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Everything You Need to Know About Early Theme Park Entry at Walt Disney World

by Mommy Frog on October 13, 2021 41 Orlando

A note from Mommy Frog: During the holiday season from Dec. 19, 2021, through Jan. 3, 2022, the Early Theme Park Entry benefit for Disney Resort hotel guests is extended from 30 minutes to 60 minutes.

Early Theme Park Entry Benefit - PinterestRise and shine — Disney World's new Early Theme Park Entry benefit is here! Early Theme Park Entry grants Walt Disney World Resort hotel guests access to any of the resort's theme parks — Disney's Hollywood Studios, Magic Kingdom, EPCOT and Disney's Animal Kingdom — 30 minutes before the parks open to the public. And the best part? This perk is offered every day. Get your to-do lists (and coffee!) ready!

We recently utilized early entry at Magic Kingdom during our stay at Animal Kingdom Lodge. While guests with regular admission were held by the castle, we were able to head over to Fantasyland and ride Seven Dwarfs Mine Train!

While this new benefit is toadally exciting, there's more to know than which ride you're heading to first (though that's definitely also a priority). Early Theme Park Entry extends to select partner hotels, as well. And an even better bonus? Disney Deluxe and Villa guests also have access to the parks on select nights after they close. So, what else should you know about Early Theme Park Entry and Extended Evening Theme Park Hours at Disney World? Let's jump in!

All About Disney World's Early Theme Park Entry Benefit

Extra Magic Hour benefits were suspended upon Walt Disney World's reopening last July. As a replacement, guests at official Disney Resort hotels and select Disney partner hotels can now enjoy 30-minute early entry to ANY theme park, EVERY day. Yep, this is a big change that has implications for all park-goers! The benefit became available just in time for Disney World's 50th-anniversary celebration. (Applicable theme park, days and times of operation and availability may vary and are subject to change, capacity and/or cancellation. For instance, during busier times, the benefit may be extended to a full hour of early entry.)

Early Theme Park Entry - EPCOT Early Entry Check-in

While giving on-site hotel guests more flexibility — and probably a better benefit than the original Extra Magic Hours, which was limited to one park each day — the new Early Theme Park Entry also helps Disney better spread visitation across all four theme parks. Note that hotel guests still need valid admission and a park reservation made via the Disney Park Pass system. Guests without the Park Hopper option must spend the day at the same park where they'd like to enjoy the Early Theme Park Entry benefit. Don’t froget to jump over to our full reopening post for all of the details you need to know before you go!

For those who might have frogotten, the former Extra Magic Hours were extended theme park hours available to Disney World Resort hotel guests and some Disney partner hotel guests. Each day of the week, these hotel guests were typically allowed to enter one park one hour early or stay up to two hours later than non-hotel guests. Like EMH, this change impacts all park-goers.

This new Disney early entry benefit gives hotel guests the flexibility to decide which park they want to visit 30 minutes ahead of regular park opening. By allowing hotel guests to enter all parks early, it lessens the benefit of arriving ahead of opening for non-hotel guests, who typically could have arrived at a non-EMH park and had a couple of hours with lower ride wait times.

Each theme park has a different method for how to utilize early theme park entry, so be sure to keep an eye out for cast members with signage. At EPCOT, for instance, there was a special section of touchpoints that resort guests could enter ahead of the general public, while non-hotel guests used other touchpoints and were stopped in front of Spaceship Earth. For Magic Kingdom, all guests were allowed into Main Street and the castle area, but only resort guests could enter into either Fantasyland or Tomorrowland.

Which Hotels Offer Disney Early Theme Park Entry?

Early Theme Park Entry - Cast Member Holding Early Entry Sign at EPCOT

All of Disney World's Resort hotels and Villas offer Early Theme Park Entry. The following non-Disney hotels also offer the new Early Theme Park Entry benefit:

Available Attractions During Early Theme Park Entry

Early Theme Park Entry - Early Entry at Magic Kingdom

During this early entry period, select attractions, merchandise and food and beverage locations are operating. While attractions are subject to change without notice due to refurbishments or unplanned closures, here's a full list of the available attractions.

