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  1. #1

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    Should I use Extra Magic Hours or not?

    Here is this week's blog from my website and I am curious as to your thoughts and experiences.

    “Should I use Extra Magic Hours (EMH) or not?”

    If you stay at a Walt Disney World resort you will have the option to utilize EMH’s most days. Each day there is one resort that will have EMH in the morning, where the park opens up one hour early for guests staying on-site. In a peak season this is the key to your survival in the parks. EMH is also offered at one park each day in the evening. The park stays open three hours later for Walt Disney World resort guests. You must show your room key and obtain a wristband in order to stay in the park. EMH’s allow certain rides to be available to those guests. The EMH benefit might be the main key to staying on-property vs. staying off-site. If you are traveling during any of the peak seasons utilizing this method of touring is a must. The Magic Kingdom has even been known to stay open until 5:00 AM!

    Some “experts” will say to avoid the EMH park like the plaque because it will undoubtedly bring about more people to that park, thus increasing the crowd level for that park. That may be true during off-peak times such as January or September, but during any of the Peak Seasons, it has been our experience that it is a must to utilize those EMH, especially in the AM.

    It is tough to get young children out of bed and arrive to a park by 7 AM, but I can tell you that if you have a plan, you can make your way through most of Tomorrowland, Fantasyland, and into Frontierland by 10 AM. If you can provide your kids with a snack on the way to the park, that will usually tide them over until 10 or 10:30 AM. Then it is a good idea to go ahead and eat your lunch before the crowds decide to join you. After lunch you can hit a few more rides, and then by 12:30 or 1:00 PM you can head back to your resort with most attractions finished. If you sleep in and do not use EMH in the AM, then you will be with the thousands of others who had your same idea. You will encounter long lines, and enormous crowds, which will limit the number of rides you can go on.

    As for the evening EMH’s, unless you have teenagers, this is difficult to utilize. Most youngsters will have trouble staying awake this late, so if you have young ones it is better to go for the morning EMH’s. If you have teens, the evening EMH is great. They can sleep in, and then begin their day around noon, and get ready for a long night.

    All in all, the EMH perk for guests staying on-site is probably the munber one reason to stay at a Walt Disney World Resort. My book goes into much detatil about the negatives associated to staying off-site and teh problems that can affect your vacation by doing so. But in reality, if you have to go to Walt Disney World during any peak season, our advice is to stay on property, and make sure you utilize the EMH perk.

  2. #2

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    Re: Should I use Extra Magic Hours or not?

    I've only been staying on property since last year but I only stay one night so I've never used EMH. But next week I might take advantage of the evening EMH at EPCOT on Friday as I'm staying overnight Thursday and will have a resort ID. Depends on how tired I am later in the day as I have to drive home that night (90 minute drive).

  3. #3

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    Re: Should I use Extra Magic Hours or not?

    Since I always wake up early, when I am on a Disney vacation, I like to arrive at whatever park I am going to at their designated opening time, whether it's EMH or not. I then spend that time doing the things that I really want to do in that park. I have usually been successful with that plan, and then I don't go home disappointed, because I missed favorite attractions.
    My Next WDW Vacation is Aug 18, 2014 - Aug 23, 2014
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  4. #4

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    Re: Should I use Extra Magic Hours or not?

    Yes, yes, and yes.

    The most magical part of my last WDW trip was the last hour of MK evening EMH. It was the hour of 12-1, and I got to do my favorite, the Haunted Mansion, with a low crowd which makes the pre-ride part much better, than I went to my second favorite, Big Thunder Mountain and did it 7-8 times in a row, near the end of the night I didn't even have to get off.

  5. #5

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    Re: Should I use Extra Magic Hours or not?

    Quote Originally Posted by WDW Peak Seasons View Post
    As for the evening EMH’s, unless you have teenagers, this is difficult to utilize. Most youngsters will have trouble staying awake this late, so if you have young ones it is better to go for the morning EMH’s. If you have teens, the evening EMH is great. They can sleep in, and then begin their day around noon, and get ready for a long night.
    This is the mistake I think a lot of parents make that I like to use to my advantage. I avoid the park with evening hours during the day and then head over closer to closing time to take advantage of the Extra Magic Hours. I find that a lot of the people who were there for so much of the day just cannot keep going and head out.

  6. #6

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    Re: Should I use Extra Magic Hours or not?

