How Does Disney Enforce Extra Magic Hours?


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I love going to Walt Disney World and have been known to spend up to 15 hours at the park. But I’ve sometimes wondered about Extra Magic Hours and how does Disney enforce extra magic hours?

So I decided to investigate a little bit. Here’s what I learned:

To enter the park for morning Extra Magic Hours, you’ll need to show both a park ticket for admission plus a resort ID or Magic Band proving you are registered at one of the participating Disney World hotels or resorts. For evening Extra Magic Hours, once in the park, you’ll show your resort ID or scan your Magic Band.

But there’s more to know about Extra Magic Hours! So we’ll get into who gets them when you can use them, and if you can use them right when you check into a Disney resort.

We’ll also explain the difference between Extra Magic Hours and Early Morning Magic.

But I also map out exactly which rides are available for both morning and or evening. After all, it’s not every ride and attraction, so know before you go!

So let’s dive in!

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What are Extra Magic Hours?

First off, know that Extra Magic Hours (plural) are available in Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. These get you into the park either before opening or after closing for “select” rides and attractions.

Disneyland in Anaheim, CA offers an Extra Magic Hour (singular), giving you 1 extra hour in the mornings before the park opens.

In both cases, the magic is only available to Disney resort guests staying at participating Disney hotels and resorts. For Disney World, guests can select either morning or evening magic hours, but not both.

What Disney hotels give you Extra Magic Hours?

  • All Disney Resort hotels
  • Walt Disney World Swan Hotel
  • Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel
  • Shades of Green Resort
  • Disney Springs Resort Area Hotels
  • Four Seasons Resort Orlando
  • Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek
  • Waldorf Astoria Orlando

As they say, not all rides and attractions will be open for these Extra Magic Hours, only “select” ones. So which ones are “select”? 

Click on your favorite of the 4 parks in Walt Disney World to see the complete list of Extra Magic Hours attractions and rides compiled on my site:

Also, as you see on those pages, only Magic Kingdom and Epcot do both morning and evening magic hours. Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom are currently mornings only.

While Hollywood Studios is a little less popular than The Magic Kingdom, Epcot, or Animal Kingdom, all of them still got MILLIONS of visitors.

Honestly, it’s crazy that Hollywood Studios gets fewer people than the other parks, so if you want to see some shorter lines, check out What to do at Hollywood Studios (click to see my article now).

Disney’s Hollywood Studios is home, of course, to Toy Story Land and the soon-to-open Star Wars Land (called Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge). 

How does Disney know if you have Extra Magic Hours?

In order to get into Walt Disney World before or after hours for the Extra Magic Hours, you have to be a guest at one of the participating Disney hotels and resorts I mentioned above.

You also, of course, have to have a valid park ticket.

But you’ll also have to show proof you are staying at one of the participating Disney World hotels or resorts. You can do that either with a resort ID or your Magic Band.

While you don’t have to use a Magic Band, they are super fun and convenient, letting you enter your room, charge food or drinks to your account all without the hassle of carrying cash or cards.

I was amazed at the awesome selection of these Magic Bands on Amazon, most of which you CANNOT get at the park.

They also unlock special surprises throughout the park which are customized for you. Those surprises get uploaded as pictures to your Disney PhotoPass account and can be pulled up later for saving or printing.

They are waterproof as well in case you’re going to one of the Walt Disney World Waterparks.

If you’re already in the park and planning to take advantage of the evening Extra Magic Hours, you’ll just need to show your resort ID or let them scan your Magic Band to ensure you’re staying at a participating Disney hotel.

If your park tickets DO NOT have the park hopper option, just know that whichever of the 4 Disney World parks you enter for those morning Extra Magic Hours, that’s where you’ll need to stay that day (which is why my family ALWAYS gets the Park Hopper option).

So to get into the park, you’ll have to show both your park ticket and either a resort ID or your Magic Band.

When visiting WDW, if you aren’t staying at a Disney hotel, learning about something called rope drop might just be the next best thing!

