This September, we got a chance to try out Disney’s Extra Extra Magic Hours and we’d like to tell you all about our experiences. However, before we get to the Extra Extra Magic Hours at Walt Disney World I should probably go over what Extra Magic Hours are, so here’s a brief rundown:
Extra Magic Hours
Extra Magic Hours are additional park hours available to Disney resorts guests and guests staying at select Disney Springs Resort Area hotels. The schedule changes daily, but typically one park per day will offer either Early Extra Magic Hours or Late Extra Magic Hours. Guests can enter the park one hour early or stay in the park either one or two hours later, depending on the Extra Magic Hour schedule for that day.
Extra Magic Hours are one of the perks to staying at a Disney Resort. Recently, many Disney fans have said Extra Magic Hours are no longer as much of a perk as they once were. Years ago, Disney offered longer Extra Magic Hours. Ryan and I remember visiting Magic Kingdom and staying until 2am some nights. It has definitely been a while since that was an option for Extra Magic Hours. We’ve seen more hard ticket events that offer longer hours in the parks in the last couple years, instead of Late Extra Magic Hours. But this summer Disney announced Extra Extra Magic Hours for a limited time. These hours are free and just for resort guests.
Extra Extra Magic Hours
Extra Extra Magic Hours started on August 29, 2019 (September 1st for Hollywood Studios) and run until November 2, 2019.
So what exactly is the Extra part of the Extra Extra Magic Hours? During the above-mentioned dates, Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom have Extra Magic Hours every day of the week from 7am-8am.
Hollywood Studios has Extra Magic Hours everyday from 6am-9am! Those unprecedented hours were likely due to Disney’s anticipation of major crowds for Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge. That’s 3 hours everyday available only to resort guests!
Ryan and I have always been big believers in getting to the parks early to accomplish as much as we can before the majority of guests arrive. You can walk on rides, enjoy the parks with low crowds, not to mention avoiding the hot mid-day sun. When the Extra Extra Magic Hours were announced we knew we’d make use of them and we absolutely loved them.
Hollywood Studios and Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge
The Early Morning
The biggest benefit of these additional hours was definitely at Hollywood Studios and we made use of these early hours a couple times in early September. Yes, it did feel a little like getting up in the middle of the night (and on vacation, no less) but it was worth it and we have no regrets.
We caught a bus to Hollywood Studios around 5:15am...that may be tough to process, so we’ll let that sink in for a minute.
Thankfully, because we were staying at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort, we were pretty close to the park. That meant we were in the park by 5:30am. We didn’t encounter lines at security or at the gates, which we thought was a real possibility, given the perceived popularity of Galaxy’s Edge.
For those of you who need coffee to get going, there’s good news! The Trolley Car, the Starbucks location in the park, was open before 6am so guests could get snacks and coffee. We brought along Cliff Bars as we knew we would prioritize rides over food, so those bars held us over until 9am when we got breakfast.
Guests were held on Hollywood Boulevard until 6am when four Storm Troopers appeared to lead the crowd to Galaxy’s Edge. At 6am, Star Wars music starts to play in building the anticipation as the Storm Troopers march into position in front of the crowd. We should mention that guests can also head to Toy Story Land and there are cast members with signs pointing in the direction of either land to ensure guests know which way to head.
We found one morning to have a few more ‘enthusiastic’ guests, but for the most part people were polite and considerate when walking to the new land. Everyone was just generally excited to see Galaxy’s Edge and we were among that group. It was about a 15-minute walk to Smuggler’s Run which is where we were all led, though you could drop off and enjoy different parts of the land. Cast members were coaxing guests into Oga’s Cantina as reservations were not needed at 6am. Yes, they were serving the full alcoholic menu at this time. We did visit Oga’s Cantina one of the mornings and while there were a number of people there, it was nothing compared to the bustling crowd later in the day.
We waited about 15-20 minutes to get onto Smuggler’s Run and most of that was moving through the massive and elaborate queue.
The Extra Extra Magic Hours gave us plenty of time to explore Galaxy’s Edge and then head over to Toy Story Land. The two lands are next to one another with a walkway between the two, making for a quick and easy transition.
