Evening Extended Hours at Epcot Strategy & Report
Extended Evening Theme Park Hours is a perk for select on-site Walt Disney World resort guests, and arguably the best way to experience the parks. This Epcot photo report offers a step-by-step look at what I accomplished during the evening Extra Magic Hours replacement, strategy & tips, and how it worked out as an alternative to Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lanes.
As background, Extended Evening Theme Park Hours has a smaller pool of eligibility than its morning counterpart and also occurs less frequently. This benefit is exclusively for guests staying at Deluxe Resorts, Deluxe Villas (Disney Vacation Club units), or other select hotels. See our Guide to Extended Evening Hours at Walt Disney World for taking advantage of this perk, eligibility, and more.
Extended Evening Theme Park Hours occur two nights per week in total. Most Mondays at Epcot from 9:00 pm until 11 pm and most Wednesdays at Magic Kingdom. We previously shared a Extended Evening Hours at Magic Kingdom Photo Report, so thought we’d now turn our attention to Epcot…
For those who didn’t read it, that Magic Kingdom report is brimming with praise. Since that report, we’ve had the chance to do Magic Kingdom a couple more times, having an absolute blast each time. As before, we would highly recommend anyone find a way to do Extended Evening Hours at Magic Kingdom.
The 2-hour perk is hugely advantageous and enjoyable, well worth “splurge status.” In fact, for those who enjoy empty parks, low crowds, and/or nighttime ambiance, there are very few things that come to mind as better Walt Disney World splurges than Extended Evening Hours at Magic Kingdom. The question this post will answer is whether Epcot can live up to those lofty expectations…
Typically, Harmonious is shown at 9 pm nightly, which makes for a tricky start to Extended Evening Hours at Epcot. Attractions in the park are closed to day guests and open for the extra hours, but the new nighttime spectacular is also happening at the same time.
What’s the best approach?
That really depends on how much you want to see Harmonious from your preferred viewing location and watch through to the finale. If you consult our Harmonious Viewing Guide: Best & Worst Locations (and you really should so you don’t end up staking out some off-angle), that could put you anywhere from the front of World Showcase to the second-story of Japan.
If you’ve already seen Harmonious once, or are only concerned about the pyro, our recommendation would be to watch from within the France pavilion. Fireworks explode overhead, meaning that a front row spot is not necessary to see them. Moreover, many/most views of Harmonious are obstructed or compromised to some degree, so even the spots you’ll need to stake out for an hour can be imperfect.
That was our approach this particular evening. Wanting both an interesting foreground subject and being able to loosely “monitor” the inflow and outflow of guests to Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, I set up shop my the character’s topiary that leads back to the Streets of France expansion area.
Throughout Harmonious, there were far more guests leaving the Streets of Paris than entering. I wasn’t focused on counting heads, but my guess would be that about four or five times as many people were leaving as were arriving. Unsurprisingly, the posted wait time dropped precipitously during the nighttime spectacular.
As soon as the final burst of the Harmonious finale exploded overhead, we made a beeline to Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure. At this point, there was hardly anyone back here.
There was a short line spilling outside the attraction entrance, but that was to check eligibility for Extended Evening Hours–not the actual attraction line.
Starting at 9 pm, there are Cast Members stationed outside each attraction entrance, scanning MagicBands, hotel room keys, etc. Unlike Early Entry, this happens at every single attraction in Epcot throughout the night–not just once upon arrival. (The difference is that other guests are already in the park, so that’s the only feasible way to determine eligibility.) This is exactly how evening Extra Magic Hours worked in the past; no significant changes here.
In the above photo, you can vaguely see the wave of people racing towards Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure behind the fountain. The line in front of us is moving quickly, none of the outdoor overflow queue was actually needed at this point; everyone is quickly moving through it.
Our total wait time for Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure ended up being right around 10 minutes.
Above is the line when we exited the attraction. The posted wait time had jumped to 45 minutes at this point; it’s hard to say how accurate that would be. Even though the line is long, there’s no Individual Lightning Lane at this point, so all of the capacity is standby. (My guess is about 30 minutes.)
The next stop was Frozen Ever After.
However, recognizing that our experience with Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure was a little “too efficient” for the sake of strategy, I made my way over to Norway slowly, taking photos along the way.
World Showcase had already cleared out at this point, making for a delightful stroll around the lagoon.
