Extra Magic Hours at Walt Disney World used to be something that only Disney resort guests could have. Now, the perk has opened to several Good Neighbor hotels. And with the change of Rope Drop at Magic Kingdom comes a slew of things to consider. Especially if you’re planning to get people-free photos or get to the parks extra early, or stay late. Here’s all the details about the Extra Magic Hours at Disney Parks so you decide whether or not you want to add them into your vacation.
UPDATE: EXTRA MAGIC HOURS have been CANCELLED
Updated January 2021. Extra Magic Hours will be retired in 2021. Instead later this year Disney is offering ALL Disney Resort Guests a 30 minute head start in all four theme parks across Walt Disney World. Disney Resort Guests can arrive a half hour before the normal opening of each park, further solidifying the perks of staying on property.
Who Can Take Advantage of Disney Extra Magic Hours?
All guests staying at any Disney Resort and Villa and those staying at the Swan and Dolphin Hotels are able to show up at the parks early and get in for extra magic hours in the mornings.
If staying at one of the following Good Neighbor Hotels in Disney Springs you also get this perk.
- Shades of Green on Walt Disney World Resort
- B Resort Located in the Walt Disney World Resort
- Best Western Lake Buena Vista Resort
- DoubleTree Guest Suites in Walt Disney World
- Hilton Bonnet Creek
- Hilton Orlando Buena Vista Palace
- Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista
- Holiday Inn Lake Buena Vista
- Waldorf Astoria
- Wyndham Garden Lake Buena Vista Disney Springs
What are the Perks of Extra Magic Hours in the Morning and Evenings?
Guests staying at any of the included hotels or resorts are allowed to
- arrive early on days with posted Extra Magic morning hours
- stay late on days with posted Extra Magic evening hours
- get access to rides before the crowds arrive
- take advantage of emptier busses
- enjoy an emptier park
What if I just show up? How do they know i am allowed or not allowed in ?
If you’re wondering how Disney knows if you are staying on-site or not, you can look to your magic band and all the computer coding involved with that little device. If arriving in the morning, your magic band will tell them if you’re allowed to be in this early. In the evening, while they may not kick you out for wandering around the parks during Extra Magic Hours, you won’t be able to get on rides since that involves scanning your magic band to get in line during those hours. That said, extra magic hours should be used to ride rides and not necessarily other things like dining, shopping, parades etc.
When Do Extra Magic Hours Happen?
Extra magic hours vary throughout the year depending on the season, events, etc. Check the Disney’s Theme Park Calendar for exact hours for each park. These are often available as early as three months in advance so you can begin making your itineraries for each day of your vacation.
What Time Are Extra Magic Hours?
Mornings: 1 hour before opening | 8am- 9am
Get up early enough to be at the gates at 7:30am regardless of which park you’re visiting. Extra Magic Hours in the mornings only work if you’re able to be there right on time, giving you the full hour to explore and get on rides. An hour isn’t a long time, so even being a half hour late, totally negates the fact that you woke up early, because the crowds will be right on your tail.
Evenings: 3 hours after close | 9pm- 12am ( for a park with regular closing at 9), 11pm- 2am ( for a park with regular closing at 11pm)
Extra magic hours in the evening are best if you can try for a weeknight because then you’re mostly dealing with other vacationers staying on site and not the locals. This lightens the crowd and helps you get through the lines faster.
Some Disney Confusion for Everyone
Recently Disney introduced two new events that allow early and late access to the parks outside of regular Extra Magic Hours schedules. Disney After Hours and Extra Magical Mornings are both ticketed events that cost extra money. Don’t get these confused with the simply early opening or late closing at the Disney Parks. Extra Magic hours are always free and just a simple time change in open hours.
Are Extra Magic Hours Worth it?
While planning your days based on the availability of Extra Magic hours may not sound like a great vacation planning strategy, you only have to consider a few things to see if the effort is worth it for you and your family/fellow vacationers. Ask yourself these questions.
- Are you good at getting up early (like 645am early to be at the park gates by 7:30am)?
- Are you good at staying up late after walking 15 miles at the park all day?
- Are you at Disney mainly for the rides?
- Do you hate lines?
- Did you fail to book an early in-park dining reservation for breakfast that would get you closer to line entrances than the incoming guests at 9am.
If you answered YES to these questions then grab a pen and paper and check out Disney’s Park calendar in the link above so you can start planning your 15 hour days… you are built to take advantage of Extra Magic Hours.
If you answered NO to these questions then you should look at the Extra Magic Hours as a perk as opposed to a plan to maximize your Disney vacation. As a perk, Extra Magic Hours are delightful, a nice surprise that allows you to stay in the park a little longer or enter the gates a little earlier.
Have Disney Extra Magic Hours Changed?
Disney Extra Magic Hours have not changed BUT…. with the arrival of Disney After Hours events, and more hotels included things will fee like they changed. What does this mean? You’ll have to contend with the following.
- Fewer days when Extra Magic Hour is offered
- More guests showing up now that more hotels are included
- New Rope Drop changes now allow more people in the parks earlier regularly
Whatever Extra Magic Hour path you choose know that your Disney Vacation will be amazing either way! Have fun planning your trip and check out all our Disney Quick Guides for more tips.