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Extra Magic Hours: What Is It and Helpful Tips

You got up early, you drove to the Disney park, you waited at the front gate and then waited for the rope to drop. Then you hurried over to the most popular ride only to see that there’s already a 30 minute wait. How can that be? The park just opened and no one was in front of you. The problem is, the park just opened to the public, but some people have already been there. This is what some parks call Extra Magic Hours.

All of the parks handle this kind of thing differently, but most of them have some way to get into the parks early or in some cases stay a little late. In almost all cases the key to getting this access is to stay at one of their official hotels. In almost all cases if you’re staying at a Disney owned hotel you’ll have access to this bonus time at the parks. There are also some cases where a hotel that is close to the parks might have an arrangement worked out with Disney that allows their guests to enter early as well. The key is to ask when you’re booking your hotel.

The key is also to know that each resort/collection of parks handles this differently. Some let all guests staying at qualifying hotels to enter the parks 15 minutes early (this is the case at Tokyo Disney for example). Other’s might have half an hour, a full hour or even several hours added to the time the parks might be open (Disneyland and Walt Disney World are examples of that). One thing worth checking is which parks have these bonus times added.

In some cases (where there are more than one Disney parks in a resort) they only open certain parks for an extended time period. They often advertise it and it’s well worth planning appropriately. I say planning appropriately because you actually might want to avoid those parks on the days they’re open longer. This is because many of the people staying at the resort will probably decide to spend the day at that park because it has extended hours. This can sometimes mean that the other parks have far fewer guests that day and might be a better bet. If park hopping is an option for you, a good plan is to just visit the park while it has the extended hours, but hop to another park when the extended hours are over. This may or may not be an option depending on the rules about park hoping at that particular park.

It’s also worth noting that during these extra hours, the entire park may not be open. They often focus on the areas of the parks that are normally extra busy. In most cases certain rides may not be open, but most often Disney will release a list of all the rides that are. Extra Magic can mean that your trip gets a little more time, and potentially a lot less lineup for particular rides.

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