New Extra, Extra Magic Hours at Disney World (Including Star Wars Land!)
Walt Disney World has announced that beginning this fall, resort hotel guests will be able to take advantage of free morning “Extra, Extra Magic Hours” starting at early as 6 a.m. in Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios–including Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.
The Extra, Extra Magic Hours benefit will include Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, as well as other experiences at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom theme parks. Here’s the rundown:
- Disney’s Hollywood Studios – Daily from September 1 through November 2, 2019 the park will have Extra, Extra Magic Hours from 6-9 a.m., including Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, plus Toy Story Land, and select other attractions.
From August 29 to 31, 2019, Disney’s Hollywood Studios will open at 6 a.m. for all guests. There will not be Extra, Extra Magic Hours on those days.
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom – Extra, Extra Magic Hours will happen daily August 29 to November 2, 2019, from 7-8 a.m., featuring Pandora — The World of Avatar and other attractions throughout the park (same as today’s morning Extra Magic Hours offerings).
- Magic Kingdom – Extra, Extra Magic Hours will happen daily from August 29 to November 2, 2019, from 7-8 a.m., featuring Fantasyland and Tomorrowland attractions (the same as today’s morning Extra Magic Hours offerings).
Extra Magic Hours will also continue to be available on select days at Epcot.
This is huge and unanticipated news. Well, at least the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom aspect of the announcement. We fully expected Disney’s Hollywood Studios to open super-early for the initial opening period of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, but even then, we didn’t anticipate such a prolonged period of scheduled 6 a.m. openings.
For a while, we’ve been harping on the point that Star Wars Land will not draw guests away from the other lands or parks–it’ll draw more tourists to Walt Disney World, and those people aren’t going to just do Galaxy’s Edge. Remember, a rising tide lifts all boats. If you had any lingering doubt about this “prediction,” the new Extra, Extra Magic Hours for Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom should put that issue to bed.
May 6, 2019 Update: Lots of readers have asked about priority access for on-site guests opening day; unfortunately, I would not expect anything. Many guests will camp out overnight to enter Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and from an operational/crowd-flow perspective, there’s really no good way to handle that aside from letting everyone in the park at once. (I’d expect the actual, unpublished opening to occur around ~5 a.m. to help deal with folks camped out, but that’s just a guess.)
Evening Extra Magic Hours that night (and thereafter) are a possibility, but I wouldn’t expect anything to be announced on that front right away. To be honest, I’m surprised Disney announced these hours before seeing how things went at Disneyland.
If you’re an on-site guest who doesn’t care about being among the “first” to experience opening day, I’d recommend visiting a different park August 29 and 30, and doing Disney’s Hollywood Studios on September 1 or thereafter. You will be at a huge advantage by virtue of waiting a couple of days.
The downside to these “Extra, Extra Magic Hours” is that Walt Disney World is doing this for a reason. Whether that’s because internal attendance projections are showing a tremendous surge in attendance or because they are simply anticipating heavy crowds (a third, totally different motive would be that this is a clever attempt to entice more people to stay on-site), there is a reason. Disney wouldn’t extend park hours to this degree “just because” or as a nice perk.
The upside is that this creates some exceptional opportunities for early-risers. We’ve taken advantage of extended Extra Magic Hours like this (albeit not as extreme) a few times, and the advantages they offer cannot be overstated. Super-early Extra Magic Hours is better than a paid hard ticket event in terms of efficiency.
We’ve done the ‘extended’ morning Extra Magic Hours for both Pandora – World or Avatar and Toy Story Land (read about our DHS experience here), and they are glorious. More recently, we did two rounds of 7 a.m. morning Extra Magic Hours at Magic Kingdom for spring break and Easter, and that was likewise a wonderful experience. (Read about our ‘Before Sunrise in Magic Kingdom’ experience here.)
The reality is that most Walt Disney World hotel guests are on vacation, and waking up at ~4 a.m. to get ready and to a theme park by ~5:30 a.m. is simply not the ideal way of relaxing or is impossible due to kids. (In reality, you should probably arrive before 5:30 a.m.) Consequently, pretty much any opening time before 8 a.m. is always a joyous experience, with low crowds, pleasant weather, and minimal wait times.