    I think it just depends.

    Personally, if I had kids, I'd not pull them out of bed at 6am to go to a park or character breakfast. There are times when I plan something - like a day tour in Europe - where I can get cranky getting up too early. I'm a morning person, but I don't like to rush around while on vacation.

    I prefer the late night EMH - especially at Epcot. As far as the experts who say not to do EMH - there are people who do research on crowds, and on visiting attractions, etc. and they can be pretty accurate. I wouldn't want to do an early EHM park because it gets more crowded, and I'd not get there early enough to benefit from it.

    During the busy times, I tend to stay out of EMH parks altogether. The MK is very rarely open as late as 5am, though I believe it was open until 3am a number of times last year.

    As far as September - it doesn't matter as far as EMH, since the month is pretty slow. I would do EMH at night anywhere during that month. January is much busier than it used to be, you can't really compare it to September anymore.

    I think that really, if I had kids, I'd go to a non-EMH park in the morning (whenever we got up), taking it easy - and stay late (until they were ready to go back). I find that a more relaxing pace.

    I know a lot of people who stay offsite (often renting homes) and rave about it. I live close now, but have stayed both on and off property. I wouldn't stay on 192 or I-Drive during holiday time periods because the roads can get backed up. But this year, I saw some specials at the Gaylord Palms in December for $99.00 per night. I would absolutely have gone for that if I was from out of town. But there is something very nice about staying onsite and getting the perks associated (EMH). It is much better than the Character Caravan they used to have instead!

    Touring plans are different for everyone. For myself, it's about taking in the atmosphere - I don't do tons of rides, but I've been in the parks hundreds of times now. But that is also the way I go on vacation anywhere. I plan, but don't overplan or rush.
    Denise

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    Favorite TDL Typo:

    Quote Originally Posted by TDLFAN View Post
    I think it will give more pipping pervs the reason needed to go parasailing
    on Bay Lake.

  7. #7

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    Re: Should I use Extra Magic Hours or not?

    Quote Originally Posted by lazyboy97O View Post
    This is the mistake I think a lot of parents make that I like to use to my advantage. I avoid the park with evening hours during the day and then head over closer to closing time to take advantage of the Extra Magic Hours. I find that a lot of the people who were there for so much of the day just cannot keep going and head out.
    I actually would agree with that, I like very late night EMH (towards the end). It's like going to one of the Christmas/Halloween parties. By 11pm or so, the park is much more cleared out of kids during the parties.
    Denise

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    Favorite TDL Typo:

    Quote Originally Posted by TDLFAN View Post
    I think it will give more pipping pervs the reason needed to go parasailing
    on Bay Lake.

  8. #8

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    Re: Should I use Extra Magic Hours or not?

    I arranged my plans when my friend was visiting WDW to have the EMH on hand in case I needed them. Funny thing was we never used them. We got done with DAK by 5:30. And we got done with Epcot after Illuminations because I had to work the next morning and I was tired.
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  9. #9

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    Re: Should I use Extra Magic Hours or not?

    During our recent trip over the New Years week, we HAD to use the EMHs or we wouldn't have gotten on things in a timely manner. The crowds were just too intense. So, we'd go to parks as soon as they opened, do things when the park is dead, then head back to the hotel between 11am and 1pm. We'd give the kids a nap (maybe take one ourselves), eat lunch (sometimes dinner as well) at the hotel, then head to the parks for the evening EMHs. Like others have said, the parks were dead and it was a LOT more fun just hanging with the family instead of fighting with cranky guests.

  10. #10

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    Re: Should I use Extra Magic Hours or not?

    Didn't make much use of them when I stayed on property in October 2006. Did evening hours at the Magic Kingdom once and it was still very busy. No better than during the day, at least not in Fantasyland. Same with the evening hours at Epcot.

    Didn't try any early hours but I did notice one morning that the line-up to catch a bus to Animal Kingdom looked to be at least enough to fill two busses, and this was half an hour into the magic hours anyway. Why bother in that case?

    Are the hours at Animal Kingdom still such that evening magic hours are the only way to see the park at night? That's worth doing (of course, off-site guests could choose to stick around for the sights, and skip the rides anyway).

    Personally, having a really late night is fun, probably not so much for people with young kids. In Anaheim this past November, it was a blast to just walk on ride after ride from 11:00 to midnight. Empty boats in POTC were not uncommon. If EME was like this, I'd love it, but it was still quite busy in my experience.

