Extended Evening Theme Park Hours is an on-site perk for Walt Disney World guests staying at a Deluxe Resorts, DVC Villas, and select other hotels. This strategy guide covers everything you need to know: eligibility, ride rosters, how the benefit works, and tips for best using the time at night. (Updated September 12, 2023.)
In terms of basics, Extended Evening Theme Park Hours (ExEH) is the indirect replacement for Evening Extra Magic Hours and is the current counterpart to Early Theme Park Entry. However, there are a lot of differences between the morning and evening extra time in the parks.
Extended Evening Theme Park Hours has a smaller pool of eligibility and also occurs less frequently. The nighttime benefit 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). Guests staying at Value or Moderate Resorts are not eligible for Extended Evening Hours.
While originally promoted as a special perk for the 50th Anniversary, Walt Disney World has confirmed that Extended Evening Hours will continue throughout all of 2024 for guests staying at a Disney Deluxe Resort, Disney Deluxe Villa Resort, or other select hotels.
Extended Evening Hours at Magic Kingdom have already changed this year due to the opening of TRON Lightcycle Run. Walt Disney World’s new roller coaster uses a virtual queue and has a 6 pm entry time on ExEH dates, similar to what Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind offers at EPCOT.
On the horizon, one positive change is that Moana’s Journey of Water will be open during Extended Evening Hours at EPCOT.
That new water exploration trail officially opens on October 16, 2023 and the first ExEH during which Journey of Water will be available is that very same night. We had the chance to preview Moana’s Journey of Water during daytime, sunset, dusk, and evening–and nighttime is far and away the best time to do it. Especially if you’re visiting Walt Disney World in the first few weeks the new attraction is open, Extended Evening Hours will be the way to experience it with minimal crowds.
But wait, there’s more. Starting in October 2023, the schedule starts getting weird. Disney’s Hollywood Studios hosts its first ExEH of the year on September 30, followed by several dates in October. EPCOT offers Extended Evening Hours on more dates than normal around Halloween, and following that, Animal Kingdom has its first-ever Extended Evening Hours in November 2023. It’s unclear whether this is a ‘new normal’ for the peak holiday season, anomalies due to special events, or Walt Disney World testing which parks guests prefer. We’ll keep watching and share updates once more park hours are released for November and December 2023.
Turning to another topic of confusion, Extended Evening Hours is distinct and different from After Hours at Magic Kingdom and After Hours at EPCOT, neither of which are occurring again until 2024. Those are hard ticket events to which anyone can purchase admission. After Hours also lasts longer and includes refreshments.
By contrast, Extended Evening Hours are “free” for guests staying in the aforementioned hotel tiers, are shorter in duration, and do not include refreshments. After Hours and Extended Evening Hours are also held on different dates. If money is no object, After Hours is unquestionably better, but that’s a pretty big asterisk. We’ll take the “free” event any day of the week over having to pay extra–they’re not that much different.
Early Entry is also different from Extended Evening Hours. Obviously, one occurs in the morning and the other at night. Beyond that, Early Entry is offered at all 4 theme parks every single day, runs for 30 minutes, and every on-site resort guest is eligible, including the third party on-property hotels. For everything you need to know about that benefit, see our Strategy Guide for Early Theme Park Entry at Walt Disney World.
Once again, Extended Evening Theme Park Hours has two types of resort eligibility, occurs two nights per week, is at two parks, and runs for two hours (pretty much everything about the perk occurs in twos). It’s usually every Monday at Epcot and every Wednesday at Magic Kingdom. That schedule does change from time to time, but is accurate the vast majority of the time. See Walt Disney World’s official Events Calendar for specific times for each event night.
The other big difference is that you can accomplish a tremendous amount during Extended Evening Hours. We’ve done it at both Epcot and Magic Kingdom, and it’s been great in both parks–eerily uncrowded by the end, with most attractions being walk ons.
With that said, it’s definitely superior at Magic Kingdom, and that’s largely due to the more robust ride roster–and the fact that several headliners are located near one another. Magic Kingdom has as many popular attractions in Fantasyland as is the case in the entirety of Epcot. (Read about one such experience in our Evening Extended Hours at Magic Kingdom Photo Report.)
Speaking of which, a little more strategizing is required in order to knock out Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, Frozen Ever After, Test Track, Soarin’ Around the World, and Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind during a single Extended Evening Hours in Epcot.
Read about one of our recent attempts at this in Evening Extended Hours at EPCOT Strategy & Report, which offers play-by-play from one night that we did a couple months ago. Still, we had a fantastic time and highly recommend taking advantage of Extended Evening Hours in both parks, if you’re eligible.
Before singing its praises too much, we should probably address the elephant in the room: that “if eligible” asterisk. Many Walt Disney World fans have been critical about Extended Evening Hours for excluding Value and Moderate Resorts.
Their perspective is that it caters to the wealthy or creates two tiers of on-site hotel guests. Obviously, the point about lower tier resorts not being eligible is accurate. The other points are subjective, and the same claims could be made about off-site v. on-site guests with the Early Entry benefit.
Obviously, no one likes losing access to a perk, but the reason Extended Evening Theme Park Hours 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.
Extended Evening Hours are way better than that, and also superior to the new early entry offering. That’s despite this only occurring two nights per week and thus “consolidating” crowds into that single evening. For the most part, there haven’t been a ton of guests taking advantage of this–and that has been true even during peak season. Extended Evening Hours have been glorious–for those who are eligible.
In any case, we’re not here to debate the fundamental fairness of Extended Evening Hours. Rather, the purpose of this guide is to provide info about the benefit and help you make the most of it.
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) and then doing budget accommodations the rest of your vacation. You could also do a two night-stay, checking in on a Monday and out on a Wednesday, in order to take advantage of both Extended Evening Hours nights.
If you really wanted to go big, pair that with Club Level, taking advantage of the early/late hours and enjoying the club during the middle of the day. You could pretty accomplish every worthwhile attraction in Magic Kingdom or Epcot during the first few hours of the day plus the last few hours of the night. Do 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 YOSELF, and could be made possible by cutting costs elsewhere from your Walt Disney World vacation budget.
Normally, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom do not participate in Extended Evening Theme Park Hours–not a huge surprise, since neither were staples of Evening EMH in recent years. However, Disney’s Hollywood Studios did participate in Extended Evening Hours last spring and holiday season on a couple of occasions.
Additionally, both DHS and Animal Kingdom will offer Extended Evening Hours in Late 2023, and possibly beyond. Although uncommon at those two parks, Extended Evening Hours should be great at both, and offer a huge advantage in knocking out headliner attractions with relatively short lines.
Next, let’s take a look at the eligible hotels for Extended Evening Theme Park Hours…
Extended Evening Hours Eligible Disney Owned Hotels
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
Disney’s Beach Club Resort
Disney’s BoardWalk Inn
Disney’s Contemporary Resort
Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
Disney’s Yacht Club Resort
Disney Vacation Club & Deluxe Villa Resorts
Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
Copper Creek Villas & Cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Jambo House
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Kidani Village
Disney’s Beach Club Villas
Disney’s BoardWalk Villas
Disney’s Old Key West Resort
Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows
Disney’s Riviera Resort
Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa
Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
Extended Evening Hours Eligible Third Party Hotels
Walt Disney World Swan Hotel
Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel
Walt Disney World Swan Reserve
Shades of Green
Next, the attractions lineup for Extended Evening Theme Park Hours…
Extended Evening Theme Park Hours Attractions – Magic Kingdom
“it’s a small world”
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
Country Bear Jamboree
Dumbo the Flying Elephant
Mad Tea Party
Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor
Peter Pan’s Flight
Pirates of the Caribbean
Prince Charming Regal Carrousel
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
Swiss Family Treehouse
The Magic Carpets of Aladdin
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
Under the Sea ~ Journey of The Little Mermaid
Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room
Extended Evening Theme Park Hours Attractions – Epcot
Beauty and The Beast Sing-Along
Frozen Ever After
Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros
Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind
Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure
Soarin’ Around the World
The Seas with Nemo & Friends
Extended Evening Hours Attractions – Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Alien Swirling Saucers
Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway
Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith
Slinky Dog Dash
Star Tours – The Adventures Continue
Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
Toy Story Mania!
The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
As you can see, not all Walt Disney World attractions are available during Extended Evening Hours. With minor exceptions, these lists are identical to the old evening Extra Magic Hours with headliners being the emphasis.
