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Understanding “Extra Hours” at Walt Disney World

Lately Walt Disney World has introduced a variety of different and unique “extra hours” experiences. These experiences allow guests to come early, stay late and enjoy the four parks in a variety of different ways. So, what are these different “extra hours” events all about? What do they include? Are they worth it?

 

1. Extra Magic Hours

Disney’s Extra Magic Hours (EMH) allows guests staying at a Walt Disney World resort as well as a few select other resorts enjoy additional time in one of the four main parks. Throughout the week, guests can enjoy an extra hour prior to park opening or a few hours after park closing.

  • Included:  During EMH select attractions are opened for guests to enjoy.  For example, in Magic Kingdom typically rides in Tomorrowland and Fantasyland are opened for guests.
  • Cost:  This experience is free to those staying at a participating resort
  • Advantage/Disadvantage:  The main advantage to EMH is that you have lower crowd levels than normal.  This allows you to ride more rides in a shorter amount of time.  In my personal experience, we have learned that during EMH we can get 6-7 rides accomplished in Magic Kingdom during that first hour.  With that in mind, Hollywood Studios, Epcot and Animal Kingdom don’t have as many rides opened during this time.  That does mean that you can experience more crowds at these parks than Magic Kingdom.  Also, if you aren’t able to get to morning EMH during the first 15-30 minutes you are sometimes behind the crowd and it won’t be as much of an advantage.

2. Early Morning Magic

Disney’s Early Morning Magic is currently offered on select days from 7:45-10:00 am at Magic Kingdom and 7:30-10:00 am at Hollywood Studios.  This event is special ticketed event that allows a limited amount of people into a specific area of Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios.

  • Included:
    • At Disney’s Hollywood Studios, guests get early access starting at 7:45 am to Toy Story Land.  This allows guests to experience Toy Story Mania, Slinky Dog Dash, Alien Swirling Saucers as well as meet and greets with Buzz, Jessie and Woody.  Along with early access to Toy Story Land, guests are provided a continental breakfast along with one main dish until 10 am at ABC Commissary.
    • At Magic Kingdom, guests are given early access to Fantasyland.  This has just doubled in size as now seven experience are included with admission compared to three that were previously included.  During this time, guests can ride popular attractions such at The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Peter Pan’s Flight, Seven Dwarf Mine Train, it’s a Small World, Under the Sea- Journey with the Little Mermaid, Mad Tea Party and Princess Fairytale Hall.  Along with the rides, guests receive a breakfast at Comic Rays.
  • Cost: Along with your theme park ticket, Early Morning Magic costs $79/adult and $69/child (3-9).
  • Advantage/Disadvantage:  Early Morning Magic allows guests to get ahead of the crowd by getting access to popular rides up to an hour before park opening.  In both parks, guests are able to experience the highly popular rides such as Slinky Dog Dash and Seven Dwarf Mine Train with limited wait and crowds.  Another advantage of Early Morning Magic, is that breakfast is available until 10:00 am.  This allows Early Morning Magic guests to continue to take advantage of low crowds during the first part of regular park opening prior to taking a break for breakfast.  Having a breakfast included is also a nice advantage for guests.  Most breakfast items can cost around $10-$15 depending on where you are eating making the cost of Early Morning Magic more of an advantage.

 

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3. Disney After Hours

Disney After Hours allows a limited number of guests to experience three evening hours at either Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood Studios or Disney’s Animal Kingdom after park closing.  Guests who purchase a ticket to Disney After Hours are allowed into the park at 7pm that evening and can experience little to no wait for experiences throughout the night.

  • Included: With a ticket to Disney After Hours, guests can experience 25 attractions in Magic Kingdom, Toy Story Land at night in Disney’s Hollywood Studios or bioluminescent lights in Disney’s Animal Kingdom.  While riding their favorite rides, guests can also enjoy unlimited popcorn, ice cream treats (yes that means Mickey bars) and select beverages.
  • Cost: Disney After Hours is $125 per person (adult or child) unless purchased the day of which then increases to $129.
  • Advantage/Disadvantages: I experienced Disney After Hours in Magic Kingdom during my July trip and I think the main advantage to this experience is how empty the park is.  I had either no wait time or a quick 10-minute wait time for all attractions throughout the night.  Having free snacks and drinks also was a big advantage although those lines tended to be longer than the ride lines. Another advantage to this ticket is that guests are able to enter into the theme park at 7pm.  This gives guests time to enjoy other attractions prior to the party starting as well as the opportunity to see the nighttime show which is a great experience. It does still seem that Disney After Hours, like Early Morning Magic and Extra Magic Hours, is more advantageous at Magic Kingdom.  With more rides opened throughout the park, it not only spreads the small crowd out even more, but it gives guests more attractions to experience during that time.

4. Moonlight Magic

Moonlight Magic is an after-hours event for Disney Vacation Club (DVC) members and guests.  DVC members are given access to specific parks throughout the calendar year.  In 2019, Magic Kingdom will be on February 5th and 12th, Animal Kingdom July 18th and August 8th and 22nd, Epcot will be May 13th and 20th, Hollywood Studios is March 20th and 27th and finally Typhoon Lagoon September 18th and October 16th.

  • Included: With this special event, guests experience shorter wait times, refreshments, dance parties and unique character interactions.
  • Cost: Free to Disney Vacation Club members and guests
  • Advantage/Disadvantage:  For DVC members, this a great way to experience the park with limited crowds.  It also provides unique character interactions and even sometimes unique night time entertainment.  The hard part to these parties is that they are limited and DVC members need to RSVP quickly to receive admission. Once they do however, this is a fun, limited access experience for DVC members.

Photo Credit: Disney

Walt Disney World’s “extra hours” events provide guests a variety of opportunities to experience low crowds, unique experiences and magic throughout the theme parks.  Depending on guests’ goals and travel party, budget and length of vacation there is sure to be an extra hour’s event that works for them.

About Jennifer Retzlaff

My name is Jennifer Retzlaff and I became a lifelong Disney fan during my first trip to Walt Disney World in 6th grade. From that moment, Disney became a big part of my life. I live in Iowa with my husband and two kids who are growing up too quickly for my liking. I started introducing my love for Disney early to my family with a Disney honeymoon and then trips when our youngest of 18 months. Since then, our family has been to Walt Disney World over five times and we continue to plan and dream for the next trip. I love the magic that Disney brings to people through the theme parks, cruises, adventures and movies they create. As a teacher, I try to bring that magic into my classroom to help kids believe that “If You Can Dream It, You Can Do It.” I recently reached a dream of mine as I joined Magic Vacation Planner as a personal travel advisor. With this team, I can now help others plan magical vacations. As a passionate writer, I also have my own blog at magicalvacationsbyjen which is also where you can follow me on instagram for trip reviews along with tips and tricks for your next magical vacation.