Extra Magic Hours at Magic Kingdom - Rides, Guide, and Strategy

Extra Magic Hours (“EMH”) is a perk offered to guests of Disney hotels (and select other hotels) at Walt Disney World. Every day, one of the four parks has an extra hour in the morning or evening that is exclusively for these guests.

In this post, we discuss Extra Magic Hours at Magic Kingdom, including what rides are operational and what strategy to use to visit them. We mostly focus on morning hours here, covering evening Extra Magic Hours at the end.

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Magic Kingdom Extra Magic Hours - Basics

Depending on the day, Magic Kingdom may have Extra Magic Hours in the morning, in the evening, or neither. Extra Magic Hours are available to guests of Disney hotels, guests of the Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin, and guests of the Four Seasons (at least in 2018).

Typically, when Magic Kingdom has morning Extra Magic Hours, it is for a single hour. In the evening, it is usually for two hours. Disney publishes the EMH calendar online.

Magic Kingdom Morning Extra Magic Hours

The following 16 rides are operational for Magic Kingdom’s morning Extra Magic Hours (I’ve bolded the seven to pay any attention to):

  • Astro Orbiter

  • Barnstormer

  • Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin

  • Dumbo the Flying Elephant

  • "it's a small world"

  • Mad Tea Party

  • Mickey's PhilharMagic

  • Peter Pan's Flight

  • Prince Charming Regal Carrousel

  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

  • Space Mountain

  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh

  • Tomorrowland Speedway

  • Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover

  • Under the Sea - Journey of the Little Mermaid

  • Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress

You should always confirm this list with Disney’s website, and keep in mind that refurbishments and unexpected issues may impact your specific experience.

Morning Extra Magic Hours and Your Park Schedule

We recommend using Extra Magic Hours as part of a park hopping day. Typically, when we visit EMH at Magic Kingdom, we’re out of there by noon to go use our FastPass+ at another park.

One important thing is to pay attention to Magic Kingdom’s hours for each day of your stay. Magic Kingdom’s hours vary greatly.

For example, you might have a ticketed even that forces the park to close at 6PM. You can have a day with morning EMH from 8AM to 6PM, or you might be able to come the following day, without EMH, but stay from 9AM to midnight. I’d take 9AM to midnight every time, even without EMH.

On balance, if you don’t have park hopper tickets, we recommend morning EMH only if its actually an extra hour in your day. If you’re choosing between a 12-hour day with EMH and a 12-hour day without EMH, choose the day without. If you’re choosing between a 12-hour day without EMH and a 13-hour day with EMH, choose the day with.

The reason for this is that the park will be more crowded on the EMH day than on the day without EMH. But if you get a full extra hour, that’s too much to pass up.

Extra Magic Hours and FastPass+

First, you should know Disney World’s FastPass+ is never available during Extra Magic Hours. So don’t worry about that. Second, since we typically park hop on EMH days, we usually advocate having FastPass+ reservations in the afternoon at another park.

You might decide a full day with EMH is for you. If you do park hop, you’ll probably still have some day when you have FastPass+ at Magic Kingdom, so you need to know how EMH impacts that planning.

Under pretty much any approach, EMH eliminates your need to get FastPass+ for two of: Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Peter Pan’s Flight, and Space Mountain. As you’ll see, you can get all three of these done during EMH, but I’m not going to tell you to bank on it.

Moreover, since you can rope drop Frontierland once morning EMH is done, you’ll theoretically be able to complete Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Splash Mountain, and Pirates of the Caribbean with no issue.

If you have to make FastPass+ selections for Magic Kingdom and you have morning EMH, we recommend the following:

  1. Pick Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

  2. Pick one of Seven Dwarfs Mine Train or Peter Pan’s Flight

  3. Pick Jungle Cruise or Haunted Mansion

You want Big Thunder Mountain Railroad so you don’t have to worry about the Frontierland rope drop when the park opens. By sitting that out, you’ll be able to knock off a few rides with shorter waits.

Grabbing one of the two big Fantasyland rides allows you to prioritize Space Mountain, Tomorrowland Speedway, and maybe even Buzz Lightyear (or Astro Orbiter) early, all of which will have short waits during EMH.

Picking either Jungle Cruise or Haunted Mansion ensures you don’t get punished too much for pushing those rides later in the day. Jungle Cruise typically has longer waits, but we’ve had a lot of bad experiences with its FastPass+ queue, too.

It might seem counter-intuitive to “waste” a FastPass+ on rides that are open during EMH (Seven Dwarfs and Peter Pan’s Flight), but you can’t do every EMH ride during EMH. Using a FastPass+ for one of those (and starting your day at the other) will allow you the chance to get the maximum number of rides in during EMH.

Sample Itinerary for Magic Kingdom Morning Early Magic Hours

The times throughout this itinerary reflect an Extra Magic Hour from 8AM to 9AM, with the rest of the park opening at 9AM. You’ll need to adjust if your hours are different. This section is written in a narrative format, scroll down (or ctrl+F “promised”) to see the minute-by-minute listing of this Extra Magic Hours experience!

Arrival at Magic Kingdom

I took the bus from All-Star Movies. I left the hotel room at 7:11AM, got on a bus that departed at 7:22AM, and arrived at the park at 7:41AM.

Rope drop for morning EMH at Magic Kingdom typically occurs in three phases. First, the turnstiles are opened. We’re not sure when this occurs as there’s no need to arrive for that. Guests are then held in the very front area of the park, not even allowed under the train station.

On my most recent morning EMH at Magic Kingdom, my Magic Band was scanned only once—at the front gate. In the past, we’ve had secondary scans to get into Fantasyland and Tomorrowland.

Second, 15 minutes before EMH (so 7:45AM on this day), guests are allowed into Main Street U.S.A. and the plaza in front of Cinderella Castle. Ropes are put up at the entry to Tomorrowland and Fantasyland. The other lands are not open for EMH.

Between the loose crowd prior to 7:45AM and the walk down Main Street, U.S.A., you shouldn’t have much trouble getting a good rope drop spot if you’re through the gates by 7:45AM. On this day, I passed right by Cast Members who usually scanned my Magic Band (below).

And wound up with a great spot for Mine Train rope drop.

Finally, right when EMH starts, the usual rope drop protocol is applied. You’ll slowly follow the Cast Members to the rides.

For this example, we’re going to do a “Big Five” rope drop, targeting Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Peter Pan’s Flight, Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and Splash Mountain.

As we discussed above, you may want to use FastPass+ to deviate from this itinerary. That’s great! We just want to show you how you can get these major rides done even without FastPass+.

Magic Kingdom EMH - Rope Drop to Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

Rope drop to Seven Dwarfs Mine Train follows the same protocol during Extra Magic Hours as it does on other days during regular rope drop. Guests lineup on the bridge between the central plaza and the eastern side of Fantasyland (where the teacups are).

At the start of EMH (8AM today), Cast Members escort guests to Seven Dwarfs. I was in the front of the group and was on Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at 8:06AM and off at 8:10AM.

Peter Pan’s Flight vs. Space Mountain

Already, it’s decision time. On an ideal day, you complete Peter Pan’s Flight and Space Mountain before 9AM in order to head into Frontierland when it opens.

I have pretty much no risk tolerance for missing that 9AM rope drop into Frontierland unless I have a Big Thunder Mountain Railroad FastPass+.

Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE (but not literally everyone), is going to head to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at 9AM on morning EMH days. For guests without EMH, it’s their only chance at a short wait. For guests with EMH, it’s the biggest thing they have left to do.

I’d rather be at the Frontierland rope 15 minutes early than 5 minutes late on days with morning EMH. All this brings us back to the question at hand: Space Mountain vs. Peter Pan’s Flight. Obviously, if you have a FastPass+ for one, choose the other.

If the posted wait time for Peter Pan’s Flight plus five minutes for the ride will leave you exiting by 9AM, you’re safe to go on Peter Pan’s Flight. Then, if you have enough time and the wait is low enough, you might squeeze in Space Mountain.

It’s annoying to walk from Seven Dwarfs to Peter Pan’s Flight to Space Mountain and then back to Frontierland, but we just don’t think there’s a better alternative.

If your time is too short, though, head to Space Mountain, hope for time for a bonus ride like Buzz Lightyear or Astro Orbiter, and then head over to Frontierland. You’ll (unfortunately) need to make time for Peter Pan later in the day.

Magic Kingdom EMH - Peter Pan’s Flight

Peter Pan’s Flight wait was posted at 20 when I got in line at 8:12AM. I was a bit bummed because I knew if that 20 was correct I’d probably miss getting Space Mountain in and wonder what I’m doing with my life.

Happily, I was on Peter Pan’s Flight at 8:25AM and off at 8:28AM, leaving plenty of time to get Space Mountain’s posted 10-minute wait in.

Magic Kingdom EMH - Space Mountain

There was a time when the big “secret” at Magic Kingdom was to go left to start your day because everyone went right to Space Mountain. Ever since Seven Dwarfs Mine Train opened, pretty much no one cares about Space Mountain in the morning.

I entered the queue at 8:33AM when the wait was posted at 10 minutes. I walked on at 8:39AM and was off at 8:43AM.

If you’re thinking “that’s just EMH, it probably goes crazy when the park opens,” it doesn’t. On this day, the posted wait was only 15 minutes at 9:45AM.

Magic Kingdom EMH - Bonus Ride

At 8:43AM with those three rides complete, you should definitely head over to rope drop Frontierland and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. But I didn’t.

I didn’t because I was working on this post, and sometimes that means you have to make things a little more challenging. I know the quickest routes between all these rides, I have good hunches about split-second decisions, and I’m a really fast walker. So I like to add a bit of a challenge every so often to make things a little more real.

Today, I decided if I was off Space Mountain by 8:45AM, I’d try to fit Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin in. Off Space Mountain at 8:43AM, I headed to Buzz, which had a posted 5 minute wait when I entered the queue at 8:47AM.

