By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2018, from the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever. Paperback available on Amazon here. Kindle version available on Amazon here.—Disney World Instructions for the First-Time Visitor

Extra Magic Hours at Walt Disney World

By Dave Shute


(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 to guests staying at Walt Disney Resort hotels, and also at three other hotels: the Swan, Dolphin, and Shades of Green. In early 2018, access to them was added to guests staying at one of the Disney Springs Resort Area hotels, and in March 2018, to guests staying at the Four Seasons.

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.


Extra Magic Hours are open only to guests staying at Walt Disney Resort hotels, and also at the Swan, Dolphin, Shades of Green, Four Seasons and the Disney Springs Resort Area hotels

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/MagicBand.

(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,
  • 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:


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 or 8p 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/evening shows during evenings that the respective park has evening Extra Magic Hours.

  • Walt Disney World’s fireworks shows Happily Ever After  at the Magic Kingdom and Illuminations at Epcot are among its best loved attractions (The other two parks also have evening shows, but don’t usually have evening EMH any more.)
  • 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.

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1 Lacy { 07.30.14 at 12:09 pm }

Hi Dave,
We are taking our little boy to Disney World September 24-29th. We will spend one day at each park for four days (25th, 26th, 27th, 28th). Our goal is to best avoid the most crowded parks each day. Do you have a recommendation on which parks to attend which days? We also are planning on attending the not so scary Halloween party.

2 Dave { 07.31.14 at 1:27 pm }

Hi Lacy, how old? If he is for example 5, I wouldn’t bother with Epcot, but instead would do two days at MK.

9/25 avoid MK
9/26 avoid AK and Epcot
9/27 avoid all but AK–so this is your AK day!
9/28 avoid HS

3 DA { 10.20.14 at 10:33 am }

We are going to AK on Nov. 9th. I have a 9:15 TH reservation and a 4:15 TH reservation, so I am not sure which one to use. It is an EMH morning. What time will we be allowed in the park if we use the am reservation? Will we be able to do any of the rides prior to our reservation, we are staying DTD? I have a 9:55-10:55 safari fp; 10:55-11:55 Kali fp, and a 11:55-12:55 Everest fp (planning on going closer to end time especially the safari). Thanks!

4 Dave { 10.20.14 at 4:16 pm }

DA, when you say “DTD”–can you be more precise? Different hotels have different privileges. For example, the Hilton gets to use EMH. If you don’t have EMH, I would not go to AK the 9th, and if you wanna go anyway, I’d cancel the 9.15 and use the 4.15 instead…But to answer your question, you’ll be let in a little before 9, and there’s no ride between the entrance and TH that you’ll be able to ride and still dine at 9.15.

5 Cynthia { 12.28.14 at 9:39 pm }

Looking for a little guidance. Coming in Feb. 2015 have to ADR for Boma 6pm and 7pm would like to time it around sunset and storytelling. Would you know what time storrytelling is usually in February at AKL or where I can get the info from AKL directly
Thank you

6 Dave { 12.30.14 at 9:43 am }

Cynthia, I’m not sure. What I’d do is post your question here in early Feb:

7 Cynthia { 12.28.14 at 9:42 pm }

Sorry one more question please. Would you advise BOG dinner at 4:15 or 9pm? Would like to find a way to plan our MK day in a way that would keep us there till 2AM as my kids are looking forward to riding the rides late at night

Thanks again

8 Dave { 12.30.14 at 9:45 am }

Cynthia, do you already have a reservation? BOG books up 180 days ahead… Hard also to advise without knowing your date, as Wishes is often on at 9p at it is a much better way to spend your time…

9 Paul { 01.06.16 at 5:30 pm }

Dave, once again, I love all of the info on the site. You’ve helped my family tremendously with our Disney planning over the years and have been exceptionally kind answering my questions. But I do have one more regarding Extra Magic Hours.

I know you, and other sites such as Easy WDW, typically suggest avoiding parks with morning EMH or at least park hopping somewhere else after they are over. But that is based on the number of resort hotel rooms and potential occupancy converging on that one park that day. For example, the ~30,000 rooms with maybe 4 people per.

Is there any data that shows the wait times for attractions are appreciably greater for parks on the days they have EMH versus other days? You are great at posting attendance data or occupancy rates, and I am wondering if you have a chart or table for EMH-day wait times vs non-EMH wait times.

I certainly understand the logic, but all of the evidence seems anecdotal, and I’m not sure I’ve had the same crowded experiences on EMH days as others have reported. I was just wondering if some statistical analysis could demonstrate that more clearly.

Thanks very much and keep up the outstanding work!

10 Dave { 01.07.16 at 4:12 pm }

Hey Paul, Josh has such data, but I can’t find the links.

11 Kelly B - Agent with Destinations in Florida { 01.07.16 at 9:35 am }

While I don’t have the actual data, I tend to agree with Dave about EMH. I’ve personally avoided the parks with EMH. The crowd levels are higher. If you are a family that will be up and at the parks at rope drop, it can be an advantage.

While a time of year can be a low crowd time, that same time you can find resorts at maximum capacity. That’s a lot of people all converging on one park. With crowds, heightened security, etc you may find yourself not really being able to take advantage of that morning EMH.

I find for my family that we benefit more from getting a bit more sleep. Not rushing and dealing with the stress of buses and times first thing in the AM. And then heading to a non EMH park and enjoying the lower crowds (especially in the mornings).

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