Magic Kingdom Park

  • "it's a small world"
  • Astro Orbiter
  • Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin
  • Dumbo the Flying Elephant
  • Mad Tea Party
  • Mickey's PhilharMagic
  • Peter Pan's Flight
  • Prince Charming Regal Carrousel
  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
  • Space Mountain
  • The Barnstormer
  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
  • Tomorrowland Speedway
  • Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover
  • Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid
  • Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress

EPCOT

  • Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along
  • Frozen Ever After
  • Mission: SPACE
  • Soarin' Around the World
  • Spaceship Earth
  • Test Track
  • The Seas with Nemo & Friends

Disney's Hollywood Studios

  • Alien Swirling Saucers
  • Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway
  • Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
  • Rock 'n' Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith
  • Slinky Dog Dash
  • Star Tours — The Adventures Continue
  • Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
  • The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
  • Toy Story Mania!

Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park

  • Avatar Flight of Passage
  • DINOSAUR
  • Expedition Everest — Legend of the Forbidden Mountain
  • It's Tough to be a Bug!
  • Na'vi River Journey
  • TriceraTop Spin

Which Hotels Offer Extended Evening Theme Park Hours?

Guests of Disney Deluxe or Deluxe Villa Resorts and a few select hotels will also have access to Extended Evening Theme Park Hours on select nights in select theme parks, beginning in October (similar to evening Extra Magic Hours of years past). If you've been wanting to check out the reimagined rooms at either Disney's Contemporary Resort or Disney's Polynesian Village Resort, here's an extra perk! Here's a full list of participating hotels:

In general, EPCOT has extended evening hours on Mondays from 10 p.m. to midnight, while Magic Kingdom has extended evening hours on Wednesdays from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. The schedule is subject to change, and you can double check the schedule here.

Guests will need valid admission and a Disney Park Pass reservation for the same park on the same day to experience extended evening hours. Or guests may visit with a ticket or annual pass with the Park Hopper option as long as they entered their first park where they made their reservation earlier in the day.

Available Attractions During Extended Evening Theme Park Hours

During extended hours, select attractions, merchandise and food and beverage locations are operating. While attractions are subject to change without notice due to refurbishments or unplanned closures, here's a full list of the available attractions.

Magic Kingdom Park

  • "it's a small world"
  • Astro Orbiter
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
  • Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin
  • Country Bear Jamboree
  • Dumbo the Flying Elephant
  • Haunted Mansion
  • Mad Tea Party
  • Mickey's PhilharMagic
  • Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor
  • Peter Pan's Flight
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Prince Charming Regal Carrousel
  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
  • Space Mountain
  • Swiss Family Treehouse
  • The Barnstormer
  • The Magic Carpets of Aladdin
  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
  • Tomorrowland Speedway
  • Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid
  • Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room

EPCOT

  • Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along
  • Frozen Ever After
  • Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros
  • Mission: SPACE
  • Soarin' Around the World
  • Spaceship Earth
  • Test Track
  • The Seas with Nemo & Friends

Much like EMH, guests will need to present some sort of resort ID, such as a MagicBand, Disney MagicMobile pass or Key to the World card linked to their stay to access the parks during Early Theme Park Entry or Extended Evening Theme Park Hours.

By the way, we offer discounts on hotel rooms at all of these Orlando hotels and more, so you can get a hop on the savings!

Early Theme Park Entry - Stormalong Bay at Beach Club

Disney also announced that it would be ending its Magical Express airport service, starting with arrivals Jan. 1, 2022. Free transportation options — such as buses, monorails and Disney Skyliner — will continue to be available within Walt Disney World Resort for Disney Resort hotel guests, including to and from all four theme parks. Some familiar faces will be visiting Walt Disney World Hotels during the 50th-anniversary celebration too — favorite Disney pals such as Goofy and Pluto will be dropping by in their EARidescent best to say hello!

How Will Early Theme Park Entry Work with Disney Genie?

