions and 'E' tickets were for the best rides.The last 3 times I've been there (with escalating fees), It was so crowded you couldn't walk without being bumped and jostled, all my grandson could see was 'behinds', none of the beautiful Disney scenery, just an endless sea of rear ends. Kids crying and exasperated parents yelling at or ignoring their kids, not my idea of a vacation. If you can manage to go when most schools are in session, that's your best bet, however, they are quickly pricing themselves out of the market for most families. If their business model is all about the Benjamins and/or to mostly attract foreign travelers, they are on the right track. Bobrav said it all 'I'm a stockholder and disagree with your statement' @Wendy's statement 'they make plenty of money and need to stop being so greedy!' It is all about the Benjamins...

May 09 2014 at 7:07 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Hey Disney, the biggest problem you have is we Florida residents cannot afford to go to your parks, adding extras for an extra cost will not help your cause..... I haved live 45 min from Disney for the last 25 yrs,my kids and I have never been as it is not worth paying almost 1/2 months salary for 1 day at your theme parks

May 09 2014 at 5:19 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Hank's Mom

I'm still puzzled how Christians continue to support the Disney parks. Would not be surprised to see Disney add a couple LGBT shows.

May 08 2014 at 11:07 PM Report abuse -5 rate up rate down Reply

We are Disney Vacation Club members, so we usually go once a year. We were there this last November during the Food and Wine Festival at Epcot. Never again. Drunks all over park (especially at night) and the lines for the food/wine kiosks/stands were so long that they were in the way of people not interested in purchasing the food and wine. This year we're going in December before the holiday crowds set in. Park tickets are carzy expensive. It cost us more for park tickets for 2 adults ($800.00) than it did to fly there from the west coast (Seattle) and back home. We may re-think our membership after the next trip.

May 08 2014 at 9:41 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
David M. Block

become a florida resident, get a season pass, stay at motel 6 in Kissimmee. DISNEY ROCKS (and im damn near 30)

May 08 2014 at 5:50 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to David M. Block's comment
Hank's Mom

I AM a Florida resident and I've refused to support Disney ever since they publicly sponsor a LGBT weekend -- ON FATHER'S DAY! Stay home. Go to Busch Gardens Safari land in Tampa.

May 08 2014 at 11:10 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply

People have money to spend is what Disney earnings show.

May 08 2014 at 5:01 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Not everyone can afford Disney or drive a Mercedes. Buy a Ford and visit Six Flags.

May 08 2014 at 4:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Why doesn't everyone just not go ?

May 08 2014 at 4:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I guess Disney doesn't already make enough money??? YEESH!!! It's so out of control expensive now. I don't know how people afford it. The rich can afford to go there and buy the special passes so they can get on the rides right away. The rest of us have to wait 2 hours. They need to build another resort and cut down on the prices so families can afford to go and have a good time when they are there. 1 and 2 hours waiting in line is not a good time!!! They make plenty of money and need to stop being so stinking greedy!

May 08 2014 at 2:53 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Wendy's comment

As a stockholder, I tend to disagree with your statement.

May 08 2014 at 4:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Gotten too expensive and the lazy overweight scooter people have gotten out of hand.
Used to go twice a year up until 2 years ago. May not go back for another 4 or 5 years.

May 08 2014 at 2:02 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to ozamiz85's comment

Thanks for helping to free up the que lines.

May 08 2014 at 3:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply