Disney announced on Saturday special Extra Extra Magic Hours for Walt Disney World from August 29 to November 2. In this post, we break down these new expanded offerings and cover how they’ll impact different guests.
While the Disney announcements noted in this post are official, we are still developing strategies for how to navigate the parks from August 29 to November 2. We’ll be updating this post and related posts as we think more about (and actually experience) this, and we recommend you either subscribe to our newsletter for the latest.
Newly Announced Extra Magic Hours and Park Hours
Animal Kingdom will have Extra Extra Magic Hours from 7AM to 8AM daily from August 29 to November 2. Magic Kingdom will have Extra Extra Magic Hours from 7AM to 8AM daily from August 29 to November 2.
And now note the date and time differences here—Hollywood Studios will have Extra Extra Magic Hours 6AM to 9AM daily from September 1 to November 2. Additionally, Hollywood Studios will open to all guests at 6AM August 29 to 31.
Extra Extra Magic Hour Basics
Quickly, let’s cover some basic information about Extra Extra Magic Hours.
What are Extra Magic Hours?
Extra Magic Hours are a perk offered to guests of Disney hotels and select other hotels that allows them to access the parks (select attractions / lands only) for extra time early in the morning or later in the evening when guests not staying at these hotels are not allowed in.
For morning Extra Magic Hours, this does two things. First, it means these hotel guests will have an easier time visiting the select attractions that open early for them.
Second, it means other guests basically do not get to enjoy the perks of rope drop. If there is an 8AM Extra Magic Hour and a 9AM regular open at Hollywood Studios, even if you arrive at 6AM, you won’t be first in line for anything unless you have Extra Magic Hour access. In fact, by the time you’re allowed in the park you’ll be looking at 60+ minute waits for the best attractions.
What Are Extra Extra Magic Hours?
“Extra Extra Magic Hours” is an annoying term Disney is using to describe the fact that they are offering expanded Extra Magic Hours from August 29 to November 2. These hours are more frequent and longer than the ordinary Extra Magic Hours, which typically occur once a day for one or two hours.
Beyond the scheduling changes, we’re not expecting these Extra Extra Magic Hours to be significantly different from typical Extra Magic Hours (except of course that Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will be open).
Hollywood Studios (Galaxy’s Edge) — August 29 to August 31
This section is actually about three days at Hollywood Studios without Extra Magic Hours.
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opens at Hollywood Studios on August 29. For the first three days (August 29 to August 31), there will be no Extra Magic Hour at Hollywood Studios, and the park will be open from 6AM to 10PM for all guests.
If you were planning a short visit for the opening of Galaxy’s Edge, Disney has thrown you this unfortunate curve ball. With hotel guests having Extra Extra Magic Hours in the morning from September 1 to November 2, this will be many locals’ best chance to visit the land before November 3.
That said, did anyone really think the crowds would be manageable August 29 to August 31 anyways? Extra Magic Hours are great for visiting secondary rides in a park, but rides like Slinky Dog Dash and Avatar—Flight of Passage have remained challenging even during the bonus time.
It’s safe to say August 29 to August 31 was going to be awful (in terms of crowds) regardless, so I’m not sure this adds much to the fire. We’re planning on arriving at 4AM, walking from a nearby hotel. The best source for our experiences these three days will be our instagram story.
Hollywood Studios — September 1 to November 2
The decision to have Galaxy’s Edge be subject to Extra Magic Hours every day from September 1 to November 2 is surprising at first glance, but easily explained.
There’s actually still quite a bit of Disney World hotel space available between August 29 and the holidays. Disney is probably aiming to fill that, even if it’s with locals who only come for a night or two.
This is bad news for people who are staying at a hotel without Extra Magic Hours and hoping to visit Galaxy’s Edge. If that’s you, we strongly suggest you consider booking a single night at a Disney hotel during your visit to gain access to Extra Magic Hours at Hollywood Studios.
Locals obviously lose out here, but as we explained, Disney wants them to take a staycation and spend some money at a Disney (or limited partners) hotel.
Once Galaxy’s Edge actually opens, we’ll see how the morning crowd levels actually are. Tentatively, for guests with access to Extra Magic Hours we’d plan to arrive no later than 5AM to visit Galaxy’s Edge. We’d make our first Hollywood Studios FastPass+ reservation for no earlier than 10AM.
Animal Kingdom — August 29 to November 2
Relatedly, the daily Extra Magic Hours create a lot of problems for non-EMH guests at Animal Kingdom. Even with Galaxy’s Edge drawing the bulk of the EMH and early crowds, Flight of Passage should spend most of the day with a wait above two hours.
And since Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run wont have FastPass+, Flight of Passage will remain one of the top two FastPass+ reservations at Walt Disney World.
If you don’t have Extra Magic Hour access during this time and you cannot get a FastPass+ for Avatar—Flight of Passage (the most popular FastPass+ at Animal Kingdom), our tentative strategy is that you should arrive 30 minutes to 60 minutes before the park opens to the public and head straight to Avatar—Flight of Passage at open.
Honestly, we write this thinking that 2 hours would be a reasonable wait in this situation. It’s unfortunate, but being off of Flight of Passage at 10AM with three other FastPass+ reservations in hand is an okay situation to be in.
That said, guests who do have access to Extra Magic Hours should have a fantastic time, as crowds will certainly focus their efforts on Star Wars Land, and even those coming to EMH at Animal Kingdom will rarely aim for the 7AM opening.
Magic Kingdom — August 29 to November 2
At Magic Kingdom, guests without Extra Magic Hours will face the challenge created by Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Peter Pan’s Flight, and Space Mountain all being subject to Extra Magic Hours.
These remain our three targeted FastPass+ selections for Magic Kingdom, and we think that you should be able to get one or two of them with a reasonable amount of effort.
If you’re visiting Magic Kingdom without Extra Magic Hours, we suggest you arrive at least 30 minutes before the parks opens to you and plan to do a Frontierland Rope Drop, as laid out in our Magic Kingdom Rope Drop Strategy post.
That strategy assumes you get the three ideal FastPass+ reservations. If you’re unable to get one of them, our advice is to get a Splash Mountain FastPass+ instead and otherwise follow a Frontierland Rope Drop.
If you’re unable to two or three of them, we recommend you get FastPass+ for both Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and then start your day with the one of Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Peter Pan’s Flight, and Space Mountain with the shortest wait. You’ll have to bear with a longer wait on one in the afternoon, and target the third in the late evening.
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've got you covered with posts on how to book cheap flights, how to get the best deal on your Disney hotel, and where to find discount Disney World tickets. And of course everyone wants to know whether or not they should get a dining plan—check out our Complete Guide to Disney World Dining Plans!
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!
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.