The Rest of the Park
We rode all three Toy Story attractions with the longest wait being 10 minutes for Slinky Dog Dash. We did notice that the wait times posted during the Extra Extra Magic Hours were inaccurate. The time posted for Slinky around 8am was 30 minutes. As I mentioned, we waited only waited 10. Smuggler’s Run was often listed as being a 30-40 minute wait in the morning and it was probably more like 20.
Not only were we able to get onto the Toy Story Land attractions, but we also were able to ride Tower of Terror and Rock ’N’ Roller Coaster. We were able to complete all major attractions in the park before the park officially opened!
Taking a Break
Typically, we are the type of guest who will stay from open until close in the parks. We know that won’t always be the case in the future, so we try to pack in the park hours when we can. This morning was too early for us not to head back to the resort for a swim and nap. We highly recommend this for anyone using the Extra Extra Magic Hours. Go for the Extra Extra Magic Hours in the morning, then take a break mid-day before heading back to the park (or somewhere else) in the later afternoon.
The Extra Extra Magic Hours at Hollywood Studios are comparable to an After Hours Event, but at the opposite end of the day and without the price tag, which is a huge bonus. Also, there’s nothing quite like seeing the sunrise in a Disney park!
We also took advantage of the Extra Extra Magic Hour at Magic Kingdom from 7am-8am. Only Fantasyland and Tomorrowland are open during Extra Magic Hours at Magic Kingdom, so we headed to Space Mountain and rode it twice before heading to Buzz Lightyear. We also took lots of pictures around a practically deserted castle, which was another added bonus for being in the park so early.
One thing that is important to know when using Extra Extra Magic Hours at Magic Kingdom is the fact that not all the restaurants open right away. We wanted a Sleepy Hollow waffle and even though the park officially opened at 8am, this location didn’t open until 9am that morning and a line did form about 30 minutes before it opened! So it’s worth checking what time dining locations open up so you can plan accordingly.
Extra Extra Magic Hours at Animal Kingdom are similar to Magic Kingdom, with resort guests getting into the park from 7am-8am. For those without Flight of Passage FastPasses, this is an easy way to get on the attraction with a relatively minimal wait, though the majority of guests do tend to head straight there.
If you do have a FastPass for Flight of Passage, we recommend going to literally anything else in the park and you’ll basically walk on. Na’vi River Journey will have a shorter wait time. DINOSAUR and Expedition Everest typically have such short lines that you can ride them multiple times in quick succession. It’s also a great chance to see a large number of the animals out and about on Kilimanjaro Safaris.
For us, these were the Extra Extra Magic Hours we didn’t use to our full advantage. With so many early mornings and a Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party in the mix, the timing wasn’t great. Thankfully, crowd levels were lower than normal on the days we chose to visit, so we were able to do everything we wanted, and then some!
We loved the Extra Extra Magic Hours and felt really fortunate to be at Walt Disney World when they were offered.
If you have a trip to Disney in the timeframe in which Extra Extra Magic Hours are offered (now until November 2) and you can handle an early morning, make use of these hours…especially at Hollywood Studios! We really can’t stress that enough.
We hope we will see Disney offer more hours like this, because it spread the crowds out so well that we were able to explore each park with less stress. The Extra Extra Magic Hours gave us an opportunity to ride every major attraction and lowered the overall crowd level throughout the day! That being said, we know this is a large investment on Disney’s part. They have to have Cast Members in the parks extremely early and still run the parks through their normal hours. If you can get out of bed and onto a bus really early, make sure you do it while these hours are still available.
The ability to walk on rides and short lines are only part of it. There was a great energy among Disney and Star Wars fans during the Extra Extra Magic Hours and that was really exciting to be a part of. These hours are also a great opportunity to slow down and enjoy some peaceful moments in the parks without all the crowds. I suspect it might be a bit busier in October since that is a peak month compared to September, but that’s probably even more of a reason to use the Extra Extra Magic Hours.
Will you be using Extra Extra Magic Hours before they disappear? Let us know how they go in the comments below!