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  1. #1

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    Extra Magic or Extra Crowded?

    We will be visiting WDW from December 15-22nd and we'll be staying at POR. We have purchased the dining plan so we're trying to map out where we'll be each day in order to make dinner reservations. Reading Birnbaum's guide, I'm told that the Extra Magic Hours are a perk that "is almost too good to be true." When I read The Unofficial Guide to WDW, however, it warns that the parks are packed on days that extra hours are offered. The suggestion is to go to the park offering the extra hours until they get too crowded and then "hop" over to another park. To me, though, this seems like a hassle, since we won't have a rental car and will rely on park transportation, and it feels that any time saved by going to a less crowded park would be negated by having to travel somewhere else. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    P.S. As a veteran of Disneyland (I grew up in Southern California and since we live in Oregon, we still visit every couple of years), this is really strange for me having to plan so far in advance and in such great detail. I am not a type "A" person at all and I worry that some of the spontaneity of our vacation is being sacrificed. Anyone else feel that difference between Disneyland and Walt Disney World?

  2. #2

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    Re: Extra Magic or Extra Crowded?

    I think the park hop thing around midday is an excellent way to take advantage of the morning EMH. Travel between the parks is really easy. There are busses that go direct to and from every park. Of course, there's the monorail between the MK and Epcot. And there's a ferry that goes between Epcot and the Studios.

    My variation of the above is to go back to my hotel around noonish and take a quick nap, then hop to another park for the rest of the day. It makes it much easier to park storm right up to park closing (I ain't getting any younger!).

  3. #3

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    Re: Extra Magic or Extra Crowded?

    I also visited WDW during the Christmas season LAST year, and let me tell you, ALL the parks will be jam packed, no matter WHAT time of day, and no matter WHAT park. ALL 4 parks were shut down due to guest occupancy on one of our days! And the TTA ( which is ALWAYS a "walk on" ride, had a line that WRAPPED around the Rocket Tower Plaza Station, and reached Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin.

    No matter what, the parks will be packed, so just brave out the lines and make the best of it


  4. #4

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    Re: Extra Magic or Extra Crowded?

    You can certainly 'wander' WDW without planning, but you will miss a ton. The difference is the range of options that exist at WDW that you probably want to experience... where simply getting to them, and dealing with the ones that have fixed time, simply requires planning.

    That planning can be overwhelming - but even if you take the 'lightweight' approach, focus on your food plans, and your general park direction, you'll be fine. The one thing I would tell you that you don't deal with in 'traditional DL' is don't skip over the things NOT in the parks. If that is tours, visiting resorts, water parks, picking specific resturants, etc... don't skimp on that stuff! That is the 'extra' that really makes WDW a destination, not just a theme park. You are staying for a week, so you should have time to take in a few of these extras at least.

    Since you are on the DDP - assuming you like eating out, make the most of your ADRs! Don't let your park schedule necessarily dictate your dining schedule. Its certainly reasonable to be in one park, but schedule dinner in another, etc. The key here is to maximize these 'switches' rather then going back and forth.

    Example.. maybe you want to eat at the brown derby... don't think the only time you can do it is on your "MGM day". Many parks you'll want to spend 'addtional' time in.. so maybe you spend an extra morning at AK, spend the afternoon at EPCOT exploring WS (and possibly lunch ADRs), and then schedule dinner at MGM at the derby... with the intention of watching Fantasmic afterwards or getting some late night rides in.. getting yourself an extra 1/3 day in MGM or something.

    Its this 'aligning' of park hopping where the planning really helps.

    As for EMH... morning EMH are ALWAYS good. They aren't that crowded its not worth it. Evening EMH are a bit of a different story. Since the attraction count is limited, crowds are more focused, and since it's advertised so much.. more people are likely to be at that park.. forming a double whammy.

    I wouldn't schedule your activities around EMH for evenings... except when it comes to later dinner reservations.. or keep them as 'bonus' trips you may take that evening if you aren't tired. The other tidbit is when the MK is open VERY late (2-3am)... EMH can be very crowded early, but as the later hours wear on.. people don't have the stamina.. so waiting till the 2nd or 3rd hour of EMH.. crowds can thin.

