About Extra Magic Hours at Disney World (and why I don’t usually suggest them)

(Article last updated: April 17, 2019)

Extra Magic Hours are a perk available to people staying onsite at Disney World resort hotels, but we don't usually recommend them because oftentimes, Extra Magic Hours make the parks more crowded (which is definitely less magical).

Here's an overview of how they work, who should use them, what attractions are open during those times, and suggested ways to tour if you do decide to attend.

What are Extra Magic Hours?

Extra magic hours are one of the many free benefits that guests staying onsite at one of the Disney World resort hotels receive. In addition, some offsite guests at select resorts are also eligible for this perk, too.

Extra Magic Hours (EMH) are times that the parks are open to onsite guests outside of the normal operating schedule. Sometimes it's a morning EMH (where a park will open 1 hour early) and sometimes it's an evening EMH (which usually lasts for 2 hours).

The parks offering EMHs vary from day to day, but you can check the schedule in the My Disney Experience app/website, or look on the monthly crowd calendars for the month you're traveling.

Crowd calendar showing EMH

Are Extra Magic Hours and Early Morning Magic the same thing?

The names may be similar but they are most definitely not the same thing.

In a nutshell, Extra Magic Hours are free and open to only guests staying at a Walt Disney World resort (and some select offsite resorts).

Early Morning Magic is a specially ticketed event that is open to anybody, however, it is only held at 2 parks: Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom and Toy Story Land at Hollywood Studios.

Crowd waiting to get into Magic Kingdom

What can you do during Extra Magic Hours?

Most people assume that the park is fully open during EMH, but that isn't true. In fact, there's actually just a subset of the overall list of attractions that are available.

Here's what you can expect to find open in each park:

Magic Kingdom

Magic Kingdom has both Morning and Evening Extra Magic Hours, however, the attractions available at each differ slightly.

A note about Evening EMH's at Magic Kingdom:

Beginning in October of 2019 Disney is not showing any Evening Extra Magic Hours on their calendars. This could be a temporary thing (due to the number of nighttime events and parties happening during that time period) or perhaps the end of the Evening EMH's, however, Disney has not formally announced anything either way. 

If you are planning on attending Evening EMH's at Magic Kingdom and you are traveling after September 30, 2019 be sure you confirm the EMH details when park hours are released at that 180 day mark.

Morning EMHs

Fantasyland

  • The Barnstormer
  • Dumbo the Flying Elephant
  • "it's a small world"
  • Mad Tea Party
  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
  • Mickey's PhilharMagic
  • Peter Pan's Flight
  • Prince Charming Regal Carrousel
  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
  • Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid

Tomorrowland

  • Astro Orbiter
  • Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin
  • Space Mountain
  • Tomorrowland Speedway
  • Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover
  • Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress

Evening EMHs

Fantasyland

  • The Barnstormer
  • Dumbo the Flying Elephant
  • "it's a small world"
  • Mad Tea Party
  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
  • Mickey's PhilharMagic
  • Peter Pan's Flight
  • Prince Charming Regal Carrousel
  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
  • Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid

Tomorrowland

  • Astro Orbiter
  • Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin
  • Monster's, Inc. Laugh Floor
  • Space Mountain
  • Tomorrowland Speedway

Liberty Square

  • Haunted Mansion

Adventureland

  • The Magic Carpets of Aladdin
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Swiss Family Treehouse

Frontierland

  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
  • Country Bear Jamboree
  • *Splash Mountain (Splash Mountain availability is dependent on the time of year)

Epcot

Epcot also hosts both Morning and Evening EMH's. Here's what you can expect to be available there.

Morning EMHs

Future World

  • The Seas with Nemo & Friends
  • Living with the Land
  • Project Tomorrow: Inventing the World of Tomorrow
  • Soarin' Around the World
  • Spaceship Earth
  • Test Track Presented by Chevrolet

World Showcase

  • Frozen Ever After

Evening EMHs

Future World

  • Advanced Training Lab
  • Disney & Pixar Short Film Festival
  • Epcot Character Spot
  • Journey Into Imagination With Figment
  • Living with the Land
  • Mission: SPACE
  • Project Tomorrow: Inventing the World of Tomorrow
  • The Seas with Nemo & Friends
  • Soarin' Around the World
  • Spaceship Earth
  • Test Track Presented by Chevrolet
  • Turtle Talk With Crush

World Showcase

  • The American Adventure
  • American Heritage Gallery
  • Frozen Ever After
  • Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros
  • O Canada!

Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom has Morning EMHs only.

Pandora

  • Avatar Flight of Passage
  • Na'vi River Journey

Dinoland U.S.A.

  • DINOSAUR
  • Primeval Whirl
  • TriceraTop Spin

Asia

  • Expedition Everest

Africa

  • Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail (not always open depending on weather/time of year)
  • Kilimanjaro Safaris (not always open depending on weather/time of year)

Discovery Island

  • It's Tough to be a Bug!

Hollywood Studios

Like Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios has Morning EMHs only.

Toy Story Land

  • Alien Swirling Saucers
  • Slinky Dog Dash
  • Toy Story Mania!

Sunset Boulevard

  • Rock 'n' Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith
  • The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

Echo Lake

  • Star Tours: The Adventures Continue

Attractions that are available during Extra Magic hours can come and go, so before you get your heart set on something we definitely recommend you take a look at the current list of attractions offered on the official Disney World website.

Want a list you can take with you? Save the image below to your phone for quick reference.

(Note that there are many more attractions open during some EMHs. Also, there are way more attractions open at Magic Kingdom, so the value of an EMH can really vary depending on the time of day and park.)

Who should use EMH?

Though it's mentioned as a perk of staying onsite at Disney World, we don't often recommend that people use them.

The reason for that is due to the sheer number of people staying onsite; a bulk of them will see the EMH schedule and plan to go to that park, even if they don't wake up early enough or plan to stay up late enough to really enjoy it. In fact, the park recommendations on the monthly crowd calendars are based on avoiding EMHs for that reason.

However, there are some exceptions. People who should consider using Extra Magic Hours include:

  • People visiting during super busy times, like Christmas or Easter week. If you take full advantage of the EMH and plan to hop to a park during the non-EMH part of the day, this can work well for you.
  • People who will take full advantage and use Park Hopper tickets. If you know for sure that you will wake up early or stay up late to fully use the EMH and you have the Park Hopper option on your tickets to spend the non-EMH part of the day somewhere else, then go for it. You'll likely get some less busy time to visit attractions. The effectiveness of PM EMHs varies a lot - the later the park closing time, the better the chance of crowds being relatively light.
  • Anybody visiting Animal Kingdom. When an EMH is offered at Animal Kingdom, it doesn't increase the crowds like it does in the other parks, so don't be afraid to visit, even on an EMH day.
  • Late risers who don't want to be at the parks for rope drop, but want to arrive later and use PM EMH.
  • Guests visiting shortly after a new land opens.  When Disney opens up a new land or a highly anticipated attraction it isn't unusual for them to extend Extra Magic Hours to a daily basis for several weeks. If you are traveling when something major and new is opening (like Pandora, Toy Story Land, or Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge) you'll likely see Extra Magic Hours on a daily basis. In those instances, make sure you still plan to arrive to the parks before they begin (at least 30 - 45 minutes before the park opens for the Extra Magic Hours).

How does Disney know I'm eligible for Extra Magic Hours?

We get asked this question a lot.

Disney determines eligibility for Extra Magic Hours by scanning  your wristband or ticket.

And, don't think that you can plan on a pre-park opening breakfast and then sneak out to ride a few things before the park opens up to all guests.

That won't work.

Disney makes sure that only guests that are eligible to ride attractions during Extra Magic Hours do so.

What about FastPass+?

FastPass+ is never offered during Extra Magic Hours.

That's why Extra Magic Hours are sometimes a decent idea for people with Park Hopper tickets because you can plan to use your FastPasses at either the park you are hopping to next or the one you visit before you participate in evening Extra Magic Hours.

