Over the last few years Disney has added a sensational amount of events to Walt Disney World. Unfortunately, all of these additions (that we’re talking about today) cost extra for a vacation. While I’m always happy to see additions at one of my favorite vacation destinations, some of these upcharge events are better (or worse) than others. In this post I’m going to rank the upcharge events that Disney World offers from worst to best.
What I won’t do in this post is examine how these upcharge events will affect guests who don’t attend them. That is a topic I’ve covered before and, honestly, is probably worth an updated post. But for this post I will strictly be looking at what the event offers and what value it holds.
Before delving in to any of these events, I should say that they all would probably be fun. If money of was no consequence or all of these were free then these would be a blast. That’s obviously not the case though. While we travel frequently, we consider ourselves to be frugal travelers who take advantage of deals, discounts, and rewards. The thought behind that being that we’d rather go on multiple vacations instead of splurging for an incredible amount on one. That will be the reason I don’t recommend some of these upcharge events, not because they don’t sound enjoyable.
I should also say that we haven’t experienced all of these events firsthand but, again, are looking at these from a value perspective. With that in mind, let’s get to the events offered. I won’t cover every single event (it’s hard to keep up with all they announce!) but will get to the main ones. I’ll start with the upcharge events that I perceive to be the worst and end with the best. Each event is linked to the title so you can check out more information if interested. The prices included are before any Annual Pass or DVC discounts, and most of these experiences do offer those. On to the list!
The infamous add-on experience to an add-on experience. Tony’s Most Merriest Town Square Party takes place at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party and I’m tired of alliterations for today. For the low price of $99(!) guests can go to Tony’s Town Square, one of the lowest rated Magic Kingdom restaurants, and enjoy a buffet of appetizers, desserts, and drinks for the last 3 hours of the Christmas Party. The upcharge event also includes a spot to watch the parade. Adding a $99 add-on to a party ticket that is likely over $100 already is a bad idea in its own right. While I guess the value comes from potentially unlimited alcohol, although that’s not clear, and food it is not enough to offset the lack of anything interesting being offered. Not to mention, the Christmas Party only lasts 5 hours and spending a substantial amount of time eating in a subpar restaurant devalues the admission to the Christmas Party. I hope Tony’s Most Merriest Town Square Party doesn’t last long and will likely be one of those upcharge events that fails after a short trial run.
Not all dessert parties are created equally and none offered are going to be as bad of value as the first entrant on this list. Most dessert parties center around a nighttime spectacular and, you guessed it, desserts. Each park has a party and I’m not going to list them all individually. All include desserts and a special place to watch the nighttime show. The Epcot version of this includes a late night ride on Frozen Ever After. Most of these dessert parties are $80 or more. Frankly, that’s a bad value. Desserts are good but you could buy about 15 of them for that price. Finding a decent spot to watch a nighttime show isn’t hard either if you come to the parks with a plan. I would not recommend any of the dessert parties.
The first two events on this list are things I wouldn’t even consider going to unless given to me or some other strange circumstance. These next few all sound like fun, but are simply too much money. I may have spoken to soon, as Early Morning Magic isn’t really up my alley. Getting up early to go the parks to ride a few attractions and eat an average breakfast isn’t high on my list but I understand that it’s somewhat unique. This will save some people from waiting in long lines later in the day. Still, the cost of $69 is way too much as you can get a decent breakfast for $10 and complete the attractions offered with a decent park itinerary.
Disney After Hours sounds like a blast, as actual park hours have been reduced significantly over the last few years. This keeps parks open later for guests to experience attractions along with unlimited ice cream, popcorn and beverages available. Unfortunately, it costs $125. That’s absurd. The one way this makes sense to do is if you only have one-day to spend at Disney World. Doing this in place of a day at Magic Kingdom might be an interesting alternative. That price is simply too high though.
Melissa enjoyed Afternoon Tea at the Grand Floridian a while ago. Unfortunately, the price has gone up since then. While we wouldn’t recommend the experience, if you want to try something quaint and fairly unique at Disney World then this is a decent option. There are several afternoon tea options throughout WDW so pick the one that fits you.