    A week is enough to see a lot of WDW if you plan.. not all.. and not at unplanned pace. I would recommend planning your ADRs... and your park 'targets' for the day.. as well as highlighting your 'must sees' for each park.

    Don't worry about park hopping.. as long as you are moving in one direction.. its not that bad of a time sink. It's the notion of going from A to B back to A in a short period that will hurt you.

  5. #5

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    Re: Extra Magic or Extra Crowded?

    I will second the advice on taking full advantage of the Morning EMH! You can get a lot done in that hour.

  6. #6

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    Re: Extra Magic or Extra Crowded?

    Quote Originally Posted by flynnibus View Post
    The other tidbit is when the MK is open VERY late (2-3am)... EMH can be very crowded early, but as the later hours wear on.. people don't have the stamina.. so waiting till the 2nd or 3rd hour of EMH.. crowds can thin.
    This is a fantastic tip. On last year's Invasion, a group of us decided to do Evening EMH at Epcot. It was very busy for maybe the first hour. Post that, just about all the open attractions we're walk ons.
    -Monorail Man

  7. #7

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    Re: Extra Magic or Extra Crowded?

    ^^ Agreed! ^^ :d


  8. #8

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    Re: Extra Magic or Extra Crowded?

    Thanks for the tips. Are all restaurants open late during Evening Extra Magic Hours?

  9. #9

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    Re: Extra Magic or Extra Crowded?

    Quote Originally Posted by ld2 View Post
    Thanks for the tips. Are all restaurants open late during Evening Extra Magic Hours?
    No! Just like in DL.. getting food late in the parks can be a challenge. This is why planning your meals (if you want any sit down service) is very very important. If you just go balls to the wall.. and then turn around at 9pm and say 'wow, we should get some dinner' you'll be in for a rude suprise.

    This is actually my biggest complaint about EMH, the food offerings are EXTREMELY scarce.

  10. #10

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    Re: Extra Magic or Extra Crowded?

    Quote Originally Posted by ld2 View Post
    Thanks for the tips. Are all restaurants open late during Evening Extra Magic Hours?
    A few of the counter service restaurants were open during EMH on our trip last August but never until actual EMH closing time.
    For example at the MK, as I remember, Pecos Bill was open for only about an hour into EMH but we did get cookies at the Bakery just before leaving EMH at the end.
    Things like that are always subject to change and your best bet would be to call WDW to see what the situation is now.

  11. #11

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    Re: Extra Magic or Extra Crowded?

    the 15th through the 22nd is not as bad as after christmas. you may actually have less crowds depending on when northern schools are out. We actually went last year around that time to epcot for the day and it was doable. However the citrus bowl was host to it's first bowl game during that time period and there were lots of dvc people as well. make sure you see the lights at mgm as well as take in the holiday themes at epcot.
    as far as emh goes, remember that all the guests from all the resorts are going to just one park so it will be crowded and you need to plan accordingly. but have a great time!!!

  12. #12

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    Re: Extra Magic or Extra Crowded?

    That is true. The weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas are surprising "light". Not light like September (used to be) but definitely better than the week between Christmas and New Year's.

  13. #13

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    Re: Extra Magic or Extra Crowded?

    True people leave after about the first hour of EMH....i was in a very large space mountain line and after my first ride going back for a second there was NO LINE!!!!
    Marquis d'Bod of the RCMC... always and forever

  14. #14

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    Re: Extra Magic or Extra Crowded?

    I think that park hopping doesn't actually take as much time as you maybe think it does, and won't really be a big deal when you're there, so just relax and go with how you feel on the day!

  15. #15

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    Re: Extra Magic or Extra Crowded?

    I just got back from WDW, and yes the parks are packed at the extra hours. If only disney would open 2 parks, that would be better. The dining plan is great and saves a ton of money, the dinners alone will be more then the cost of the plan.

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