Extra Magic Hours at Walt Disney World
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 four other hotels: the Swan, Dolphin, Shades of Green, and Downtown Disney Hilton.
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 three hours later (two hours beginning in January 2013) 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 four 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 four other hotels: the Swan, Dolphin, Shades of Green, and Downtown Disney Hilton.
During morning Extra Magic Hours, your family will be admitted by showing both your room key (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.
(You can use your key 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 decade, with one basic model being offered in the autumn, winter, and most of the spring, and second basic model being offered in the weeks before and after Easter, Christmas and New Years weeks, and the busy weeks of summer.
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 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 5p at the Animal Kingdom, 7p at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and the Magic Kingdom, and 8p 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 2 or 3a! 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.
Tricks and tips.
Morning and evening Extra Magic hours pay off particularly well at Disney’s Animal Kingdom during the low season. In this period, the Animal Kingdom’s normal hours are from 9-5, and that just isn’t quite enough time to fully enjoy the park.
- You should begin your morning Extra Magic Hours at the Animal Kingdom with seeing the Kilimanjaro Safaris, as the animals are much more active early in the morning than they are later in the day.
- You should think of evening Extra Magic Hours at the Animal Kingdom as a way to see a few shows and to enjoy the environment of the Animal Kingdom in the dark—an experience that is almost never available other than during evening Extra Magic Hours. The rides themselves will be mobbed.
Because Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios are a 20 minute walk from each other (they are the only Walt Disney World theme parks you can walk between), you can make the opening of both if either has morning Extra Magic Hours (and if you have the park hopper option on your ticket.)
- For example, during a period when normal opening hours are 9a, and a day that Epcot has morning Extra Magic Hours, you could get to Epcot in time for its 8a Extra Magic Hours opening, FASTPASSS oarin, walk from there to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and be there in time for its opening at 9a.
- (There are also boats, and, often, buses between these two parks. Neither is on a frequent enough schedule, nor fast enough, to beat walking.)