Walt Disney World has added more hours to the calendar through the fall off-season at Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Hollywood Studios & Animal Kingdom, and extended hours in late July and throughout August 2022. This post covers the changes plus a look at the park reservation calendar and zig when they zag strategy for Magic Kingdom during the Halloween season.
Let’s start with the updated calendar. All four theme parks have had hours for another week added to DisneyWorld.com’s park hours, and the current calendar now runs through September 27, 2022. Here are the hours for most newly-added dates after the Labor Day holiday weekend in Fall 2022:
Magic Kingdom: 9 am to 10 pm
Epcot: 9 am to 9 pm
Hollywood Studios: 9 am to 9 pm
Animal Kingdom: 8 am to 7 pm
Typhoon Lagoon: 10 am to 5 pm
Disney Springs: 10 am to 11 pm (11:30 pm on Fridays & Saturdays)
As a reminder, Walt Disney World’s normal practice is to release boilerplate or placeholder hours before extending those based on attendance and hotel occupancy projections. The norm for the last few months has been an added hour in the evening at Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom and a half-hour in the morning at EPCOT and DHS. However, these added hours encompass the early fall off-season and are less likely to be extended if attendance decreases as expected…
One exception to the park hours above is that starting August 12, Magic Kingdom will close on several nights per week at 6 pm to day guests for the 2022 Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party (MNSSHP). That separately-ticketed event begins at 7 pm and runs until midnight, and typically occurs on Tuesdays and Fridays in August, with increasing frequency in September and October as Halloween draws nearer. At present, the only MNSSHP night that’s sold out is Halloween itself.
As covered in our 2022 Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party FAQ, Magic Kingdom is least crowded during the days when Halloween parties are held. Due to the shorter hours, most guests avoid Magic Kingdom those days. Consequently, we recommend doing Magic Kingdom to start those days, and Park Hopping elsewhere once MNSSHP starts.
In addition to these newly added hours, Walt Disney World has also extended park hours throughout July and August 2022.
For the most part, these are the same extensions that’ve been occurring for the last several months. This began for spring break, continued during the slower stretch of May, and has happened a couple of times for the start of the summer tourist season. These extensions have occurred like clockwork, and have been relatively unsurprising–until now.
As we covered in Surprisingly Slow Start to July at Walt Disney World, peak season attendance appears to have peaked in mid-June and has trended downward since. We’ve spent extensive time in the parks the last week, and have found absolutely nothing to contradict the conclusions that can be gleaned from wait time data. (We’ll have a full update on crowds soon.)
Additionally, it’s normal for attendance to slow at the beginning of August. Families tend to take their summer vacations well before school goes back into session, and start gearing up for that a few weeks ahead of time. Consequently, crowd levels usually decline starting in late July, and then fall off a cliff in mid-August when Central Florida schools actually go back into session.
Despite this, Walt Disney World is extending hours into what’s typically the early fall off-season. (We’re aware that fall doesn’t actually start in August…but neither does Halloween. Seasons have a different meaning when it comes to Walt Disney World!)
Going forward, Magic Kingdom will stay open for one extra hour–until 11:00 pm–from now through August 2, plus the following dates:
August 13-15, 2022
August 17, 2022
August 20-22, 2022
August 24-25, 2022
August 27, 2022
The reason for these extensions is Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. As we’ve discussed countless times, MNSSHP disrupts crowd dynamics, pushing attendance much higher on the dates it’s not occurring. These extensions are all on non-party nights.
More importantly for savvy Walt Disney World vacation planners, Magic Kingdom will open an hour earlier–at 8 am–on the following dates:
August 12, 2022
August 16, 2022
August 19, 2022
August 23, 2022
August 26, 2022
This is also due to MNSSHP–these are all event nights when Magic Kingdom is closing to day guests at 6 pm. Again, we’d strongly recommend visiting Magic Kingdom during the day on Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party nights, and then bouncing to another park at around 4 pm. Animal Kingdom will always be your best option for lower-crowd evenings during the fall. If, for some reason, Fantasmic still hasn’t returned, Disney’s Hollywood Studios will be another great option.
Many day guests avoid Magic Kingdom on party dates because the park hours are shorter and fireworks are not shown to regular guests. This results in significantly lighter crowds before the party. These same guests then flock to non-party days in Magic Kingdom.
Even though the park has longer hours on these days, you will get less done than you could before 4 pm on a party day. So long as you’re comfortable missing the fireworks (Disney Enchantment is nothing special) or are fine watching from a resort restaurant or the TTC, we highly recommend doing your days in Magic Kingdom on party dates.