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is totally unprecedented and as a franchise, Star Wars has some absolutely diehard fans. Accordingly, we expect larger crowds for these super early morning hours at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and lines in Star Wars Land even right when the park opens. That’s just the likely reality.
However, 6 a.m. lines at Tower of Terror, or lines pretty much anywhere in Magic Kingdom (save for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train) or Animal Kingdom (save for Pandora), are unlikely. Those who make the effort of rising early will almost certainly be handsomely rewarded, and will get more done between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. than will someone who arrives at 10 a.m. and stays until park closing. (That might sound like hyperbole, but it is absolutely not.)
The biggest losers here are off-site guests and those who don’t get up early. By the time 9 a.m. rolls around at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, wait times for Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run should be at close to their peak for the day. That could be over 180 or even 240 minutes. Without FastPass.
The difference between waiting ~20 minutes for Smugglers Run at 6 a.m. and ~3 hours at 9 a.m. is probably alone enough to justify the cost premium of staying on-site. (While other quibbles still exist, this pretty much undercuts our entire ‘Is Walt Disney World’s On-Site Advantage Disappearing?‘ article.)
The other loser in all of this is Epcot, and this should really underscore a couple of things about the park. First, that expectations are much lower about demand for the park. (It’s the one park we think could have its attendance cannibalized a bit by the increased popularity of Disney’s Hollywood Studios.) This explains why the park is essentially being re-imagined–with more announcements to come–even if we don’t like some of the new direction for the park.
Second, even during the popular Food & Wine Festival, earlier opening times at Epcot are not “needed.” It’s been obvious for a while that festivals are what’s buoying Epcot attendance (just wander around “Diet Epcot” this summer for that on full display), and those booths don’t open until 11 a.m.
Ultimately, there’s a lot of upside in this for those guests who are visiting in September. As we covered in our updated-for-Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge 2019 Walt Disney World Crowd Predictions: When to Go & Avoid, we still don’t think September is going to be as bad as many people are expecting.
We think this is being driven by the initial opening week plus demand from peak October travel dates driving this, along with expectations that this tremendous perk will help spike September hotel bookings. Moreover, we’d expect at least some of these Extra, Extra Magic Hours to be extended for November and December once those travel dates draw nearer.
There have been a lot of complaints from those who booked Walt Disney World trips for September or early October trips hoping to experience the ‘calm before the storm’ prior to the opening of Star Wars Land being announced. If you’re an early riser–or can force yourself to become one–we think this pretty much obviates all of that.
Visit the parks for those first few hours to experience minimal waits (and avoid oppressive heat!), go back to your hotel and nap by the pool for ~8 hours, then return to the park at night. You could conceivably only spend a few hours in the parks during daylight hours (hence all the night photos here) and still do more than normal. Maybe it’s just because I’m a morning person who detests midday sun and heat, but that sounds wonderful to me!
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 early to arrive to Disney’s Hollywood Studios to beat the crowds. It’s a good primer for this huge addition.
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!
Do you agree or disagree with our advice? 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!
We booked an offsite rental house in October for our family of 6 before WDW announced SWGE it EEMH. It is so crazy expensive to stay on site for a bigger family that we figured we’d rent a house and do rope drop every morning. Now I am super bummed and worried that we won’t be able to do anything because we are staying off site. Is there anything we can do? Any suggestions??
Maybe book only one or two nights onsite on the days you want to visit SWGE, so you can access EEMH? Some disney springs hotels (which will offer EEMH) are not that expensive compared to disney (like the Best Western).
Lots of people asking about priority access for on-site guests opening day…
Don’t expect anything. People will camp out overnight to enter Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and from an operational/crowd-flow perspective, there’s really no good way to handle that aside from letting everyone in the park at once. (I’d expect the actual, unpublished opening to occur around ~5 a.m. to help deal with folks camped out, but that’s just a guess.)
Evening Extra Magic Hours that night (and thereafter) are a possibility, but I wouldn’t expect anything to be announced on that front right away. To be honest, I’m surprised Disney announced these hours before seeing how things went at Disneyland.
On the Disney app they have already changed night hours at Hollywood Studios to 10pm every night.
