Disney World Planning – Extra Magic Hours Strageties

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I have gotten into many debates with people over visiting the parks during Extra Magic Hours. Don’t get me wrong I like the idea of Extra Magic Morning or Evening Hours, but does the HUGE influx of people at that park on that day really account for an hour or so of additional time at the parks?

I know a lot of you when planning what park you will visit on what day specifically pick the parks with Extra Magic Hours. You get to get into the park early, ride some rides before it gets busy, and that is cool don’t get my wrong.

In the beginning I used to as well, but over time I started to notice that by 10 or 11 o’clock that park was SLAMMED! It was insane, so insane that my wife and I would just leave that park and not come back that day. While we didn’t have a little one at the time it was no big deal to hop on Disney Transportation and visit another park.

With the invention of Touring PlansLines” and “Crowd Calendar” I started to notice a trend. Touring Plans would pick the parks with EMH’s as the parks to avoid that day..Hmm I wonder why.

You have to imagine every other guest out there at the Walt Disney World Resorts is thinking the same thing as you, lets visit the parks a little early or stay a little late, but your missing the key point EVERY OTHER GUEST IS THINKING THE SAME THING!

So over the course our visiting the parks we have modified our strategies some, depending on your family situation, and which park we are talking about is what will influence how tackle the dreaded Extra Magic Hours. Let’s take a look.

No Kids Options

So you have no kids, maybe your single, hanging out with friends, newly weds, etc the point is you are very mobile. My suggestion would be to get into the park when it first opens for EMH and by 10-11am you get the heck outta dodge. Find the park that TP’s Crowd Calendar suggests you visit that day and stay there till around dinner time. After dinner head to the park that has the Extra Magic Evening Hours and stay till they kick you out the door.

I remember one time I was at the park till 3am it was AWESOME. All the rides were walk on. No kids were in sights and we may or may not had a few drinks before going..wink wink.

With Kids

If you have little ones that still take a nap this is similar to the No Kids Option but with a twist. This is what we usually end up doing since we have a little one at home with one more on the way.

What we like to do is plan on being at the park for rope drop, with kids you try but aren’t always successful. We usually will skip a big breakfast here and opt for something portable. You will see why in a second.

We go visit all the rides we like the best forgoing any shows, or attractions. Around 11am the little one is starting to get hungry and so should you. Now we use our quick service meal to grab brunch at the park. At this time the park should be getting pretty busy. After we eat we head back to our room for naps.

Once we are up and going we purposely avoid the park with Evening Extra Magic Hours. It is usually much nicer in the parks that doesn’t have EEMH’s. Also I have noticed people are a little more rowdy at the parks after dark, don’t ask me why…

So that is our strategy for now, I am sure as my girls get older we will visit the EMH parks at night but for now after Wishes or Illuminations it is back to the room for bed.

Does Parks matter?

If you were paying attention earlier you would have remembered I mentioned something about parks and extra magic hours. Do which park your visiting that day really matter in staying for EEMH’s? In my research they do.

For example a park like Magic Kingdom EEMH’s are great there are plenty of rides and a fair amount of room. Not to mention Tomorrowland looks the best at night.

Epcot on the other hand is to busy for my tastes at night. The lines for Soarin & Test Track are insane as most people are waiting to go on those rides. I will say walking around the World Showcase at night is very magical and Spaceship Earth is brilliant but not something we have to do every visit.

Disney Hollywood Studios is similar to Epcot and is able to handle the attendance after dark. There is enough stuff to do to curb your late night hunger for rides.

Animal Kingdom doesn’t stay open late like the other parks and that is cool the animals need to unwind from a busy day.

Ok so there you have it this has been my philosophy on Extra Magic Hours. You may or may not agree and that is cool we all have our own opinions and experiences with it. That is the great thing about Walt Disney World there is no right or wrong way to have fun!

What are some of your Extra Magic Hour Strategies? Let me know in the comment section below.


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4 thoughts on “Disney World Planning – Extra Magic Hours Strageties

  1. We are annual passholders have no kids so we are the group that shows up early or late depending on the park-we also never really schedule anything except for the occasional meal or special event since it’s just the 2 of us. Magic Kingdom we are usually early birds and leave by 10 and usually hit up Epcot and/or Hollywood Studios and the Boardwalk area for lunch until later and then go back to Magic Kingdom for the rest of the night. I love leaving in the morning and actually watching the flow of strollers enter the park from the monorail waiting area for some strange reason-the way it flows so smoothly can only be seen from far away.

    Epcot and Animal Kingdom we may or may not go depending on our mood. We can fly through those parks in a few hours so it’s mainly if we are up or not in the morning or on night ones if we have anything left to do. Epcot I LOVE staying late! Hollywood Studios we avoid on that day-that park is too small and too crowded during some EMH days to even bother.

  2. The first time we did Extra Magic Hours it was a few years ago and the park was Magic Kingdom and it was early extra magic. My daughters and I were there at 7AM, we left Dad and baby boy to sleep in. It was amazing! My favorite Disney day ever! It was as though the park were open just for us. There were plenty of others there but the park is so big we didn’t see them. We rode Pirates and Small World all by ourselves and there wasn’t anyone on any of the other boats that we could see. We rode every ride in the park except the mountains because the girls were too young before 10 AM!!!! We stopped for a late breakfast and went back to the hotel to swim. We all went back late afternoon and stayed til fireworks.
    That being said, we have participated in EMH twice since then, once late at the Magic Kingdom and once at the Animal Kingdom and I’d have to say I agree with your take on the parks filling up on the day they are open extra hours. We have begun avoiding the park that has EMH.
    Maybe everyone will catch on and there will be an ebb an flow type effect, those days will get low and become popular, making them highly attended until they become unpopular again. 🙂

  3. We usually skip early hours just because we like to sleep in….head to the park of the day and end with extra hours at the park of the night if it’s not the same park we are already in. We have successfully done this for many years *since our daughter was 2 to be exact*
    She hasn’t napped since she was 10 months old but will sleep in when we let her. It has always worked out best for us this way. She will dose off on the bus,be carried back to the room for a quick shower and fall out in bed 🙂

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