Disney World Has a New Adults-focused After-hours Holiday Event — and I Went to the First Night

Disney Jollywood Nights — a brand-new after-hours event celebrating the festive season — just debuted at Hollywood Studios.

<p>Steven Diaz/Courtesy of Disney </p>

Steven Diaz/Courtesy of Disney

Each November, the “Most Magical Place on Earth” transforms into a merry winter wonderland seemingly overnight, and this year, Walt Disney World is celebrating the holiday season in festive new ways. Delightful decorations, seasonal snacks and drinks, and cheerful holiday spirit can now be found across Disney World’s theme parks, resort hotels, and Disney Springs. Fan-favorite Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is back at Magic Kingdom, but that’s not the only holiday party happening this season. Disney Jollywood Nights is a brand-new after-hours event at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and I attended the first night of festivities on Nov. 11.

As a lifelong theme park enthusiast and Travel + Leisure’s Disney expert, I spend a lot of time at Walt Disney World, and the holidays are my favorite time of year to explore the theme parks and soak in all the magic. I chatted with Raevon Redding, the 2022-2023 Walt Disney World ambassador, about his top tips for celebrating the holiday season at Disney World. He said, “I know most people want to spontaneously show up and be here, but it's going to take a little bit of planning.” He suggests familiarizing yourself with the My Disney Experience app before visiting so you know where to find things like food and beverage locations, and I think this is fantastic advice, too.

With all-new entertainment (including shows featuring everyone’s favorite Muppets and the one and only Jack Skellington), event-exclusive eats and drinks, and more, there’s lots to learn about before you go. Here’s our guide to Disney Jollywood Nights, including top tips from my experience.

<p>Elizabeth Rhodes/Travel + Leisure</p>

Elizabeth Rhodes/Travel + Leisure

Jollywood Nights Ticket Information and Cost

Disney Jollywood Nights is a separately ticketed event, which means you have to purchase a specific ticket for the event to experience all the exclusive entertainment, dining, and character meet and greets. There are only 10 dates for Jollywood Nights this holiday season, and three sold out before the first event on Nov. 11. The event takes place from 8:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m., but you can enter the park with your event ticket starting at 7 p.m. — and we highly recommend getting there then so you can check in as quickly as possible. (If you have a day pass or an annual pass, and are able to get inside earlier, that’s even better). Tickets are $159 to $179 plus tax, and annual passholders and Disney Vacation Club members can score $10 off.

<p>Courtesy of Disney</p>

Courtesy of Disney

Event Entertainment and Characters

Disney Jollywood Nights offers two stage shows and a nighttime spectacular with fireworks and colorful projections. “Disney Holidays in Hollywood” is a live take on vintage Hollywood TV specials complete with lots of singing, dancing, and appearances from Miss Piggy, Kermit, Tiana, Belle, Mickey, and Minnie. “What's This? Tim Burton's ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ Sing-Along” is an imaginative interpretation of a classic sing-along featuring two main mime characters and appearances from a larger-than-life Jack Skellington puppet and Oogie Boogie. At the end of the night, “Jingle Bell, Jingle Bam!” caps off the event with a fireworks display and projections (set to holiday music) on the Chinese Theater.

Character meet and greets include Mickey and friends in Animation Courtyard, Edna Mode and Frozone in Pixar Plaza, and Chip ‘n’ Dale, Phineas and Ferb, and Powerline Max around Echo Lake.

Related: How to Plan a Magical Trip to Disney World for the Holidays

<p>Kent Phillips/Courtesy of Disney</p>

Kent Phillips/Courtesy of Disney

Exclusive Food and Beverage Offerings

You can find event-exclusive food and drinks at various locations throughout the park, primarily clustered at the front around Sunset Boulevard, Echo Lake, and Commissary Lane. (There are not any event experiences or special snacks in Toy Story Land or Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge). Jazzy Holidays at The Hollywood Brown Derby is a themed table-service dining experience with live piano music. To get in, you’ll need to join the waitlist in the Disney World app right when it opens to reserve a spot. Unless you want to experience this location’s special eats during a sit-down meal, I recommend skipping this one so you have enough time for the many other festivities during this four-hour event. Outside the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, the Twilight Soirée at The Tip Top Club offers live music and specialty beverages. Opening night crowds were excited to take in the band in the shadow of the Hollywood Tower Hotel. If there's a line when you visit, I recommend coming back at the end of the night once the first crowds have moved on.

Several quick-service locations have themed menus just for the event, too — offering everything from birria tacos and Oaxaca old fashioned cocktails for the Holiday Fiesta en la Calle at ABC Commissary to holiday turkey popovers and mistletoe martinis at Fairfax Fare. My favorite bites of the night came from Dockside Diner; the spicy pimento kimchi dip was the most delicious thing I ate, and I loved the adorable Christmas tree cookie stack that tasted as good as it looked.

Though it didn’t offer anything special for the event, Oga’s Cantina was open. This can be a great place to stop for a drink during the party — it may be the only time when you can pop into Oga’s without much of a wait.

Rides and Attractions

If you'd like to walk right on rides like Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith or The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror without waiting in line, this might be the event for you. Most Hollywood Studios attractions stay open throughout the event, and they had the lowest wait times I'd ever seen. Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance is the only attraction you won’t be able to waltz right onto; this ride uses a virtual queue for the event, so make sure to join as soon as you can. There aren’t any event-specific attraction overlays like you would find at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party in Magic Kingdom, but being able to ride the top attractions without waiting in line is a big plus (especially since tickets to Disney After Hours at Disney's Hollywood Studios, a three-hour event coming to the park next year, start at $155).

Related: 58 Disney World Rides and Attractions, Ranked From Worst to Best

<p>Elizabeth Rhodes/Travel + Leisure</p>

Elizabeth Rhodes/Travel + Leisure

Tips for Making the Most of Your Visit

I recommend creating a game plan based on your personal must-dos and could-skips before you go so you can make the most of every minute. When I attended on opening night, there were many people at the event-specific food and beverage locations and two stage shows. (It’s also worth noting I was at the sold-out first night of the event, so things may change as time goes on). Here are my top tips for Jollywood Nights this year:

  • If you’re set on seeing either of the shows, get in line around 30 minutes in advance to ensure you won’t miss out.

  • Quick-service restaurant lines may look long, but they moved pretty quickly in my experience.

  • Take advantage of super-short ride wait times between festive experiences.

  • Dress up! Many guests dressed up in vintage holiday looks, and it added to the glitzy Hollywood atmosphere. (That said, pair your festive frocks with comfy shoes since you'll be walking around and standing a lot.)

  • Get there early, as soon as your ticket allows so you can get checked in and even line up for your top-priority activity when you arrive.

  • Take lots of photos with the Disney photographers — PhotoPass downloads are included for this event.

  • With lots of specialty cocktails and millennial-favorite characters, this event feels targeted toward adult guests, though I imagine kids tall enough for all the thrilling attractions will love going on rides with little to no wait. Families with younger kids will love Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at Magic Kingdom.

Related: 42 Disney World and Disneyland Tips for a Magical Vacation

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