Extra, Extra Magic Hours at Hollywood Studios: DO NOT SLEEP ON THIS!
It’s been a busy long weekend. It started with our 20-Hour Day at Walt Disney World, continued with more Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, plus Food & Wine at Epcot. Bright and early this a.m., we once again returned for Extra, Extra Magic Hours (ExEMH) at DHS, which we’ll cover in this ‘morning report’ that also offers something of a touring plan.
For those who haven’t been paying attention, I’ve been pretty hyped on Extra, Extra Magic Hours at Walt Disney World since they were announced in the spring. I thought these would offer a huge strategic advantage to anyone willing to get up early, and would put to bed a lot of the complaints about Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opening earlier than anticipated.
In retrospect, all I can think is how naive of me. ExEMH only added fuel to the fire, leading to more issues due to the ridiculously early morning hours, and lack of an evening counterpart. That’s understandable coming from many guests, especially families who have a difficult time getting out the door so early. However, you’ll absolutely want to take advantage of ExEMH if you can. The rest of 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…
After finishing our fist round of Extra, Extra Magic Hours at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, I’m even more sold on the excellence of this invention. This was one of our best-ever “days” at DHS, and it makes me want to scoop up some more DVC reservations. I’m doubling-down, and imploring you to take advantage of Extra, Extra Magic Hours.
Seriously, do not sleep on this. Extra, Extra Magic Hours instantly jumps to the top of our list for best ways to experience the parks, well ahead of evening Extra Magic Hours, or even the paid After Hours events. You’ll have large portions of the park almost entirely to yourself–all you have to do is drag yourself out of bed super early. We know that’s asking a lot on vacation, but the payoff here is totally worth the effort.
Even if this means taking a nap each and every day of your Walt Disney World vacation between 11 am and 6 pm (except Epcot day), you’ll still come out ahead. The reason so many people have complained about ExEMH is the reason they’re so great: no one wants to get up before 5 am on vacation.
Because no one wants to get up before 5 am on vacation, these mornings are going to be criminally under-attended, allowing you to experience “nighttime” at Walt Disney World, see the sunrise, and experience (essentially) an entire day in the parks, all in one condensed morning. AND ALL WITHOUT PAYING AN UPCHARGE COST.
This simply wouldn’t be possible with a late night event, as far more people are willing to stay until midnight or even 1 am than are willing to get up at 5 am. We more or less witnessed exactly that with the evening EMH for Pandora – World of Avatar, which were just as crowded as a regular day.
For those who don’t pay close attention to Walt Disney World news, ExEMH was announced at a time when most prognosticators (including Disney’s own) anticipated Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge to be chaotic and crowded for months on end upon opening. That didn’t happen at Disneyland and has not happened at Walt Disney World. At this point, it could be December before crowds really spike.
Suffice to say, Extra, Extra Magic Hours at Disney’s Hollywood Studios 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 all as virtual walk-ons. (Don’t expect ExEMH to be extended for November and/or December.)
Disney’s Hollywood Studios will be offering Extra, Extra Magic Hour from 6 to 9 am every day from now through November 2. We decided to partake in the fun on day 2 of ExEMH, opting to skip the first day because we assumed there would be some pent-up demand for that, and it wouldn’t necessarily be representative of future ExEMH mornings.
One could argue that today is also not representative of actual crowds due to Hurricane Dorian cancellations. While there definitely have been some of those, today is still only the second day of this offering and is also a holiday. Accordingly, I think the ‘missing’ guests who cancelled are easily offset by the remaining pent-up demand and the slight spike due to Labor Day.
As excited as I was by the prospect of experiencing these attractions with minimal waits, the real reason we got up at the crack of dawn to head to Disney’s Hollywood Studios was for the sunrise photos. The necessity of doing a post offering some “strategy” was simply my excuse to convince Sarah to accompany me…and do most of the work.
We arrived at Disney’s Hollywood Studios extra early for Extra, Extra Magic Hours…getting inside the park just after 5:30 am.
Our thinking here was that the park might quietly open even before the published start time, but that didn’t happen, so we ended up just waiting a bit longer.
We always get questions about what time buses start running, and the answer is almost always earlier than necessary. If the park opens at 8 a.m., buses are on the prowl by 6 a.m.
I don’t know what time the buses start running during ExEMH, but if you wanted to be there at 5 am for some reason, you’d probably have no problem catching a bus. Same will likely go for the Skyliner once it starts operating later this month.
We waited on Hollywood Boulevard until exactly 6 am, at which point an announcement played and Stormtroopers slowly walked us back to the queue for Millennium Falcon Smugglers Run.
All told, the walk took 18-20 minutes (depending upon when you stop the clock) and it was excruciatingly slow, and unpleasant. At this point, Sarah did the attraction and I ran off to take photos.
