What to do before and after park hours – PREP129

A lot of people understandably believe that the doors to the parks will open and close according to the park hours, but that's not how it actually works. I've got details on what you can do before and after hours in each park.

I also have a quick tip to make it easier for you to find dining reservations in Disney Springs.

These are notes from this episode. There's much more info included in the audio so be sure to listen to the episode for a better explanation.

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Things to do before and after official park hours

The park hours are really just the times that most of the rides are available but many things happen before and after that. Most parks allow you in 10-30 minutes before park opening (even earlier if you have a breakfast reservation) and you can stay up to 1-2 hours after the official park closing.

Although Disney says that transportation "generally operates from 45 minutes before a theme park’s opening time until one hour after a theme park’s closing time," the truth is that the buses and resort monorail usually begin at 7 a.m., with the Epcot monorail starting at 8 a.m.

Here's what's available before and after the park hours at each park.

(Note: these things were true at the time I recorded this podcast, but always subject to change.)

Magic Kingdom

  • Magic Kingdom Welcome Show (usually 20 minutes before park opening). On EMH mornings, the show begins before the EMH and won’t take place before the regular park opening. Watch a video.
  • Will get to enter early and start riding right away
  • CanNOT rent a stroller before park opens


  • Kiss Goodnight takes place 30 and 60 minutes after official park closing. Watch a video.
  • Photopass photographers available
  • Some shops still open


  • Early entry, often 30 minutes before official park opening to go into the center. Crowds are released up to 10 minutes before official opening to begin riding.
  • Eat and shop at some locations
  • Photopass photographers are available
  • Line up for main attractions
  • Rent a stroller


  • Take pics, and there will be some PhotoPass photographers available
  • Some stores open

Animal Kingdom

  • See Divine
  • Check out small animal attractions in the Oasis
  • Some shops will be open
  • Photopass photographers are available
  • Birds flying overhead just before entire park opens
  • Can rent a stroller


Hollywood Studios

  • Rent a stroller
  • Visit shops, Starbucks is open
  • Jedi Training signup


  • Some shops are available
  • Fantasmic often scheduled after official park closing

Quick tip of the day

Use OpenTable for most Disney Springs dining locations, not the WDW app. You'll usually find a lot more openings and get to choose better times that way.

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