Tom, do you think there is any chance they will be offering these extra extra early hours at Disneyland? Planning a visit for mid September and would love a strategy/chance to be able to get on both new Star Wars rides without having to wait in line for 90+ minutes? I cant afford a Disney hotel but plan to be staying within walking distance and buying maxpass & I would gladly get up at 4am if it meant avoiding a 90 – 130 minute wait time. Do you know if there will be single rider lines for either of these new rides at either park? Thanks for all the info. Always enjoy reading your blog.
I am not a fan of the extra, extra early hours. I feel like my options will be to
A. Get up extremely early to take advantage of this, or
B. Go at my normal morning time and deal with lines that have already formed for popular rides.
This truly sucks. Getting up at 4am is not my idea of a vacation.
It looks like Disney has changed the night time hours to 10 pm at Hollywood Studios!
We booked an early September (3rd-7th) trip hoping to beat Disney’s “late Fall 2019 anticipated Star Wars release.” We chose September based on the lowest crowd calendar predictions, because we were really hoping for the smallest possible crowd situation. We are very concerned with the August Star Wars date. Now, Disney adds in the new early magic hours… I cannot believe that they want to pay extra help and open the parks early UNLESS they expect massive crowding situations. We are wondering if we should cancel our trip. I read your blog faithfully and respect your opinions. Can you please offer me some advice?
same for us. i had contemplated canceling but we’d lose out on too much we’ve already paid for. so i’m trying to make the best of it. the crowd predictor sites all still have the other parks at very low crowds even with these updated hours (disney can’t change when kids go back to school, so unless they already had trips booked pre GE announcment, families probably are not planning trips right now for that time period). the diehard people coming for star wars specifically care only about star wars, they probably aren’t thinking about the other parks, just my thoughts. and ADRs, even within HS, were still available the week in sep we are going as of 2 days ago, so i took that as a positive sign. i think HS is going to be jammed, but the other three might see only a moderate rise in crowds in what normally would be a slow time.
I have more of a question than a comment my question is on August 29th it states that Hollywood Studios will open up at 6 a.m. for all guests does that mean it is opened at that time to the public as well?
kim, yes, that timeframe is 6am opening for everyone, regardless of staying on property or not. the extra extra magic hours that start after that are for resort guests only with a public opening time of 9am.
Yes, I am in the same situation. We were excited to be there before the opening of Star Wars hoping for smaller crowds but now we are very nervous of extreme crowding. We were there last year second week of November and could barely move was hard to take in the decor when trying to maneuver around people with no space to walk. Would love to be up for early morning hours but trying to get four kiddos is tough. Please would love to hear your thoughts on crowding for first week September compared to our last experience in November. Thanks so much
i asked tom this question a few weeks ago and he thinks, and other sites i follow concur, that the first week of september shouldn’t be too bad due to it being back to school time. later september, into october, and beyond, project to be much worse.
Okay I am now totally confused and a little miffed. I had heard elsewhere that the 6am-9am Extra Extra Magic hours would start on August 29th which made me grumble but willing to get up that early since it was to be my last day in the park before heading home. Now you are saying that Disney is still planning on leaving the opening day to total chaos and not even toss resort guests any kind of token chance of getting in to Galaxy’s Edge until September 1? Forgive me for whining but that seems A a bit unfair to resort guest who have booked a room to be there already and sadly I would admit to be prepared and willing even to pay for a Maxipass chance to get in if they offered that to resort guest first. Just feels off and not money smart to leave paying resort guests out in the cold on opening day of such a HUGE event. Ah well…they may change things alot once they see what happens in Disneyland.
keep watch after the opening at disneyland. it’s highly unlikely that disney would leave anything to chance. they open themselves up to too much liability and bad pr if they let opening weekend be a complete free-for-all. probably going to see what works and what doesn’t at disneyland and go from there. still plenty of time for them to announce a plan ahead of august. i would be stunned if they didn’t. now with this new hours announcement, maybe after opening weekend it might be more of a just having to line up sort of thing, but with on-site guests having the advantage. that’s not something they can do logistically in california, so their reservation period is much longer. they could wind up doing reservations for florida also, but just for those first few days, then leave it to chance with the extended hours.
In September there is still night time extra magic hours on Wednesdays at MK but not in October? Think this will be updated? It doesn’t make much sense to me considering they close at 6pm 4 nights a week you would think they would offer one later night.
I read somewhere that Evening EMHs have been discontinued at MK in favor of additional morning EMH and evening hard ticket events.
