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Opening Magic Kingdom

Opening Magic Kingdom

Friday, June 19, 2015

No More Extra Magic Hours for Walt Disney World?

Taking advantage of morning Extra Magic Hours during the hot summer months

Earlier this week speculation on the World Wide Web was that the most magical place on earth, Walt Disney World, was going to diminish in its magical-ness with the elimination of Extra Magic Hours.

For non-Disney veterans or anyone needing a refresher, Extra Magic Hours are when determined park or parks are open only to guests staying at Disney Resorts, commonly referred to as “on property” or at resorts that have a relationship with Disney and also offer their guests the perks of Extra Magic Hours.  The Extra Magic Hours, also known as EMH, were typically offered either in the morning, an hour before regular park opening, or in the evening, after the park closed to non-resort guests.

What started this speculation of EMH being eliminated was that tentative park hours were released to travel agents, as 2016 packages become available on June 22, and those park hours did not include EMH as they had in the past.  Also, a Downtown Disney hotel, which offers EMH as a perk to its guests, issued a statement that the perk of EMH was through December 31, 2015.  Both of these clues lead to the conclusion that EMH will no longer be offered at Walt Disney World Parks. 

When I shared this speculation with the husband, he asked the question that I would typically ask. . . why would Disney do this?  My answer is multi-fold.

Historically, the offerings of EMH have diminished over time.  First, the water parks no longer offered EMH, then the EMH after parks closed was reduced from 3 hours to 2 hours, and the rides/shows/attractions available during EMH have been scaled back.  For example, morning EMH in the Magic Kingdom offered guests access to Tomorrowland and Fantasyland, but not the rest of the park.  So, this trend of EMH being less of a perk to on property guests has been slowly implemented over the last few years.

And, now, we have full implementation of FastPass+ which allows guests to select their priority attractions prior to stepping foot into the parks.  One of the reasons behind the implementation of FastPass+ was to regulate crowds—diminish wait times and disperse guests throughout the park throughout the day.  With the advent of FastPass+, rushing to the park to get Legacy FastPass tickets is no longer important.  Guests can select the touring style that fits them—want to sleep late and still get the headline attractions?  No problem as that is how you can select and organize your FastPass+ selections.  FastPass+ also makes EMH less important as I can do/see/get what I want when I want it using my FastPass+ selections.

While guest satisfaction is important to Disney, so is the bottom line.  Eliminating EMH will certainly take less of a bite out of the payroll budget.  But, how will guests paying a pretty penny to stay on property take no longer having EMH as a perk?

The Disney advertising and marketing team needs to step in and handle this one.  Already guests staying on property have the perk of making their FastPass+ selections 60 days prior to their vacation arrival day, while off property guests can make their selections at 30 days.  This perk needs to receive more airtime!

I would also suggest, as if Disney is asking me, that the number of pre-trip FastPass+ selections be increased from 3 to say 5 and add in the option of making selections at more than one park on the same day so that the Park Hopper Option becomes more desirable. 

And, there may be other on property guest perks in the works that we just haven’t heard about yet!

Disney does a great job of varying park hours based on demand.  During peak travel and holidays, guests see expanded park hours, which also help disperse crowds.  With the elimination of EMH, we may see more expanded park hours.

The elimination of EMH is speculative at this point.  This Walt Disney World veteran has taken advantage of morning EMH hours, especially during the hot summer months.  So, how would the no more EMH change my families touring?  Depending on the time of year, we may spend more time in the pool or at a water park and then come to a park with FastPass+ selections ready!

Hmmm. . . The Disney machine may be listening.  I just got an email from Disney with the following highlighted:

Disney FastPass+
When you choose to stay with us at a select
 Walt Disney World Resort hotel, you get first access to reserve some of your favorite attractions and shows up to 60 days before you arrive!
(Valid Theme Park admission and online registration required. Disney FastPass+ attractions and entertainment experiences, the number of selections you can make and available arrival windows are limited.)

1 comment:

  1. Wow, I can't believe they emailed that fast. I would agree with you in that if they want us to stay on the property then make it feel like we are getting something everyone else isn't. I don't think one extra month is that big of a deal.