This was a tag-team approach throughout, as we each did some attractions individually and some together, meeting up after every ride so we didn’t cross-over one another time-wise.
Anyway, here’s what Sarah and/or I managed to get done during Extra, Extra Magic Hours between 6 and 9 am…
- Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run (6:20-6:44 am)
- Slinky Dog Dash (x3) (6:50-7:08 am)
- Toy Story Mania (7:10-7:19 am)
- Slinky Dog Dash (7:23-7:40 am)
- Wandered Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and Toy Story Land
- Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster (x2) (8:01-8:20 am)
- Tower of Terror (forgot to count–it was a walk-on)
- Left park at 8:50 am
A couple of important notes here. First, we cannot understate how unpleasant that slow march was back to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.
It’s in a large blob of humanity, and even if everyone around you has showered and is wearing deodorant (a huge if), it’s already hot and humid at 6 am in Florida this time of year, so…there’s that.
This is unpleasant to the point that rather than heading to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge with almost everyone else, we’d do Toy Story Land first next time.
Barely anyone was heading that direction, and judging by the 5 minute wait time for Slinky Dog Dash well after 7 am, we’re guessing you could ride that coaster literally a half-dozen times with no wait.
Plus, the posted wait time for Millennium Falcon Smugglers Run actually goes down over the course of ExEMH. It peaked at 70 minutes around 6:30 am. That 30 minute posted wait above is the ride’s status as of around 8:30 am.
So long as you’re in line before 9 am, you should experience a relatively low wait for this attraction. The posted times are definitely inflated across the board, but even an actual wait of 30 minutes isn’t too bad considering all you can get done by doing Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge “last” during ExEMH.
Speaking of the 9 am crowd, that’s it to the left, waiting behind the turnstiles.
It’s tough to tell from the photo, but there are a ton of people waiting in line here. If you’re staying off-site, I’d probably recommend saving DHS for later in the day. These people are going to be behind 3 hours worth of on-site crowds–that’s still not a ton (wait times were still pretty manageable when we left), but it’s way worse than a normal rope drop day. Go at night instead.
Even towards the end of the morning Extra, Extra Magic Hours, Toy Story Mania, Tower of Terror, and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster were all at or near walk-on status. Millennium Falcon Smugglers Run and Slinky Dog Dash are the only rides that had a long posted wait times.
As for the full strategy, you could probably do Slinky Dog Dash 8+ times or Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster over a dozen times if you cut Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge from the beginning of this itinerary and instead moved it to the end of the night. One, that’s an objectively better time to be on Batuu. Two, we’re already noticing highly disproportionate crowds in Galaxy’s Edge first thing in the morning.
Going forward, it’s entirely possible that Extra, Extra Magic Hour will get progressively more popular as we enter October and Walt Disney World gets busier. Moreover, word is going to get out about how great ExEMH is thanks to glowing posts like this one, and more guests will get up to partake.
Consequently, you can bump up wait times by about 25% across the board if you’re visiting in mid-September or later. It’s unlikely to get much busier than that, simply because arriving to Disney’s Hollywood Studios at 6 am is a non-starter for so many families on vacation.
Among attractions, don’t expect priorities to shift much. “Everyone” will start their morning in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge before moving on to Toy Story Land before moving on to Sunset Boulevard. So long as you arrive right at 6 am and ‘surf the wave’ of the crowd, this will remain the best approach.
That is, unless you don’t want to be part of the ‘Star Wars: GalaxSea of Humanity’ at the start of ExEMH, and would prefer cutting ahead and doing Slinky Dog Dash, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, or Tower or Terror repeatedly as walk-ons.
By arriving at the start of Extra, Extra Magic Hours at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, you can easily experience Millennium Falcon Smugglers Run, all three Toy Story Land attractions, Tower of Terror, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, and Star Tours before 9 a.m. You could probably experience Slinky Dog Dash multiple times, in fact.
Right now, this is especially huge given that it’s impossible to simultaneously hold FastPass+ for the headliner attractions on that list. If you’re a repeat Walt Disney World visitor who isn’t interested in Disney’s Hollywood Studios’ shows, you could be done with this park, walk to Epcot’s International Gateway entrance, and be there right around rope drop.
Ultimately, this post underscores how clutch getting up early can be in accomplishing the must-dos at Disney’s Hollywood Studios now and for the next couple of months. We cannot overstate the value of Extra, Extra Magic Hours at DHS–you can literally do more in these 3 hours than in all of the remaining hours of the day the park is open (excluding shows). If that’s not enough to sell you on Extra, Extra Magic Hours…what about sunrise on Batuu?!
