Disney does a great job of promoting their Extra Magic Hours specials to all of their guests. But did you know that in many situations, we DO NOT RECOMMEND Extra Magic Hours? Why not? Why would we tell you NOT to use them? What exactly are extra magic hours? Are they ever “worth it”?
This primer will give you the ins and outs of this Disney program. By the end, you’ll know when to use them, and when NOT to use them.
What Are Disney World Extra Magic Hours?
Every day, the four theme parks have specific hours of operation. Extra Magic Hours are extended hours of operation, and are only open to Disney resort guests. So if you are staying offsite, no Extra Magic Hours for you! Typically, they take place an hour before normal opening, or a few hours after the normal park closing.
Are Extra Magic Hours worth it?
Some are, and some aren’t. Many guests will look at the calendar, see “EXTRA MAGIC HOURS”, and assume that they need to go to that particular park on that day. I don’t know if they think that the park is only open to resort guests for the entire day? Whatever the reasoning is, USUALLY EMH days are busier than normal.
Next, we’ll break down Extra Magic Hours by park, which will help you determine whether or not you need to use them.
Typically, there are two EMH periods in the Magic Kingdom each week. The first is an 8-9 EMH. Typically, I’m not a big fan of this one, unless you can arrive to the MK at 7:15-7:20. If you can, you will really get a lot of park touring done in the first two hours. But after that, crowd levels will USUALLY be higher. So only use this one if you can actually make it 30-40 minutes before park opening.
The second EMH period in the MK is the late night Extra Magic Hours. Without question, this is my favorite offering of all. The time and day of the week of this offer changes quite frequently, although it’s typically on Sat/Sun night. Typically this time period will last until 2-3AM! The best part about this one is that the parks do empty out. Even if people want to stay until 2-3, not many are able. So if you are able to stay late, it’s absolutely the best time to be at Disney World, and I highly recommend it.
Epcot also usually has two EMH periods per week, a morning and a late night offering, usually on Friday night. The morning takes place sometime midweek, and is a pretty poor choice. Why? Because it’s quite easy to tour Epcot on the other 6 mornings if you get there early. If you choose to go on Extra Magic Hours morning, you’re faced with tens of thousands of other guests who woke up and decided to go to the “Magic Hours park”. Avoid the marketing. Avoid Epcot on Magic Hour mornings.
On Friday nights, Epcot will have late-night Magic Hours. If you want to ride rides, this is a poor time to go. There are really only two bigtime attractions, Test Track and Soarin, and they will be slammed right up to the end. It’s just not worth it. This is usually Epcot’s busiest day. There is one group of people that I WOULD recommend Epcot’s late Magic hours to. That would be adults that want to enjoy adult beverages and food. The late night hours can allow guests to drink, relax by the lagoon, and enjoy the evening. But it’s not a good time for park touring or attraction riding. Just not worth it.
Like the other parks, Hollywood Studios has a morning and an evening EMH. The problem with both of these time periods is that Hollywood Studios only really has 3 bigtime rides. Tower of Terror, Toy Story Mania, and Rock n Roller Coaster will all be packed on EMH days. If you are forced to go in the morning, make sure you get there really early.
This problem (not enough attractions) also haunts the Studios on EMH evenings. This problem is exacerbated by the thousands of guests that come out of Fantasmic just as EMH is kicking off. If you want to sit in lines all night, by all means, come to Hollywood Studios. But I wouldn’t recommend it.
The Animal Kingdom usually offers two morning EMH periods per week. Some Disney experts don’t like them, but I’m fine with them. You can get a lot done in the morning. By 12, you can practically have the entire park knocked out. That’s smart touring. Now for some reason, the afternoon/evenings in AK are busier on EMH days, but the mornings are usually great.
If you are one of those that only wants to go to the AK once on a week-long trip, I’d pick an EMH morning, schedule your fastpasses for the 12-3 timeframe, and stay until park close. You ride anything and everything that you want to ride, as much as you want to ride it. The AK is a really easy park to tour.
Extra Magic Hour days for Non-Resort guests
If you are not staying onsite, avoid EMH days like the plague. Not only can you not take advantage of them, but again, they are like a beacon of light, telling tens of thousands of Disney guests where to go on a particular day. Avoid them. Don’t even think about it!
Now that you’ve learned the basics about the Extra Magic Hours program, next we are going to help you to finalize and complete your Disney Crowd Calendar.