Walt Disney World has added more hours to the calendar through the early fall off-season at Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios & Animal Kingdom, and extended hours prior in July 2022. This post covers the changes plus a look at the park reservation calendar and more.
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 August 27, 2022. Here are the hours for most newly-added dates in early 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 7 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 Hollywood Studios. However, these added hours encompass the early fall off-season and are not 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 the month of August 2022, with increasing frequency in September and October as Halloween draws nearer.
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 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. Unsurprisingly, hours are now being extended for peak dates in July…
Magic Kingdom continues to open at 9:00 am every day, which has been its opening time throughout the last several months, even during the peak of spring break. It’ll stay open for one extra hour–until 11:00 pm–from now through June 27, plus the following dates:
June 29, 2022
July 1-18, 2022
July 20, 2022
July 22-25, 2022
July 27-30, 2022
This would suggest that Walt Disney World is forecasting Tuesdays and Thursdays in late July to be less busy than the rest of the week; there’s no data or historical precedent to back that up. However, it could become something of a self-fulfilling prophecy, as planners see one fewer hour those dates and avoid them as a result. Accordingly, you might consider visiting on those dates. (Wednesday evenings are slightly busier due to Extended Evening Hours after normal park closing.)
UPDATE: The 10 pm closings in late June are due to Magic Kingdom hosting the Cast Member EARidescent Evenings events. Those don’t appear scheduled for July 2022, and yet the same trend continues.
Epcot extends its 8:30 am opening streak through July 30, 2022. It’s still scheduled to close at 9:00 pm–here’s hoping that ends up being at least 10 pm on Independence Day weekend.
Speaking of which, the calendar currently has Harmonious scheduled for 9 pm on July 4, and now notes that the Independence Day finale will occur immediately thereafter.
Consequently, our expectation is that the Independence Day tag will be substantially the same as the “Heartbeat of Freedom” finale that was previously performed on the Fourth of July, and will include fireworks launched from behind the American Adventure and barges in the lagoon for blockbuster, earth-shaking finale offering a Salute to All World Showcase Nations, But Mostly America.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios will also now open at 8:30 am, with early entry beginning at 8 a.m. through at least July 30, 2022. It will continue to close at 9:00 pm nightly.
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 July 30, 2022.
On a tangentially related note, above is a look at the Disney Park Pass calendar for the remainder of June 2022 as of this morning. At this point, Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios are gone for the remainder of the month.
The reason it’s yellow instead of grey is because EPCOT is available every day after today. Animal Kingdom has availability for scattered dates, too.
Looking forward to July 2022, which is usually busier than June, and only the Fourth of July at Magic Kingdom is booked. No other park is fully booked for any date.
Even though July is still a couple weeks away, this is an interesting change. Both May and June started booking up about one full month in advance, despite those months being (historically) slower than July. So this means that park capacity is increasing next month, pent-up demand is starting to fizzle out, or people just aren’t booking theme park reservations as far in advance for some reason.
One (or both) of the first two explanations makes the most sense, but we’re not yet confident in which one. While gas prices and rising airfare could start to impact attendance, we weren’t expecting that to happen until August 2022. Regardless, we’ll be watching wait time data and crowd patterns to determine what’s going on.
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. This is the one red flag–the other 3 parks are mostly acceptable, especially if you’re an early riser rather than a night owl.
During a normal summer, Magic Kingdom would be open from 8 am until 12 am most days. These extra 2 hours per day may not seem like much, but they’re significant–especially at Walt Disney World’s most popular park. Magic Kingdom is still crowded until well after closing because that happens early by historical standards. There’s never really a reprieve from the crowds, as is the case at all 3 of the other parks in the early morning or evening hours.
Mornings in Magic Kingdom are even more brutal. Early Entry and regular park opening (rope drop) are arguably not even worth the work–just pay the money for the Genie+ service and arrive at your leisure. 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.
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 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. 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 late summer and the early fall off-season season that starts in mid-August 2022. If Disney Park Pass reservations are a leading indicator, there could be a slowdown in attendance–even a slight downtick coupled with the current operating schedule would make crowds very beatable.
The good near-term news is that EPCOT has been shockingly bearable post-opening of Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind with manageable crowds and wait times. The 1 pm virtual queue for Cosmic Rewind has stayed open for almost a full hour many days, making it incredibly easy to join (and an actual guest benefit rather than a liability!). If this trend continues, it’s likely that the virtual queue will be open past Park Hopping time by mid-August 2022 once schools go back into session and the off-season arrives in full force!
What do you think of Walt Disney World’s operating hours for July and August 2022? Think this schedule is reasonable? Do you think Magic Kingdom should be open earlier and/or later? Excited for the return of Independence Day finale after Harmonious at EPCOT? Surprised that the Cosmic Rewind virtual queue isn’t filling up instantaneously at 1 pm? 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!