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Have you done morning Extra, Extra Magic Hour at Disney’s Hollywood Studios yet? Which attractions did you do? Are you planning to take advantage of this wonderful offering? Will you go for sunrise serenity in DHS or doing a ton of rides? Do you agree or disagree with our morning ExEMH advice or attraction order? 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!
Hey Tom – been watching this post to see if you’d add any updates from later visits. Have you been back for the ExEMH since that first weekend? I know you did a recent post on MK.
We’re going this weekend, and it was actually the ExEMH announcement that prompted us to book the trip (and also in large part because of your Sunrise at Magic Kingdom post from early this year – I thought that looked awesome but thought we’d never see that since there’s little to no chance we’d go Christmas/Easter week – when I saw these hours, it was a “here’s our chance!”). We’re particularly going to DHS for SWGE, but we still want to be efficient and will hit other parts of the park.
If you’ve gone again, did your observations remain largely the same? Are they still doing the “slow march?”
Thanks – and not related to this post directly, but we’re really excited for sunrise at MK and just enjoying the park that early (might skip the rides actually during that first hour). We’re planning on hitting ExEMH each morning (DHS on Sat., MK on Sun., AK on Mon.). Thanks as always.
I am not Tom, but I was there last week. The parks are WAY more crowded than when this article was posted. You definitely need to be there at least an hour before the park opens to get things done in a timely manner (just making it through the bag check was excruciating).
I went to HS and MK without my husband and was able to do everythibg that i wanted to do before lines became too long. They still did the march ib HS as of last week. My husband decided to humor me and he got up early to go to AK to ride Flight of Passage. We arrived right at 7AM and it took about 20 mins to get through security. By the time we made it back to Pandora, Flight of Passage already had a 90 minute wait. From start to finish, I would say it was a little more than an hour, but still.
Lines were so long everywhere, and I’m sure it will only get worse leading up to Halloween. My suggestion if you want to ride Smugglers Run in the morning, do the single rider line. You will walk right on. There was an 85 min wait ON A TUESDAY at 6:30am. This theory does not reflect later in the day (you will wait about 30 mins, which still is not horrible).
Good luck! My advice is just ignore the crowds and have fun. (Also, MK had the worst line for security in the morning, once inside…it was not as bad. People were lining up for the morning show and they did not even use Extra Magic Hours).
Thanks! As to the security/bag checks – did you have a bag with you? Since we’re going without the kids, we were discussing whether to bring a backpack and were leaning towards bringing one. If it’s a big difference though through security, then maybe we’d just make do without it. Last trip though, I know there was a morning in which my wife kept the bags and I went through without her, but they were kind of funneling everyone through the same lines, so it wasn’t all that helpful.
Do you think the construction is contributing to the longer bag lines and security screening or has something else changed? We went the second week of October last year and it was the most crowded I had ever seen in 20 years of going to the parks, but I thought they did a good job at getting people through security quickly. We arrived 30 minutes to an hour before rope drop and were through in plenty of time.
For security….I always carry my purse bc I am prone to sunburn (since I’m translucent) and I need sunscreen. I also carry a Brita filter bottle to refill in the park. My husband on the other hand will zip through without me. I know at MK and HS they filtered people through other lines (I sat there staring longingly while I was stuck in security purgatory). I cannot tell you about AK. My husband was groggy and stood with me. As for Epcot, we stayed at Yacht Club and went through the “back”. The earliest we went there was on our last day and we breezed right through around 9:45am. We webt on different days to Epcot, but never at rope drop. Also they seem more organized through the back than any other front park entrance.
Been reading and loving your blog for years because I find info you give to be most accurate and up to date. Based on this article I knew I had to visit and am here 9/29-10/4. WOW YOU ARE RIGHT ABOUT EXTRA EXTRA MAGIC HOURS BEING FABULOUS FOR EARLY BIRDS! Been ripe droping all week. Results…I’ve risen every ride inHollywood and explored star wars land with breakfast at cantina by 11am! Magic Kingdom rode 20 rides from 7am-2:15pm! Animal kingdom rode everything in park including UP BIRD ( except kali river ride yesterday )by 11 am then had lunch and watched Finding Nemo and Lion King!
Not since the 80’s off season have I seen so much in one visit!
These extra magic hours in al parks at same time and later day discounted tickets are working to spread crowds out!
Thanks for recommending I come to WDW NOW!
What about parking for the Extra, Extra Magic hours? We will be driving in & staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge, but was hoping to do this on our first day prior to checking in to the resort. Do parking attendants scan your magic band to see that your are an on-site guest?
No parking attendants don’t scan bands. We go to the park all the time before checking in then leave half day or when we get the text out room is ready, check into resort, leave car and luggage then go back to park. The only reason we do that is I’m extremely picky about where my room is and the view from my room. Usually by the time I know my room is ready we’ve been in the park for hours so done a lot. We drive in & get there shortly after the park is open whichever park we go to. I’m not sure how resort parking know whether your an overnight guest or not.
