The End of Extra Magic Hours: What it Means for Your Disney Parks Vacation

Mickey Mouse pauses on Main Street, U.S.A. just before sunrise prior to the phased reopening of Magic Kingdom Park, July 11, 2020, at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Kent Phillips, photographer)

Disney Parks shared several announcements this week that have big impacts on your future Disney vacations.  The end of Disney's Magical Express and Extra Magic Hours mean that some of those "free" perks of staying on site at a Walt Disney World hotel have ended.  But with Extra Magic Hours, has it really changed?  Or is this an evolution that may not be so bad?

What were Extra Magic Hours?

Extra Magic Hours have been in place at Walt Disney World Resort for years now and provided guests staying on site or at a "good neighbor" hotel the chance to enter a selected park one hour early and stay late at a selected park each day.  Early birds and night owls often made use of this advantage to squeeze in more fun without a little less crowding. 

My personal experiences with Extra Magic Hours in the past was just "meh" for me.  Don't get me wrong, I'll always take more time in the most magical place on Earth, but with these being restricted to one park in the AM, and one in the PM, the crowds often followed Extra Magic Hours.  Many of the Disney Parks guests stay on site or at a good neighbor hotel anyway so it really didn't seem like it was that big of a perk when so many people had access to it.  In fact, as my park experiences continued to grow I stopped using Extra Magic Hours and opted instead to book a pre-park opening breakfast at a park without the extra hours to get in early and have a jump on the crowds after finishing a yummy morning treat.  

Slinky Dog Dash at Disney's Hollywood Studios -

Are Extra Magic Hours Really Going Away?

Yes.  And no.  The Extra Magic Hours program is changing - not really ending.  Instead of having extra time in select parks, guests staying on property at select Walt Disney World Resort hotels will have an extra 30 minutes in EVERY park, EVERY day.  Is that better or worse?  Insert shoulder shrug here.  One thing it will certainly do is not overcrowd a park as there is no benefit of picking one park over another to spend your time.  However, it's only 30 minutes.  What can you do in 30 minutes?  A ride - maybe two if you're lucky.  I'll say this, it's not enough to make this a deciding factor in staying on property, but if we were, I would probably give it a go.  Honestly, I think this is a hard sell as a real "perk" for Disney Parks fans.

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How To Plan Your Park Days

There are a lot of thoughts out there on planning your time in the parks.  In recent years, we have shied away from the Park Hopper option because, with little ones, it often leads to too much in a day.  We typically plan one plan a day and rope drop that park, head back to the resort in the heat of the day for some R&R in the hotel or at the pool, and then head back in the evening for more fun.  However, you plan your days, don't miss my Ultimate Planning Timeline to help you along the way!


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