Today I’m answering a question from our Mouse and Monorail Mailbag:
Bethany asked: “I’ve read that its best to avoid the park offering Extra Magic Hours because it’ll be more crowded on that day. Does this apply during low to moderate crowd times as well? Is there ever a reason to avoid going to a certain park?”
Great question, Bethany! Extra Magic Hours are special entry hours offered only to WDW resort guests, and they are either offered before the park opens or they allow resort guests to stay in the park after the official park closing time. It can be a catch-22 in that while it allows you extra time to enjoy the park, it also makes that park more popular and therefore busier than other parks on any given day. Resort guests see “Morning Extra Magic Hour” and automatically think that that is the best park to visit that day – and it might be! It depends on a lot of factors such as time of the year, how many park days you have, and what you want to accomplish on your trip. There are over 30,000 hotel rooms in Walt Disney World! That is a lot of people that have access to Extra Magic Hours, and definitely something to keep in mind when considering whether or not you want to utilize Extra Magic Hours.
I personally use and recommend a membership to touringplans.com to pick which park I will be visiting that day, and I can then see which parks are estimated to be the busiest on my travel days and plan accordingly. In the past, I have opted not to visit the park that is offering the Extra Magic Hours just to avoid the crowds, but that isn’t going to be possible on our upcoming day trip to MK. We will be traveling during low to moderate crowd time. For this particular day, we will be visiting the most crowded park, BUT it is only ranking a 4/10 for crowd levels, so it will still be very manageable. And yes, we will be using the Morning Extra Magic Hour. With our party of 11, we need as much time as we can get!
If Extra Magic Hours are offered in the morning, it can be a great perk. Arrive to the park early and you can get tons done before the regular crowds arrive. If you have park hopper passes, you can utilize the Extra Magic Hours and when the park gets too crowded, you can always hop to one of the other parks for the day. If you are a night owl, then nighttime Extra Magic Hours might be right up your alley. You will have the chance to enjoy the parks at night with far fewer guests.
For us, I would rather enjoy a less crowded park overall, so I tend to not participate in Extra Magic Hours and pick another park to visit for that day. That being said, we travel to WDW during the off season, so crowds are not as much of a concern for us than if we were traveling during peak season. If we were traveling during a busier time of the year, I would probably have to reevaluate my touring plans to maximize my park time.
Here are a few things to keep in mind about Extra Magic Hours:
1. Only visit the park with Extra Magic Hours during Extra Magic Hours if you are staying in a WDW resort. Showing up early isn’t going to get you in the gates any faster if you aren’t a resort guest. If you are trying to stay late during Extra Magic Hours at night, you won’t get to ride any rides if you aren’t staying at a Disney resort (they can determine this by scanning your Magic Band, so don’t think you’ll be able to “fake” them out).
2. Only visit the Extra Magic Hours park if you intend to utilize the Extra Magic Hours. Otherwise the park will be more crowded, and you will have gained nothing from visiting that day.
3. Pay attention to crowd calendars – If you are visiting the parks during the busy seasons (summer, school breaks, Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc.), you only have a Magic Your Way ticket (and no park hopper), and are expecting high crowd levels, avoid using the Extra Magic Hours. The park will be super crowded, and you won’t get to do as much because you can’t hop to another park when the park gets too busy.
That’s my two cents on Extra Magic Hours. Have you used them? What are your thoughts? Let’s discuss in the comments. ~A ºoº