All of this was our advice before Magic Kingdom moved to 8 am opening times on MNSSHP dates. Now, it’s an absolute no-brainer, as rope drop occurring at 8 am means significantly lower crowds for that. Ditto Early Entry starting at 7:30 am. The vast majority of guests cannot or will not be at Magic Kingdom at that hour, so you’ll have a tremendous advantage. We’ll test touring strategy once these dates roll around, but I’m guessing (with a reasonable degree of confidence) that Genie+ won’t even be needed at Magic Kingdom on those MNSSHP dates.
We cannot overemphasize the crowd disparity between days with and without the early closure due to the Halloween party. This is a prime example of taking the counterintuitive approach and embracing the shorter hours. Zig when they zag.
In the nearer term, it’s also worth reiterating that Magic Kingdom is showing the Disney Enchantment fireworks twice nightly for a limited time right now. Our experience watching both nighttime spectaculars over the weekend is covered in Walt Disney World Fireworks Double-Doubleheader!
Suffice to say, we strongly recommend taking advantage of the second showing (at least) of Disney Enchantment. It’s the least crowded we’ve seen Magic Kingdom for fireworks during normal operations in a long, long time.
The other 3 parks have also received extensions, albeit less “interesting” ones from a strategy perspective. Epcot extends its 8:30 am opening streak through August 27, 2022.
Same goes for Disney’s Hollywood Studios, which will also continue its 8:30 am openings through August 27, 2022. Early Entry will continue to start at 8 am and the park will still close at 9:00 pm nightly. (Hopefully Fantasmic is added to the schedule at some point during that stretch!)
Finally, Animal Kingdom will continue opening at 8 am, with Early Entry beginning at 7:30 am. It will now close at 8 pm through at least August 27, 2022.
If history (continues) to repeat itself, all of these same patterns will continue into at least early September 2022. It wouldn’t make much sense to extend hours through late August, but not follow suit for Labor Day weekend. Whether the trend continues after that throughout September–typically the slowest month of the year at Walt Disney World–remains to be seen.
On a tangentially related note, above is a look at the Disney Park Pass calendar for the remainder of July 2022 as of this morning. At this point, Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios are gone most dates for the rest of the month. EPCOT and Animal Kingdom have availability for most dates.
At this point, the Park Pass calendar has little bearing on crowds when it’s yellow. It’s highly likely that Walt Disney World is currently using this to redistribute attendance, pushing people towards EPCOT and Animal Kingdom, and normalizing crowds across the parks. That could be a different story once October through November roll around, but right now, the wait time data does not support the conclusion that Magic Kingdom or DHS are actually at or even remotely close to capacity.
Circling back, we’re really looking forward to those 8 am mornings at Magic Kingdom. I just did Early Entry there yesterday, and it wasn’t nearly as smooth as the other parks–even with significantly lower crowds than my Early Entry attempt there last month.
Early Entry and regular park opening are arguably not even worth the work at Magic Kingdom. That’s one reason we’ve strongly recommended Genie+ at Magic Kingdom and no other park. The other reason is that Magic Kingdom has a stronger attraction lineup, meaning a laid back approach is easier and you can still score plenty of ride reservations. (To that point, see My Day Using Genie+ at Magic Kingdom in Summer 2022.)
Conversely, the earlier opening times at Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom make it easier to beat crowds at those parks than it has been in a long time. There’s a huge advantage to early risers, and savvy strategy or knowledge of how to leverage Genie+ and Lightning Lanes can be a gamechanger.
To that end, check out our recently-updated Genie+ v. Savvy Strategy at Walt Disney World, which is the result of extensive ‘testing’ to determine the best and worst ways to beat the crowds. You can also do pretty well in the evenings at Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios.
Ultimately, it’ll be interesting to see what happens from here for the fall off-season season that starts in August 2022 (or maybe sooner, if current crowds are any indication). Even though the extensions at EPCOT, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom are essentially a continuation of the status quo, they’re good to see–especially during a time when attendance will almost certainly be lower than it was from late February through April and parts of the last 3 months.
Magic Kingdom opening at 8 am on the day of Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party nights is also a big deal, and creates great opportunities for savvy park touring. All in all, we’re incredibly optimistic about visiting Walt Disney World over the course of the next few months. So long as you can handle the weather, it should be a great time!
What do you think of Walt Disney World’s operating hours for the rest of this month through late September 2022? Think this schedule is reasonable? Do you think Magic Kingdom should be open earlier and/or later? What has been your experience with crowds and wait times? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!