Disney Jollywood Nights review

15 days ago in "Disney Jollywood Nights"

Disney Jollywood Nights opening night
Posted: Monday November 13, 2023 1:08pm ET by WDWMAGIC Staff

Disney's Hollywood Studios recently launched 'Disney Jollywood Nights', and we're here to share our thoughts and insights from the event that took place on November 11.

If you are unfamiliar with Disney Jollywood Nights, it is Walt Disney World's latest ticketed event occurring after regular park hours, priced between $159 and $179, depending on the date. The 4-hour event features two new stage shows, festival-type food and drink to buy, fireworks, event-exclusive dining, and access to rides with minimal waits.

Lines, Virtual Lines, and No Lines

The opening Disney Jollywood Nights was an evening defined by all types of lines - virtual, long, short, and confusing lines.

Just like other Disney ticketed events, guests taking part are required to obtain an event wristband. Guests entering the front of the park are given wristbands as they enter, and guests already inside the park can pick them up in front of the Vacation Fun theater—problems developed in both locations. At Vacation Fun, guests waited up to 30 minutes to get a wristband. Guests at the main entrance had a much shorter wait but encountered a different problem. For reasons unknown, guests at Disney Jollywood Nights must also wear a lanyard in addition to a wristband. Guests at the main entrance did not know this, and many got their wristbands, bypassed the lanyard pickup, and went straight into the park, only to find that they were then denied entry to shows because they did not have a lanyard.

Character lines were predictably long, particularly at the start of the event. Some guests waited an hour or more for Phineas and Ferb, the only somewhat rare characters appearing at the event. Making matters more confusing, characters were rotating in some locations, meaning guests in line did not know who they were going to ultimately meet.

At the shows, the early queues were not an issue. However, as the evening went on, a line extended the length of Sunset Blvd for the Holidays in Hollywood show, with some guests being told they would not get into the upcoming show and would have to wait until the next showing in line.

Things were not much better with digital queues. The Virtual Queue for Star Wars Rise of the Resistance opened at 8 pm, and remained available for around 1 hour. Unfortunately, the ride was closed for an extended period of the night due to technical issues.

At the Hollywood Brown Derby, which was using a virtual waitlist, guests who managed to join were notified that their table was ready, only to find a wait of up to an hour once at the restaurant.

With all of the queuing negatives, there was some good news. The rides all had very short waits. Many rides were walk-on, with maximum waits only hitting 15 minutes, very similar to a Disney After Hours event.

Two new stage shows, live entertainment, and a fireworks finale

Disney Jollywood Nights includes two new stage shows created specifically for the event.

What's This? Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas Sing-Along takes over the Hyperion Theater, usually home to the Frozen Sing-Along.

The 25-minute dreamlike silent theater show features two on-stage physical comedy performers, a Jack Skellington puppet, and Oogie Boogie himself.

The performers are very talented and play their parts to perfection. The Jack Skellington puppet was huge and impressive, and Oogie Boogie is always a welcome sight.

However, the concept of the show as a sing-along fell flat. A few moments of the performers on-stage were followed by extended periods of video screens showing scenes inspired by the movie and words the audience is meant to sing along to. There was no singing in our viewing of the show, and many guests seemed to wonder why they had waited in line to see words on a screen. More about What's This? Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas Sing-Along show.

Walt Disney World already has two sing-along shows, Frozen at Disney's Hollywood Studios and Beauty and the Beast at EPCOT. Do we really need another? They're better left where they belong, in living rooms at home.

The second all-new show is Disney Holidays in Hollywood. Inspired by vintage Hollywood TV specials, the 25-minute show includes a series of vignettes with appearances from Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Tiana, Belle, Mickey, and Minnie.

The show is full of top-notch performers, who all performed to a very high level in dance and song. Even Mickey and Minnie broke out some never-before-seen dance moves that were very impressive.

A fantastic-sounding live band accompanies the show, including a brand-new original song by Tiana.

The Muppets make a couple of welcome appearances on-stage, but it is all too brief, and despite the incredible talent of performers, there are no stand-out moments, and while enjoyable, it is not a holiday must-do. More about Disney Holidays in Hollywood.

Disney's Hollywood Studios has been home to some of Walt Disney World's best fireworks shows, including Frozen, Symphony in the Stars, Villainy in the Sky, and Sorcery in the Sky. So, expectations may be high that a ticketed event would include a fitting finale.

Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! returns to Disney's Hollywood Studios as the nighttime show and, unfortunately, as a shadow of its former self. Never one of Disney's best nighttime shows, it did have at least a reasonable amount of pyro and the novelty of projections in its early days.

Now, the show has lost all its large fireworks due to cutting the entire secondary launch site built across the road behind the park. The show now only fires low-level pyro from the rooftops in the area, which is so weak compared to what we see at Magic Kingdom and EPCOT with their nighttime spectaculars.

Despite the headlining new stage shows, Disney Jollywood Nights also debuted new lounge experiences at the Tower of Terror and Hollywood Brown Derby.

The Twilight Soirée at The Tip-Top Club features a live band playing holiday tunes, with a bar offering walk-up cocktails in the exit area courtyard at Tower of Terror.

The live band was a great addition, but only played intermittently. When the band was there, the area was packed with onlookers. There was no dancing from performers or guests, which would have gone a long way to make the space seem more like how many would imagine the Tip Top Club.