In addition to getting a jump start on your day using Early Theme Park Entry, Disney will debut a new service called Disney Genie on Oct. 19 at Disney World. This free planning service will provide recommendations to make the most of your time throughout your Disney day. There's also a paid skip-the-line add-on called Genie+. These services can all work together, but there may be some strategy involved — we frogs will be trying it out ourselves shortly and will be back with our best recommendations!

We are toadally excited for the opportunity to get a hop on our mornings with Early Theme Park Entry or stay late in the evening with Extended Evening Theme Park Hours! What are your thoughts? Be sure to drop us a line in the comments below!

Related: Here's How Park Hopping Works with Your Disney Park Pass

Hoppy planning!

Keep hopping, Mommy Frog!
View Comments
<<  Newer Posts | Older Posts  >>
Dec 29, 2021 at 7:47 p.m. Nicky Blades Says...

Hello, if I stay at a Disney hotel for one night, would I have early access and extended hours for both arrival and departure day?

Many thanks for your help.

Reply
Dec 29, 2021 at 4:01 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Nicky!

Benefits are valid the day of check-in and the day of checkout. Have fun!

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Reply
Dec 3, 2021 at 5:08 p.m. Robin Says...

We are staying at Orlando hilton lake Buenavista

We can enter early but what about making genie plus and paid lightening lane reservations ? We get to do this at 7am or have to wait u til park open at 9? Thank you

Reply
Dec 3, 2021 at 12:42 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Robin!

You will be able to make your first Genie+ reservation at 7 a.m. each day, but you'll have to wait until park open for individual Lightning Lane selections (this option is only available to Disney Resort hotel guests and guests of Swan and Dolphin or Shades of Green).

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Reply
Nov 30, 2021 at 3:33 a.m. Elledubs Says...

I heard that for early entry, only one person in a group needs to be staying at Disney property. I ask because- we chose a non early entry property (if we would have known about genie six mo the ago we wouldn’t have!!).

Some in our group are staying on property.

I heard you just walk in with that group and they scan the guests staying there. Is this a false rumor?? We’d love to stick together.

Thanks in advance! ❤️

Reply
Dec 1, 2021 at 9:12 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Elledubs!

The Early Theme Park Entry benefit is only available for Disney Resort hotel guests and guests of other select hotels (as listed above in this post) — and cast members scan MagicBands or MagicMobile passes to confirm eligibility. We're not aware of any exceptions otherwise.

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Reply
Nov 28, 2021 at 11:15 p.m. Laurie Bates Says...

Hi Frog Family,

I will be staying at Wyndham Garden which is on the list for early entry, I have my reservations (Dec 3) for Hollywood Studios. What would be the best way for me to get there early, the shuttle that the hotel uses is not an option from all of the comments on it. I thought I could walk over to Saratoga and catch a bus there, but not sure of the times to do that and get there early before early entry. I haven't been to Disney in over 30 years. HELP!!!!!

Reply
Nov 29, 2021 at 9:02 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Laurie!

The easiest, most-straightforward (and less time-consuming) option would be taking an Uber or Lyft, as you can be easily picked up from the hotel and dropped off near the park entrance without too much time needed. We'd suggest arranging the ride at least a half-hour before Early Entry starts so there's enough time for the app to find you a ride, the driver to get to your hotel and the drive itself. Walking to Saratoga Springs could be an option, though you would need to allot much more time. Bus service usually starts about an hour before the park opens, so in order to get to the park before Early Entry, you'd want to be at the bus stop well before bus service starts in case there's already a line, especially since Saratoga has multiple bus stops and a bus could fill up. Since Hollywood Studios opens at 9 a.m., we'd estimate that you should be at a bus stop no later than 7:30 a.m. And you'd need to factor in walking time as well, which could add up to another 30 minutes or so since it's about a mile walk. Hope this helps!

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Reply
Dec 6, 2021 at 9:56 p.m. Cathy Blackman Says...