If your plan is to stay the entire day at the park where you are attending Extra Magic Hours, it is best to make some choices ahead of time on what you plan to ride.

We recommend that instead of trying to ride everything during Extra Magic Hours you focus on riding the attractions that will make your day go smoother.

To make that easier to figure out, you'll want to start by having a good touring plan in place.

How should you tour the parks during Extra Magic Hours?

One thing most people don't realize when planning to attend Extra Magic Hours is that there isn't any way to ride everything that will be open.

That means you'll need to prioritize what you choose to do.

Unless you are just looking for "bonus" rides on attractions, your goal shouldn't be to waste the Extra Magic Hours on attractions that are relatively easy to ride during regular park hours.

Regardless of which Disney World touring plan you will be following, during the EMH you should focus your time on riding your must-do attractions (that you don't have a FastPass+ for) that historically have the longest lines.

Then, whatever attractions you do during Extra Magic Hours (or plan to do in the case of Evening Extra Magic Hours), you can just "skip" when you get to them in your touring plans.

How to get the most "bang for your buck" out of Extra Magic Hours

The attractions below on the ones that generally will have the longest lines during normal park hours so if you do decide to attend an Extra Magic Hours, we recommend you focus on these.

Keep in mind, however, that there may be instances where it makes sense to ride one of the other attractions available that aren't listed below.

Here's when you should consider doing that:

Morning EMHs

If you get close to the end of Extra Magic Hours but the lines to the most popular attractions below are too long (and will make you late to rope drop the rest of the park), we recommend you go ahead and pick another of the less popular attractions that are open and are currently showing a low wait time in My Disney Experience.

Note: If your plans for the rest of the day take you to an area of the park outside of where the Morning EMH is being held, you'll want to head towards that area about 15 minutes or so before the park opens to all guests. You'll be held by a Cast Member at a staging area (basically a rope drop inside of the park) until the park opens up and the crowds at the front are allowed in. If you wait until the park opens to head to a different area, you'll be behind the crowds from the front of the park PLUS all of the EMH crowds and that could definitely mess up your plan for the day.

Evening EMHs

Lines for attractions will be longest right when Extra Magic Hours begin. To maximize your time, save the attractions with the longest line for the last ride. As long as you are in line before the park closes for EMHs, you'll be allowed to ride.

If all the lines for the attractions listed below are long, consider killing a little bit of time on a less busy attraction to let the crowds thin out a bit.

Note: Keep in mind, attractions can and do break down. You don't want to find yourself in a situation where you've saved the most important attraction for the very end of your vacation during the final minutes of an Evening EMH, only to discover that it has gone down and there isn't any way you'll get to ride it. If there is an attraction like that for your family, your best bet is to try to ride it at the beginning of your trip so that you have additional chances if something goes wrong.

Magic Kingdom - Morning EMH best choices

  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
  • Space Mountain
  • Peter Pan's Flight
  • Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
  • Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin

There are a few other attractions that, while not necessarily "must do" attractions, are ones that can see long lines later in the day.

Those attractions are:

  • Astro Orbiter
  • Tomorrowland Speedway

Magic Kingdom - Evening EMH best choices

  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
  • Space Mountain
  • Peter Pan's Flight
  • Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
  • Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
  • *Splash (availability during EMH is dependent upon the time of year)

There are a few other attractions that, while not necessarily "must do" attractions, are ones that can see long lines during in the day.

Those attractions are:

  • Astro Orbiter
  • Tomorrowland Speedway
  • Pirates of the Caribbean

Epcot - Morning EMH best choices

  • Soarin'
  • Test Track
  • Frozen Ever After

Epcot - Evening EMH best choices

  • Soarin'
  • Test Track
  • Frozen Ever After

Animal Kingdom Morning EMH best choices

  • Avatar Flight of Passage
  • Na'vi River Journey
  • Expedition Everest

Hollywood Studios Morning EMH best choices

  • Slinky Dog Dash
  • Alien Swirling Saucers
  • Rock 'n' Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith
  • The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

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So are you planning to use Extra Magic Hours, or will you avoid them during your trip? We'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

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