In this post, we’re going to focus on Extra Extra Magic Hours (“EEMH”) at Hollywood Studios from September 1 to November 2, including our strategies for riding the newest ride, Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run. Whether you have access to EEMH or not, this post will cover all of our Galaxy’s Edge strategy through November 2, so read on!
Quickly, About This Post
This post is part of a series that will be going up to help people plan visits from August 29 through November 2, when Walt Disney World will operate a little differently than normal.
Through November 2, this post is going to cover the entirety of our Galaxy’s Edge touring strategy. Even though some of you might arrive midday, it just doesn’t make sense to have a separate post.
This post assumes a basic familiarity with “rope drop” (arriving before a park opens to be among the first on a ride) and Disney World’s FastPass+ system, including tiers. If you’re unfamiliar with FastPass+, you should read our Disney World FastPass+ strategy. Our Hollywood Studios FastPass+ strategy is also good to know.
Finally—Hurricane Dorian has thrown a wrench into everything we know about EEMH. We haven’t personally made it to EEMH yet due to the hurricane.
We did however visit twice for 6AM to 9AM non-EEMH hours, and we have lots of experience covering these things. That said, we remain believers that firsthand reports are the best source. If you’d like to read firsthand reports from the first few days—and you should—we recommend easyWDW and Disney Tourist Blog.
Basics of Galaxy’s Edge and Boarding Groups
If you’d just like to get accommodated with the land, we have a Guide to Star Wars Land (Galaxy’s Edge) that covers what’s included in the land. Galaxy’s Edge is a new land in Disney’s Hollywood Studios (at Walt Disney World). A nearly identical land has already opened in Disneyland.
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will open on August 29 at 6AM with one ride, Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run. It will follow with 6AM opens on August 30 and 31, and those days will not have Extra Magic Hours. Beginning September 1, Extra Magic Hours will be used daily from 6AM to 9AM through November 2 (we’ll talk more about how those hours work below).
On December 5, a second ride, Rise of the Resistance will open.
Savi’s, Oga’s, and Droid Depot
The following experiences at Galaxy's Edge in Walt Disney World are now available for advance booking:
We expect Droid Depot to almost always take walk-ups. Oga’s and Savi’s have both taken walk-ups in the first week, but on busier days you’ll have a tougher time getting in, and neither always takes walk-ups.
That said, we’re sort of going to pass over these for guests without reservations. We definitely think if you’re interested you should ask a Cast Member if they can let you in, and if we hear of this working a lot we’ll update this post.
But until we’ve got consistent information, we just have to treat these as a “bonus” for people without reservations. If you managed to get in—great! But we don’t have advice for when to head to them or how to prioritize them relative to other Hollywood Studios activities.
A Virtual Queue Is Used If Necessary
When the land reaches capacity, Disney uses a “Boarding Pass” system to control entry into the land. The system is accessible via the My Disney Experience app (if you can’t use the app, in-park staff can assist you in getting a boarding pass).
The basics are that if the land is at capacity, you use the app to join a numbered boarding group. When your boarding group is “called” you get a notification in the app and have two hours to enter the land.
Further details can be found in our trip report covering the opening of the land. We aren’t dedicating more space to it here because the system is simple and rarely used.
Preliminary Thoughts About Boarding Groups
As the land is still new and a hurricane interrupted its early days, we haven’t seen the real point at which Disney will use boarding groups.
Disney can use the boarding groups to keep the land from overcrowding and to (indirectly) keep the wait for Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run capped. The real question is how low do they want to keep that wait?
Three hour waits are common in Walt Disney World. The idea of Disney capping the wait at say, 90 minutes, seems a bit unlikely, particularly when you consider the relatively limited attraction lineup at Hollywood Studios. But that’s roughly what they targeted in California.
Now, if the wait is kept at a reasonable level (90 minutes), boarding groups simplify touring a bit. If you arrive early, you’ll have the option just to plan to visit Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run later with a comfortable wait and focus on other rides to start your day.
Basics of Extra Extra Magic Hours at Hollywood Studios
Now let’s talk about Extra Extra Magic Hours (finally).
What Is Extra Extra Magic Hours?
Extra Magic Hours is a perk offered to guests of Disney hotels and select partner hotels that allows these guests exclusive access to Disney parks during select hours. Extra Extra Magic Hours is just confusing marketing by Disney for the fact that they’ll have lots of Extra Magic Hours time for a bit.
