Extended Evening Theme Park Hours are now available for select resort guests at Walt Disney World. This Magic Kingdom photo report offers a look at what we accomplished during the evening Extra Magic Hours replacement, strategy & tips, and more.
As background, Extended Evening Theme Park Hours has a smaller pool of eligibility than its morning counterpart and also occurs less frequently. This new perk began for the start of the World’s Most Magical Celebration 50th Anniversary festivities, and is exclusively for guests staying at Walt Disney World Deluxe Resorts, Deluxe Villas (Disney Vacation Club units), and other select hotels (currently only the Swan & Dolphin and Shades of Green).
Extended Evening Theme Park Hours occur two nights per week in total. Every Monday at Epcot from 10:00 pm until midnight and every Wednesday at Magic Kingdom from 9 pm until 11 pm. Guests staying at Value or Moderate Resorts are not eligible for Extended Evening Hours.
As mentioned in our Early Theme Park Entry at Magic Kingdom Photo Report, we did a stay at Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows in one of the newly-remodeled studios and managed to take advantage of both Early Theme Park Entry and Extended Evening Hours in the same day.
Rather than boring you with the middle of our day sitting around doing nothing, we’ll fast forward to post-Disney Enchantment, when we got started with Extended Evening Theme Park Hours at Magic Kingdom…
Currently, Disney Enchantment is shown at 8 pm nightly, which appears to be the fireworks time through the holiday season. That leaves around 40 minutes between the end of fireworks and park closing, which gives day guests a chance to jump in line for one last ride before exiting. Most do not take advantage, instead heading for the exits as wait times continue to drop in that last half hour.
Consequently, we found that wait times through Magic Kingdom were already pretty low at the beginning of Extended Evening Theme Park Hours.
Starting at 9 pm, there were Cast Members stationed outside each attraction entrance, scanning MagicBands, hotel room keys, etc. Unlike Early Entry, this happens at every single attraction 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.
For the most part, I’m not going to do a step-by-step recap of our night in Magic Kingdom, as just about everything was a walk-on. Because of that, I didn’t keep the best notes on everything we did and when, so my times might be slightly off, anyway.
By ~9:30 pm, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad was not only a walk-on, but it was a “pick any row you want” walk-on that was running trains about half-full. By 10 pm, they were one third full.
It was a pretty similar story all around Magic Kingdom.
The most time consuming aspect of the evening was scanning room keys or MagicBands outside each attraction, and then walking through the queue. It was pretty rare to have any wait time beyond that.
Our last ~30 minutes of the night were pretty eventful.
It started with racing over to Space Mountain at about 10:25 pm. As I approached the queue, the vast majority of guests entering the line were coming out of the exit–looping the ride! I was on in however much time it takes to walk through that lengthy queue. Another walk-on wait.
From there, it was on to Peter Pan’s Flight.
We had been watching this one earlier, noticing that for the first hour, the line was extending a bit into the outdoor queue. By the time we arrived, the entire indoor queue was empty, and we waited 4 minutes. When we exited, no one was in line–it would’ve been a walk-on as of around 10:50 pm.
Because I just can’t help myself, we opted against jumping in line for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at 10:52 pm.
Instead, we rushed back to Be Our Guest Restaurant because I noticed all the umbrellas were down (odd observation, but I’m an odd person), which is pretty rare–even at night. I took photos for a few minutes there.
At 10:59 pm, we ran back over and got in line for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. The posted wait time at this point was 20 minutes.
Unfortunately, this one was not a walk-on. Our actual wait ended up being 7 minutes. We breezed through the cool queue under the shade of the night sky–a significantly superior experience to what we would’ve had in the morning sun with a 65 minute posted wait. (This is also shorter than the 11 minute wait we experienced at Boo Bash!)
In terms of strategy, those last three steps are all you really need to know.
Space Mountain, Peter Pan’s Flight, and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train were the only attractions we encountered with any sort of notable wait times at any point during the night, so simply do those towards the end.
Astro Orbiter is another good attraction to hit during Extended Evening Theme Park Hours at Magic Kingdom. Both because of its normal daytime wait times and because it’s so much better at night.
Judging by what we saw and heard in talking to other guests, you could probably start doing Space Mountain much earlier. (We talked to one guest who looped it four times, doing each side twice with no wait.)
