Categories:Blog Walt Disney World

Extra Magic Hours – When To Use this Disney World Perk

There are plenty of perks when it comes to staying on-property at a Walt Disney World owned and operated resort. Next to the magic and theming of the resorts themselves, the additional perks are a huge incentive to select a Disney World Resort Hotel over a non-Disney location. One of the biggest perks is getting access to the parks during hours when day guests aren’t allowed through the gates. But just because it’s a perk doesn’t mean it should always be utilized. We’ll share the top strategies for Extra Magic Hours and when to use this Disney World perk.

What Extra Magic Hours Are

Simply put, Extra Magic Hours (EMH) grant guests staying at a Disney resort access to the Disney World theme parks when they aren’t opened to other day guests. In this definition a day guest is someone that is staying at a hotel off property or who is a Florida local driving in for the day. So, those individuals that do not currently have a Disney Resort reservation.

Extra Magic Hours are offered in the Mornings and the Evenings. Morning Extra Magic Hours typically means that the park opens an hour early that day for Disney resort guests. While Evening Extra Magic Hours means the park typically stays open 1-2 hours after the normal operating hours for Disney resort guests.

Magic Kingdom, Epcot and Hollywood Studios all offer Morning and Evening Extra Magic Hours. Disney’s Animal Kingdom currently only offers Morning Extra Magic Hours. Every week each park will have at least one day where it offers EMH. Then each day of the week will have at least one theme park offering EMH. Based on crowd levels Disney changes up the offerings from month to month and sometimes even week to week. They are constantly tinkering with these offerings so their website would be the most up-to-date place to see times.

Extra Magic Hours - The importance of arriving early

In fact it is not uncommon, since you will be planning a Disney trip months in advance, to one day look at park hours for when you will be there and notice that a park now has an additional EMH offering that week. Disney is constantly monitoring their crowd projections. If one week looks like they will have a high hotel occupancy rate, then they might add in an additional EMH offering to accommodate the crowds. This is all to say that you will want to keep your eyes on the EMH offerings for your trip. If a new offering pops up (or is taken away, which can happen) you might want to adjust your plans.

As an example of what a week of EMH might look like, I took a random week on the Walt Disney World calendar and here’s what I got. Magic Kingdom has them on Wednesday and Friday from 8-9 a.m., Epcot has them on Tuesday from 9-11 p.m. and Thursday from 8-9 a.m., Hollywood Studios offers them on Saturday from [8:30]-10:30 p.m. and Animal Kingdom has them on Monday and Saturday from 8-9 a.m.

Almost all the attractions are open during EMH but there can be some that do not participate. A current list of the participating attractions for each park can be found here.

Who Has Access To Them

If you have a reservation at a Walt Disney World owned and operated resort hotel and have valid theme park admission for that day, you can take advantage of this perk. This includes the day you check-in and the day you check-out. So even if you check-out in the morning you can still go to the parks that day and utilize EMH.

There are several other hotels that Disney has partnered with to offer select on-property resort perks.

You have access to this perk if you are staying at:

What Do I Do When I Arrive For Extra Magic Hours?

During the Morning offering all you have to do is scan your MagicBand at the turnstiles. You might have to verify your resort reservation audibly (just by saying what resort you are staying at) with a Cast Member but for the most part you walk right in.

For the Evening it works a little different. Disney doesn’t fully kick out day guests one by one, rather they strongly encourage them to leave. Since there is a possibility of day guests still being in the park, each attraction and experience that is available during Evening Extra Magic Hours that day will require you to scan your Magic Band when you enter the queue. At this point just like with Morning Extra Magic Hours you might have to audibly confirm your resort reservation with a Cast Member. This process prevents the day guests from accessing the attractions even if they still remain in the park.

Top Tips For Extra Magic Hours

The idea behind EMH is that there will be less people in the parks during those times since only on-property guests can access the park. In theory this is true but in practice it doesn’t always work out the way you want it to. What it all comes down to is arriving at the proper time.

Will the park be less crowded during Extra Magic Hours? On average, yes. Will you have the ability to ride the top tier attractions over and over because there is barely anyone in the park? Not necessarily. Even though overall there are fewer people in the park then say noon on a Saturday, there are still plenty of on-property resort guests that take advantage of this perk. That’s why we strongly encourage you to still Rope Drop Morning Extra Magic Hours. This way you can almost ensure you get onto the attractions you want to experience. In a little we will explain why Rope Dropping is so important. With Evening Extra Magic Hours just be sure you’re in the park a few minutes before they start and you’ll be fine.

