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Opening Magic Kingdom

Opening Magic Kingdom

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Are Walt Disney World's Extra Magic Hours For You?

Are Walt Disney World’s Extra Magic Hours for you? 

Extra Magic Hours are extended park hours for guests staying at Walt Disney World Resorts.  Parks can be open an hour early or three hours after the park closes, depending on the day.  On any given day, at least one Disney park—including water parks—will offer some sort of Extra Magic Hours.  Check the Walt Disney World for more information.

Will the extended hours of park opening reserved for Walt Disney World Resort guests be beneficial for you and your traveling party?  In a word, yes.  Followed by a bevy of caveats. 

For our family, we get the most of our morning Extra Magic Hours.  We are mostly ( 2 out of 3) early risers and can be at the park opening even it is early.  The parks are less crowded at this time of day and we can get a lot of park touring done before the park opens to non-resort guests an hour later.  AM Extra Magic Hours work especially well at Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios, as the “big ticket” items are open and available for Fastpass distribution.  Magic Kingdom is another story.  AM Extra Magic Hours at Magic Kingdom allow guests access to Tomorrowland and Fantasyland and that’s it.  Want to ride Pirates of the Caribbean or Jungle Cruise?  You’ll have to wait another hour.  Want to get Fastpasses for Splash Mountain?  Same thing—you’ll have to wait until the park opens for all guests. 

So, one caveat is that the benefits of Extra Magic Hours, at least in the morning, vary by park.  Double check the info on Disney’s web-site for specific attraction availability during Extra Magic Hours.

On our last trip, we were waiting at the bus stop at our resort to head to EPCOT.  It was 8:00 am and EPCOT opened at 9:00 am.  The bus stop was crowded but emptied when the Magic Kingdom bus arrived.  Magic Kingdom opened at 8:00 am for AM Extra Magic Hours for resort guests.  The husband and I looked at each other and said, those folks are late, and then smiled.  When our bus arrived, we were the only ones on it and had the bus all to ourselves for the ride to EPCOT.  I told the driver that the Magic Kingdom bus filled up fast, but that they were already late.  He readily agreed.

Caveat—If you are planning on using AM Extra Magic Hours for maximum benefit, be there when the park opens.  If you find yourself getting on the bus when the park has already opened, you are late and the crowd will be in front of you rather than behind you.

Since transportation to parks begins an hour or more before park opening, we have taken advantage of Magic Kingdom’s AM Extra Magic Hours to get to restaurants.  For example, on a day that EPCOT was opening at 9:00 am, we made a 7:30 am ADR for breakfast at ‘Ohana’s at the Polynesian Resort, which is a character meal, on a day that the Magic Kingdom was opening early.  We took the Magic Kingdom bus from our resort and then the monorail to the Poly and arrived before 7:30 am.  We were seated first and at a great table as the characters stopped at our table first.  When we finished eating, we took a short walk, less than 5 minutes, to the Ticket and Transportation Center to catch the EPCOT monorail.  We could see the throng of guests being held back at the monorail station and ferry boat launch, that were headed to the Magic Kingdom, waiting for the non-resort guest opening time.  We were able to get through the crowd and gates by showing our resort ID.  We got on the EPCOT monorail and were there before rope drop.

Caveat—It may be beneficial to keep AM Extra Magic Hours in mind when scheduling early morning dining for transportation purposes.

As far as PM Extra Magic Hours, where the park is open 3 hours after the official closing time, only the husband (the 1 of 3) has taken advantage of this offering.  He went to Hollywood Studios one night and rode Tower of Terror and took advantage of the thinner crowds and short waits.  The boy and I were back at the resort sleeping.

What I have heard and read is that since park hours fluctuate seasonally, guest mileage for PM Extra Magic Hours can vary.  For example, if EPCOT’s hours are 9:00 am to 9:00 pm and the Extra Magic Hours extend the closing time until midnight, more guests are going to take advantage of the extra time as compared to a midnight closing of Magic Kingdom with Extra Magic Hours until 3:00 am.  The crowd begins to thin in the wee hours of the night.  I know people who have traversed Magic Kingdom between 1:00 and 2:00 am and loved it!  Yeah, I can be there at 7:00 am, but you most likely won’t find me there at 1:00 am;  I would have turned into a pumpkin by then!

Caveat—The crowd levels at Extra Magic Hours will depend on the times for the Extra Magic Hours.  Later park hours=thinner crowds.

Another way we take Extra Magic Hours into consideration is to plan against them.  For example, if Hollywood Studios has PM Extra Magic Hours on one day, then we plan to hit the park the next day with the thinking that most guests, at least resort guests, were there the night before and the park may be less crowded the next day.  While I don’t have any scientific proof or data to support this claim, we have found our park touring to be successful when planning against PM Extra Magic Hours.

Caveat—You can use Extra Magic Hours to your advantage by planning park touring the day AFTER PM Extra Magic Hours in hopes of less crowds.

If staying off-site, it may be beneficial to know which parks have Extra Magic Hours on which days and then avoid those parks on those days as they are most likely going to be more crowded.  Also, if you want to see the opening of Magic Kingdom, for sure don’t come on an AM Extra Magic Hours day, as you will miss the opening ceremony.

Caveat—Even non-resort guests need to pay attention to Extra Magic Hours and plan their park touring to potentially avoid the parks on days with Extra Magic Hours.

So, are Extra Magic Hours at Walt Disney World for you and your traveling party?

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