I was on at 8:49AM and off at 8:54AM to head over to Frontierland.

Extra Magic Hour Frontierland Rope Drop

At 9AM, the park opens for all guests just as it does on any other. The welcome show still starts at 8:45AM, and the rope drops for Adventureland and Liberty Square are the same as any other day…mostly.

The big difference is that there’s an additional rope for guests who are already in Fantasyland because of Extra Magic Hours. Those guests are corralled near the Tangled bathrooms…

…before being led into Liberty Square and then the border of Frontierland where they meet up with all the other guests.

While there may be some exceptions (and it may vary by day), Disney does a good job of eliminating “secret” paths during rope drop. All guests along all routes to a ride eventually merge. You can see this in my video of Frontierland rope drop from this day.

The video starts after I’d met up with the non-EMH guests, and you can see guests on the right (on the boardwalk) eventually being forced to merge. You’ll also see scattered guests coming in on the left from Adventureland, also merging.

There was some school group already at Big Thunder Mountain Railroad when we arrived, but that wasn’t a rope drop thing.

The Big Thunder Mountain Railroad queue opened at 9:04AM. I was on the ride at 9:14AM and off at 9:18AM.

From Big Thunder, I finished up my morning over on Splash Mountain. The posted wait was 5 minutes when I got in line at 9:20AM. I walked on at 9:24AM and exited the ride at 9:39AM. A good alternative would be to push Splash Mountain further into the day. On a cool day, the waits won’t really get going until afternoon.

Continuing Your Day

Had I continued touring, I would have ridden Pirates of the Caribbean, which had a five-minute wait. Other candidates would have been Haunted Mansion (15 minutes), Tomorrowland Speedway (10 minutes), and Astro Orbiter (10 minutes). Jungle Cruise’s 45-minute wait definitely would have scared me away.

As it was, I was happy to complete the Big Five by 9:39AM. For more, check out our Magic Kingdom One-Day Itinerary.

Complete Magic Kingdom Extra Magic Hours Itinerary

As promised, the itinerary. Again, this uses a 9AM regular open with EMH from 7AM to 8AM.

  • 7:45AM - Arrive at Magic Kingdom, allowed onto Main Street U.S.A.

  • 8:00AM - Rope drop to Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

  • 8:06AM - On Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

  • 8:12AM - Queue for Peter Pan’s Flight (posted wait 20 minutes)

  • 8:25AM - On Peter Pan’s Flight

  • 8:33AM - Queue for Space Mountain (posted wait 10 minutes)

  • 8:39AM - On Space Mountain

  • 8:47AM - Queue for Buzz Lightyear (posted wait 5 minutes)

  • 8:49AM - On Buzz Lightyear

  • 9:00AM - Rope drop into Liberty Square from Fantasyland

  • 9:14AM - On Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

  • 9:20AM - Queue for Splash Mountain (posted wait 5 minutes)

  • 9:24AM - On Splash Mountain

Fin.

Evening Extra Magic Hours at Magic Kingdom

We have much less to say about Evening Extra Magic Hours. In general, you can expect Seven Dwarfs Mine Train to get down to about 30 minutes. The other major attractions will get down to 15 or less. Minor attractions will be walk-ons.

The full list of attractions is available over at Disney’s website.

We’re not really in love with evening Extra Magic Hours for three reasons. First, we’re almost always tired by the time they roll around. Visiting the Disney parks is exhausting, and it’s rare that we’re really energetic by 11:30PM.

Second, we do just fine without evening Extra Magic Hours. Since we don’t have a problem most days getting on any rides we want, we view evening hours more as bonus then as a necessity.

Why aren’t morning hours just a bonus? Because you probably have to rope drop Magic Kingdom one day anyways. Might as well make it a morning with EMH. Conversely, you don’t ever have to stay up until midnight if you don’t want to.

Third, I would never bank on riding a ride at the end of the day. I can’t imagine being the family that figures they’ll take a 30-minute wait for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train on evening EMH on their last day, only to get there and find out a mechanical problem caused the ride to shut down a bit early. Again, it’s just bonus time.

During evening EMH, Cast Members scan your Magic Bands at the entrance to each attraction.

Magic Kingdom Extra Magic Hours - Conclusions

Let’s recap! We covered the basics of morning EMH at Magic Kingdom, including what rides are included and who gets access to this perk. We covered why we recommend morning EMH for park hoppers and on trips when it’s the day with the longest hours.

Then we showed how you can used EMH cover the “Big Five”—Space Mountain, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Peter Pan’s Flight, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and Splash Mountain—with almost no waits. You can mix up that strategy, including by making some FastPass+ reservations, to modify it to fit your day. The most important thing is that you’re there for that early rope drop, ready to hop on short waits.

Finally we touched on evening Extra Magic Hours at Magic Kingdom. We explained why we consider this “bonus time” and don’t think you should rely on it to save your trip!

Do you have any tips or questions about Extra Magic Hours at Magic Kingdom?

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