One of the best benefits when staying on-property is the access to Extra Magic Hours. Any guest staying at a Walt Disney World resort, with valid theme park tickets, can take advantage of Extra Magic Hours (EMH). These extra hours allow access to the parks when regular guests must wait or go home, depending on when the EMH are in place for that particular park. Times vary; always check the official online calendar during your planning stages, or in your information packet when you arrive at the resort.
As stated above, times that the parks are open these extra hours will vary. Typically, in a week long stay, you can expect that each of the four main theme parks will have an early morning EMH and an evening EMH. If the extra hours fall in the morning, the park will open at least an hour earlier for resort guests. If the park has evening EMH, expect the park to be open 2-3 hours later just for you, while other guests will have to go home.
If you are still in the planning stages of your trip, knowing the dates and times of the Extra Magic Hours will be crucial. But first, you must determine what kind of an Extra Magic Hours Guest are you?
Are you an early riser? — Extra Magic Hours in the AM were made for you! Get there early, at least 30 minutes earlier than the posted opening time. We’ve arrived at 7:45am for an 8am EMH opening to Magic Kingdom, only to find that the gates were already open and Space Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad were all walk-ons. (Seven Dwarves Mine Train has a minimal wait.)
Do you need a little extra shut-eye? — Then visit the park that had the evening EMH the night before. An EMH park typically has a higher attendance that day. The day after, resort guests are out enjoying another park. You can take advantage of this and enjoy less crowds at the park they’ve already visited. You still need to get there early, however, at least 30 minutes before the posted opening, which is usually 9am. But check the schedule you received at check-in just to be sure.
Are you a night-owl? — Then wait it out for the evening Extra Magic Hours. You can sleep in, enjoy a swim at the pool and arrive when everyone is going back to the resort for a nap. Once you arrive, know that the parks will be a little crowded, but come dinner time? People will begin leaving. By the time the official park closing hour arrives, most attractions will have a minimal wait.
Which plan works best for you? You won’t know until you try. But there are benefits with any plan. Our family favorites are the morning EMH and going to the park that just had evening EMH. That works best for us because we’re all early morning risers. There are two night-owls in our group, and we typically work in at least one evening EMH for them, but they both feel that the morning hours are the most productive hours if you want to get anything done.
Whichever hours you choose, Extra Magic Hours for resort guests only is a perk worth its early roll-call or stumble to bed at 1am!