Monday, July 23, 2012

Minnie Moms: Extra Magic Hours


Amy: One of the perks of staying at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel is Extra Magic Hours. Each day one of the parks is open a little longer than normal for resort guests only. Not everything is in operation during this time but the most popular attractions will be available.

For morning Extra Magic Hours, the designated park will be open one hour in advance. The Cast Member at the Theme Park turnstiles will ask for your Resort ID so be sure to have it handy. If you are an early riser, morning Extra Magic Hours are a great way to make tracks before the crowds form. It's especially nice for those Fantasyland attractions that get so busy during the day and let's face it, little ones just don't have the patience for long lines.

For evening Extra Magic Hours, the park can be open up to an additional three hours after the published closing time. If you like to stay up late, evening Extra Magic Hours might be for you. It takes a little while for the non-WDW resort hotel guests to filter out of the park, but the crowds get lighter as the night goes on.  (Note: EEMH will be a maximum of two hours beginning in January 2013.)

Valid park admission is required for Extra Magic Hours so if you don't have a park hopper option on your ticket, be sure to plan accordingly if you would like to take advantage of this perk.

Natalie: Extra Magic Hours are a great tool when staying in a Disney Resort. The Morning Extra Magic Hours are helpful if you and your family are used to getting up early, however, they typically only provide you an extra hour of fun before other non-Disney Resort guests arrive at the park.

I personally am a night owl. As such, I always choose to take advantage of the Evening Extra Magic Hours. I find that after the nighttime shows are done at the theme parks, the crowd levels decrease dramatically. This allows for park touring during the cooler times of the day while being able to also enjoy reduced lines!

Like so many others, I enjoy going to the parks for a few hours in the morning. Then as the day heats up, I head back to the room for a dip in the pool and a nap. Sometimes I eat foods I have brought with me in the room for lunch or have a nice air-conditioned meal in the hotel. Often the Resort's restaurants are less crowded than those in the parks and are often less expensive.

Typically around 5 pm, I head back to the parks for many more hours of fun out of the sun! Evening Extra Magic Hours last for at least an hour, but often times provide an extra 3 hours of time.

Corby: You know the saying, “Do as I say not as I do”? Well, that pretty much describes my thoughts on using Extra Magic Hours. Having young children, I find it very difficult to take advantage of them. We are not early risers in my family. Shockingly, we've never even made it to rope drop. Ever. It's not that I don't want to. We just can't get it together in the mornings. So, seeing as how we can't make it to the park for regular opening, the early EMH's clearly aren't going to happen for us. I tried to take my son out for a date one evening at the Magic Kingdom when it had an evening EMH. I had visions of he and I riding the rides until midnight with no lines. What ended up happening was he was falling asleep by 10:00 and begging for me to take him back to the hotel. The nerve of him, I tell ya!

Now, as a travel agent, I highly recommend that my clients who are staying on Disney property use this perk. I think they are wonderful! If you have young children that wake up at the crack of dawn as I know many do, take advantage of the early EMH. If you have children who are night owls, or if you are adults traveling without children, definitely take advantage of the evening EMH. You can get up to 3 extra hours with fewer crowds and not to mention less heat which is a no brainer in my opinion. I would advise if you are in the parks late to sleep in the next day. Similarly, if you go to the park early, be sure to take an afternoon break or leave early that day. If your family doesn't get enough rest, you'll end up being crabby and miserable from being overtired so try to take it easy.

Janine: As we have not stayed on-site at WDW, my only experience of EMHs was during this years short trip to Disneyland Paris. Here the EMH was from 8-10am in just the Disneyland Park. We didn't make it for rope drop either day but were there shortly after 8, between 815 and 830. Although we enjoyed the park being quiet for a few Castle shots, we found the number of rides open quite disappointing. There were only a few open in Fantasyland (it's a small world was meant to be open at 8 but didn't til 10 both days, this would have been super useful as was Tink's fave ride), a couple in Discoveryland (Buzz and Space Mountain: Mission 2) and Pirates over in Adventureland, which was again supposed to open at 8 but didn't. Another issue that we found was that there were barely any dining options. The Deli on Main St was one of the only places for coffee and we had a real issue with the CMs here (see my review of DLP here).

That being said, being able to wander around the park, soaking up the atmosphere and just enjoying seeing the sights without hoards of people everywhere was priceless and well worth getting a 2 year old up extra early (France are an hour ahead of the UK) and missing breakfast to get into the park ASAP.

We were only there for 2 nights so I am unsure if there is sometimes EMH for the Walt Disney Studios but as far as I am aware there is only early EMH, not after general closing.

I would definately recommend EMH to anyone considering staying at a Disney hotel, if soley for the wonderful photos you will get.

Danielle: Since I have two very young children who love to wake up early (even on vacation!!), we are a get-to-the-parks-for-rope-drop kind of family. If we are up early enough, we do enjoy taking advantage of the EMH in the morning. We find we can stay on top of the crowds this way, since most guests still arrive at the parks around 10 and later. Having said that, if we are not going to be at the park for rope drop, we steer clear of the park with EMH. Even though most guests don't arrive for rope drop (thus taking advantage of the morning EMH), most resort guests still gravitate to the park that has EMH for some reason. If you arrive late, you will be among the swarms of people, and that is just not appealing for us. Unfortunately, I can't speak to the evening EMH because my little ones are too young to take advantage of it.

A big thanks to DanielleJanine, Corby, and Natalie for joining me on today's post.  Please visit our Minnie Moms page for all our past topics and more information on our whole team of moms.

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