If you think Extra Magic Hours strictly apply to Disney Resort guests, you are only partially correct. They are only available to Disney Resort guests, but Extra Magic Hours affect everyone. Here's a helpful guide to understanding what they are, how they impact crowd levels and when you should avoid the park that has them.
Extra Magic Hours (EMH) are extended theme park hours available to Disney resort guests and some non Disney-owned hotels. On certain days of the week, guests can enter a park one hour earlier or stay in a park up to two hours later than normal park operating hours. The Extra Magic Hours are listed with regular park hours on our Crowd Calendar, so you can easily find them.
All of Disney World's resorts and villas offer Extra Magic Hours. Additionally, the following non-Disney hotels offer Extra Magic Hours:
Guests staying at one of the above off-site hotels will need to present a valid Resort ID, while Disney resort guests will simply tap their MagicBand/RFID ticket at ride entrances to verify that they are staying on-site. During evening Extra Magic Hours, non-resort guests can remain in the park but will not be able to go on any rides. Regular theme park admission is required.
Quite simply, Extra Magic Hours strongly affect crowd levels. Think of it this way ... there are about 30,000 Disney Resort hotel rooms. That total doesn't even include non-Disney owned hotels that offer the Extra Magic Hours benefit. Since most people don't travel alone, that's A LOT of people. And while resort guests don't have to head to the park with Extra Magic Hours, many of them do. What's more, many of those resort guests going to the park with Extra Magic Hours don't actually take advantage of the extra hours, making the park more congested during regular park hours. In parks with fewer rides such as Epcot and Disney's Hollywood Studios, the effect is even more pronounced. That said, you can do a lot within that morning Extra Magic Hour if you ride the most popular rides with the shortest durations, because it is the least busy hour of the day!
• ONLY if you intend to visit during Extra Magic Hours. There is no benefit for showing up to a park with Extra Magic Hours if you don't go during either the extra morning hour or the extra evening hours. And we hate to be so picky about it, but if you don't think you'll arrive early enough to be in the park when the Extra Magic Hour starts, it's probably best to head to another park.
• If you are Park Hopping. In this situation, you can go to the park with EMH during those hours and spend the other part of the day at a less crowded park. Example: Epcot® has evening EMH from 9 p.m. until 11 p.m. Disney’s Hollywood Studios® is a recommended park that day. Go to Disney’s Hollywood Studios® during normal park hours, then hop to Epcot® that evening during the EMH.
• If you have a Magic Your Way ticket and the overall crowd level is low.
Example: The overall resort crowd level is a 3. Magic Kingdom has morning EMH from 8 - 9 a.m. You can take advantage of the extra hour that morning for popular rides such as Peter Pan's Flight, Space Mountain and the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. Be sure to use FastPass+ for any other must-do attractions that you don't think you'll get to in the morning such as meeting Elsa and Anna and Splash Mountain.
There are certain circumstances when you should avoid the park with Extra Magic Hours. Here are those times ...
• If you are not staying at a Disney Resort. Since you won't be able to go on any rides during Extra Magic Hours, we recommend avoiding the park that has them. Sometimes you may want to visit a park with Extra Magic Hours because it's the only day you'll be able to see a special show or parade, and sometimes during peak season, it's impossible to avoid Extra Magic Hours. For example, during the week of Christmas and New Year's Day, there are typically EMHs every day at the Magic Kingdom. During these times, it's especially good to have a solid Touring Plan and use your FastPass+ selections wisely.
• If you are staying at a Disney Resort, you have a Magic Your Way ticket and the overall crowd level is high. In our opinion, the extra hour isn't worth dealing with the bigger crowds brought on by Extra Magic Hours. Unless you have Advanced Dining Reservations at the park with Extra Magic Hours, we recommend choosing another park to visit that day.
Want more advice about using Extra Magic Hours? Share your questions below! And for those of you who are park regulars, do you take advantage of Extra Magic Hours or avoid the park that has them?
Tags: Extra Magic Hours
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