If you’re unsure whether your hotel has Extra Extra Magic Hours access, it is important you check with them to find out, as this seriously impacts your strategies at the parks.
When are Extra Extra Magic Hours at Hollywood Studios?
Extra Extra Magic Hours will be held daily at Hollywood Studios from September 1 through November 2 from 6AM to 9AM. During this time, only guests of Disney hotels and select partner hotels will be allowed inside the park.
Others might be allowed just inside the gates, but they won’t be allowed near any rides.
What rides are available during Extra Extra Magic Hours?
The following rides operate during Extra Extra Magic Hours at Hollywood Studios:
Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
Slinky Dog Dash
Toy Story Mania
Alien Swirling Saucers
Tower of Terror
Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster
If that list looks familiar, it’s because it’s the list of all the rides at Hollywood Studios. While the park has several other activities (shows, character greetings, etc.), all the rides will be open during EEMH.
There are also several character greetings available during EEMH. We don’t consider these a priority simply because you can get through all the rides and leave the rest of your day for entertainment and characters.
Park Touring With Extra Extra Magic Hours
Now let’s talk tips for people with EEMH access. If you don’t have EEMH, you’ll want to read the next section about touring without EEMH.
When to Arrive for Extra Extra Magic Hours
Most days, if you arrive 45 minutes before EEMH begins, you should be in good position. 30 minutes is just about the latest we’d ever get to a park before opening, and we assume that any additional demand due to Galaxy’s Edge will just about be canceled out by no one wanting to wake up at 5AM. The extra 15 minutes is because, well, we’re cautious.
In the early days of the land (which have been skewed by the opening and a hurricane), it’s looking like if you arrive even halfway through EEMH, you’ll probably still be able to get a few rides in and really simplify the rest of your day. If you have a full day at Hollywood Studios, the full three hours of EEMH are probably going to be unnecessary.
What to Ride First
There are basically two reasonable options for starting your day—Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run and Toy Story Land.
Typically, the waits for Smugglers Run will be their highest in the first hour of EEMH before pulling back a bit and then jumping up again at 9AM when the park opens. Then they’ll pull back and settle down for the day.
Starting with Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster might cross your mind, but that’s a trap! Guests exiting Smugglers Run will pour into Toy Story Land, raising waits there. You want to beat them, not meet them, there.
Extra Extra Magic Hours Targeted Ride Order
If you arrive and have a good position at the front of the crowds, go ahead and start with Smugglers Run. I think being among the first few hundred or so on the ride counts as “good” here. If you start with Smugglers Run, you’ll just follow the following ride order. The sample boarding times are from a 6AM to 9AM non-EEMH period with a 5:16AM arrival (as previously noted, the hurricane kept us out of EEMH):
Smugglers Run (6:39AM)
Slinky Dog Dash (6:52AM)
Alien Swirling Saucers (6:58AM)
Toy Story Mania (7:07AM)
Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster (7:23AM)
Tower of Terror (7:38AM)
Star Tours (7:55AM)
In the past, we’ve written that you can swap the orders of Toy Story Mania and Alien Swirling Saucers, but that’s no longer the case. Because it is positioned right outside Galaxy’s Edge, Alien Swirling Saucers waits will rise faster than in the past. With its short run time, you’ll want to knock it out before Toy Story Mania (which will still have longer waits most of the day, to be clear).
As this wasn’t EEMH, the noted times should be taken with a grain of salt. In particular, locals coming at 6AM are more likely to leisure around Galaxy’s Edge rather than hustling to Slinky Dog Dash and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster.
That said, it’s difficult to envision a scenario in which a 5:15AM to 5:30AM arrival takes much past 9AM to 9:30AM to visit all the rides, particularly if you have a FastPass+ for one Tier 1 and Star Tours. (But read more about FastPass+ and EEMH below.)
If you arrive to larger crowds or after 6AM, then it’s probably fine to push Smugglers Run later in the morning with the goal of getting in line around 8:30AM to 8:45AM.
We don’t expect the early hours of EEMH to be very busy, and we think the small crowds that are there will all start with Smugglers Run. For the first hour, you’ll hopefully have your run of the rest of the park, following something like the following order (again, assuming you’re arriving “late”):
Slinky Dog Dash
Alien Swirling Saucers
Toy Story Mania
Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster
Tower of Terror (time permitting)
Star Tours (time permitting)
Smugglers Run (line up no later than 8:45AM)
And keep in mind if Boarding Groups are used, you might have to push Smugglers Run later into the day if the land fills up by 8:45AM (unlikely, but possible).
