A family trip to Disney World can be an expensive proposition, so it only makes sense to look for affordable Disney deals. Even after making your decision and purchasing your tickets, you might wonder if you can upgrade Disney tickets after purchase – we at MagicGuides have all the information you need to plan the Disney trip of your dreams. 

As you dive deeper into your Walt Disney World vacation planning, you may come across the phrase “Extra Magic Hours,” or “EMH.” This term was the original name for a perk that allows guests to spend additional time in the parks, either before opening or after closing. If you think Extra Magic Hours and its successor apply only to Disney Resort guests, you are only partially correct – although they are only available to Disney resort guests, they affect all park visitors in a few ways. So, let’s look at what Extra Magic Hours at Disney World really are. 

Extra Magic Hours (and their successors) are extended theme park hours available to Disney World Resort hotel guests and some non-Disney hotel guests. On certain days of the week, these guests are allowed to enter the parks earlier or stay later than normal park operating hours. 

Extra Magic Hours Schedule 

While the exact times, days, and theme parks were always subject to change, we’ve found Disney typically stuck to this Extra Magic Hours schedule under the old system: 

  • Sunday: Evening EMH at Disney’s Hollywood Studios
  • Monday: Morning EMH at Disney’s Animal Kingdom
  • Tuesday: Evening EMH at EPCOT 
  • Wednesday: Evening EMH at Magic Kingdom Park
  • Thursday: Morning EMH at EPCOT 
  • Friday: Morning EMH at Magic Kingdom Park 
  • Saturday: Morning EMH at Disney’s Animal Kingdom 

The old morning EMH has been replaced with a program called Early Theme Park Entry, in which all four theme parks allow Disney Resort hotel guests in 30 minutes early every day of the week.  Not every ride is open, but many of the best ones are.

The old evening EMH was replaced with Extended Evening Theme Park Hours, which has a constantly-evolving schedule. We suggest you double check that schedule for the days during your visit. Special events, new attractions, or peak times are usually the main reasons why Disney may change up this schedule. 

When Should Guests Use the Extra Magic Hours? 

Because the new versions of Extra Magic Hours can affect crowd levels, there are few scenarios in which it makes sense to use them: 

When You Park Hop

In this situation, you can go to the park with EMH during those hours and spend the other part of the day at a less crowded park. For example, say EPCOT has evening EMH from 9:00 PM to 11:00 PM and you also want to hit Disney’s Hollywood Studios–you can go to Disney’s Hollywood Studios during normal park hours, then hop to EPCOT that evening during the EMH. 

When You Have a Disney Theme Park Base Ticket and Overall Crowd Levels Are Low 

For instance, say the resort crowd level is a four (see our crowd calendar in the site menu) and you’re heading to Magic Kingdom. Take advantage of the early entry perk (AKA morning EMH) – the extra time that morning before the gates open to everyone could let you have a shorter wait for popular rides, such as Peter Pan’s Flight, Space Mountain, and the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. 

When You Are Visiting During a Major Attraction Opening 

During the opening of rides such as Pandora at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Toy Story Land, and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, there were additional Extra Magic Hours for resort guests. The EMH are the best ways to experience all the new rides without having to wait several hours in the queue. 

In Summary

Since being introduced in 2005, Extra Magic Hours at Disney World allowed resort guests to enjoy extra time in the parks either before or after regular park hours. Although EMH had several benefits, they were not without their drawbacks – when they were first available, a park offering EMH often had higher crowd counts all day, and EMH also fluctuated regularly.. 

Because of this (and spurred on by the COVID-19 pandemic), Disney replaced initial EMH with Early Theme Park Entry and Extended Evening Theme Park Hours, which have proven to disperse crowds more evenly throughout the different Disney parks. 

Looking for other Disney ticket deals (or perhaps wondering what happened to the Disney World Platinum Plus Pass)? Take a look at our recent post.

Want some assistance sorting out your options for spending more time in the parks? Reach out to The Vacationeer!  Their expert Disney travel planners provide free help to folks just like you who want to go to Disney but are maybe feeling a bit overwhelmed by all there is to know.

They can answer your question, give you a heads up on things you might not even know to ask, and handle all of your reservations for you — all at no additional cost to you!

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