Extended Evening Theme Park Hours at Disney World Info & Tips
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 March 1, 2023.)
In terms of basics, Extended Evening Theme Park Hours 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 World’s Most Magical Celebration (which ends this month), Walt Disney World has confirmed that Extended Evening Hours will continue throughout all of 2023 for guests staying at a Disney Deluxe Resort, Disney Deluxe Villa Resort, or other select hotels.
Although we don’t yet have full details, expect Extended Evening Hours at Magic Kingdom to change slightly next month. This is because TRON Lightcycle Run opens on April 4, 2023. Walt Disney World’s new roller coaster will use a virtual queue and thus should have a 6 pm entry time on Extended Evening Hours dates, similar to what Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind offers at EPCOT.
However, Walt Disney World has not yet confirmed that TRON Lightcycle Run will operate during Extended Evening Hours–or how it’ll be accessed if it does. We’ll update this accordingly once official, but for now, you can expect it to use the same system as Cosmic Rewind. There’s about a 95% chance that it’ll operate identically to that EPCOT E-Ticket.
Turning to another topic of confusion, Extended Evening Hours is distinct and different from After Hours at Magic Kingdom and the new After Hours at EPCOT, which debuts in Summer 2023. 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 a veritable ghost town 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.
To that end, potential options for taking advantage of Extended Evening Hours without breaking the bank include doing Disney Vacation Club Point Rentals or booking the Swan & Dolphin Resorts, which are usually roughly the cost of a Moderate Resort.
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 YO SELF, 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. It’s possible the same will happen again later in 2023, but there are currently no dates scheduled at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
It’s worth noting that those rare Evening Extra Magic Hours nights (post-Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge) at Disney’s Hollywood Studios were fantastic–the crowd situation during Evening EMH was always better at DHS. We’d expect the same to hold true for Extended Evening Hours at DHS, and would highly recommend taking advantage if you’re able to do so.
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”
- Astro Orbiter
- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
- Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
- Country Bear Jamboree
- Dumbo the Flying Elephant
- Haunted Mansion
- Mad Tea Party
- Mickey’s PhilharMagic
- Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor
- Peter Pan’s Flight
- Pirates of the Caribbean
- Prince Charming Regal Carrousel
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
- Space Mountain
- Swiss Family Treehouse
- The Barnstormer
- The Magic Carpets of Aladdin
- The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
- Tomorrowland Speedway
- 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
- Mission: SPACE
- Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure
- Soarin’ Around the World
- Spaceship Earth
- Test Track
- 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 Extended Evening Hours 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.
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.
Since Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind uses a virtual queue, slot that in whenever your return is called–ideally closer to the middle of the extra hours than the beginning or end.
Note that it’s likely that the Cosmic Rewind virtual queue will be retired before TRON Lightcycle Run opens on April 4, 2023. Walt Disney World previously has retired one ride’s virtual queue before adding another, likely to avoid having two virtual queues in use at the same time. It’s already easier to enter the 1 pm virtual queue, and that was the harbinger for the end of the boarding group system at both rides that previously used it. Plus, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind is reliable and high-capacity.
We haven’t done Disney’s Hollywood Studios for Extended Evening Theme Park Hours and a lot has changed since this park last offered Evening Extra Magic Hours. Namely, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance is operating without a virtual queue and Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway is open, period.
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. That’ll likely be the best strategy.
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!
Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!
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!
Great post.! The question is, considering I’m NOT staying at a Disney hotel, can I still circulate in the park, or is there a wristband or something they can check and can kick me out of the park after 11PM? In the past the extra magic hours was similar, it was for Disney guests however I could say in the part taking pictures etc…
Is possible to continue in the park/
Over the years I’ve learned to plan any type of extra hour events before your regular day in the same park. Doing the regular day first you’re wondering the whole time which rides are best to skip today. Do the ‘event’ first, then you know exactly what you accomplished, making the regular day much more smooth and relaxing.
If I’m staying at a deluxe resort, have Park Hopper, and have reservations/go to MK on a Monday morning when Epcot has Extended Hours, can I do the 6pm Cosmic Rewind virtual queue? Or would I need to park hop/enter Epcot prior to 6pm OR have my Monday reservation for Epcot in order to be able to do that 6pm virtual queue? Or can all deluxe guests participate in the virtual queue, but just can’t enter Epcot without either a valid reservation or Park Hopper/previous entry to your reserved park?