The official Disney World website says that buses begin running from Disney hotels (I'm staying at Pop Century) to the parks 45 minutes before park opening times. This answer indicates that the buses begin running 1 hour before opening. Does that mean "early hours" opening time or the "normal" opening time? Is the 1 hour estimate more accurate than the 45 minute estimate. Ultimately, what I want to know, is if the bus will get me to the park in time to take advantage of the early hours perk?

Reply
Dec 10, 2021 at 11:47 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Cathy!

In our experience, bus times can vary, especially during busier times. We tend to stick with either using Uber/Lyft or drive ourselves if we want to ensure that we'll arrive at the parks at a specific time during a peak time for transportation (and then use Disney transportation to return to our hotel).

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Reply
Jan 21, 2022 at 5:06 a.m. Rosemary Says...

Hello,

Thank you so much for your post! So much great information! I hear if you take an Uber of Lyft too early to Magic Kingdom, you get turned away or get dropped off at the TTC. Is there a way to get dropped off at the Speedway gas station and walk to get to rope drop at Magic Kingdom? Staying at Riviera in March and wanting to take advantage of early entry and rope drop. Thank you!

Reply
Jan 21, 2022 at 8:28 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Rosemary!

Thanks for hopping by! If you take Uber/Lyft, you'll be dropped off at the TTC regardless of the time of day. Only Disney buses can drop guests off close to the Magic Kingdom entrance. The drop-off at TTC would be much closer than the drop-off at the Speedway gas station (where it wouldn't be possible to walk from anyway because of the blockades to TTC).

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Reply
Nov 16, 2021 at 4:23 a.m. Leann Mitchell Says...

Do you know if they will still be offering the extended evening hours for deluxe guest in January?

Reply
Nov 16, 2021 at 8:55 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Leann!

Yes, Extended Evening Hours will be available for Deluxe and Deluxe Villa Resort guests in January.

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Reply
Nov 9, 2021 at 1:24 p.m. Francesca Says...

Hi!

Do you still get early access to the parks on the day you check out of the resort? For example say I checkout on Friday, will I also be able to get into the park early on that Friday?

Reply
Nov 9, 2021 at 9:34 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Francesca!

Yes, you would be able to take advantage of the Early Theme Park Entry benefit on both check-in and check-out dates.

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Reply
Nov 8, 2021 at 4:48 p.m. Sabina Says...

Hi, what’s the earliest you can park at magic kingdom when staying on site?

Reply
Nov 8, 2021 at 12:16 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Sabina!

Parking lots generally open about an hour before the park's official opening time (or 30 minutes if you're taking advantage of Early Theme Park Entry hours).

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Reply
Oct 13, 2021 at 4:13 p.m. Cerys Want Says...

Hi

If I book a Disney hotel for 28th April for 1 night check in is 4pm do I get half an hour early entry on the 28th or the next day when we check out?

Reply
Oct 14, 2021 at 12:13 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Cerys!

You can use the Early Theme Park Entry benefit on both your check-in and check-out dates.

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Reply
Oct 3, 2021 at 3:07 p.m. Slmayo Says...

Where are the early entry points? Do you just go to the front of the non Disney guests to get there?

Reply
Oct 3, 2021 at 11:59 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Slmayo!

There are cast members who will be there to guide you through certain touchpoints while regular guests enter through different ones and wait in a holding area until the park officially opens. Keep a look out for signs that point you in the right direction!

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Reply
Sep 29, 2021 at 9:41 p.m. DEvans Says...

In over 50 trips, I have never seen a rope drop, but I usually shut a park down and loved evening magic hours. Not being deluxe guests, Disney has now removed the only remaining reason for me to stay onsite. Considering all they’’ve done to drive so many to this same point, like charging us daily to park at our resort, I should probably thank them for going ahead and putting this final nail in that coffin.

Reply
Sep 29, 2021 at 4:09 p.m. Heather Says...

Any idea if they will be including the other "non-deluxe" WDW resorts, such as the "value resorts" in the extended evening hours in the future? Does not seem like much of a "perk" to stay at these WDW resorts, if they are excluded.

Reply
Sep 30, 2021 at 10:14 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Heather!