So if you’ve wonder What is Rope Drop at Disney World (click to read my post) check out one of my latest articles that walk you through exactly what it is and what to do to beat the crowds on your favorite rides.

How does Disney enforce the Extra Magic Hours at night?

Mornings are pretty obvious. You walk up, show your park ticket and either a resort ID or your Magic Band and in you go.

But nights are different.

After all, the park is full of people. So do they make everyone leave and re-enter and show proper ID?  Luckily, no. 

You do have to scan your Magic Band at each ride and attraction you want to do. 

In fact, no one has to leave the park. But if you aren’t staying at a participating Disney resort or hotel, you won’t be able to ride any rides or attractions.

If you’ve left the park before closing and are coming back, just show your park ticket and Magic Band or resort ID to get back in. Just remember that you can only visit 1 park per day unless you have the Park Hopper option.

Epcot is a great park to do evening Extra Magic Hours since they generally get smaller crowds than Magic Kingdom or Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Epcot normally closes at 9 pm.

So for families, those evening Extra Magic Hours only keep the kids out until 11 pm. Vastly preferable to Magic Kingdom where the evening Extra Magic Hours go until 1 am since the park doesn’t close until 11 pm.

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Are Extra Magic Hours for resort guests only?

Yes is the short answer; Disney resort and select participating hotels.

But don’t confuse Extra Magic Hours with Early Morning Magic (which is easy to do). Both get you into the park early, but Early Morning Magic is a ticket option you buy.

And you can buy Early Morning Magic no matter what hotel you are staying at.

The biggest difference between the two is that Extra Magic Hours can (sometimes) be morning or evening, whereas Early Morning Magic, as the name implies, is morning only.

As I mentioned above, Extra Magic Hours are for guests of Disney resorts and participating hotels.

Here’s the complete list of Extra Magic Hours hotels:

  • All Disney Resort hotels
  • Walt Disney World Swan Hotel
  • Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel
  • Shades of Green Resort
  • Disney Springs Resort Area Hotels
  • Four Seasons Resort Orlando
  • Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek
  • Waldorf Astoria Orlando

Lastly, know that the days they offer Early Morning Magic and Extra Magic Hours are different. So guests doing one option aren’t at the park before opening with guests doing the other option.

That helps Disney avoid confusion between guests and helps enforce who gets in for Extra Magic Hours.

Are Extra Magic Hours available for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge?

Yes is the short answer!

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is, of course, the newest addition to the Disney parks.

It’s already open in Disneyland and opens in Walt Disney World on August 29, 2019. To prepare for the onslaught of crowds that we know are coming, Disney has added extra Extra Magic Hours to help deal with the crowds.

Here are all the details you need to know:

  • These extra Extra Magic Hours are only offered September 1 to November 2, 2019
  • Unlike normal Extra Magic Hours, these will be offered every day
  • Epcot is not offering extra Extra Magic Hours
  • Disney’s Hollywood Studios – including Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, Toy Story Land and beyond – 6:00 AM to 9:00 AM each day
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom  – including Pandora – The World of Avatar and other attractions throughout the park – 7:00 AM to 8:00 AM each day
  • Magic Kingdom – including select rides in Fantasyland and Tomorrowland – 7:00 AM to 8:00 AM each day

Of course, you’ll still need to show your park ticket and resort ID or Magic Band as Disney will still be enforcing the restrictions for Extra Magic Hours.

Also, be aware that all the parks have strict size limits and your access could be restricted depending on how many people show up.

Plan early and be prepared to be patient!

Do Disney Passholders get Extra Magic Hours?

The short answer is no, not by default at least.

Disney annual passes can be a great thing! At their current prices, excluding the waterparks, each member of your family will pay $1,119 for a 1-year pass that gets you into all 4 parks with no blockout dates, plus perks like 20% off select dining and merchandise.

1 visit would typically be at least 3 days plus a park hopper option. That would run you approximately $416.88 (prices vary slightly depending on when you visit).