You can be anywhere on Disney property to get the 6 p.m. virtual queue for Guardians!! You do not have to be at Epcot or have a park pass for Epcot. I’ve gotten the 6 p.m. virtual queue while at Boardwalk, the Poly, and Old Key West.
Has anyone seen how Cast Members at the queues treat ineligible guests? I’ve taken Tom’s advice and booked DVC points partly to qualify for this benefit. But was wondering how Disney manage the queue at “closing time”? I presume one just has to wait in stand by if eligible and not use Lightening Lanes (which should be totally free by then) but day guests will still be waiting as MK isn’t closing. Or are day guest turned away at the cut off?
When we did it, they just checked our magic bands at the entrance to each attraction and we got into the standby queue. Those not staying onsite in deluxes were turned away from attraction entrances starting at park close. I’d strategize doing some “less popular” attractions with shorter queues at closing first to wait for the park to clear out a bit. We started at pirates and by the time we got to BTM it was pretty smooth sailing from there. Enjoy!
Does anyone know if the crowds are higher “pre-evening hours” on days where Extended Evening Hours are in place? Eg, on a Wednesday where MK has extended evening hours, would it be busier during the day than when there are no extended hours? Jet lag may prevent me from availing of the evening hours!
Crowds have been higher at the MK on Mondays with EEH than Sundays without them, so maybe?
so we will be staying in AK kidani village in April-May 2023…do you think if we let’s say start with AK rope drop for FOP then hop to MK extra evening hours one night and then HS rope drop for ROTR(using ur strategy thank you) then hop to Epcot extra evening hours we should be good to get enough attractions at each park??
if a ride is virtual queue will it be rideable during extra evening hours!?
We will be staying at a deli x hotel during spring break. How likely will there be extended evening hours at HS at that time?
We have used extended hours on 3 vacations. Got to ride everything we wanted and then some. don’t see the issue; if you pay more and stay at a deluxe resort perks should be a part of your stay. I hate genie + and yes tom I know you love it but the extra hours solves most of our issues without having to carry a phone. I am a planner and have done so for many years always looking for any extras that may come with our time slot at WDW. You have provided many wonderful tips which we as very old people appreciate!
“Love” is a very strong word for how I feel about Genie+ (“tolerate” is more apt), but I otherwise agree with your assessment of Extended Evening Hours. 😉
Does Disney transportation operate at the end of the magic kingdom extended hours ? Boat to Wilderness, Bus to other hotels?
I’ve been told that if splitting your stay…..if you check out of the deluxe resort in the morning, even though you qualify for the Extended Evening Hours on your checkout day, once you check into your value resort later in the day (which you would do prior to heading to the extended evening hours) the Disney system will now show you as a value guest (I suppose when your magic band is scanned). So no entry. Or is there something paper/hard copy that one could use to show its checkout day from deluxe?
Wow, I’m angry but grateful. We planned a trip to include doing Evening Extended hours and no where did Disney draw attention to the fact this is not the same eligibility as morning extra hours or the old magic evening hours! We are night owls and literally thought and planned to stay for the night rides and lower crowds. we even would have considered a split stay if Disney had bothered to mask their site with even an asterisk. Glad we know because you told us, but spent the money already and now have to change dining and our whole plan. As a veteran, planning our first trip back after covid has felt worse than starting as rookies, since no one has summarized neatly what’s changed. Seriously think we’ll just try Universal next time or something, the magic just seems gone
I’m sorry you missed this and it will impact your stay. I don’t mean to be difficult but it is literally the very first thing written on the page for Extended Evening Hours https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/guest-services/extended-evening/
“With the kickoff of the 50th anniversary, enjoy extended evening hours on select evenings in select theme parks when you stay at a Disney Deluxe Resort or, Disney Deluxe Villa Resort or other select hotels.”
You may very well still be able to change your hotel and schedule a split stay!
Just back from a week at WDW. My experience with the extended hours was that it took forever for MK to empty out. Leaving much less time. Epcot enjoyed much quicker with ride times falling much quicker than MK. And the extended hours virtual cue for Guardians was a great opportunity.