Either by popular guest demand or executive order, Country Bear Jamboree is open during Extended Evening Theme Park Hours at Magic Kingdom. Unfortunately, the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover is not. If ever there were a good time to fire up the ole change.org machine, this is it!
Pro tip: when the corridors are open, it is very easy to watch Disney Enchantment from Town Square, and then use the right bypass to swim upstream into Tomorrowland for a spin on the TTA right before park closing as the crowds clear out. We’ve done exactly this several times in the last few weeks/months post-fireworks, and highly recommend it. Much better than dealing with the long lines for (real) transportation right after the fireworks.
While we managed to do 8 attractions during Extended Evening Theme Park Hours at Magic Kingdom, we undoubtedly could’ve accomplished even more were we laser-focused on our ride count.
Instead, we wandered and took a lot of photos, enjoying a nice night and Magic Kingdom’s spectacular after dark atmosphere. we’d visit Magic Kingdom every single night just to enjoy this serenity if we could. The park truly had the vibe of a “free” After Hours event!
Ultimately, we had an absolute blast at Magic Kingdom during the Extended Evening Theme Park Hours, and would highly recommend anyone find a way to do this. Those who already have a Deluxe Resort stay booked won’t have to look too hard to “find” the perk–that sentiment is for those with resort reservations elsewhere.
This 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 splurges at Walt Disney World right now.
Honestly, if I were on the fence about purchasing Disney Very Merriest After Hourstickets for the low crowd component and read this report, I’d book a night at a participating resort instead.
It’s obviously not an apples to apples comparison, but the crowd level felt very comparable to past After Hours events we’ve done. While this lacks the entertainment, some attractions, and is shorter–it also doesn’t cost $169 per person (and up!).
As a bit of an aside, I’m also not overly concerned that “word will get out” due to positive reviews like this one and Extended Evening Theme Park Hours at Magic Kingdom will become unbearably crowded. Although we attended the first night, we did so in the immediate aftermath of Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary kickoff, at a time when the most ardent fans and “WDW literate” guests are visiting.
Occupancy rates are high right now and guests staying on-site are almost certainly more knowledgeable than the norm. While things could always change for the worse down the road, I have a hard time imagining that this will become appreciably more crowded in the next few months due to word of mouth. But, I’ve been wrong plenty of times in the past!
Our incredibly positive experience with Extended Evening Theme Park Hours at Magic Kingdom already has us scheming about ways to experience this again during the Christmas season. Unfortunately, we’re all out of DVC points and the dearth of room discounts gives us pause, but there are some attractive options.
Another idea that we really like is doing a split stay, splurging on a night at a Deluxe Resort (see How to Do Split Stays at Walt Disney World Hotels). You could also pair that with Club Level at a Magic Kingdom area resort, taking advantage of the early/late hours and enjoying the club during the middle of the day.
With just a few tweaks to our itineraries, we could’ve accomplished every worthwhile attraction in Magic Kingdom during the first 3 hours of the day plus the last 3 hours of the night. We could’ve still done breakfast in one of the Club Level lounges, while also enjoying a pool day and every other food and drink spread (save for desserts). That would be an awesome way to TREAT YO SELF.
Obviously, no one likes losing access to a perk, but the only reason Extended Evening Theme Park Hours at Magic Kingdom are this enjoyable is because it’s limited to a small subset of guests. Evening Extra Magic Hours were crowded to the point of being practically useless and unenjoyable in their last couple of years.
This was way better than that, and also superior to the new early entry offering. That’s despite this only occurring one night per week and thus “consolidating” crowds into that single evening.
There have been a lot of complaints about Extended Evening Theme Park Hours being “elitist,” and we can understand that to an extent. In fairness, no one seemed to bat an eye in the past at on-site perks that excluded cheaper off-site hotels–it’s not like that was exactly egalitarian.
Moreover, there are ways to take advantage of this perk on a Value or Moderate Resort budget. The Swan & Dolphin are included here, and those are often less expensive hotels. You can also do Priceline deals or DVC rental, both of which can offer Deluxe or Villa level accommodations at Moderate prices. (From my perspective, the much more valid grievance is that Walt Disney World continues to cut perks while raising prices. You’ll get no argument from me on that one!)
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 Magic Kingdom or 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!