So the annual pass would pay for itself in 2.6 visits!

But UNLESS you are staying at one of the Disney World participating hotels, you will not automatically get Extra Magic Hours just by being an Annual Passholder.

Get ready for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge in WDW with my ultimate tips, tricks, and hacks for the Disney FastPass+ System (click to read my #1 article).

FastPass+ is exclusive to Walt Disney World and once you understand how it works, it can save you hours of waiting in line, so make sure and check out what has become my most popular blog post!

Are Disney World Extra Magic Hours worth it?

In short, it depends.

If you have kids as I do, we’re talking about either a very early start to the day or a pretty late night. After all, if you plan to enter the park at 7 am, that means getting to the park closer to 6 am since there will be a crowd.

Getting there by 6:15, for example, would have my family needing to wake up no later than 5:30 am. I get up that early almost every day, but my family not so much; especially on vacation!

If you don’t have a park hopper, that also means being limited to that 1 park for the entire day.

Here are some other good things to know when deciding whether or not to use your Extra Magic Hours:

  • Magic Kingdom has more rides and attractions open during Extra Magic Hours
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom has the least amount of rides open
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom, not surprisingly, is usually the least crowded during Extra Magic Hours
  • Magic Kingdom is surprisingly less crowded during Extra Magic Hours
  • Disney’s Hollywood Studios typically has larger than average crowds during Extra Magic Hours and the addition of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is only going to make that significantly worse
  • Epcot sees just slightly higher than average crowds during Extra Magic Hours.

Can you use Extra Magic Hours on the day you check-in?

Yes is the short answer.

Of course, if you’re doing the Extra Magic Morning hours, you’d have to be arriving pretty early. After all, depending on which park and what time of year it is, those morning hours start at either 7am or 8am.

Also be aware that in some cases while you can check into the hotel, you may not be able to put your stuff in your room yet unless they happen to not be sold out.

But once you have your park ticket and your participating hotel resort ID or have the room assigned to your Magic Band, you can take advantage of Extra Magic Hours.

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Does Disney change Extra Magic Hours?

Yes is the short answer!

Disney doesn’t offer Extra Magic Hours every day at every park. They change the days (but not typically the times) based on time of year and how busy they anticipate being.

So you’ll want to check the Disney calendar to know exactly what days Extra Magic Hours are being offered.

Currently, I see the following for both evening and morning Extra Magic Hours at each of the 4 parks:

PARK NAME EXTRA MAGIC HOURS –
Morning Days of the Week
EXTRA MAGIC HOURS –
Evening Days of the Week
MAGIC KINGDOM Friday Wednesday
EPCOT Thursday Tuesday
HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS Sunday n/a
ANIMAL KINGDOM Saturday, Monday n/a

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  • Best and worst times to go in terms of weather
  • The best ways to buy tickets and not get ripped off
  • Best and worst times to go in terms of crowds
  • FastPass+ tips and tricks
  • The best places to stay that won’t break the bank

Did I cover everything you wanted to know about Extra Magic Hours and how Disney enforces them?

In this article, we took an in-depth look into the world of Walt Disney World’s Extra Magic Hours.

We explored what they are and how they differ from early morning magic. Then we looked at exactly how you can get them, and listed the specific days they are available and at which parks, and what rides and attractions.

Specifically, though, we answered the question how does Disney enforce extra magic hours?

The answer to that question is that you have to show both a valid park ticket and either a resort ID from one of the participating Disney hotels and resorts or your linked Magic Band proving you are staying in an approved property.

What’s your favorite Disney World hotel or resort?

Make sure to check out all my personal Disney recommendations on saving money on hotel, rental cars, airfare, park tickets, and even saving money on costumes and toys!


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Jeff Campbell

Jeff Campbell is a husband, father, martial artist, budget-master, Disney-addict, musician, and recovering foodie having spent over 2 decades as a leader for Whole Foods Market. Click to learn more about me

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