Extended Evening Theme Park Hours will go on hiatus at Magic Kingdom starting in September 2023. This post shares dates & details, and explains the ‘why’ behind this decision, as well as strategy for taking advantage of the on-site perk for Walt Disney World guests staying at a Deluxe Resorts, DVC Villas, and select other hotels.
For those who are new to Walt Disney World vacation planning, Extended Evening Theme Park Hours is nighttime counterpart to Early Theme Park Entry. There are several differences, most notably that guests staying at Value or Moderate Resorts are not eligible for Extended Evening Hours. (Some might call these a magical perk of extra hours…or perhaps extra magical hours for the sake of brevity? I dunno, just spitballing better name ideas.)
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 Monday at EPCOT and Wednesday at Magic Kingdom. See our Strategy Guide Guide for Extended Evening Hours at Walt Disney Worldfor more ins and outs of the nighttime Deluxe benefit.
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. Despite the expanded eligibility, Early Entry is also great at 3 of the 4 parks. (More on the big exception to that in a bit.)
For everything you need to know about that benefit, see our Strategy Guide for Early Theme Park Entry at Walt Disney World. That includes where Early Entry works best and worst, rides to prioritize and avoid, and more. Now that we’re up to speed on the basics, let’s turn to the latest development regarding the ‘extra hours’ at Magic Kingdom.
Turning to this news, Walt Disney World recently announced the return of Extended Evening Hours at Hollywood Studios in September and October 2023. At the time, the calendar was not yet available for those dates, so it was possible that ExEH at DHS was in addition to the perk at Magic Kingdom, not in place of it. That has happened in the past on a couple of occasions.
Now that the calendar is out through the first half of October 2023, we know that the Extended Evening Hours perk will end at Magic Kingdom during that time frame. (This has also happened in the past on a couple of occasions.)
At present, Extended Evening Hours are offered at Magic Kingdom on the following dates for the remainder of the year:
August 23, 2023
August 30, 2023
September 6, 2023
September 13, 2023
September 20, 2023
As of right now, we know that Extended Evening Hours will be available at Disney’s Hollywood Studios on the following dates in Fall 2023:
September 30, 2023
October 5, 2023
October 11, 2023
October 19, 2023
October 25, 2023
This schedule for Extended Evening Hours at Disney’s Hollywood Studios was previously announced.
It’s unknown where the Wednesday ExEH will occur after October 25, 2023 because the operating calendar doesn’t go that far, and Walt Disney World no longer separately publishes a list of Extended Evening Hours dates and times.
In terms of commentary, our expectation is that the Fall 2023 Extended Evening Hours at Disney’s Hollywood Studios are happening as counterprogramming for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party (MNSSHP). Magic Kingdom is a veritable crowd roller coaster this time of year, and moving ExEH to DHS should help combat crowds and displaced guests as a result of that.
Already, we’ve seen this play out and it’s only August. In case you missed it, check out last week’s post about the Third Slowest Day of 2023 at Magic Kingdom. While many people on Facebook who didn’t read the post attributed that solely to hot weather, the biggest cause was actually shorter hours due to MNSSHP.
How are low crowds during the day at Magic Kingdom relevant to Extended Evening Hours? Because nothing happens in a vacuum. Tourists are not doing Magic Kingdom on party days in their normal numbers, meaning that they are disproportionately visiting on non-party days.
Not to ‘spoil’ upcoming posts, but on the days around that third slowest day of the year, I also experienced an incredibly busy Early Entry morning and the worst Extended Evening Hours at Magic Kingdom. I’m inclined to attribute a decent part of how busy that ExEH was to the weather, but not all of it. Regardless, this is happening in August during what should be the start of the off-season at Magic Kingdom.
Whatever the dynamic is now, you can be sure it’ll be amplified in late September and October 2023. Two of the nights that ExEH is moving to Disney’s Hollywood Studios are happening around the busy Columbus Day/Indigenous Peoples’ holiday weekend, which has become increasingly busy at Walt Disney World. That move makes complete sense and is undeniably savvy on Disney’s part.
The other dates are slightly more random, at times in September and October when I wouldn’t necessarily expect chaotic crowds. With that said, I’d absolutely expect those dates to be busier than right now. The crowd situation is already ‘bad’ to the extent that it’s probably smart for Disney to make this change.
Moving Extended Evening Hours to Disney’s Hollywood Studios decreases demand for the perk. That’s because guests can experience nighttime in DHS literally any night of the week, instead of 3 nights of the week as is the case at Magic Kingdom during the height of Party Season.
It also allows Magic Kingdom to potentially extend its closing time until 11 pm, instead of the current 10 pm. Frankly, this should already be happening on non-party nights–the demand is there. Magic Kingdom should be closing on non-party nights at midnight during the relevant time frame in September and October. It’s honestly absurd that normal pre-pandemic hours still have not returned to Magic Kingdom. But I digress.
To answer the inevitable question, we still don’t know about Extended Evening Hours at Magic Kingdom or Disney’s Hollywood Studios in November or December 2023. If the Fall 2023 dates are due to displaced crowds during Party Season, there’s a good chance it’ll happen again around Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, and the lead-up to Christmas. That would mean a mix of ExEH at Magic Kingdom and at DHS during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party dates.
If I were the one making decisions, I’d move Extended Evening Hours to DHS for the rest of 2023. If I were a guest impacted by this, rather than being upset about not enjoying ExEH at MK, I’d be happy to see the perk shifted to the park with lower demand. That’s my perspective as someone who has watched crowd dynamics during Party Season for the past decade, and has already seen a more exaggerated version of that in 2023. Of course, things could change as the weather improves…but I certainly would not count on that.
Ultimately, we’re big fans of Extended Evening Hours at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and hope that it’s offered more. While we love it being available at 3 parks, we’d honestly rather do it at DHS than EPCOT. Ride breakdowns and the long distances between attractions can make EPCOT Extended Evening Hours less enjoyable–and less productive. With its more compact layout and top-heavy ride roster, Disney’s Hollywood Studios is much better suited to host Extended Evening Hours.
That brings us to our ‘wish’ for Extended Evening Hours going forward. My hope is that Extended Evening Hours go on hiatus at Magic Kingdom during the rest of Party Season, returning on January 10, 2024. At that point, I’d like to see Disney’s Hollywood Studios replace EPCOT as the Monday ExEH option.
Will you be taking advantage of Extended Evening Theme Park Hours at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Fall 2023? Disappointed about the lack of ExEH at Magic Kingdom in late September and October? Hoping Extended Evening Hours are offered at MK or DHS for the holiday season? 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!