Evening Extra Magic Hours at Hollywood Studios (Post-Star Wars Rise of Resistance)
Now that Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance is open at Walt Disney World, Hollywood Studios is offering evening Extra Magic Hours. In this post, we offer evening EMH strategy & tips, detail our recent experience, and how to beat crowds during this 2-hour window exclusively for on-site guests at select Disney and third-party hotels.
We should warn you at the outset that Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance is not included in Extra Magic Hours. This is something Walt Disney World has stressed, and frankly, it presents both a disadvantage and advantage, as we’ll cover below.
In general, evening Extra Magic Hours is a great way to experience the park’s most popular attractions, including Millennium Falcon Smugglers Run in Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge, Toy Story Mania & Slinky Dog Dash in Toy Story Land, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, and Tower of Terror with short waits. However, this requires a bit of strategy, otherwise you risk encountering long lines and getting very little done…
While we offer the exact strategy you need to accomplish everything, our main motivation in attending evening Extra Magic Hours was to confirm that Walt Disney World’s stated policy that Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance wouldn’t be open was, in fact, accurate.
If you’ve followed our constant updates on this excellent new attraction, you know the official policies haven’t always matched operational realities, which are a seemingly moving target. (See our Star Wars Rise of the Resistance Ride Guide & FAQ for everything you need to know.)
In this case, the official line is accurate–Rise of the Resistance is not open during evening Extra Magic Hours. We confirmed this by walking past the attraction several times during EMH.
The downside to this is obvious–you can’t do Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, which is the best and most difficult-to-experience attraction at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The upside is that Walt Disney World has clearly communicated this to guests, so the evening Extra Magic Hours crowd is significantly smaller as a result. If/when Rise of the Resistance is open for EMH, you won’t be able to get nearly as much done.
When it comes to Walt Disney World rope drop/park opening strategy, we often recommend “riding the wave” to stay ahead of crowds. This typically does not apply to evening Extra Magic Hours. It does, however, apply to evening Extra Magic Hours at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
This is due to the timing of Fantasmic and the park’s fireworks. The former occurs on select nights both before and after official park closing time, and on other nights only before park closing. The latter occurs nearly every single night right at park closing.
The result of this is that most guests are drawn away from the rides at Disney’s Hollywood Studios before and during the fireworks, leading to the shortest wait times of the night just before the end of the fireworks.
Consequently, the best approach to evening Extra Magic Hours is either skipping the fireworks (they’re only so-so anyway), or watching from a location that will allow you to book it to Slinky Dog Dash immediately after the fireworks end. Both Toy Story Land and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge offer views of the pyro, but not the projections in these (projection-heavy) nighttime spectaculars.
Aside from the early morning, this is the time of day when Slinky Dog Dash will have the shortest actual wait time. From there, you should head to Toy Story Mania followed by Millennium Falcon Smugglers Run.
After both of those attractions, continue riding the wave and head up to Sunset Boulevard to do Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster and Tower of Terror in that order. You could potentially do each of the latter two more than once depending upon the season.
One thing we’d caution against is relying on the posted wait times on attraction marquees or in the My Disney Experience app. Although Walt Disney World has the technology and data to post reliable, real-time waits, what they usually post are reactionary times.
What we mean by this is that the posted time measures what someone who recently boarded the attraction waited, and is not a reflection of the current line for a ride. This is problematic for evening Extra Magic Hours at Disney’s Hollywood Studios because there’s a significant ebb & flow to crowds.
For example, Slinky Dog Dash might have a posted wait time of 30 minutes shortly after the fireworks end, even though a crushing crowd has arrived at the attraction. An hour later, the wait time will jump to 80 minutes because that’s what the huge crowd actually waited.
An hour after that, the wait will fall back to 30 minutes because the crowd has passed and fewer guests queued up when the posted wait was 80 minutes. (This isn’t theoretical–we’ve witnessed exactly these wait time changes for Slinky Dog Dash.)
In reality, the longest waits will be when the posted wait time is 30 minutes, because that’s when more demand will be induced. Guests see the lower wait time and get in line, whereas they are more reticent to get in line when the posted wait time is higher.
This roller coaster of posted wait times is something we’ve observed frequently during EMH at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Why the park hasn’t adjusted to account for this is beyond us. It’s a consistent and predictable pattern.
Other attractions are open during evening Extra Magic Hours, such as Star Tours: the Adventures Continue and Alien Swirling Saucers. There are also retail and dining options open, including those in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and Toy Story Land.
We expect Rise of the Resistance to also eventually operate for evening Extra Magic Hours. Ditto Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, once that opens in 2020. You can typically do meet & greets with significantly shorter waits during Extra Magic Hours at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. It’s also a good time to simply enjoy the ambiance of the park.
Overall, we’ve seen declining value/upside in evening Extra Magic Hours at Walt Disney World. Earlier regular closing hours coupled with growing hotel eligibility has pushed a disproportionate number of guests towards the park with evening EMH. It’s gotten to the point where these hours are more crowded than regular operating hours as a result.
Not so at Disney’s Hollywood Studios…at least for now. “Thanks” to the exclusion of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, most guests are opting to rope drop DHS rather than visiting in the late night hours. If you don’t care about Rise of the Resistance or simply are more of a night owl than an early riser, evening Extra Magic Hours present a nice, albeit incomplete alternative at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. We shall see whether than changes come Spring 2020.
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Have you attended evening Extra Magic Hours at Disney’s Hollywood Studios since Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance opened? What was your experience with wait times? Would you do it again, or would you prefer getting up early and beating the crowds that way? Do you agree or disagree with our advice? 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!
Does your Hollywood Studios morning/rope drop strategy change for days with evening extra magic hours? Basically, do you see any impact on morning crowds on days the park stays open later?
Saturdays and Sundays are typically busier than every other day due to locals who are off work, and Sunday is EMH night, so there’s that.
I plan to be at MK on the day during our trip where HS has extra magic hours in the evening (Sunday, 3/15). We want to see the firework show at MK (MK closes at 10pm this night). Is it realistic/a good idea to try to scoot over to HS after the fireworks to do some extra time at HS? Or will it not be work the hassle and rush to get over there? We are planning to do HS on Monday, 3/16.
So, as far as you’re aware, even if they have more boarding passes to go through, RotR is just shutting down when EMH starts and there’s no more rides for the day? That seems like something else that will change after tomorrow and people take to social media. Lol. I can understand not allowing new riders into the VQ, but not going through all allotted passes is surely going to backfire…once again. Disney is just setting up one Cluster after another, when simple logic says maybe don’t do that. But what do I know, The Walt Disney company keeps rejecting my resume, so I obviously am not as smart as the people running the (cluster) show
They had already made it through the virtual queue on this particular evening. I was checking to see if they quietly opened standby, reopened the virtual queue, or…who knows what. There have been so many changes that truly nothing would surprise me.
I’m not sure what the plan is going forward with regard to EMH and the backup boarding groups. Guess we’ll find out tonight!
Makes sense. With emh only once a week at DHS, it’d be pretty easy to change the operating procedures every week. And with no emh next week, what they do tonight will more than likely not be the same thing they do in 2 weeks.