The bar was a typical walk-up outdoor vending cart, with two bartenders serving a very long line of guests snaking behind the Joffrey's kiosk and towards the entrance to the Tower of Terror ride. Beyond a couple of standing tables, there is no seating or feeling of being in a club.

Sadly, no streetmosphere was to be found, and it really seemed the only reason the band was there was to bring people into the area to buy drinks.

For a part of the event that many guests had high hopes for, The Twilight Soirée did not deliver. More about The Twilight Soirée.

At the Hollywood Brown Derby, those guests who were able to get in were treated to some piano music from a jazz performer. He was a very talented performer, but there was not more to it.

Similarly, along Commissary Lane, the "Holiday Fiesta En La Calle" did not meet expectations. Some string lights and colored floods formed the bulk of the decor, and the musicians were often playing to an empty street with only ABC Commissary Cast Members looking on.

It's Raining, It's Pouring

Making matters worse for the opening night of Disney Jollywood Nights was the weather. As rainfall became steady, the characters retreated, the live entertainment halted, photo ops deactivated, and guests were left wondering where everyone went. There were no backup indoor locations to move to when the weather turned.

Summing Up Disney Jollywood Nights

It is difficult to recommend Disney Jollywood Nights as experienced on opening night. The biggest issue we expect attendees to encounter is managing their time at the event. If you plan to see shows, it will take at least an hour for each, including the queue and the performance, leaving very little time to experience the low wait times at the rides. If you also start sampling the food and drink, even more time is taken up, and it becomes a question of what you are getting for the nearly $200 asking price. If you skip the shows and food, it becomes a similar experience to a regular day at the park.

Disney Jollywood Nights also highlights the lack of holiday experiences at Disney's Hollywood Studios. For a park that once hosted the world-famous Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights, the park now has very few holiday offerings for day guests. Disney Jollywood Nights has put the once-included holiday nighttime show behind a paywall, along with two new stage shows that would be better served as new entertainment for all guests during the daytime.

Disney Jollywood Nights vs Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party

If you are considering which of the similarly priced Walt Disney World parties to attend, the answer for many guests is easy. Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party is a significantly better event. The Magic Kingdom offering has a fantastic parade, castle stage show, great fireworks, complimentary treats, the entire Magic Kingdom line-up of rides with very low waits, and a very festive atmosphere.

Where you may want to shift that decision to Disney Jollywood Nights is if you are either:

  • Someone who wants to buy the many festival-type food and drink offerings.
  • Someone who wants to ride the Studios attractions with very low wait times, like at a Disney After Hours event.

Find out more about Disney Jollywood Nights.

Find out more about Mickey's very merry Christmas Party.

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Rhinocerous3 hours ago

Perhaps management is worried that if they start providing value for money, guests will come to expect it across all sectors of the business.

drew818 hours ago

Along with several other characters… Pinocchio unit, Alice unit, Hook/Smee, Robin Hood unit etc

wdwmagic9 hours ago

Who really should not be rare at all. How one cannot have Jiminy at MK in daily ops is beyond me.

asianway10 hours ago

They got rid of one of the only “rare” characters

mastromjm10 hours ago

Yes he was which was actually (don't judge) quite disappointing for me. Met Geppetto about three trillion times and this would have been my first Jiminy meet

drew8110 hours ago

Looks like Jiminy Cricket might have been pulled or swapped out with Geppetto.

mkt11 hours ago

And the check arrived. Apparently Paypal credit won't just dump it back into my paypal or checking account.

dizneycrazy0915 hours ago

A little late to the party, but I wanted to pop in and let everyone know that Disney is still giving refunds for the first Jollywood. I wrote a lengthy email a few days after attending, and it was resolved this past Friday. We didn’t even ask for a refund; we just asked that they “do the right thing.” A full refund for our three tickets was the leading offer.

WorldExplorer6 days ago

When they did the Earth week character meets this year, for whatever reason on the last day they had a single queue for the last appearance of the characters and when people entered they were told they'll meet Jiminy Cricket or Tinkerbell and Fawn, with no choice over which they got. Everyone in the line said "screw that" and did exactly what you describe. Someone found the first person waiting for the fairies, and she let all the people there for Jiminy jump in front of her. I still don't really understand why the attendants couldn't have done what the guests ended up doing. It definitely worked better than the alternative.

TheMaxRebo6 days ago

I watched one review video from night 2 and they said the CMs would tell them how long until the switch but not guarantee who they would meet

Doberge6 days ago

Would need to be conservative with estimates to not over estimate. Shoot for something like 5 minute wiggle room and and then have an attendant start at the front of the remaining queue to ask if any group wants to meet with X while he or she still has a more few minutes before needing to step away. Some folks truly don't care and it'd continue to cycle people through until needing to switch. It's not ideal and Disney really should just spring for extra CMs and at minimum keep pairs.

Thumper 326 days ago

Best of luck to the attendant trying to figure out which groups will take a normal amount of pictures and which have to do four different TikTok videos and get eight picture frames signed. Having to make that call 20+ minutes in advance, the only guarantee is that they’ll either over or under estimate, and then what?

Doberge6 days ago

The CMs had paddleboards with the meeting character's name, so another idea is to identify the cutoff group so everyone in front knows who they are meeting and then everyone after that group would be told they'd meet X, and then people entering at any time would know who they'll meet.

HauntedPirate6 days ago

Once MVMCP "sells out", what are the odds this begins following suit? Or at least Disney proclaims parties to be "sold out".