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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 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. In early 2019, Extra Magic Hours access was granted to guests staying at the Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek and the Waldorf Astoria Orlando.

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 or more hours 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 or more 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 the Swan, Dolphin, Shades of Green, Four Seasons and the Disney Springs Resort Area hotels. In March 2019, two hotels in the Bonnet Creek area, Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek and Waldorf Astoria Orlando gained access to EMH as well.

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 EMH  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:

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 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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45 comments

1 Sharon { 08.30.12 at 3:33 pm }

I did the EMH once and only once. It was a nightmare. There were more people at EMH than there were all day….In my opinion..not worth it!

2 Dave { 08.31.12 at 7:12 am }

Sharon, I mostly agree!

3 Solomani { 10.08.12 at 5:38 am }

Hi Dave,
I was building an itinerary around the early magic hours to basically maximise time in the morning at each park and have the afternoon “off” for non park activities. Main reason is because I have a spread of kids ages (at the time, 2013 Xmas they will be 10, 8, 5 and 3). Do you think, on a 10 day non-hopper pass, I would be able to see many of the attractions that would please both sets of kids (would split up on many occasions)?

I really don’t want to be in the park at 2000, let alone 1200 or 0100 with kids 10 and under. Thats my main reason for avoiding the evening hours.

Thanks in advance.

4 Dave { 10.08.12 at 6:58 am }

Solomani, the parks take on a special magic at night, especially Epcot and MK, and you don’t want to miss any of the three evening shows (Wishes, Fantasmic, and Illuminations). But the afternoons are intrinsically skippable, and this includes (heresy coming) even the afternoon parades…World Showcase at Epcot does not open until 11a, but your kids may find it uninteresting…

With those qualification, your general approach can work fine, especially if you add park hoppers to your tix. I would allocate ten ticket-mornings as follows: one to Epcot, 2 each to HS and AK, 4 to MK, and then reserve the last for returning to your favorite.

My “Summer Itinerary” has some of the morning-focused features you are looking for–see this: https://yourfirstvisit.net/2010/12/06/summer-itinerary-for-walt-disney-world-v2/

5 Solomani { 10.08.12 at 8:55 pm }

Hi Dave, Excellent and thanks.

6 Luis { 02.22.13 at 10:20 am }

Hi Dave!! do you have any predictions on how’s gonna be (the days) the extra magic hours for december? TKS a lot!

7 Dave { 02.22.13 at 10:38 am }

Luis, my predictions are based on what Disney has done for the past few years–always subject to change! For what’s typical at least until Christmas week based on the past, see this: https://yourfirstvisit.net/2012/12/07/next-week-128-12162012-walt-disney-world/

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8 Luis { 02.22.13 at 11:43 am }

Tks Dave!! I can assure you, this is the best info on line!! I’ll tell my friends!!!

9 Dave { 02.22.13 at 12:13 pm }

Thanks, Luis!!!

10 Megan { 03.20.13 at 10:13 pm }

Hi Dave,

Fantastic site! I wish I had of found this last fall when we were planning. We are going to Disney April 6 until April 12 with our almost 5 year old for our first time visit. We plan to return when he’s older. We are taking April 6th as our rest da and staying at the resort to help my son catch up on sleep and relax. We have a 4 day NON park hopper for mon through Thursday then returning home on Friday. Do you recommend avoiding parks on the day that they have the extra magic hours as they would be more busy on those days or is it better to go to the parks on the day we get extra morning hours. (Extra evening hours won’t work as there is no way our son will stay up till midnight). Are there top attraction that you would say not to miss?

Thanks for your help!

Megan

11 Dave { 03.21.13 at 6:41 am }

Hi Megan, and thanks for the kind words!

Yes for people without hoppers I do advise avoiding morning EMH days. And for don’t miss stuff, see this page: https://yourfirstvisit.net/2011/03/09/the-comprehensive-guide-to-walt-disney-world-rides-and-attractions/

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12 Megan { 03.21.13 at 9:15 pm }

Thanks Dave! Your opinion is so appreciated!

13 Dave { 03.22.13 at 1:11 pm }

🙂

14 emma { 06.25.13 at 8:56 am }

Hi. Can you tell me the least busiest time to go to Disneyworld but where its still warm. Thanks.

15 Dave { 06.25.13 at 9:49 am }

Emma, that would be September. There are, however, some issues then. See this for how it all works in 2013: https://yourfirstvisit.net/2013/02/25/september-2013-at-walt-disney-world/

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16 KEITH { 08.08.13 at 1:17 pm }

Hi Dave,
Like an idiot, I booked dinner at Boma at 5:50 on the day we’re at AK, because I thought it was at AK.
Is it a long/difficult trip between AK and Boma?
thanks

17 Dave { 08.09.13 at 11:11 am }

Keith, all this requires is getting to the bus area, waiting for an AKL bus, taking it to AKL, then heading downstairs to Boma.

The bus ride itself is <10 minutes. The waiting and walking time will vary from where you are in AK when you head for the bus (AK is huge) and how many other people are waiting for the bus...If AK closes at 5p that day (which it does some days of the year) be sure to be at the bus stop well befroe 5 so you don't run into the park-closing crowds waiting to head to AKL!