Moreover, the Extended Evening Theme Park Hours schedule and available attractions are subject to change without notice. Applicable theme park, days and times of operation, attraction and service availability may vary and are subject to change without notice. Subject to capacity and cancellation. [Insert other boring boilerplate caveats.]
Valid theme park admission and MagicBand, Key to the World Card, or Disney MagicMobile pass is required. Guests without the Park Hopper Option or Park Hopper Plus Option must spend the day at the same park where they’d like to enjoy the Extended Evening Theme Park Hours benefit.
To validate eligibility, Cast Members are 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. That’s because other guests are already in the parks–that’s the only feasible way to determine who can ride attractions since the parks are not actively cleared at the start of Extended Evening Hours.
Extended Evening Theme Park Hours Strategy
Strategy for Extended Evening Theme Park Hours is surprisingly simple. Start with less popular attractions and finish with more popular ones. Basically, do rides in reverse order of wait times, while still keeping in mind that 2 hours goes by quickly, meaning you don’t want to waste any of that time on attractions that will have minimal daytime waits (assuming you’re also visiting the same park during the day).
One key to this is coupling Extended Evening Theme Park Hours strategy with Genie+ and Lightning Lane usage, or lack thereof. (See our Guide to Genie+ and Lightning Lanes FAQ for everything you need to know.) In particular, guests who are eligible for ExEH probably do not need to buy Individual Lightning Lanes, and should instead backload those attractions into the end of their evening.
Let’s quickly run through what this means for each park.
At Magic Kingdom, your last three attractions should be Space Mountain, Peter Pan’s Flight, and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train–with that order making the most sense. Try to time it so you get into line for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train ~5 minutes before the end of Extended Evening Hours. Disregard the posted wait time, as it’ll almost certainly be significantly inflated to discourage you from doing it.
Then there’s TRON Lightcycle Run. As discussed above, this uses a virtual queue for ExEH, and you can join that at 6 pm. This fills up fast–we’d recommend reading our Ride Guide for TRON Lightcycle Run, which includes our patented (not really) speed strategy for scoring spots in the virtual queue.
Recently, we’ve found that the best approach for TRON Lightcycle Run is riding as early in the evening as possible. Ideally, you’ll want to use the aforementioned speed strategy to score as low of a boarding group as possible, and return immediately once your group is called to minimize your wait in the return line. This is the opposite of our recommended approach with Cosmic Rewind.
At Epcot, the strategy is a tad more difficult because there are only a handful of popular attractions, all of which command decently-long waits during Extended Evening Hours. Conversely, everything else is relatively unpopular and will be a walk-on, but that’s also true during most of the daytime operating hours. With that said, end your evening with Soarin’ Around the World, Test Track, Frozen Ever After, and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure.
Ideally, you’ll jump into line for the Rat Ride about 5 minutes before the end of the night. The added benefit here is that you’ll be able to take a long, leisurely stroll out of World Showcase with no one else around. You might even be able to go the “long way” around to exit the park–assuming you’re not leaving through International Gateway.
When DHS offers another Extended Evening Hours, our recommendation is starting with Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, followed by Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror, and finishing with Slinky Dog Dash before jumping in line for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance right at the very end of the night.
Basically, the idea is starting with the lowest-demand attractions and finishing with highest. It remains to be seen whether Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance will participate in ExEH in Late 2023. It’s not on the official list, but it was open last year. If it’s not participating, we’d recommend jumping in line for that shortly before official park closing.
Ultimately, that’s everything you need to know about Extended Evening Theme Park Hours at Walt Disney World. What you do earlier in the night doesn’t really matter, so long as you set aside sufficient time for the aforementioned headliners at the very end.
We will continue updating this strategy guide in the coming months as Extended Evening Hours continue to evolve, and as things “settle down” and find their groove. Stay tuned–we’ll continue to cover all of the important planning details and also share more Extended Evening Hours photo reports from our experiences with this new on-site hotel benefit!
Thoughts on Extended Evening Theme Park Hours at Walt Disney World? Excited to take advantage of the new on-site guest perk or think it’s too short to be useful? Disappointed about the eligibility rules or attraction lineups? 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!