Updated: April 2013
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.
What are Extra Magic Hours?
Extra Magic Hours (EMH) are extended theme park hours available to Disney Resort guests*. 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.
See if a park has Extra Magic Hours by scrolling over that park on Leap’s Crowd Calendar.
How Extra Magic Hours Affect Crowds
Quite simply, Extra Magic Hours strongly affect crowd levels. Think of it this way…there are nearly 25,000 Disney Resort hotel rooms. That total doesn’t even include non-Disney owned hotels like Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin and Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista, which also offer the EMH benefit. Since most people don’t travel alone, that’s A LOT of people headed to the same park. 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.
Therefore, we recommend you note which park has Extra Magic Hours and factor that into your planning. You can find expected crowd levels, park operating hours and Extra Magic Hours schedules on Leap’s Crowd Calendar.
When Resort Guests Should Use Extra Magic Hours
• Go to the park with Extra Magic Hours ONLY if you intend to visit during the Extra Magic Hours. You gain 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.
• If the overall crowd level is high and you have a Park Hopper ticket.
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. Disney’s Animal Kingdom has morning EMH from 8 – 9 a.m. You can take advantage of the extra hour that morning for popular rides like Kilimanjaro Safaris and Expedition Everest. Then spend the rest of the day at Animal Kingdom watching great shows like Festival of the Lion King and Finding Nemo – The Musical and using FASTPASSes to go back and ride your favorites again.
When to Avoid the Park with Extra Magic Hours
While having a few extra hours to spend at a Disney park sounds great, 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.
• 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.
What Rides Are Open
During Extra Magic Hours?
* Guests must present a valid Resort ID to board the rides during Extra Magic Hours. Non-Resort guests can remain in the park during EMH, but will not be able to go on any rides. Regular theme park admission is required.
Let us know what you think. Do you take advantage of Extra Magic Hours or avoid the park that has them?