It probably goes without saying that this is my favorite option on this list thus far. Unfortunately, the price of $170 is extremely high and nearly on par with Victoria & Albert’s. This event starts at the Contemporary with an appetizer at The Wave before heading on the monorail to dining spots at the Poly, Grand Floridian and Contemporary. Capping the evening off with watching Happily Ever After from the top of the Contemporary is a nice touch. I think this would be a blast to try, and the 5-course dinner would most assuredly be delicious. I just can’t quite get over the extremely high price tag.
Perhaps the OG upcharge experience? Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique has been around for as long as I can remember and is a quintessential Disney experience for some. I don’t have it quite so high because of the astronomical price tag and it doesn’t match personal preference (I’m not a girl and don’t have kids…) Still, I’ve never heard any complaints about Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique other than the prerequisite “it costs too much.” Sure, it costs too much but you are actually getting something unique here compared to other experiences on this list. You can go ride attractions and eat without having to pay a huge upcharge in the parks. Your daughter getting a princess makeover that she (and you) will remember forever is far more interesting.
Not all tours are great. In fact, Melissa and I are both pretty down on the Keys to the Kingdom Tour. With that out-of-the-way, Disney World offers enough tours that there is most assuredly something that will fit you and your interests. This post would have been twice as long if I listed all of the tours individually (although I did make an exception down the list) so I’m painting with broad strokes here. Disney World has both nature inspired tours (mostly at Animal Kingdom and Animal Kingdom Lodge) and historic tours. These tours are diverse in price range and what they offer. Seeing Epcot’s agriculture will only set you back $25 and take an hour of your day while Backstage Magic is $275 for 7 hours. There’s something for everyone here and I would recommend a backstage tour if it fits into your budget and there’s one that sticks out to you.
If I wasn’t so introverted, this might take the ‘best’ spot on the list. This upcharge includes eating lunch with an Imagineer at Hollywood Brown Derby or Citricos. Both restaurants are well thought of and offer quality food. The price of this event is around $100 but comes with a 4-course meal. At these restaurants, the food is nearly that much in the first place. Being able to talk to an Imagineer about his/her work would be extremely interesting and a nice peek behind the curtain. While I’m sure they keep information fairly vague, it’d be fun to hear the process they go through. I think this might be one of the best ‘bang for your buck’ items on this list.
Disney’s Halloween and Christmas Parties are becoming more and more popular every year. The reason behind this is simple – they are really fun and fairly unique. While they can be crowded, depending on the date, the holiday parties in Magic Kingdom each offer a unique parade, shows, nighttime spectaculars and a few other interesting additions. While the price keeps climbing to right around $100, I would argue that there’s still some value here. With your park hours being from 4 PM to midnight, there’s plenty of time spent in the park and also interesting, exclusive entertainment. This is a couple of hours more than Disney After Hours at a lower cost and with unique offerings. Of course, the crowds will be worse but I think that giving these parties a try, especially if you enjoy Halloween and/or Christmas, is worth it.
This is a tour that we’ve done and absolutely adored. The price tag of around $200 is quite steep for a 3 hour tour but this packs a punch and is relatively well priced compared to other experiences like this in the real world. Wild Africa Trek takes guests behind the scenes of Kilimanjaro Safaris, learning about the animals and getting close to them. It includes lunch out on the savanna and several other wow moments. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this to anyone, Wild Africa Trek is one of my favorite experiences I’ve had at any Disney Park. That’s why it’s earned the top spot on this list!
What upcharge event sounds the most interesting to you? Let us know in the comments! If you are planning a trip to Disney World check out our planning guide and feel free to ask any questions you might have! If you enjoy what you are reading here on Wandering in Disney please share this post with your friends, as well as like our social media pages. You can also subscribe to the blog via WordPress or email. All of those links are on the right side of this page. Thank you for reading, we really appreciate it!
Categories: Vacation Tips