At this time, we do not know if Disney will extend the evening hours benefit to other hotel guests.

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Reply
Sep 29, 2021 at 3:40 p.m. Julie Says...

What qualifies as verification of a Disney resort stay? We will be using Magic Bands. Thanks!

Reply
Sep 29, 2021 at 10:52 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Julie!

Yes, MagicBands, Disney MagicMobile passes or Key to the World cards that are linked to your stay are all acceptable forms of Resort ID.

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Reply
Aug 2, 2021 at 10:11 p.m. Yvette Says...

If you stay at one of the non-Disney Hotels, do youhave a magic band or just a key card. If you are only staying one night, which day would you have early access arrival or departure?

Reply
Aug 2, 2021 at 5:33 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Yvette!

Non-Disney hotels will have key cards. In the past, the early theme park entry benefit applied on the day of check-in and checkout - we'll be sure to confirm once we hear more!

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Reply
Dec 25, 2021 at 10:50 p.m. Dan Says...

I'm planning on staying at a 3rd Party hotel that is on the Early Entry list. I would love to go to Magic Kingdom in the morning and then check in that night. We are traveling with our 4 kids. I am unclear of all the logistics of getting each person early entry. Do the kids need to be identified on the hotel reservation to gain sccess? What if I haven't checked in yet?

Reply
Dec 29, 2021 at 8:29 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Dan!

Yes, you'll want to be sure that your complete party is on the reservation. You can attend on the day of check-in without having checked in yet - you'll need some sort of credentials to show the cast members (during our most recent visit, they scanned our MagicMobile passes to verify, so we'd recommend adding your stay to My Disney Experience). Hope this helps!

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Reply
Jul 20, 2021 at 3:02 a.m. MizzMo Says...

Will this be true of Disneyland as well - going to the half-hour benefit starting in October? Or, will they be bringing back the Extra Magic Hour for Disneyland and California Adventure?

Thanks for your help!

Reply
Jul 20, 2021 at 8:25 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi MizzMo!

No news has been released just yet on an early entry benefit returning to Disneyland - we'll be sure to update the blog if we hear anything!

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Reply
Jul 6, 2021 at 6:25 p.m. Connie Bowen Says...

30 minutes is no time at all. Everyone that is going to rope drop gets there early. If the park opens at 9 then resort guests should be able to enter at 8:30 but check YouTube most say that everyone frequently gets in about 30 minutes before the park opens. Disney is not giving us anything except early entry on paper. It will take 30 minutes just to get through the crowd.

Reply
Jul 7, 2021 at 11:23 a.m. Lady A Says...

We're currently at the resorts.

We have been to every single park for rope drop this past week. Only 1 has dropped early, HS. They will let you in early but you won't get on any rides early. The food carts and places to eat before you get to the rope are also open.

So the benefit of getting there early is to get through security and having a bit of a shorter than normal wait in your first ride of the day.

Reply
Jul 6, 2021 at 5:52 p.m. Tony Catalfamo Says...

We are staying at a Disney resort for the first time in January. We were excited that we would be able to use the magical express from and to the airport. We are EXTREMELY disappointed that it will end several days prior to our arrival!!!

Reply
Oct 1, 2021 at 12:14 p.m. Dianne autenzio Says...

Means is 18 e

Reply
Jul 6, 2021 at 3:14 p.m. Daniel Levin Says...

We will be in Disney World July 14-17 and will be staying at a Disney resort. I thought 30 minutes early entry was already in place for resort guests. Is that not true?

Reply
Jul 6, 2021 at 10:39 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Daniel!

No, the Early Theme Park Entry was announced earlier this year, but at the time, it did not have a specific timeline for when it'd debut. Last week, Disney announced it would start Oct. 1.

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Reply
Mar 7, 2021 at 7:25 p.m. Judy Newton Says...

when will there be information avaible to read for my/our vaction to Disneyworld Sept 23,2021 -Oct 5th

Reply
Mar 8, 2021 at 7:32 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Judy!

We'll continue to keep our posts updated as new information is released! :)

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Reply
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