We are going the last week of September for the first time. If extra magic hours for AK and MK are from 7-8 am, when do those parks open to the public? Disney calendar says 9 am. So what happens from 8-9 am?
Disney all shows those parks opening at 8:00 a.m.
Correction – Disney app
You’re right, when I was looking this morning it was on the app and the times weren’t updated yet. Looks like they are now.
Have you heard if they will start the food service earlier at the resorts to accommodate the early risers?
That’s my question too! I didn’t find any information about it on the internet.
This is exactly what I want to know! We are staying off site, bit are early risers, so I’m really hoping some of the resort restaurants open early so we can still get breakfast before park “open” for us.
If I were you, i’d go experience all you can before park officially opens that day, then do breakfast. Take a powerbar or something with you until you actually sit down to eat, remember, outside food is allowed in. If the park is near empty like Tom says, you should get a lot done before breakfast, then just take some time after breakfast to stroll and enjoy the park! No matter how you do it, tho, have fun!
This is great news. Since I already have res for early Dec, can’t wait until the late Nov/early Dec openings are published–even if no extra, extra hours.
Love the extra MH. Staying at AKL in late Oct. Will be waiting for the bus as early as they start running. Yes in the park for a few hrs. and then back to the pool. Back in the park at night with a SD fast pass. Very exciting.
As an annual pass holder, with a large family Thanksgiving week trip planned, this mews just made me book a one night, childless, September trip. 6:00 AM Saturdaymprnng flight, one night at Pop Century, Extra, Extra, Early Magic hours at Hollywood Studios Sunday, 5:30 evening flight back to Denver. Unbelievably stoked now.
Lucky! lol, sounds like a fun weekend trip.
We will unfortunately be there before the resort guests get the perks and planned on attempting HS on Saturday August 31st. I could switch to Friday August 30th if you think there’s any shot at Friday being less crowded than Saturday…. what would you do?
Ok, so I added another night to our trip to allow us access on sept 1st when it won’t be a free for all. The extra extra magic hours at the other parks are going to be awesome and makes me so glad I didn’t cancel our trip when GE was announced. I will gladly wake my 3 kids up early to beat the crowds. We always do one or two before park opening ADRs anyway, so we’re used to gettin up early – though I didn’t book any this trip thankfully.
I am at Disney World right now and have not run into large crowds or long lines at any of the three parks I’ve visited so far – MK, Epcot and HS. Also, our party of four (sometimes six) have been able to score table service meals without reserving in advance. I have noticed some cheer and high school groups that have arrived at PO Riverside (where we are staying) in the last few days, so that may make a difference.
Right now (Sunday 5/5), it’s raining (pouring really). It has been raining on and off for the last few days. All that aside, it’s been a good trip, quite different from what the blogs have been saying as far as crowds are concerned.
We’re coming back the week of Halloween and staying at Pop Century, which I imagine will be a totally different story. But for now, all is good (except the weather, and no one can control that). Note: I was quite excited to finally see the Skyliners in motion.
Where did you read the crowds were going to bad in early May? Schools are still in session so the crowds should be light. There is the Summit cheer competition, but that should not have too much of an impact. The weather looks good all next week, so hopefully you trip will continue. Have fun!
Thanks Jack. I always come this time of year and know crowds are low but crowds have been unpredictable lately and I wasn’t sure what to expect.
Excited about this site
People seem to think that just because Hollywood Studios is opening at 6a they have to go. If it doesn’t fit your lifestyle go when you want. For most who would rather know that they are getting to see Star Wars land Its good enough reason to change things up! Maybe do it one day but why complain about something you don’t have to do!
In theory you don’t have to do it. But, we all know that families especially with younger children usually go first thing when the park opens because it’s tough to have to wait in lines when the park gets crowded, the children ask their parents to take them in their arms re start complaining or even crying because they are tired of standing. So now the choice is to be in parks really early (For families of 4 that have to get things going in the morning 8AM opening hours was already borderline tough to achieve) to be at parks really early or decide to arrive when crowds already poured in. I think for teenagers or adults they could do just fine. But families might want to reconsider.
Yeah we will pack our breakfast each night to eat on our way to the parks so we can get up and go. So all we have do is get up and get dressed. I think many families with younger kids can do it fine. Young kids usually get up pretty early naturally. And better to get kids up and through the rides that typically get long lines before the crowds descend.