FastPass+ and EEMH
You probably know by now you can’t use FastPass+ during EEMH. However, your FastPass+ bookings for the rest of the day definitely impact your plans. If you have a Slinky Dog Dash FastPass+, for example, you can stand to wait a little longer for Smugglers Run to start the day.
If you had a FastPass+ for Star Tours and any of the Tier 1 rides, you’ve only got five rides to cover over three hours. That’s really just not a huge challenge on a normal morning, let alone one that starts at 6AM.
We’ve so far been cautious about even booking FastPass+ at Hollywood Studios if you’re willing to wake up early for EEMH. If you can book an afternoon of rides at a different park, then spending only the morning at Hollywood Studios might make sense.
The flip side, though, and covered more in the next section, is that so far we’re seeing lots of Tier 1 FastPass+ space available during the day. This means you might be able to just grab one ride after another. On balance, we still favor a full day at Hollywood Studios.
Park Touring Without Extra Extra Magic Hours
If you don’t have EEMH, you’re looking at a more challenging morning.
Arrival Without EEMH
Tentatively, we’re suggesting guests without EEMH plan to arrive at about 8AM in preparation for the 9AM opening. Unfortunately, without access to EEMH, you’re arriving to three hours of guests already in the park.
Many of them won’t arrive at 6AM, but even the ones who arrive at 8:45AM are a problem for you. A guest without EEMH who arrives at 5AM will get on a ride after a guest with EEMH who arrives at 8:45AM, that’s just how it is.
“Luckily,” Hollywood Studios still only has seven rides. You’ll have FastPass+ for at least two of them (Star Tours and a Tier 1), which leaves five rides.
This is going to go one of two ways, and we’ll try and figure out which in the early days. Either its going to be really easy to grab same-day Tier 1 FastPass+, or people will get wise to the system and it won’t be so easy. Let’s start with the hopeful case.
Same Day Tier 1 FastPass+ Space
So far, it looks like same-day Tier 1 FastPass+ will be easy to come by at Hollywood Studios. For many days, everything but Slinky Dog Dash is showing space. This means that once you use your first three FastPass+ bookings, you’ll be able to grab another Tier 1, and another, and another, etc.
If that’s the case, you have two rides to prioritize—Smugglers Run, which doesn’t have FastPass+, and Slinky Dog Dash, which is consistently “sold out” of FastPass+ space. You’ll want to get one of these done before your first FastPass+.
Potential Ride Orders Without EEMH
Heading to Smugglers Run doesn’t make much sense to us at this point. You’re racing to the ride against both everyone entering and thousands of people in the park. Avoid the chaos of this moment, and return later in the day when waits stabilize.
We recommend starting with with Slinky Dog Dash at 9AM. Will waits for Toy Story Mania, Tower of Terror, and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster be shorter? Yes. But you should have a FastPass+ for one of those, and all three are easier to get same-day FastPass+ for than Slinky Dog Dash.
If the waits for Tower of Terror and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster are both under 15 minutes at 9AM and you have a FastPass+ for Toy Story Mania, then starting with those is also a fine option.
Finally, maybe you hope to get a same-day FastPass+ for Slinky Dog Dash. In that case, you can start with Smugglers Run, use your Tier 1 FastPass+, and then hope you luck (and it required a lot of luck) into Slinky Dog Dash FastPass+ later in the day before finally caving and waiting in line (it is a beautiful nighttime ride, for what that’s worth).
One Last Idea…Changing Your Hotel
Update: Through mid-September, it’s not looking as if crowds will be so high so as to recommend this part, but we’re leaving it up just in case.
If you don’t have Extra Magic Hour access and really want to visit Galaxy’s Edge September 1 to November 2, you could consider changing your hotel or else just booking an overlapping night at a hotel with Extra Magic Hour access.
The price of a single night at an All-Star Resort is a pretty reasonable price for a family to have access to three hours of Extra Magic Hours. EEMH has bigger crowds than After Hours or Morning Magic, sure, but you can also get a night at an All-Star hotel for under $200, or $50 / person for a family of four, many nights.
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