Magic Kingdom 2023 Park Hours, Early Entry & Extended Evenings: Info & Tips

Magic Kingdom park hours vary in 2023, depending upon crowds, seasonal events, and more. This guide covers normal opening & closing times, plus Early Entry, Extended Evenings, After Hours, rope drop, fireworks, and more. Additionally, we have tips & tricks for beating the crowds and avoiding times of day when attendance is highest.

Park hours are added to DisneyWorld.com’s 5-day calendar on a rolling basis, typically 60 days in advance. Walt Disney World also has a monthly calendar that isn’t as easy to find, and this currently has hours dumped in ‘batches’ much further in advance. Speaking of which, those monthly calendars contain placeholder hours that can be extended based on attendance and hotel occupancy projections.

For a while, the initial release of park hours was almost meaningless, as every single park and date would see extensions. This is less-pronounced of a practice now, and the hours that are released are quite often the final hours. With that said, Disney still adds hours–they just are less likely to occur across the board. Now, it’s more targeted to weekends, holidays, and specific days when the parks are forecast to be busier. We’ve seen exactly this scenario play out around Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, MLK Day, Presidents’ Day, Spring Break, Easter, etc.

Most dates, Magic Kingdom is open from 9 am until 11 pm. However, there are some other operating hours that are possible:

  • 8 am until 10 pm (Mostly ‘After Hours’ events–see below)
  • 9 am until 10 pm (Least busy dates–common in the off-season)
  • 8 am until 4:30 pm (Cast Member Service Celebration events–very rare)
  • 8 am until 6 pm (Party Season–see below)

More than any other park, Magic Kingdom has shorter hours than in the past. While 2023 is already improving as compared to the last two years–when the park more commonly closed at 10 pm–its hours are still short as compared to historical precedent.

Magic Kingdom used to regularly operate from 8 am until 12 am, with Extra Magic Hours even later. This schedule is still common at Disneyland, but not Magic Kingdom. Here’s hoping that changes as staffing shortages relent throughout 2023.

As noted above, there are many dates when Magic Kingdom closes even earlier. This biggest exception is “Party Season” in Magic Kingdom, which runs from mid-August through late December during days when Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party (MNSSHP) or Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party (MVMCP) special events are held in the evenings.

On these dates, Magic Kingdom opens at 8 am and closes to regular ticket holders at 6 pm. MNSSHP and MVMCP are separately-ticketed, meaning that only those who purchased event tickets are able to stay in Magic Kingdom after 6 pm. (Those parties run until midnight.) In other words, the park stays open 5 hours later to regular guests when MNSSHP and MVMCP are not held.

Most visitors behave accordingly, making the intuitive choice and visiting Magic Kingdom on non-party days when they can spend 4-5 extra hours in the park. As a result, Magic Kingdom is significantly less busy during the day time hours on dates when parties are held in the evening, and much more busy on non-party days.

Throughout Party Season, Magic Kingdom regularly has 9/10 or 10/10 crowd levels on non-party days, with Saturdays being the worst. On party days, Magic Kingdom typically has 1/10 to 4/10 crowd levels. That amounts to an average wait time differential of about 20 to 30 minutes per ride, which adds up over the course of the day to the point that you can accomplish more in the party-shortened days when Magic Kingdom closes at 6 pm.

This same dynamic does not exist around another exception, which is dates of 2023 After Hours at Magic Kingdom. That’s largely because these are much less frequent and only see Magic Kingdom close one hour earlier–which is fully offset by opening an hour earlier.

Currently, After Hours at Magic Kingdom is only scheduled for Winter and Spring 2023, but given their popularity and how many dates are already sold out, we expect many more dates in the months to come. After Hours at Magic Kingdom is a nice spluge, but we far prefer After Hours at Disney’s Hollywood Studios–especially for those who already have access to Extended Evening Hours at Magic Kingdom.

Speaking of which, there are two options for expanded park hours at Magic Kingdom if you’re staying in an on-site hotel. These are Early Entry and Extended Evening Hours, which replace Extra Magic Hours in the morning and at night. If you’re unfamiliar with the ins and outs of the morning option, learn more in our Guide to Early Entry at Walt Disney World.

Early Entry is often underwhelming at Magic Kingdom. This is for a couple of reasons. First, Magic Kingdom is the most popular park at Walt Disney World, and many guests (mistakenly) assume Early Entry is most “important” here and prioritize it accordingly. Second, Magic Kingdom usually opens at 9 am, and that makes Early Entry more approachable for families–it’s easier to be up and out the door in time for that. To that point, Early Entry is much more useful on those 8 am park opening days, as fewer people can or will take advantage of the 7:30 am starting time for Early Entry.

Extended Evening Hours are typically held at Magic Kingdom on Wednesday–sometimes Tuesday. This 2-hour offering for select on-site resort guests is hugely advantageous, and you can accomplish just about every high-profile attraction during that time. (See our Guide to Extended Evening Hours at Walt Disney World for more about eligibility and strategy.)

It’s also a delightful way to enjoy Magic Kingdom, offering a serene experience that’s a great way to decompress from the earlier chaos during peak season. Extended Evening Hours is very similar to After Hours, albeit shorter and without the “free” refreshments. The upside is that it doesn’t cost an extra $100+ per person! (See Magic Kingdom Extended Evening Hours Photo Report.)

The timing of Magic Kingdom’s nightly fireworks show varies depending upon the time of nightfall. In the winter when the sunset occurs earlier, the fireworks can also move forward to between 8 pm and 9 pm. This creates a gap of about 2-3 hours between the end of the fireworks and park closing.