This is great news for European visitors fighting jet lag. We are always up early the first few days of our holidays at Disney just from the time difference.
This is not working too well for us oldsters without kids either. We were not planning naps, figuring it would take about an hour to walk to bus, wait, ride to Pop Century for most parks…that would waste 2 hrs a day. Don’t think several hundred or more dollars per night for a closer room cuts it when you are on a fixed income. We live on west coast, PST. Hard enough to get up at 6 a.m. (3 a.m.) “our” time, now get up at 3 a.m. for rope drop for Pandora or Galaxy or other rides…that is my normal 1 a.m., which is when I normally go to sleep.
Also when will the resort food courts open up? (Now listed as 6 a.m.), I need breakfast…. When will buses start running? 4:30 -5 for a HS start time?
My carefully laid out plans and ADRs we just made are starting to unravel. I love fireworks but can I make them if I am getting up so early? The late night Halloween Party is looking less likely. I need some sleep…
OK. I would never stay up for an After Hours event. I’m almost always in bed by 8pm and asleep by 9pm. I got up at 4am today–a weekend day! We got a ticket for Early Morning Magic one of our days at WDW this summer.
Yet, I am not frustrated that Disney is offering an After Hours event. I think it’s a fine offering for those who stay up late. I don’t think it’s unfair in any way. It’s just not an event that appeals to me because of the late hours.
That’s not the same thing though. After Hours doesn’t affect others the way the extra extra magic hours does. People who show up at 9am will be at a huge disadvantage all day long at the parks because many other people will have been in the parks for hours already. So if people aren’t staying onsite or aren’t able or willing to get up early then it will be a mess for them. I’m excited about the extra extra magic hours because even though I’m not a morning person this gives me and my family the ability to get the popular stuff done with way lower crowds, take a midday break, and then go back at night for dinner and shows. But I recognize that this may be bad news to many people.
I’m coming from NV in December so I get where you are coming from on early mornings. However, I generally take the red eye to save a few bucks so I was already planning to go straight from the airport to DHS at 5 AM. If they extend the 6 AM EMH to December, I will lose the advantage I had because I was already going to be there at 6AM.
Im afraid a lot of families, especially on first trips will hate this period. I would really recommend that they picture a day in the park and see if they would rather postpone their trip. I remember my first trip with my family. The stress, the running and trying to time everything, dinner, Fastpasses, because as first times goers you usually want to make the most of your trip. And I went in low season. Now waking up at 4-5 AM, facing enormous crowds at every parks, this would probably leave a sour taste in my mouth. Even now, after 3 trips to Disney world, not having to see everything, not feeling the pressure of timing everything, I’m not even sure I would go during that period.
i haven’t seen anything to indicate massive crowds at the other parks. the crowd prediction websites who do this for a living still have the other parks at a very slight rise in traditional crowds but still low overall, except of course HS. my guess is people will migrate to the other parks reluctantly if they are coming specifically for star wars and can’t get in at 6am. not being able to get in at 6am is going to potentially turn offsite guests away, and if they are local, they probably will just go home. if they are star wars diehards, which most coming for opening probably are, they will just stay at HS. the other parks might see a small spike, but i doubt it’s going to be massive, at least right in the beginning. kids still have to go back to school and disney can’t change that, so unless families had trips planned for before the opening date of GE was announced, they probably are not planning trips now. and ADRs are still available, even within HS, for opening week, so that strikes me as a positive.
The only downside to this for me is that the early morning ADR I made at Be Our Guest to try and get some empty park time is now moot. BUT I am looking forward to midday naps and breaks from the family in the afternoon. I’m not a big fan of frizzy hair and sweat stains anyway.
Yes, that’s happened to us so many times! We’ve never had a PPO reservation work out. It seems like 2 weeks before our trip, Disney always extends their morning hours. We didn’t even try for this trip… we just got an Early Morning Magic ticket.
same here. we have a crystal palace for 8am one day, but oh well. our other breakfasts are at various resorts so that was the only one that was going to get us in early, except for norway at epcot, but that one still applies for us. we’re actually going to try for one morning 6am hollywood, if things work out. same boat for us, as this will be the first trip with midday breaks for us, but really the more i think about it, with the kids it’s probably the best course of action.