Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Managing the WDW Crowds: Extra Magic Hours

Welcome to the next stop on Blogorail Red. Today we are discussing how to manage the crowds at the Disney Parks.

Walt Disney World is a magical place, but sometimes the parks can feel a little less than magical when you're waiting in endless lines and oppressive heat. What if you could enter the parks an hour early, or hang out in the parks a couple of hours late? Sounds great...and you can if you're staying at any one of the more than 25 Walt Disney World Resort hotels. 

Extra Magic Hours is a special perk just for Disney Resort hotel guests. From the Disney website:
Extra Magic Hours offer a rare and unique opportunity to enjoy additional time in Walt Disney World parks—above and beyond the standard operating schedule—at no extra charge. This special perk is offered to Guests of select Walt Disney World Resort hotels. Each day, one of the 4 Walt Disney World theme parks opens one hour early or remains open up to 2 hours after regular closing time. Additionally, Disney Water Parks offer Extra Magic Hours during select times of year. 

In order to take advantage of Extra Magic Hours, all you have to do is:
  • Check the schedule and see which park has Extra Magic Hours
  • Arrive at the indicated park 
  • Use a valid Disney ticket and show your resort ID
Not all attractions are open during Extra Magic Hours, but the bigger attractions are almost always included. Don't plan on seeing any shows during this time because most of the shows do not run during Extra Magic Hours.

While Extra Magic Hours sound like an incredible perk, it isn't always your best option. Here are some things to consider:
  • There are thousands of guests staying at Walt Disney World Resort...and all of them are trying to take advantage of Extra Magic Hours. Often the park that has evening Extra Magic Hours will be the most crowded park and it may be worthwhile to visit a different park that is less crowded. Visit and see what the crowd predictions are for each park.
  • Extra Magic Hours can be exhausting. Do not plan on doing morning Extra Magic Hours and stay the entire day. You and the members of your party will likely burn out and it will not be enjoyable. Extra Magic Hours are best used when you either take a break during a day or spend a half day at the parks and a half day at the resort.
  • If you are visiting one park and hopping to another park for Extra Magic Hours, you must have a valid park hopper ticket. Discuss whether this is cost effective for your family or overkill.
So are Extra Magic Hours worth it? They can be in the right situation. Be sure to check Touring Plans beforehand to see the estimated crowd levels and don't overdo it. If you do, they can truly be magical!

Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Red | Managing the Crowds at the Disney Parks and Beyond Loop:


tripswithtykes said...

Couldn't agree more about the mid-day break being essential. Since I have little ones, we are up early and can really take advantage of the early morning extra magic hours, but we definitely are ready for naptime later in the day!

Julie Bigboy said...

We've done the Extra Magic Hour (Disneyland only offers the one extra morning hour) and yes, paired with an afternoon break back at the hotel, it's great.
We've always been able to squeeze a lot into that first hour!

Kimberly said...

I usually find out which parks have extra magic hours and make sure not to go there for the entire day. Since we usually get park hoppers, we'll pick a different park for the day and then head to the one with evening EMHs when the park we're at closes.

Heidi Strawser said...

I usually check for which parks are going to have the lowest crowds on any given day and go that way - which usually means avoiding the park with Extra Magic Hours. We have taken advantage of it a time or two though.

Rosanne Mottola said...

I think that if you only have one or two days, EMH can be great because you want to do as much as possible in a limited time. That's really the only time I've used it.

Rosanne Mottola said...

That's a great strategy! Take advantage of the smaller crowds at non EMH parks and make the most of your day by hopping to an EMH park at night :)

Rosanne Mottola said...

Julie, I find that the morning EMHs tend to be less crowded and better overall! Paired with a nice nap or pool break, it can be awesome.

Rosanne Mottola said...

Now that I have my little munchkin, I have a feeling I will feel the same way during my first trip with him in November. :)

Heidi Strawser said...

Yes, for a short visit, using them would be essential! Gotta get in as much Disney as possible.

lori ketcherside said...

I find the park with EMH will be extra crowded, except during the extra magic hours~ DON'T go to the EMH park unless you plan to use the extra magic hours!

Lin 'Pratt' Leffel said...

We always do Morning EMH at Magic Kingdom but tend to skip them at other parks. We occassionaly do the evening EMH at Magic Kingdom as well, but not as often since our son is still young. Do you find it really benefits you to hit up the EMH park for Hollywood Studios, Epcot and Animal Kingdom?

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