Walt Disney World has added more hours to the calendar for June 2022 at Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios & Animal Kingdom, and extended hours prior to that in mid-May. This post covers the changes plus a look at the park reservation calendar and lifting of Cast Member blockouts.
Let’s start with the updated calendar through the Fourth of July holiday. All four theme parks have had hours for another week added to DisneyWorld.com’s park hours, and the current calendar now runs through July 4, 2022. Here are the hours for the newly-added dates in Summer 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 8 pm
Typhoon Lagoon: 10 am to 7 pm
Disney Springs: 10 am to 11 pm (11:30 pm on Fridays & Saturdays)
This includes the popular Independence Day long weekend, which has the same hours as dates before it in June 2022. As always, this is unremarkable. The same thing happened for New Year’s Eve before that date neared and its hours were extended.
Walt Disney World’s normal practice is to release boilerplate or “placeholder” hours before extending those based on attendance and hotel occupancy projections. Barring unforeseen circumstances, Magic Kingdom won’t actually be closing at 10 pm during that holiday weekend.
Accordingly, it should be no cause for concern that “Disney’s Celebrate America” doesn’t appear on the schedule yet for Magic Kingdom, nor is the “Heartbeat of Freedom” fireworks tag on Epcot’s showtimes. These Independence Day fireworks will almost certainly occur this year, as the New Year’s Eve fireworks returned to their normal schedules. (See our Guide to the Fourth of July at Walt Disney World for basics about what happens in a normal year.)
The Fourth of July fireworks simply haven’t been added to the schedule yet because it’s too early. The same thing happened with New Year’s Eve. Walt Disney World fans initially worried that the parks would all close by 9 pm and there wouldn’t be special fireworks to ring in 2022. Like clockwork, the showtimes were added later and hours were extended. Same story here–no need to worry.
In addition to these newly added hours for July 2022, Walt Disney World has also extended park hours for May 8-14, 2022. These are the same extensions that’ve been occurring since the start of spring break season in early March (to be precise, the current operating schedule started February 28). They make beating the crowds easier–so long as you don’t mind getting up early.
Here are the current Walt Disney World park hours through May 14, 2022:
Magic Kingdom: 9 am to 11 pm
Epcot: 8:30 am to 9 pm
Hollywood Studios: 8 am to 9 pm
Animal Kingdom: 7:30 am to 8:30 pm
Magic Kingdom has a couple of schedule quirks. First, it closes at 4:30 pm on both May 3 and May 15, 2022. Second, Magic Kingdom appears that it’ll close at 10 pm on the first two Sundays of the month (May 1 & 8). The first quirk is definitely accurate, but the second could be a mistake.
Additionally, Disney’s Hollywood Studios opens at 8:30 am the week of May 8-14. DHS opens at 8 am daily from now through May 7.
As of right now, these hours revert to ‘normal’ on May 15, 2022. Above is a look at the Disney Park Pass calendar for May 2022 as of this morning, which should give you a pretty good idea of why we’re expecting more extensions. Reservations have been filling up for May far faster than forecast, which leads us to believe what’s normally the ‘shoulder’ season between spring break and summer will be busier than normal.
Another potential scenario is that, like the “boilerplate” park hours calendar, Walt Disney World has a placeholder allotment for Park Pass reservations. A few days from now, that could be increased across the board and the whole month of May 2022 could turn green again. That has happened in the past, but usually when Walt Disney World upped the capacity cap. It has even happened for part of May 2022–availability has been refilled for Memorial Day weekend, just not any of the dates before that.
It’s also possible that the May 2022 Disney Park Pass calendar is turning yellow earlier than normal because word is getting out about the importance of reservations, and planners have seen bad April has been. In other words, earlier park reservation booking is becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts, and that actual organic demand won’t be as high as it has been the last three months.
In another interesting twist, Cast Member blockouts have been lifted through the end of June 2022. On the calendar above, blue indicates no blockouts, yellow is partial blockouts (e.g. Epcot is open), and red is full blockouts. For the last several months, this calendar has been a sea of yellow and red, with virtually no blue dates. (To that point, some Cast Members have complained of not being able to visit Disney’s Hollywood Studios in years.)
In a dramatic shift, the entire calendar is now blue. This could be more symbolic than anything, especially as the aforementioned complaints have drawn more attention on social media. Even with a blue blockout calendar, reservations are still required, and those can be challenging to score. It’s impossible for us to know how many Cast Members have been able to make reservations, but it’s a higher number than before. That alone makes us curious about changes in park capacity and attendance projections.
The main takeaway here is that we’re not yet confident that May 2022 is going to be another very busy month at Walt Disney World. It probably will. Precedent from the last several months suggests it will, as does the Park Pass calendar. However, there’s still some reason to believe it won’t be quite as bad as March or April, and more akin to January through mid-February. See May 2022 at Walt Disney World: Crowd Calendar & Info for more predictions and other commentary.
I won’t rehash my long-winded critique of park hours here, other than to reiterate that even Magic Kingdom’s expanded park hours aren’t long enough (it should be open from 8 am until 12 am in the summer as a baseline) and Animal Kingdom’s hours are arguably too long. All things being equal, swapping the opening times of the two would make a ton of sense.
With the notable exception of Magic Kingdom, these earlier opening times make it easier to beat crowds at Walt Disney World right now than it has been in a long time. There’s a huge advantage to early risers, and savvy strategy or advanced-level know-how with Genie+ and Lightning Lanes can be a gamechanger. To that end, we (once again) recommend checking out 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.
Rope dropping Magic Kingdom at 9 am can be brutal, to the point where I question whether it’s even worth it. With more to do in the park, crowds also tend to stay later at Magic Kingdom, and 11 pm is not all that late by historical standards. (Anyone else remember the days of evening Extra Magic Hours ending at 2 or 3 am?!)
On the plus side, Magic Kingdom is the one park where Genie+ is actually works pretty well and offers a strong competitive advantage. You can easily score over 5 good Lightning Lane ride reservations in Magic Kingdom, which is more than any other park.
Ultimately, it’ll be interesting to see what happens from here for the rest of May 2022 and then for the summer tourist season. Even with the Park Pass calendar starting to fill up, May is something of a wild card at Walt Disney World. There could be a lull in attendance, and even a slight downtick coupled with the current operating schedule would make even elevated crowds very beatable.
Then there’s the Memorial Day and beyond, which almost certainly will be very busy. In particular, I’m curious about what’ll happen with Epcot and Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind. Part of me thinks we might get a repeat of the first few months of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, when Disney’s Hollywood Studios daily “situation” was the wild west, with actual park opening occurring hours before the published time and policy tweaks every other week. Hopefully that was a “learning experience” for Walt Disney World Operations and those failures and successes can be applied to Cosmic Rewind, but we shall see.
What do you think of Walt Disney World’s May and June 2022 operating hours (so far)? Think this is reasonable? Thoughts on Cast Member blockouts being lifted or the Park Pass calendar filling up so fast? Do you think Magic Kingdom should be open earlier and/or later? Curious about what’ll happen at Epcot once Cosmic Rewind debuts? 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!