Extra Magic Hours
One Man's Opinion
Friday, November 4, 2005
Walt Disney World Resort guests receive perks ranging
from free parking at all theme parks to such conveniences as charging purchases
to their room and having them delivered back to your room. One of the more
attractive perks and one that is geared especially with the attention of
putting heads in the beds is Extra Magic Hours (EMH).
by Mike Scopa, staff writer
For many, that particular perk is right at the top of the list. But should
it be? In this session, let's try to answer that question.
What are Extra Magic Hours?
Simply put, Extra Magic Hours provide Walt Disney World Resort guests
special access privileges to the four major theme parks on specific days.
Actually these hours are sometimes for mornings and sometimes
An Extra Magic Hour morning offers Walt Disney World Resort guests access
to a designated theme park one hour before the park is open to non-resort
guests, and access to attractions three hours beyond the normal operating
hours for that park. There are also times during the year in which Extra
Magic Hours are also offered for Walt Disney World water parks.
Here is the latest info on what's open during Extra Magic Hours:
Magic Kingdom mornings:
- Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin
- Cinderella's Golden Carrousel
- Dumbo the Flying Elephant
- "it's a small world"
- The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
- Mickey's PhilharMagic
- Peter Pan's Flight
- Space Mountain
- Stitch's Great Escape
- Tomorrowland Indy Speedway
Magic Kingdom evenings:
- All Extra Magic Hours morning attractions
- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
- The Haunted Mansion
- The Magic Carpets of Aladdin
- Pirates of the Caribbean
- Splash Mountain
Epcot Extra Magic Hours mornings
- Mission: Space
- Spaceship Earth
- Living with the Land
- Test Track
Epcot Extra Magic Hours evenings
- All Extra Magic Hours morning attractions
- Honey, I Shrunk the Audience
- Journey Into Imagination with Figment
- El Rio del Tiempo
- The American Adventure
Disney-MGM Studios Extra Magic Hours mornings
- Muppet Vision 3-D
- Rock 'n' Roller Coaster
- Star Tours
- The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
- All Extra Magic Hours morning attractions
- The Great Movie Ride
- Voyage of The Little Mermaid
Animal Kingdom mornings
- Discovery Island Trails (mornings only)
- It's Tough to be a Bug!
- Kilimanjaro Safaris
- Pangani Forest Exploration Trail (mornings only)
Animal Kingdom evenings
- Extra Magic Hours morning attractions
- The Boneyard
- Festival of the Lion King
- Kali River Rapids
- Primeval Whirl
- Tarzan Rocks!
- TriceraTop Spin
Typhoon Lagoon Extra Magic Hours evenings
- All attractions except Crush 'n' Gusher
As always, this information is subject to change but at least it gives
you an idea as to what is open and what is not open.
Extra Magic Hours Predecessors
Before we had ever heard the term Extra Magic Hours, we were
already experiencing them. Back in the 1990s, we had heard of such things
as Surprise Mornings. These were special days in which resort guests were
allowed to enter the park one hour before the general public. What a great
Those surprise mornings were the grandfathers to today's Extra Magic
Morning hours. Then came along a very favorite perk, e-Ride night, at
Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom theme park.
Although it is a predecessor to Extra Magic Hours evening hours, E-Ride
night had some differences. For example, E-Ride night took place only
in the Magic Kingdom theme park, whereas Extra Magic Hour evenings rotate
from theme park to theme park. E-Ride night was a separate ticket event.
I don't recall the cost but it was reasonable. Extra Magic Hours are perks
(free) for onsite guests.
E-ride night offered only about eight or nine attractions, while Extra
Magic Hours evenings, depending upon the theme park, has more attractions
open for business. E-ride night was limited to about 5,000 guests but
Extra Magic Hours Evening hours has no limit other than possibly theme
Extra Magic Hours Mornings: Pros and Cons
I've always observed that getting into a theme park one hour early than
the general public does not really get you anything unless you are focused
on riding an attraction that you would otherwise not ride because of the
wait times. If you used your one hour wisely, you may be able to enjoy
several attractions before the crowd hits. However, that first hour is
more like 90 minutes for Magic Kingdom because it takes a while for the
crowd to disperse from the Main Street USA area.
Keep in mind that not all attractions will be up and running for that
Extra Magic Hours morning. Magic Kingdom will usually have both Tomorrowland
and Fantasyland attractions going, but it's anyone's guess as to the attractions
in Frontierland, Adventureland, and Liberty Square.