Does this mean you can do the extra extra magic morning hours on check-in day? We are planning to do so but I won’t trust it until we are there!
Did EEMH on Friday 9/6. Got to the park at 5:15 and was at the very front of rope drop. Rode Smugglers Run, went to the cantina for a 6:30a drink, then rode Smugglers another 2x times using the single rider line (which was never more than 5 people deep), wandered Batuu, rode Slinky 2x, Toy Story Mania as a walk-on, rode Tower 2x as walk-on, rode Rockin’ 2x as walk-on, Star Tours 2x as walk-on and then back to Batuu for a Savi reservation I had (with about 5 empty spots) and 2x more on Smugglers. It made doing Hollywood by 1p very easy.
Sounds great! Almost willing to divorce and send kids to baby sitter for that experience.
We plan to take advantage of the EEMH and wanted to ask if you knew if the Minnie Vans would be running that early to get to HS by 6am?
Thanks for this article it was very informative.
I’m wondering what the consensus is on when the Galaxy’s Edge rides will be added to the Fast Pass system.
My son and I are there next week. We plan on going to Epcot on 9/11 and then had FP for Toy Story at 5:30p that day. That is when I thought I would sneak a peek of Star Wars. Can’t ride the one ride due to motion sickness so just wanted to walk around and look at what is there. Toy Story is the only ride I really like besides the Muppets 3D in HS so not much for us to do. Do you think my plan will be okay to sneak a peek at SW?
I love your articles. I read all of them, great insights to the parks.
I have a trip planned for Nov 9-18th and can book my fast passes tomorrow. But am trying to plan my days around extra magic hours or pay for early morning magic. But the schedule for the extra magic hours are only till nov 2nd, and early morning magic isn’t currently available to purchase for those dates.
Have you heard anything about extending the early magic hours or do you think if it ends on schedule on nov 2nd as planned, do you think the early magic hours will be available for purchase at fantasyland and toy story world again? Trying to plan my days out and this is obviously a huge variable. Thanks for any additional info?
This is exactly my question! We have a HS day planned for November 12 and I would love to be able to purchase Early Morning Magic in Toy Story Land.
Thank you heaps for this post! We didn’t take the hurricane advice and showed up on Tuesday night as we had traveled from overseas. Wednesday we experienced a near empty Magic Kingdom then sacrificed sleep early Thursday to participate in EEMH at DHS. We initially joined the “blob of humanity” going towards Star Wars land, but I had read your post recommending going to Toy Story land first. Lines for Millennium Falcon were 75 minutes by 6:30. Instead we did SDDx2, Toy Story Mania, ToT, Rockin’ Roller Coaster x2 by 7:15. At that point, Millennium Falcon was 30 minutes. We rode that, went to Oga’s Cantina (no reservation, no wait) and had a drink then cruised the shops. At 9 am, Star Tours was still a walk on so we jumped aboard. By this time we were pretty exhausted and getting warm, so we caught a bus back to the resort (our longest wait of the day). We hope to return this evening for a slower perusal of the park, but even if we don’t, we got a full day of rides in 3 hours. The advice to do the other things before Star Wars Land was golden. Thanks again!
Is extra extra a one-time deal? Just the next several months?? Please say it’s just stopping for the holidays and will resume next year? I would definitely take full advantage of the time!
Is there a separate line if you’re NOT going to SWGE? I don’t want to be in the GalaxSea of Humanity, but my family want to RD Slinky Dog at 6Am on Sept 24.
They have someone holding a sign that says “Toy Story Land”. Once the crowd starts to follow the Storm-troopers, you can peel off and go to TSL.
You will go right with 9 other people. 2700 people going to GE will go left.
Why won’t they extend ExEMH through the end of the year? If crowds will be significantly bigger in December, wouldn’t it make sense to do it then?
$$$. Last quarter earnings were down because of low crowds at SWGE in Disneyland. They announced these EEMH before the low crowds at Disneyland and probably regret it. If Disney world crowds this fall prove to be ‘manageable’ it is highly unlikely they will extend it, despite November and December benefitting more from it.
It is also the phenomenon that everyone expects high crowds, so they postpone their trips and create low crowds. Disney may worry announcing extended hours or advertising crowd control methods will scare even more guests away. (Tom has been mentioning most of this through his trip updates and other articles)
But it stinks for those going Nov/Dec.
It’s possible the crowds do finally reach a crazy point then and ExEMH would be a tremendous help to offset that frenzy.
Even if they just did them twice a week instead of every day I’d be satisfied.
Today, took advantage of single rider line at Millennium Falcon- 5 minute wait, definitely a “win”
what time did you get there?
Are food stalls and the droid/lightsaber experiences open during EEMH?