As with Magic Kingdom, this is the most enjoyable aspect of Extended Evening Hours at Epcot. Sure, short waits are great–but having the park to yourself is something special. Soaking up the ambiance, noticing the details, and just slowing down and savoring the spaces. Priceless.
Frozen Ever After was down upon arrival and based upon the look of things, there was no intention of it reopening.
So much for doing a run-through of Extended Evening Hours at Epcot “for the sake of savvy strategy.”
The next stop was Test Track, which was posting a 30 minute wait time.
Not that it really mattered at this point, but I accidentally got into the Single Rider line here. Technically, the correct move for me since Sarah had already called it a night, but not particularly useful for measuring the actual v. posted wait or how much the average guest could expect to accomplish during Extended Evening Hours at Epcot.
My next stop was the Land pavilion and Soarin’ Around the World.
This was posting a 10 minute wait time, and ended up being a walk-on. As always, Soarin’ is really a luck of the draw situation when the posted time is this low, depending on when you hit it in the load cycle.
I still had nearly 30 minutes left on the clock with everything I set out to accomplish (minus Frozen Ever After) knocked out, so I just wandered around and took more photos.
While my step-by-step evening isn’t the most illuminating from a strategy perspective, here are the salient points and ideal order of attractions:
- Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure – Arriving before the post-Harmonious wave is essential–otherwise, do it last.
- Frozen Ever After – By the time you’re done with the Rat Ride, lines should be starting to fall here a bit. Plus, it’s closer than Test Track and its audience skews younger–people with earlier bed times.
- Test Track – Single Rider here is always ideal, but should not be necessary. Lines bottom out at the very end of the night, but it’s closer to Norway than Soarin’ is, and the overall cycle time of the latter means it’ll take nearly as long as Test Track from start to finish.
- Soarin’ Around the World – Should be a walk-on well before the end of the night; arguably not even a high priority attraction during Extended Evening Hours at Epcot if you’re visiting during the day and would rather do one of the top 3 multiple times.
In terms of strategy, those first three steps are all you really need to know. You should have time for an additional attraction or two if you time those right.
Beating the crowd to Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure is the most important component of this strategy, with the optimal times to line up being 1 minute after Harmonious ends or 1 minute before Extended Evening Hours at Epcot ends. Everything else is less important–so long as you’re not waiting a long time for the Rat Ride.
Assuming that Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind participates in Extended Evening Hours at Epcot, the best time to do it will almost certainly be 10:59 pm. That’ll more or less force you into the early slot for Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure if you want to do all of Epcot’s headliners.
Ultimately, we had an enjoyable experience at Epcot during the Extended Evening Theme Park Hours, and would recommend those who are eligible take advantage of the perk. As with Extended Evening Hours at Magic Kingdom, is Deluxe Resort guest benefit is advantageous and incredibly enjoyable for anyone who likes nighttime ambiance.
However, the critical difference is that Epcot has far fewer popular attractions than Magic Kingdom. This means that your cumulative time-savings won’t be as high, but also that other guests will also be flocking to the exact same trio of headliners, elevating their wait times over what we’ve observed during Extended Evening Hours at Magic Kingdom (outside of Seven Dwarfs Mine Train). Accordingly, this perk at Epcot is not nearly as “valuable” as it is in Magic Kingdom.
We highly recommended finding a way to take advantage of Extended Evening Hours at Magic Kingdom, whether that mean splurging on a night at a Deluxe Resort, doing a split stay (see How to Do Split Stays at Walt Disney World Hotels), or booking Disney Vacation Club Point Rentals (it’s pretty much only confirmed reservations now).
The same is not true when it comes to Extended Evening Hours at Epcot. If you’re already eligible, definitely do it, but if not…you really aren’t missing much. The ambiance is still largely possible to enjoy by booking a late Advance Dining Reservation or simply strolling slowly out of the park after Harmonious on a normal night. From a purely strategic perspective, we actually prefer Early Entry at Epcot. So long as you’re staying on-site, you’re eligible for that.
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Thoughts on Extended Evening Theme Park Hours at Walt Disney World? Have you experienced this new 2-hour replacement for evening Extra Magic Hours at Epcot? What’s your preferred approach to late nights in the park? How would you have done things differently? Any other feedback on doing evenings at the Walt Disney World theme parks? Agree or disagree with our advice or approach? 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!
Tom, are there are food options during extended hours? We will be there during Flower & Garden but I’m thinking the booths close at their regular time.
Where can we get a snack during extended hours?