Welcome to our trip report covering the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge in Walt Disney World’s Hollywood Studios! The primary purpose of trip reports is to supplement our existing content (in this case, heavily) to let you know how our strategies are actually working at a given time! This post covers Extra Extra Magic Hours at Animal Kingdom!
About This Trip Report
This trip report covers a ten-night visit to Walt Disney World for the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and the start of Extra Extra Magic Hours. As we’ve written elsewhere, the period from August 29 through November 2 is going to be a complicated one at Walt Disney World, as three parks will have daily Extra Extra Magic Hours.
For a full introduction to this report, visit Part 1. Otherwise, here are the currently available posts (links open in new tabs):
Disney World Galaxy’s Edge Trip Report Part 7 — Extra Extra magic Hour at Animal Kingdom (you are here)
Animal Kingdom Extra Extra Magic Hour
Emily here. Departing my room at Pop Century at 6:19AM, I was on a bus at 6:25AM. After how Magic Kingdom went yesterday, I didn’t really have many concerns about significant crowds, even though Animal Kingdom rope drop tends to be a little more intense than Magic Kingdom.
This week was slowed a bit by Hurricane Dorian. We still advise a 30-minute early arrival for Extra Extra Magic Hours if you’d like to have a short wait for Flight of Passage. Some days you’ll be off by 7:30AM with that arrival, other days it may take until 8AM, but either way 30 minutes seems a good balance of sleep / wait times.
By 6:39AM there are a few hundred people ahead of me, but well less than the hourly capacity of Flight of Passage (around 1500). I mention this because really the only must-do during EMH at Animal Kingdom is Flight of Passage, particularly assuming you have a FastPass+ for Na’vi River Journey and two other rides (read more about FastPass+ at Animal Kingdom).
At about 6:50AM, we begin entering the park. Guests with EMH access (or breakfast reservations) go left, where their Magic Bands are scanned. Guests without early access are corralled to the right until the park opens at 8AM (more on them later).
At 6:56AM, I’m held up for about a minute at the bridge from Discovery Island into Pandora. This is the typical holding area before a Pandora rope drop, but on days with lighter crowds it will typically only be used for a minute or two to tell people to follow the Cast Members and walk, not run.
I’m in the decontamination room (the first Flight of Passage pre-show) by 7:11AM, and exiting the ride building ay 7:30AM.
The morning Extra Magic Hour lineup for Animal Kingdom is pretty small. You can see the 7:28AM wait times below:
I’m not sure if TriceraTop Spin, a typical EMH ride, was running or not. Primeval Whirl remains temporarily closed. Kilimanjaro Safaris operates sometimes during EMH, but we’re not expecting it during the 7AM to 8AM Extra Extra Magic Hours.
Now, your plans from here will just depend on priorities, how your morning went, and your FastPass+ lineup.
A good goal from here is to target getting on Kilimanjaro Safaris by 8:15AM. Even if you have a FastPass+ for it later, morning safaris will tend to see more activity from the animals, and it’s honestly a brilliant way to start the day (well, not quite “start” at this point).
If you don’t have a FastPass+ for Na’vi River Journey, you’ll want to prioritize that. Even if you do have a FastPass+ for it, you might ride it now so you can try and modify your FastPass+ to a Flight of Passage FastPass+ (if you want to ride that again). Or you could get back in line for Flight of Passage now.
This is all the long way of saying that if you’re off Flight of Passage at 7:30AM, your only problem is you have too many good options. For me, Na’vi River Journey was posting a 0 minute wait, so I took a ride on that before heading to check out how the guests without EEMH were doing.
Animal Kingdom Without Extra Extra Magic Hour
We’re going to start with our (semi-rambling, because this is a trip report) thoughts on strategy without EEMH before showing briefly what things look like in the park for guests without EEMH.
Animal Kingdom Strategy Without Extra Extra Magic Hours
We remain hesitant to pick a single “best” strategy for guests without Extra Extra Magic Hour at Animal Kingdom, but we’ll talk through the options (and then tell you what we’d do). If you’ve got a Flight of Passage FastPass+, you’ve got nothing to stress about and can just start with Na’vi River Journey.