    I know some people really like it, but it's not a major factor for me in the on-site versus off-site decision.

  11. #11

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    Re: Should I use Extra Magic Hours or not?

    When my family and I go we take advantage of EMH. We don't care if we are getting out of the park at 11pm since we're from CA so it's more like 8pm for us. Plus we usually take our time during the day and try not to rush to anything.

  12. #12

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    Re: Should I use Extra Magic Hours or not?

    Quote Originally Posted by BC_DisneyGeek View Post
    Are the hours at Animal Kingdom still such that evening magic hours are the only way to see the park at night? That's worth doing (of course, off-site guests could choose to stick around for the sights, and skip the rides anyway).
    Usually, yes. I live close by and tend to take into account what EMH is for various reasons. Today, I was planning to go to AK to work on a photo walk, but I checked the EMH schedule. This morning was EMH, which meant that the park will be much more full than normal.

    So - I'm going tomorrow (which is better, since it's also not a holiday).

    I also enjoy sticking around and taking photos during EMH evenings occasionally.
    Denise

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    Favorite TDL Typo:

    Quote Originally Posted by TDLFAN View Post
    I think it will give more pipping pervs the reason needed to go parasailing
    on Bay Lake.

  13. #13

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    Re: Should I use Extra Magic Hours or not?

    As for morning hours of EMH, I use them to great effect, getting all the major attractions in as early as possible. Then I leave. Yep, get out of dodge. Because those hoardes that are there stay and the park becomes overcrowded by lunch time. Not that leaving matters, for I've seen already what I wished to see.

    The deal with the night EMH is that parents do keep their four year olds up to all hours and there's nothing more painful to watch then a family of four, trying to use up every ounce of their vacation. Their kids are miserable, fighting to stay awake, the parents are wiped out, arguing with everyone and each other and the whole concept of "Magic Hours" is lost. It really make staying up late for the rest of us a bit less fun. I find the open late one, in my opinion something of a toss-up because of this--and I've been known not to go to avoid this fiasco.

    Just my two cents.

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  14. #14

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    Re: Should I use Extra Magic Hours or not?

    During our last trip, we used the early hour and it worked out wonderfully. But, it also wasn't overly crowded due to recent hurricanes in the area. But, we flew in and didn't get into our room until 2am, then my youngest daughter woke up at 5am. Everyone got up because she was not a happy girl, I took a bath with her and quieted her down so they could sleep but we managed to get to the park about 20 minutes after the early entry started. We rode nearly everything in Fantasyland and Tomorrowland and then ended in Toontown. At noon we caught the train to the main gate and went back for lunch, swimming and naps. Then we had dinner and went back to MK and knocked out everything else in no time, then relaxed and enjoyed the fireworks. That day really couldn't have gone better for us. The longest line we waited in all day was Dumbo, which was around 15 minutes.

    But, my kids prefer to get up early, they do it at home, too. So, that works well for us. They manage to stay up late, too, somehow. Weird.

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  15. #15

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    Re: Should I use Extra Magic Hours or not?

    Quote Originally Posted by Roo719 View Post

    The deal with the night EMH is that parents do keep their four year olds up to all hours and there's nothing more painful to watch then a family of four, trying to use up every ounce of their vacation.
    I've seen more midday meltdowns than anything, which seems to always be a good time to get kids back for a nap.

    My stepsister and her family (including my 2 year old nephew) were here over Thanksgiving week. They stayed offsite in a villa, got up later, took a swim and went to the parks after lunch. They still did quite a bit, enjoying Animal Kingdom best out of any. We didn't have any waits for food, because Thanksgiving/Christmas were really well staffed this year. I was at the MK on 12/30 and never had to stand in a line for counter service then either, I could just walk up. Anyway, my stepsister and her husband just paced themselves really well, used Fastpass occasionally, and my nephew had a great time seeing tigers and gorillas, etc. He occasionally fell asleep in his stroller, but was more inclined to being up later than getting up early. And it helps that he speaks in complete sentences and can say if he's tired, if he's bored, if he's hungry, etc.
    Denise

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    Favorite TDL Typo:

    Quote Originally Posted by TDLFAN View Post
    I think it will give more pipping pervs the reason needed to go parasailing
    on Bay Lake.

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