Continuing our Extra, Extra Magic Hours mornings around Walt Disney World, we head to Magic Kingdom. During ExEMH, this park is opening at 7 am, with daily regular openings at 8 am. In this post, we’ll offer a report on our experience, strategy & tips, plus sunrise photos from Magic Kingdom.
This follows our Extra, Extra Magic Hours at Disney’s Hollywood Studios: Report & Strategy, which documented a low-crowds pre-dawn visit to DHS. Our next and final stop will be Animal Kingdom, as Epcot is not participating in ExEMH (but is doing normal Extra Magic Hours on select mornings.)
Once again, we’d implore you to take advantage of Extra, Extra Magic Hours if at all possible. Because so many people are unable or unwilling to get up this early on vacation, this is the best time to experience Magic Kingdom. As with our DHS report, what follows is a breathlessly long-winded post about why Extra, Extra Magic Hours are the greatest thing at Walt Disney World in a while…
We’ll start at the Polynesian Villas, where we did a one night stay prior to Extra, Extra Magic Hours. We actually had this booked months ago, and for earlier in week, but decided to reschedule due to Hurricane Dorian. This is Sarah’s favorite DVC resort and she was excited to revisit, as it had been a while.
Given that, she opted to “enjoy our room” for a bit longer while I got up at 5 am to wander around the Poly’s grounds before heading over to Magic Kingdom. I needed to get my camera ‘adjusted’ to the heat and humidity, and it took nearly 30 minutes before the fog cleared from my lenses.
Once the monorail opened, I set out for Magic Kingdom shortly after 6:30 am. After breezing through the turnstiles, I joined a small group of early-rising Walt Disney World guests waiting by the train station to enter and experience Extra, Extra Magic Hours.
Rope drop occurred shortly before 7 a.m., allowing for the rare experience of seeing Magic Kingdom during sunrise, which would occur roughly 15 minutes later.
As I’ve said countless times, this is one of my favorite times in Walt Disney World. I realize I’m probably beating a dead horse, and no one else cares nearly as much about this as me.
Nevertheless, just because everyone else is wrong doesn’t mean I should shut up about the gloriousness of experiencing sunrise at Walt Disney World.
Sunrise at Walt Disney World is an incredible experience, and you should do whatever necessary to watch the sun rise at least once during your vacation.
Whether that be inside the parks during Extra, Extra Magic Hours, while strolling around Crescent Lake, Seven Seas Lagoon, Bay Lake, Hourglass Lake, or [insert body of water at your resort here].
Experiencing the solitude and serenity of a normally crowded place like Walt Disney World as it wakes up for the day is something that’s truly magical.
Well, I’m assuming it’s serene and peaceful…I’m usually racing around to chase the good morning light, but I still get that sense. (Joking aside, I do slow down and set the camera down every once in a while to savor these early morning moments at Walt Disney World. They’re pure bliss.)
Over the years, I’ve mellowed out when it comes to many of my strong Walt Disney World opinions, and I no longer will offer impassioned arguments for/against much.
The greatness of experiencing sunrise at Walt Disney World is one hill I’m willing to die on. Sunrise at WDW is as good as Dino-Rama is bad.
Since it was just me at Magic Kingdom’s ExEMH and my primary focus was sunrise and early morning photos, we don’t have a ride-by-ride recap of the event.
The good news is that the strategy will follow a normal Extra Magic Hours at Magic Kingdom, with one caveat…
This is that it may or may not make sense to do Seven Dwarfs Mine Train first–it really depends upon the number of people at your ExEMH. During my Extra, Extra Magic Hours at Magic Kingdom, most guests beelined towards Seven Dwarfs Mine Train first thing. The result of this was that the attraction’s wait time peaked at the very beginning of ExEMH.
If crowds are low, your better option is starting with Peter Pan’s Flight and doing that as many times as you’d like while it’s a walk-on, then moving on to the other Fantasyland dark rides before arriving to Seven Dwarfs Mine Train towards the end of Extra, Extra Magic Hours.
I did Seven Dwarfs Mine Train around 7:45 am when the posted wait had dropped 15 minutes, and in actuality, it was nearly a walk-on. It stayed this way for the entirety of ExEMH.
Had I wanted to, I probably could’ve experienced Seven Dwarfs Mine Train around 4-5 times with minimal wait during Extra, Extra Magic Hours. This is after doing the other Fantasyland attractions, minus it’s a small world.
We saw the same thing with Millennium Falcon Smugglers Run and I know from watching wait times that the same is also occurring with Avatar Flight of Passage at Animal Kingdom. With this trio of attractions, capacity exceeds demand after the initial rush, meaning that more guests are exiting the rides than entering the queue about 30 minutes into ExEMH.
Once Extra, Extra Magic Hours crowds start getting larger, demand will start exceeding capacity for these attractions and other headliners, meaning that the lines for this trio of attractions will, at some point, start getting longer as the morning wears on.
As you can see from my photos, Magic Kingdom was an absolute ghost town, and this is no Photoshop trickery. There were several times when I couldn’t see anyone else in my vicinity, and most of the time only a handful of guests were around.
The attendance during ExEMH was undoubtedly lower than what we’ve experienced during paid events like Villains After Hours at Magic Kingdom (and certainly the Halloween & Christmas parties). It was pretty awesome.
On this note, it’s worth underscoring that we do expect crowds to get larger. September is historically the slowest month of the year at Walt Disney World, with things picking up considerably towards the end of the month.
October has become one of the busiest months of the year, getting progressively worse throughout the month.
However, we’ve done 7 am openings at Magic Kingdom during the heart of spring break, Easter, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, etc–all times that are busier than October–and it’s consistently true that this is the best time to experience Magic Kingdom.
Most families simply cannot get out the door of their hotel room this early, and other guests don’t want to wake up at the crack of dawn on vacation. That’s not going to suddenly change come October.
However, more guests will start taking advantage of Extra, Extra Magic Hours. The normal ebb and flow of crowd trends plus the “word getting out” about how great ExEMH is will all but guarantee that.
Despite this, the offering should remain relatively uncrowded, because it’s the early hour is simply a non-starter for the vast majority of Walt Disney World visitors. Even if you triple (or whatever the term is for multiplying something times six) the crowds, they’re still going to be low and manageable.
Irrespective of all that, the silver lining with Extra, Extra Magic Hours is that it’s only going to improve over the course of the next couple months, even when it invariably gets busy.
Right now, sunrise times are shortly after 7 am and average temperatures are still in the high 70s or low 80s. Humidity is of the “fog your glasses up the second you walk outdoors” variety, too. My shirt was soaked with sweat by the time I left Magic Kingdom (in fairness, a bit part of that is self-induced), and it was already time for shower #2 of the day.
As we get into late October, sunrise times will occur around or after 7:30 am, and average temperatures will be at or under 70 degrees. Crisp morning air will be more common, and humidity won’t be oppressive. The last couple weeks of Extra, Extra Magic Hours should be a delightful time, one way or another.
We’re banking on as much. After having a great time at our first couple ExEMH mornings, I’ve started monitoring DVC availability for late October, and will pounce on any low-point room options that become available. We saved a lot of points for (what we thought would be) the late-year opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and Disney’s Riviera Resort, and have used exactly 0 points on those two things. It’s looking increasing unlikely that our Riviera waitlists are going to come through, so might as well blow those points on Extra, Extra Magic Hours sunrises!
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!
Have you ever spent an early morning in Magic Kingdom just wandering around, savoring the atmosphere? Ever had the chance to do super early Extra Magic Hours during peak season? Thoughts on any of these photos, or the sometimes-random, rambling text? 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!