Visiting the Walt Disney World Parks Before or After Standard Park Hours

empty disney

If you are heading to Walt Disney World for a vacation and want to feel like a VIP and miss the crowds, considering hitting up these special ways to get into the parks when it isn’t opened to the general public.

1. Early Dining

A great way to get into the parks prior to park opening is to make dining reservations. 

  • Magic Kingdom: If you are looking for the magical pictures in front of Cinderella’s Royal Table with no one around, look at booking breakfast at Cinderella’s Royal Table or Crystal Palace.  Hoping to hop on Seven Dwarf Mine Train before the crowds arrive, try for an early breakfast at Be Our Guest.  
  • Epcot: In Epcot you can book a breakfast at Akershus in Norway before park opening and be able to catch a ride on Frozen Ever After right after you eat.

When booking these reservations, make sure to pay attention to park hours.  Disney is offering more and more early morning special events so you will want to keep that in mind when choosing a park and time.

Crystal Palace

2. Late Dining

Just like with early dining, if you want to be the last ones out of the park, consider making a late dining reservation at your favorite restaurant. 

  • Epcot: In Epcot, there are so many amazing dining locations to choose from.  Grab a late 8:30 or 9:00 pm reservation and enjoy an empty park as you leave. 
  • Magic Kingdom: The Magic Kingdom has Be Our Guest, Cinderella’s Royal Table and Crystal Palace that would all offer later diner options if you are hoping to enjoy an empty Main Street USA.

Grabbing an early or late dining reservation is a great option as you don’t need an extra/special ticket to do so.  These are made with your regular park ticket saving you some money.

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3. Slow Leaving

Taking your time leaving is another way to experience the park when it is no longer opened.  In the Magic Kingdom, if you take time your time leaving and walking down Main Street USA, you can experience the Kiss Goodnight.  This is a special message from Mickey that closes down Magic Kingdom for the night.  Stay long enough and you can be one of the few people that gets to experience this little piece of magic.

4. Extra Magic Hours

One advantage of staying at a Walt Disney World Resort is that you can participate in Extra Magic Hours.  Extra Magic Hours allow resort guests to get into a specific park one hour early or stay late at a specific park.  If your family can get up early or stay up late, these extra magic hours are an excellent way to visit the parks before they open to the public.  As with the dining, extra magic hours don’t require a special ticket to be used.  They are included in your park ticket for that day!  Just keep in mind, if you don’t have a park hopper, you will need to remain at the same park all day.

  • Extra, Extra Magic Hours: Keep in mind as Galaxy Edge opens at the end of August, Disney will be offer Extra, Extra Magic Hours.  These are the same concept (opened to resort guests only) but they are starting SUPER early such as 6 am for Hollywood Studios.  The other “extra, extra” part of this new offering is that multiple parks will be offering them on the same day.  This will hopefully spread out the morning crowds even more.  If you are headed down this fall, make sure to take advantage of these extra, extra hours.

5. Early Morning Magic

Want to be in the park before it opens to the public?  Try out Early Morning Magic.  This event is currently offered at both Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios.  This is an additional ticket costs for guests wishing to attend.  Early Morning Magic allows guests who have purchased a ticket to enter the park at 7:45.  They will be allowed to explore one area of the park (in Magic Kingdom it is Fantasyland and in Hollywood Studios it is Toy Story Land) from 7:45 until the 9:00 park opening.  The cost of the event is $69 for adults and $59 for children but also includes a breakfast until 10:00 am.  Early Morning Magic is a great option for families that may not have a lot of time in Walt Disney World and want to make sure they get to ride Slinky Dog Dash or Seven Dwarf Mine Train.  Keep in mind with the Early Morning Magic event you do need a park ticket for the day as well as purchasing the Early Morning Magic ticket.  If you want a true VIP morning experience in the parks, Early Morning Magic will provide you with a more exclusive experience as a limited amount of tickets are sold.

6. After Hours Event

Another option for guests wanting a VIP type experience is the After Hours Events being offered at Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom.  This is an additional ticket guests can purchase for select nights at each park.  With this ticket, guests can get into the park around 7:00 pm that evening.  This is great because it allows you to experience the evening shows at the park without purchasing a park ticket for that day.  Guests with the special event ticket are then allowed to stay in the park around three hours after park closing.  In Magic Kingdom, this typically runs from 10:00 pm to 1:00 pm and in Hollywood Studios from 9:30 to 12:30 with Animal Kingdom from 9:00-12:00.  During this time, guests are able to ride many of the main attractions at the park, meet the characters and enjoy complimentary ice cream treats, popcorn and bottle pop and water.  Price for this ticket ranges from $125- $129 depending on when it is purchased. After Hours Event is an excellent option for those that are wanting the VIP experience and can afford the ticket price.  The great thing about this event, unlike Early Morning Magic, is that a park ticket isn’t required for purchase.  Three hours is also a nice amount of time to be given in the park with low to little wait times.  Feel like a true VIP as you ride your favorite ride over and over again!

7. Special Event Tickets

Throughout the year Disney puts on special events at the Magic Kingdom.  These events, focused around holidays, require a specific ticket and are only opened to those guests who have purchased one.  When these parties are being held, Magic Kingdom will close down early to allow for party guests to enter.  Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party are both held multiple times with MNSSH starting at the end of August. These parties bring unique experiences to guests from special fireworks, unique parades, fun dining experiences and even special treats such as cookies and trick or treating.  With tickets running from $79-$135 for the Halloween party and $99 to $139 for the Christmas party, it isn’t a cheap party to attend.  Also, keep in mind, that unlike the After Hours Events, crowds on party nights typically aren’t super low.  The goal of these parties is to experience the holiday in the Magic Kingdom in a unique and magical way not to have extremely low crowds. Guests can truly feel like a VIP at these parties as they are a once in a lifetime type of opportunity.  With all of the special holiday touches that are brought, guests are sure to have a fantastic time.

Photo Credit: Disney

From early dining reservations to special event tickets, there a many ways guests can experience a Disney park when it isn’t opened to the general public.  Think about what your goal is for these unique experiences to determine what would work best for your family on their next vacation.

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.