In the summer, sunset occurs later (obviously). Consequently, the fireworks must follow suit and there usually is not much time between the conclusion of the fireworks and park closing. This leads to crushing crowds all leaving Magic Kingdom at the same time, which is miserable and chaotic. (See Avoiding Magic Kingdom’s Evening Exodus for photos showing how bad this can get.)

Regardless of the timing of fireworks v. park closing, you can avoid this Magic Kingdom mass exodus simply by lingering. One of the reasons we recommend New Fantasyland in our Magic Kingdom Fireworks Viewing Guide is because that area has lighter crowds and makes it easier for jumping in line for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train right after the fireworks.

Unlike the other parks, it’s not common for table service restaurants to offer Advance Dining Reservations right up until park closing at Magic Kingdom. At least, not when the park closes at 11 pm. Usually, Be Our Guest Restaurant and other popular dining locations accept ADRs until 9:30 pm, and even the last guests out of those restaurants are usually leaving shortly after park closing–no later than the final guests off Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.

If you’re worried about transportation back to your hotel, don’t. Officially, transportation to the theme parks begins approximately 2 hours prior to park opening time and runs until approximately 1 hour after the parks close. This is the info you’ll find on Walt Disney World’s website, and what Cast Members will tell you.

Unofficially, transportation after park closing continues as long as people are inside the park. As much as Kingdom Keepers IRL might sound, Disney won’t leave you stranded at a park. Sometimes it’s closer to 2 hours after the parks close when transportation ends. Cast Members are methodical about clearing the parks and radio to bus drivers to make sure they stick around until all of the stragglers are accounted for.

We have left Walt Disney World theme parks long after park closing many, many times and have never had an issue. If anything, delaying departure as long as possible is the best course of action. You get to enjoy park closing serenity and are more likely to have a bus all to yourself!

Most lands of Magic Kingdom are usually cleared pretty quickly, with the exception of Main Street. You can usually take your time shopping at the Emporium and elsewhere, and not have any issues. Unless you really drag your feet leaving, the monorail and various watercraft will usually still be running when you leave Magic Kingdom. If not, buses will get you wherever you need to go.

If you’re not eligible for Early Entry, regular rope drop (official park opening time) is still good at Magic Kingdom because Frontierland and Adventureland are not open during Early Entry. This makes rope drop alone, or Early Entry plus rope drop a great approach. If you’re only eligible for rope drop, doing Frontierland and Adventureland first and saving Fantasyland until later in the day can be a workable approach.

There are also enough worthwhile secondary attractions in Magic Kingdom that you can round out the rest of your day with relaxing, low wait shows and more. Many of our smartest and sexiest readers enjoy filling out the middle of their days by watching Country Bear Jamboree on repeat. Speaking of which, stage shows like that, plus other entertainment and character meet & greets often open late and close early, so plan accordingly.

Aside from the first couple of hours and the very end of the night, crowds are fairly consistent throughout the day in Magic Kingdom. Unlike Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom, there is not an afternoon and evening lull–Magic Kingdom has the most to do and has the highest attendance of all four parks.

There’s also no real zig-when-they-zag strategy like at EPCOT, where you can do the park “backwards.” Magic Kingdom is easier to navigate thanks to its layout and more compact size. Do the most popular attractions first thing in the morning or towards the end of the night–especially those that appeal to families with small children. Fill in the middle of the day with stage shows, entertainment, and less-popular attractions. Pretty intuitive from a planning perspective.

When it comes to the intersection of strategy & park hours, another great option at Magic Kingdom is Lightning Lanes. Genie+ works better at Magic Kingdom than any other Walt Disney World park, and it’s really no contest. In My Day Using Genie+ Lightning Lanes at Magic Kingdom, I cover how much I was able to get done–pretty much everything.

Thanks to a high worthwhile attraction count available via Lightning Lanes, Magic Kingdom is the one park where we highly recommend buying Genie Plus. Not only does it offer the best bang-for-buck, but it’s the least stressful since every attraction usually has Lightning Lane availability until at least midday. This is not possible at the other parks, especially Disney’s Hollywood Studios and EPCOT where ride reservations fill up for the most popular attractions pretty quickly.

To that point, for Magic Kingdom strategy & planning insight see the following posts:

Ultimately, that should cover what you need to know about park hours at Magic Kingdom. Although the standard operating schedule is 9 am until 11 pm, there are a ton of exceptions to that throughout the year–especially during the ‘Party Season’ months of August through December.

Unlike the other three parks, there isn’t much in the way of counterintuitive crowd-beating strategy at Magic Kingdom. Arriving early and staying late don’t do quite as much here as elsewhere–if anything, Early Entry often isn’t as useful as many fans would expect. Nevertheless, sound strategy applied throughout the day–or buying Genie+ to use Lightning Lanes–will still put you at an advantage and allow you to accomplish a lot during a day at Magic Kingdom!

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!

YOUR THOUGHTS

What do you think of normal park hours in 2023 at Magic Kingdom? Prefer to arrive first thing for Early Entry, later in the morning, afternoon, or evening? How do you take advantage of attendance dynamics at Magic Kingdom to beat the crowds? Do you agree or disagree with anything in our guide to park hours at Magic Kingdom? 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!

4 Responses to “Magic Kingdom 2023 Park Hours, Early Entry & Extended Evenings: Info & Tips”
  1. Gwen January 27, 2023
  2. Tara January 24, 2023
  3. Catherine Bullough January 23, 2023
    • Tom Bricker January 23, 2023

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