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18 Jason { 08.20.13 at 12:41 pm }

We asst using the military family discount tix to go 23-28Sep 2013 (next month) & want to maximize the must-see experiences & special events using the 4 day hopper tix. 2 adults & our 2yr old daughter we must let get nap afternoons. Can you help an itinerary for this trip? Thanks so much for your website & I’posting this interaction our fb pages & my company page http://www.Facebook.com/TheShadeTreeDIYgarage

19 Dave { 08.21.13 at 9:03 am }

Jason, I’m sorry but I don’t do custom itineraries. All my stuff is for much longer visits and much older kids. Suggest you check http://touringplans.com/magic-kingdom/touring-plans?utm_campaign=referral&utm_medium=website&utm_source=yourfirstvisit&utm_content=r1&property_id=1 and http://www.leaveittogenie.com/

20 JasonB { 08.26.13 at 10:53 am }

Is there a way to predict what the Extra Magic Hours might be for next summer for planning purposes? I’d like it if I could figure out what the schedule might be for Aug 1-15 2014 so I can work on my plan if possible. I know they come out 6 months prior but I’d like to have it all figured out before then so I can book my dining reservations to coincide with my park visits so knowing the extra magic hours prior to 6 months would be helpful.

Thanks!

21 Dave { 08.27.13 at 7:56 am }

Jason, you could start with the assumption that the pattern will be the same as on the equivalent dates this summer. There’s no guarantee to that–after FP+ is fully out there may not even be EMH anymore–but that’s where to start.

You can see weekly EMH schedules here: https://yourfirstvisit.net/i-basic-itinerary/next-week-at-walt-disney-world/

Was this even remotely helpful? Then mosey on over to the home page, and like it on Facebook or pin it on Pinterest!

22 Michelle { 11.08.13 at 11:33 am }

checking the official disney calendars on their website and it appers that 2/4/14 has no EMH? is that strange?

23 Dave { 11.09.13 at 9:20 am }

I’m seeing Epcot EMH that day on the calendars.

24 Michelle { 11.12.13 at 11:48 am }

Can you link me to where you are checking the EMH? i am signed into MDE and looking at the daily calendar that shows a list of all the parks and their hours…..

25 Dave { 11.12.13 at 4:13 pm }

Michelle–I misread your original post–I thought your said 2/14! This is what I use: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/calendars/2014-02-04/ I just change the nums at the end. You are right, and I can’t explain what is up…

26 Kristi { 04.02.14 at 11:48 pm }

Hello Dave! Seeking your help yet again… I am confused about EMH; are they a good thing or to be avoided? Your wisdom, as always, is appreciated!

27 Dave { 04.03.14 at 7:35 am }

Kristi, EMH attracts hordes from Disney’s 27,000+ hotel rooms. But if you have a park hopper ticket, then morning EMH combined with hopping can be great. Set your FastPass+ for the second park to which you plan to hop, arrive at the morning EMH park before they begin, stay there until it gets crowded, then leave. If you don’t have a hopper, I’d avoid morning EMH–the first hour is great, but the rest of the day the park will be more crowded than on other available days. Evening EMH provides little value.

28 Anonymous { 04.03.14 at 6:22 pm }

Thank you, Dave…
I did a little checking ahead to our week at WDW and it looks like they have morning EMH every day but one at MK when we are there(5/7) AND evening EMH til 1 AM on the one day that doesn’t have AM EMH. Is this especially unusual and/or for any special reason? EP only has EMH one time that week in evening… which is the same day we have FP+ for reserved seating for illuminations… Is this good or bad? We also have a 7:20 breakfast at chef Mickey’s our first day and now I am wondering if we should try change that for another time given MK AM EMH… ? And to think I thought I had it all figured out months ago! 😉

29 Kristi { 04.03.14 at 6:32 pm }

OOPs… Sorry I posted “Anonymous” above! Ok, I just went back and now it doesn’t look like there’s that many days of EMH… wondering My Disney Exp website was being funky or something?! Or maybe it was just me getting old!

30 Dave { 04.04.14 at 2:11 pm }

Oh Kristi I dunno! I often think while on MDE that I’m viewing a certain date, but find it has reverted to some other date I wasna expecting…but it’s usually a reversion to today when I was expecting months ahead, and I think what you were seeing was something from the weeks before or after Easter…so to repeat, I dunno why you got the weird info…

31 Anonymous { 04.04.14 at 8:56 pm }

You crack me up , Dave! I love that you reply to even non-sensical posts such as mine in an entertaining manner. 🙂 Thanks for the explanation and validation that it was likely the website and not me being delusional…

32 Dave { 04.05.14 at 7:53 am }

If we are not delusional ourselves, then others must be delusional in our stead…

33 Valerie { 07.23.14 at 9:00 am }

Hi Dave, I’m thinking Emh/am might be a good idea for Epcot because it has so few rides ( we primarily just like soarin and test track) and you could get those done in that first hour then we wouldn’t worry about the crowds later as we would be heading to world showcase . What are your thoughts Dave?

34 Dave { 07.23.14 at 5:23 pm }

Hi Valerie! Since everyone else in the park is also trying to do Soarin and Test Track during EMH, you’ll likely only hit one of them with an ok wait right at rope drop. Do the other as a FP+ later in the morning. And then you will, as you note, be fine!

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