Otherwise, you really should have a FastPass+ lineup that includes Na’vi River Journey and two of Expedition Everest, Kali River Rapids, DINOSAUR, and Kilimanjaro Safaris.
The first thing you should definitely do is be trying to modify your FastPass+ for Na’vi River Journey to a Flight of Passage the entire time you’re waiting before the park opens. People who ride during EEMH will cancel their later FastPass+ bookings.
We’re making a conscious effort to be less “face in phone”, but if you’re just standing in one spot for 30 minutes this is as good a time as any to make some FastPass+ changes that will save you an hour of your day.
If Rivers of Light has two showtimes (like in the above screenshot), or if you don’t mind missing Rivers of Light, you can plan to get in line for Flight of Passage at the very end of the day. Just don’t be late to get in line for the ride, and keep in mind that some days Pandora closes earlier than the rest of the park.
This always runs a tiny risk the ride breaks down during the day and closes early, but I consider that risk to be balanced by the chance that I might get a same-day FastPass+ for it and ride earlier.
Finally, you can plan to wait in the standby line either right when the park opens or later in the day.
With Hurricane Dorian impacting crowds, we have yet to know what the “right” choice is if you’re going to wait standby. 8AM is a relatively early open, and with a posted wait of probably 70 minutes or less, 8AM should be a good time.
That lengthy discussion done, here’s my actual flow “chart” for picking my Flight of Passage strategy without Extra Extra Magic Hours:
Arrive no later than 7:30AM, search for FastPass+ for Flight of Passage while waiting for park to open
If I’m willing to miss Rivers or Light, or if there are two Rivers of Light showings, ride last thing (search for FastPass+ during the day)
If these don’t work, wait in line at 8AM
And probably search for FastPass+ while in line if you have signal (or use in-park wifi)
Flight of Passage waits still often get to 180 minutes on a normal day, and the easiest way to fit it into the day is probably just to deal with it early.
Animal Kingdom No Extra Extra Magic Hours — Photos
We’ll start with wait times. Here’s a look at the 8:01AM wait times. You can see it might be tempting to go anywhere but Flight of Passage (which, honestly, is certainly partly intentional by Disney):
As noted earlier, guests without morning access are held to the right just inside the park entrance. This is the “Oasis” section of the park, though guests without morning access are held in a pretty small section of it, so don’t expect to explore too much.
On this particular day, the group is virtually empty even at 7:50AM:
It fills in a bit by 7:55AM (below), but still not a significant group. I tried to annotate the below photo with a green box meant to highlight the front of the group.
You can see “Green Hat” guy and “Red Shirt Black Hat” are in the above very front group and represent the front of the group in the below photo:
There’s no escort to any rides when the park opens—the rope is just dropped and guests can go where they please.
All Your Other Disney World Planning Questions Answered
Don't be overwhelmed by Disney World planning! Take a second to check out our most important content and you'll not only be an expert, but you'll save big $$$ along the way.
Just starting out? Check out our Walt Disney World planning guide! If you're still picking dates, we've got everything you need to know about Disney crowd calendars. For picking your hotel, check out our Walt Disney World hotels guide.
When it comes time to book we’ll help you find discount Disney World tickets. Decide whether you need a dining plan in our Complete Guide to Disney World Dining Plans! And at 180 days out it's time to book those Disney World Advance Dining Reservations!
Don't forget to master your Disney World FastPass+ strategy a few months in advance. We'll keep you out of long lines so you can maximize the magical time in the parks! We've got park-specific guides as well: Magic Kingdom FastPass, Epcot FastPass, Animal Kingdom FastPass, and Hollywood Studios FastPass.
Know what to ride with our guides to: Magic Kingdom rides, Hollywood Studios rides, Epcot rides, and Animal Kingdom rides! Plus learn about the water parks with our guide to Blizzard Beach and our guide to Typhoon Lagoon! And for some some fun prep, check out our Ranking of Every Ride at Walt Disney World.
Finally, before you head out, be sure to check out our to-the-point packing list, 10 essentials you forget to pack for every Disney trip. And if you're interested in saving, there's no better list than our 53 Ways to Save on your Disney trip from start to finish.