Extra Magic Hours at Walt Disney World
By Dave Shute
OVERVIEW: EXTRA MAGIC HOURS AT WALT DISNEY WORLD
(This page is one of a series explicating Walt Disney World lingo, abbreviations, and FAQ for first time family visitors to Walt Disney World.)
Extra Magic Hours are a program offered only to guests staying at Walt Disney Resort hotels, and also at three other hotels: the Swan, Dolphin, and Shades of Green.
Almost every day, at least one of Walt Disney World’s theme parks offers morning Extra Magic Hours or evening Extra Magic Hours.
During morning Extra Magic Hours, a theme park opens one hour earlier to these guests than it opens to the general public. During evening Extra Magic Hours, a theme park remains open for these guests for two hours later than it is open to the general public.
Not all rides and attractions operate during these hours. However, most of the most popular ones are open in the morning hours, and even more are open in the evening hours.
The effect of these hours is to increase the operating hours of the theme parks for Walt Disney World resort guests—and for the guests of the three additional hotels listed above.
These are not, however, necessarily less crowded periods.
The hotels in the program hold on the order of 30,000 rooms! That room capacity can put a lot of people into the parks! See the “Dos, Don’ts, Tricks and Tips” section below for suggestions on how to work Extra Magic Hours.
MORE ON EXTRA MAGIC HOURS AT WALT DISNEY WORLD
Extra Magic Hours are open only to guests staying at Walt Disney Resort hotels, and also at three other hotels: the Swan, Dolphin, and Shades of Green.
During morning Extra Magic Hours, your family will be admitted by showing both your room key/MagicBand (one for each member!) and your theme park admission.
In the evening Extra Magic Hours, once you are already in the theme park, your family will be allowed on the rides by each member showing a room key/MagciBand.
(You can use your room booking the day you check out–that is, you are welcome to Extra Magic Hours in the morning or the evening of the day you check out of your hotel.)
Almost every day, at least one park will offer hours in the program.
A pattern to these offerings has emerged over the past few years:
- Sundays: Hollywood Studios morning
- Mondays: Animal Kingdom morning
- Tuesday: Epcot evening
- Wednesdays: Magic Kingdom evening
- Thursdays: Epcot morning
- Fridays: Magic Kingdom morning, and Hollywood Studios evening
- Saturdays: Animal Kingdom morning
However, there is enough variability in these patterns that if you don’t use one of the itineraries provided by this site, you should directly check the Walt Disney World theme park schedules, which are generally published six months in advance.
It’s easier to work with the individual park calendars:
EXTRA MAGIC HOURS TRICKS, TIPS, DOs, AND DONTs
Don’t assume that the parks will be less crowded during Extra Magic Hours.
- In general, the parks will be less crowded at the beginning of morning Extra Magic Hours, but by an hour or two after the park has opened to the general public, the park will be more crowded than usual.
- Evening Extra Magic hours can be a zoo, particularly on nights when the park closes to the general public early enough that the Evening Extra Magic Hours fall during a period when many people are comfortable attending theme parks.
- For example, in the off-season, it’s not unusual for evening Extra Magic Hours to begin at 7p at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and the Magic Kingdom, and 9p at Epcot.
- These times are not a barrier to attendance…they are an invitation!
- On the other hand, during busier periods, it’s not unusual for the normal closing time of the Magic Kingdom to be 11p or midnight. Extra Magic Hours can keep the Magic Kingdom open until 1a or 2a! I can assure you that the Magic Kingdom will be quite empty at 2a.
Do try to see fireworks shows during evenings that the respective park has evening Extra Magic Hours.
- Walt Disney World’s fireworks shows Wishes at the Magic Kingdom, Illuminations at Epcot, and Fantasmic at Disney’s Hollywood Studios are among its best loved attractions.
- Commonly—and almost always at Epcot—these shows end at the same time the park closes. The result is a mass of people exiting the park at once that has to be seen to be believed.
- By seeing these shows on Extra Magic Hours evenings, you will have more reason to stay after they happen, and more to do during that period. This lets you avoid the jams exiting after the shows.