With Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway opening at the beginning of next month, Walt Disney World has once again extended park hours for Hollywood Studios. Additionally, Extra Magic Hours have changed through August 2020, a predictable pattern attribute to the boarding pass dash for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. In this post, we’ll share the details and offer commentary about these changes.
It’s now been over two months since the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge blockbuster attraction debuted, and there’s no sign of its popularity fading anytime soon. Sadly, there’s also no indication of it becoming more reliable, either. The recent rockiness we discussed in our 8 am opening crowds report post remains an issue–on Friday, the attraction only made it to boarding group 69.
Despite this, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance is absolutely “worth it” and our newly-updated Ride Guide & FAQ for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance makes the whole process easier. The barrage of posts and thousands upon thousands of words we’ve written about it might make the process seem intimidating (and it is at first), it’s not as bad as it might seem. We’d reiterate that if you know how the system works, arrive accordingly, and have flexibility in your plans, you are likely to be successful…
Let’s start with the changes to Extra Magic Hours at DHS. This shouldn’t come as a huge surprise, since Walt Disney World has been shifting Extra Magic Hours from mornings to evenings on a month by month basis. Now, the same thing is happening with all dates through August 2020 (as far out as the calendar goes on DisneyWorld.com).
This change was foreseeable, and we’re happy to see so many months move all at once so people can plan accordingly. The reason for the change is the boarding pass dash for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. This already makes mornings sufficiently chaotic at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and throwing Extra Magic Hours into the mix would only exacerbate that, and probably be frustrating and unpleasant for all involved.
While we’ve soured on evening Extra Magic Hours in recent years, these “new” DHS late nights are the exception to this. As we covered in our recent Strategy for Evening Extra Magic Hours at Hollywood Studios (Post-Star Wars Rise of Resistance), you can actually get a lot done during these evening EMH at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
The main reason is likely because most savvy planners are rope dropping Disney’s Hollywood Studios in an attempt to score boarding passes for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. They’re then focusing on other headliners in the park, both via FastPass+ and standby lines. Consequently, evening Extra Magic Hours are underutilized, as compared to other parks at Walt Disney World.
As we’ve noted, these standby lines have ballooned at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in the last month-plus, so an efficient morning strategy isn’t as easy as it once was. The idea of bouncing back and forth between DHS and Epcot may seem less than ideal, but it’s probably the most efficient approach right now, and lower waits during Extra Magic Hours present another way to leverage this.
How this will change when Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway opens remains to be seen. Earlier this week, Walt Disney World released FastPass+ for Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway. As we cover in that post, those FastPass+ went quickly, but all hope is not lost.
It’s also fairly safe to assume that Runaway Railway will operate during evening Extra Magic Hours. This is not necessarily a given in light of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance being excluded, but there are two significant differences between the two attractions. First, there’s the novel virtual queue utilized for Rise of the Resistance, which would be difficult to incorporate into EMH. Second, the continuing need for as much test & adjust and overnight maintenance as possible on the Star Wars headliner.
The former definitely will not be an issue with Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, and we have no reason to believe the latter is a problem. If the attraction is operating smoothly, there’s every reason to believe it’ll be included in Extra Magic Hours. Disney’s Hollywood Studios could certainly use a “return to operational normalcy” with Runaway Railway.
In terms of the park hours changes at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, opening time has been moved forward to 8 am (from 9 am) for March 1-14, 2020. Park opening time is also 8 am for the remainder of February, including around the busy Presidents’ Day holiday. We’re still holding out a sliver of hope for a last-minute extension there, but it seems increasingly unlikely.
Closing time for all dates remains unchanged–either 8 pm or 8:30 pm, depending upon the date. While that’s an early closing time, we don’t anticipate these evening hours changing. As previously noted, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance needs as much overnight work as possible.
However, we do anticipate further extensions for both March and April 2020. With Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway opening at the beginning of next month, followed by Spring Break season and Easter on April 12, 2020, there’s every reason to believe that Disney’s Hollywood Studios is only going to see worse crowds in the next two months than it has in January or February.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios is likely to see a stretch of crowds that necessitate opening the park before 9 am. (Personally, I’d contend that opening at 7 am would be ideal for many of these dates.) Frankly, we’d be surprised if more hours weren’t extended.
In the interest of transparency, we didn’t see the most recent lack of extension coming. In our last post about DHS park hours, we wrote: “Quite simply, it’s highly unlikely that Disney’s Hollywood Studios will be opening at 8 am any day during the week of Presidents’ Day.”
Well, the highly unlikely is exactly what happened. Given what we observed crowd-wise at rope drop this week, we remain of the belief that this move (or lack thereof) was a mistake for Presidents’ Day week. However, it’s clear that Walt Disney World wants to inch back towards a normal park opening time for Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Whether delaying the Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance boarding pass dash until 9 am is even possible without a lot of unintended consequences, disappointed guests, and overcrowding remains to be seen. It doesn’t strike us as a wise move, but it’s going to happen at some point. Hopefully Walt Disney World at least gets through the busy Easter and Spring Break seasons before trying to find out. For now, that’s a wrap on the changes to park opening times and Extra Magic Hours at Disney’s Hollywood Studios!
If you’re planning on visiting the new land, you’ll also want to read our Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge Guide. This covers a range of topics from basics about the land and its location, to strategically choosing a hotel for your stay, recommended strategy for the land, and how to beat the crowds. It’s a good primer for this huge addition. As for planning the rest of your trip, we have a thorough Walt Disney World Planning Guide.
Have any predictions about when these early park openings will end at Disney’s Hollywood Studios? Do you think Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway will be included in Extra Magic Hours? If so, do you think this will make EMH just as overcrowded as the mornings? Do you plan on visiting Disney’s Hollywood Studios in March or April 2020? Do you agree or disagree with our advice and assessment? Any questions? 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!