In my experience Morning Extra Magic Hours are typically less crowded than Evening Extra Magic Hours. Most likely because of the fact that it’s a lot harder to get everyone up and moving in the morning than it is to just stay out late. When it comes to Morning Extra Magic Hours, Magic Kingdom is where you get the most bang for your buck. It has the most attractions opened during the morning when compared to the other three Disney World theme parks. Since there are so many attractions to experience, Morning Extra Magic Hours at the Magic Kingdom is a great way to start the day if you plan on seeing as much as possible.

If you have the Park Hopper ticket option I do not recommend that you hop to the park with Morning Extra Magic Hours during the day. Either start your day in the park with Morning Extra Magic Hours or visit it on another day. Reason being is that crowds will just continue to build throughout the day. Many people will be taking advantage of the Morning Extra Magic Hours, since it is such a good perk. During the actual Extra Magic Hours timeframe there will be less people in the park but you have to add that amount of people to the amount of people that would typically show up.

To put it in other words, let’s say on a typical day at the Magic Kingdom 50,000 people go (this is an average number). So if normal operating hours are in place that many people will show up and that group consists of Disney resort guests and day guests who are arriving at different times of the day. Well, if you have EMH let’s just say that 5,000 people take advantage of that offering (a potentially low guess considering Disney operates 30,000 guest rooms). Those 5,000 might already be going to Magic Kingdom that day or more likely they were persuaded to go because of the EMH offering. So now there is a potential of 55,000 people being in the Magic Kingdom that day.

Extra Magic Hours - Utilize every second of them.

This is all to say that as the day goes on the park will continue to get more and more crowded with each passing hour. If you want to take full advantage of the Morning Extra Magic Hours you want to get there before those hours start so that you can Rope Drop and participate in the entire allotted time. Get there early before day guests and those resort guests who slept in start arriving. If you don’t think you can get to the park at least 30 minutes before Morning Magic Hours start, then skip it and go to a different park. And on top of that now you can see why you don’t want to Park Hop to the park with Morning Extra Magic Hours. It will only get more crowded throughout the day and when it comes down to it the perk typically only lasts for an hour. Which isn’t a whole lot of time. Get there early and take advantage of every second of it.

“If you don’t think you can get to the park at least 30 minutes before Morning Magic Hours start, then skip it and go to a different park.”

On the flip side, if you do have Park Hopper tickets a good strategy to use would be to participate in Morning Extra Magic Hours and then as that park gets busy hop to another less crowded park for the rest of your day.

Just like with the Morning offerings, the same idea applies for Evening Extra Magic Hours. Stay for the full time it is being offered for so that you can squeeze every last drop out of this perk. But in this instance it’s ok to Park Hop to the park with Evening Extra Magic Hours, especially if you are hopping around when they start. Even though there will be more people in the park, only resort guests can access the rides. Because day guests are cut off from the attractions, it should work out in the end.

During busy times the parks can stay open later for day guests to accommodate the large crowds. Because of this Evening Extra Magic Hours can sometimes last until after midnight. These late nights can affect your strategy for the next day of theme park visiting because it will determine when you will wake up. A Disney World vacation is tiring and there’s plenty of walking involved. Staying out late for Evening Extra Magic Hours one night and then trying to get to Morning Extra Magic Hours the next day is a recipe for disaster. You’re going to be exhausted. So just keep that in mind when you’re planning your days.

Using EMH during the less crowded times is going to have a much bigger impact. Because it’s already less crowded, offering a perk that reduces crowds even more will double or triple its effects when it comes to wait times. That isn’t to say you should only use EMH during less crowded times of the year. Rather you should just keep in mind that their effectiveness will be greater during these times.

OUR WDW OPINION

Extra Magic Hours are still a fantastic perk and one of the main reasons why you should strongly consider staying on-property at Walt Disney World. Having access to the parks with lower crowds means you’ll be able to experience favorite attractions with low wait times. But there’s also something to be said about being in a less crowded park. I feel that those sorts of times can enhance the magic during your stay. When used correctly EMH can be a huge benefit to your theme park strategies.

Have more questions about EMH at Walt Disney World? Ask the experts in our Opinioneers community and get their advice.


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