One of the best reasons to stay onsite at a Disney World Resort is the Extra Magic Hours perk. While this extra time at the parks can be awesome, in some situations, we don’t recommend Extra Magic Hours! Why would we tell you NOT to use them?

In this article, you’ll learn all about this Disney program. By the end, you’ll know when to use your Magic Hours, and when NOT to use them.

What Are Disney World Extra Magic Hours?

Every day, the four theme parks have specific hours of operation. These are the hours that all visitors can come to the parks. 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!

Usually these extra hours will be an hour or two BEFORE the parks open, or a couple hours AFTER the park closes to all other park guests.

Are Extra Magic Hours worth it?

This may seem a silly question. Disney World does a great job of marketing their EMH and if you’re not careful, you’ll find yourself using the magic hours to decide which park to attend. But here’s the issue: If you’re doing that, SO IS EVERYONE ELSE! As always, our goal is to have you zig when everyone else zags. You need to stay AWAY from the crowds, not follow them!

The typical Disney guest will look at the calendar, see that it’s an EMH day, and assume that they need to go to that park on the EMH day. This often happens even if the guest can’t actually make it to the park during the actual magic hours! As a result, the park that has extra magic hours is usually the busiest park of the day! Another factor is that many guests don’t have the park hopper pass. So this means that once they choose a park, they are there for the day!

But please understand that I’m not trying to completely turn you off of magic hours. There are some situations where they are INCREDIBLY awesome.

So what we’re going to do is this: We’re going to break down Extra Magic Hours by park. This will help you plan your trip, decide when to use them, and decide when to avoid them.

Offsite Guest Tip: Before we get started, I want to stress one thing for offsite, non-Disney resort guests. If Magic Hours are going on in a park, do your best to avoid that park on that particular day, unless you have a compelling reason to be there. You can’t take advantage of the hours anyway, so why would you choose the park with the highest attendance?

 

Magic Kingdom Extra Magic Hours

Typically, there are two EMH periods in the Magic Kingdom each week. The first is from 8-9 AM. 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 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. If you’re going to get there 30 minutes after park opens, then really there’s no point.

The second MH period in the MK is the late night Extra Magic Hours. Without question, this is my favorite choice of the week. Sometimes, this time period will last until 2 AM! The best part about this one is that the parks do empty out. Even if people want to stay until 2, not many end up being able to stick it out. My advice is to plan for it, take a long nap, relax at your hotel during the heat of the day, and come back to the park around 8PM. The Magic Kingdom after midnight is absolutely awesome. The lines are short, the crowds thin out, the weather is great, it’s fantastic. I highly recommend it.

A word of caution though. Be smart about your schedule. If you’re going to stay up until 2 AM, you’re not going to get back to your hotel until 3. Don’t schedule anything for the next morning. Definitely make that your “sleep-in” morning. If you don’t, I guarantee you’ll regret it.

Epcot Extra Magic Hours

Epcot also typically has two MH periods per week, a morning and a late night offering. The morning takes place sometime midweek, and I don’t recommend it. Why? Because it’s quite easy to tour Epcot on the other 6 mornings if you get there early. If you decide to go on an Extra Magic Hours morning, you’ve got to compete with thousands of other guests who woke up and decided that they are going to go to the “Magic Hours park”. Avoid the marketing. Avoid Epcot on Magic Hour mornings.

Once a week, Epcot will usually have late-night Magic Hours. If you’re doing this solely to ride rides, this isn’t necessarily the best time to go. Until Guardians of the Galaxy opens, there are really only three major attractions, Test Track, Frozen Ever After, and Soarin, and they will be slammed right up to the end. It’s just not usually worth it. This is often Epcot’s busiest day. That being said, 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 necessarily a good time for park touring or attraction riding.

Hollywood Studios Extra Magic Hours

Usually Hollywood Studios has one morning EMH period per week. Although this is subject to change when Star Wars land opens, there aren’t many evening Magic Hour periods. The morning Magic Hours can actually be pretty fun. Hollywood Studios is a great park to knock out early. With an early morning magic hour period, you can arrive 45 minutes before the gate opens and be done with the major rides by lunchtime.

But if you can’t get up early enough to be there 45 minutes early, I’d avoid. Again, this will be a very heavy traffic day for Hollywood Studios and I’d recommend going on a different morning. If someone in your party does want to go on the MH morning, make sure you get there really early.

Animal Kingdom Extra Magic Hours

Like Hollywood Studios, the Animal Kingdom has mostly transitioned to a morning magic hours period. I’m actually fine with this, if you can get there early. I guarantee you that the majority of the morning crowd is going to race to Flight of Passage. While you might be tempted to do the same, I’d take a different route. Head to Dino-land, and work your way counter-clockwise around the park. You’ll have lower lines. If you can get your Avatar-land fastpasses for the early afternoon, you’ll be done with all the main rides and you’ll be able to spend the rest of the day doing whatever your family wants. Remember, planning is extremely important in Disney, but don’t forget to plan periods of spontaneity!

Now that you’ve learned about Extra Magic Hours, it’s time to book your Disney World tickets!