There is no doubt that you will save more time at a Magic Kingdom Extra
Magic Hours morning than at any other theme park simply because it is
a popular theme park and the lines are usually longer than those in other
theme parks. However, keep in mind that at 11 a.m. or so you will find
that an Extra Magic Hours morning at Magic Kingdom is quite different
than a non-Extra Magic Hours morning. It's crowded. That's right.
When you think of how many extra guests are drawn to the park due to
Extra Magic Hours, and you add the normal non-resort guest attendance,
you soon realize that the park is much more crowded than mid-day than
usual. I would guess that you would find waiting times to actually increase
15-20 minutes per average by mid-day on Extra Magic Hours hours at this
I don't think Extra Magic Hours mornings at Animal Kingdom are worth
it unless you really want to use them to go on the Kilimanjaro Safari
as your first attraction. Animal Kingdom Extra Magic Hours mornings may
actually produce longer lines. because it has fewer attractions open for
that Extra Magic hour.
Epcot's Extra Magic Hours mornings will probably save you as much as
30 minutes of waiting time for such attractions as Mission: Space, Test
Track, and Soarin'.
You should make use of the Disney-MGM Studios Extra Magic Hours if you
are a fan of Twilight Zone Tower of Terror and Rock 'n' Roller Coaster.
Keep in mind that 30 minutes after the park's normal operating hours
begin you will begin to see some high crowd levels.
Extra Magic Hours Evenings: Pros and Cons
You really don't gain much, if anything, from going to Extra Magic Hours
evenings. Let's face it: there are more people who are likely to stay
out late than go out early in the morning, so you are bound to see more
guests in the parks during Extra Magic Hours evenings than mornings.
The first 90 minutes of any Extra Magic Hours evening is really crowded
and the lines may be as long as you would experience at mid-day. If, however,
you stay for the entire Extra Magic Hours time, you may find the lines
dwindled a bit during the last hour.
Keep in mind that you probably won't be seeing any Fastpass distribution
boxes open for business.
One positive aspect for Extra Magic Hours evenings at Epcot is that the
World Showcase restaurants are open an hour or so longer.
All in all, I'm not a big fan of evening Extra Magic Hours and would
like to see an attendance cap be used so that access to the attractions
really is worthwhile. I'm in favor of charging guests a nominal fee for
the Extra Magic Hours evenings.
Before I start with my words of wisdom, let me point out
that there is a new Extra Magic Hours schedule coming out for 2006.
Starting January 1, 2006 the schedule is:
* Magic Kingdom Thursday mornings and Sunday evenings
* Epcot Tuesday mornings and Friday evenings
* Disney-MGM Studios Saturday mornings and Tuesday evenings
* Disney's Animal Kingdom Monday mornings and Wednesday evenings
These changes reflect historical crowd habits and on-site guests are
obviously being rewarded for staying at a Disney resort by being allowed
to access theme parks one hour earlier in the morning on the day of the
week that theme park usually sees its biggest crowds.
I don't believe there is any significance to the change in the evening
hours although there is some evidence to suggest that the new Extra Magic
Hours evening hours are being held on traditionally light evenings for
the respective theme parks.
So are the Extra Magic Hours worth it? Possibly. The Extra Magic Hours
mornings are worth it if you have special attractions in mind and if you
plan on park hopping that day. For instance, it may be worth going to
a Magic Kingdom Extra Magic Hours morning as long as you plan to leave
the park in the late morning. The park will see much higher crowd levels
by that time on Extra Magic Hours mornings.
You will accomplish more by park hopping from an Extra Magic Hours morning
park to a non-Extra Magic Hours morning park than if you just stay in
the one park. If you plan on staying all day in an Extra Magic Hours morning
park, good luck! By mid to late morning, you may experience significant
waiting for your favorite attraction.
The first 60 to 90 minutes of any Extra Magic Hours morning is where
you realizes the added value of this perk. Once the general public hits
the turnstiles, the crowd levels rise quite a bit.
Extra Magic Hour evenings are almost the complete opposite of Extra Magic
Hour mornings, because you consistently find more guests in the parks
at night than in the early morning hours.
So there you have it. Think about your theme park touring habits, check
out what's open during Extra Magic Hours times and decide if it's for
you and if Extra Magic Hours is part of the formula that will help you...
...Remember the Magic!
It's Mousefest time again. That means time for a preview and time for
some Mousefest Do's and Don'ts.
Thoughts, questions, or comments? Contact Mike here.