Q: I’m staying on-site and want to take advantage of Extra Magic Hours. Is it better to go in the morning or at night?
A: For those new to the Disney planning game, one of the many perks of staying onsite at a Walt Disney World resort is the ability to attend Extra Magic hours. Exclusive to those staying at a Walt Disney World Resort, Extra Magic Hours give resort guests with the opportunity to enter the parks one hour early or stay a couple of hours after the park closes which can be a great way to experience some of your favorite rides and attractions without the massive lines.
But with each park offering Extra Hours at some point during the week, figuring out how to best fit them into your schedule can be a tricky business. For that reason, I have clients asking me quite a lot which Extra Magic Hour offering provides the better perks, early morning or late night?
Though I am sure there are many differing opinions on the issue, I tend to recommend the evening hours over the ones in the morning. The reason for this is simple and one that a lot of Disney planners agree with. If a park is holding Extra Magic Hours in the morning, it is almost guaranteed that that will be one of the busiest theme parks that day. Most resort guests tend to opt for the early start rather than the late night option as it tends to fit better with family schedules. As a result guests will arrive in droves to take advantage of this early morning perk. This then has a knock on effect in that the theme park having the Magic Hours gets busy earlier, wait times become longer and crowds heavier, In the long run, this tends to negate any real advantage to arriving at the parks early because you’ll generally be waiting longer throughout the day.
Evening Magic hours present a nice alternative, particularly since families tend to arrive at the park by mid-morning and by the time the evening hours have rolled around are exhausted and heading to bed. This means the nighttime crowds tend to be thinner thus PM hours typically have shorter wait times than their early morning counterparts.
But I have small children so how would that work? I’ve traveled with tiny ones and will be the first to say those evening hours may not be workable for everyone. However, I worked out a plan with my 8-year old that allows us to take advantage of evening hours. We still get up and arrive at a theme park for opening. We enjoy that park for a few hours during the morning and then when crowds start to swell (around noon), we head back to the resort for a swim and a siesta. Then we venture back out to the parks after dinner feeling well rested and ready to go. Under this system, and depending on the season, we still have a good 5 hours of evening ride time plus the time we enjoy in the morning so it still equals out to a pretty full Disney day.
I went to evening Extra Magic Hours and it was packed! Extra Magic Hours aren’t a surefire way to guarantee sparse crowds. Even the evening hours can seem pretty choc-a-bloc during peak travel periods like Christmas and Summer holidays. The same could be said for slower periods. If you’re visiting the parks in Early September of May, you may do the Early Morning Magic Hours and find that the park is pretty empty. This is a result of overall crowd levels which will vary throughout the year. However, on average early morning hours equals a busy park and late night hours tends to be the more advantageous of the two.
Are all attractions open during Extra Magic Hours? No. There are rides at each park that open and close with the normal park hours. Here’s a quick list of the attractions you should typically find open during Extra Magic Hours.
Magic Kingdom Extra Magic Hours Rides and Attractions
- Astro Orbiter (AM)
- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (PM only)
- Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
- Casy Jr. Splash N’ Soak Station
- Country Bear Jamboree (PM only)
- Dumbo the Flying Elephant
- Haunted Mansion (PM only)
- it’s a small world
- Jungle Cruise (PM only)
- Mad Tea Party
- Meet Ariel at Her Grotto
- Meet Cinderella and Elena at Princess Fairytale Hall
- Meet Mickey Mouse at Town Square Theatre
- Meet Minnie and Friends at Pete’s Silly Sideshow
- Meet Rapunzel and Tiana at Princess Fairytale Hall
- Meet Tinker Bell at Town Square Theatre
- Mickey’s Philharmagic
- Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor (PM only)
- Peter Pan’s Flight
- Pirates of the Caribbean (PM only)
- Prince Charming Regal Carrousel
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
- Space Mountain
- Splash Mountain (PM only)
- Swiss Family Treehouse (PM only)
- The Barnstormer
- The Magic Carpets of Aladdin (PM only)
- The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
- Tomorrowland Speedway (AM only)
- Undersea the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid (AM only)
- Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress (AM only)
- Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room (PM only)
Epcot Extra Magic Hours Ridens and Attractions
- Disney & Pixar Short Film Festival (PM only)
- Frozen Ever After
- Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros (PM only)
- Journey into Imagination with Figment (PM only)
- Living with the Land
- Meet Anna and Elsa at Royal Sommerhus
- Meet Mickey and Friends (Epcot Character Spot) (PM only)
- Mission: SPACE Green
- Mission: SPACE Orange
- O Canada! (PM only)
- Spaceship Earth
- Test Track
- The American Adventure (PM only)
- The Circle of Life
- The Seas with Nemo and Friends
- Turtle Talk with Crush
Hollywood Studios Extra Magic Hours Rides and Attractions
- Meet Chewbacca at Launch Bay
- Meet Kylo Ren at Launch Bay
- Muppet Vision 3D
- Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith
- Star Tours: The Adventure Continues
- The Great Movie Ride (PM only)
- Toy Story Midway
- Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
- Voyage of the Little Mermaid (PM only)
- Walt Disney Presents (AM Only)
Animal Kingdom Extra Magic Hours Rides and Attractions
- Avatar Flight of Passage
- Discovery Island Trails
- Expedition Everest
- Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail
- it’s tough to be a bug
- Kali River Rapids (Warm weather months)
- Kilimanjaro Safaris
- Na’vi River Journey
- Primeval Whirl
- Triceratop Spin
So are Extra Magic Hours worth it? We think so. If you’re staying on-site and want to enjoy a little extra time at the theme parks its definitely a perk worth trying out. Remember, you can have a wonderful time whether you go in the AM or in the PM, whether crowds or heavy or light. However, if we had to take our pick, opting to take advantage of Magic Hours in the evening is our preferred way to go.
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Find articles like this helpful? They why not consider booking with an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner? As an agent with MickeyTravels, I can help you with everything from finding your perfect package to planning out your days at the parks and am always full of tips and tricks to help you get the most out of your time at the parks. Best of all my services are absolutely FREE. Get in touch at 1.800.801.4025 via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow along on Facebook.
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