Whew, we did the extended hours in Magic Kingdom last night and it honestly felt like a paid after-hours event. It was glorious. Definitely the best 2 hours of our week as far as ride maximization (did I just make up a new term?) goes.
For those who aren’t familiar, guests staying at Deluxe Disney Resorts, and the Swan and Dolphin, are allowed to stay for extra hours in Epcot and Magic Kingdom on select nights. The full list of resorts is below. Thus far it seems that the extra hours in Epcot are consistently on Monday nights (10pm to midnight) and the extra hours in MK are consistently on Wednesday nights (9-11pm). Unlike the early entry in the mornings, all Disney resorts are not included, so the crowds are significantly less than in the mornings (not to mention most families with little kids just can’t hang until 11 or 12).
We headed to MK around 6:30 from Bay Lake Tower. We had lightning lane passes for Peter Pan and Pirates, so we did both of those before our 7:15 dinner reservation at Skippers Canteen. If you haven’t eaten at Skippers Canteen, it is truly a hidden gem. I’ll write up a review, but suffice it to say it had the best service we’ve experienced on property all week and all of our food selections were beyond delicious.
Worth noting: Magic Kingdom was a mob scene when we entered around 6:30. Seriously miserable walking through Main Street and Fantasyland at that time. Everyone was already getting spots for the fireworks (why?!) and it was just jam packed. Really unpleasant with a stroller and that damn Frozen balloon kiddo keeps whacking me in the face with.
After eating, by around 8:15, the fireworks were done and it started clearing out. Some fireworks watchers lingered and did some rides until park closing at 9, but it was much, much more pleasant walking around after the fireworks were done. We did two more lightning lane rides before the park closed, finishing up the Haunted Mansion right around 9.
Starting at 9, since the park is officially closed, cast members scan your Magic Band at the entrance to each ride (super quick and doesn’t cause any backlog). During the first 20 minutes of the extended hours, we saw lots of confused/disappointed guests being turned away from rides since they must not have understood the rides were closed to the majority of guests.
So what did we accomplish from 9-11pm? Well here it is (keep in mind we have a 4 year old, so our ride priorities are pretty preposterous). Since we had already done Peter Pan, Small World, Pirates, Aladdin, and Haunted Mansion earlier in the evening, we focused on the rest of Fantasyland and Tomorrowland.
We started with the Carousel, which was mostly empty right at 9. Next, we hit the Teacups and Astro Orbiter (the nauseating part of the the evening, if you will). We were hoping to ride the PeopleMover, my son’s favorite, but it doesn’t run during extended hours (he will survive, he rode it 3 times in the past 2 days).
He then oddly turned down walking onto Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin to instead run like a fool through the misty water area in Tomorrowland, much to my dismay, but I guess that’s life as a parent in Disney. We wrapped up Tomorrowland by hopping on the Speedway (the Laugh Floor was also open with no wait, but we did that yesterday).
At this point it was almost 10pm and nearly every ride on the map was showing a 5-10 minute wait with the exceptions of: 20 minutes for Space Mountain, 40 minutes for Peter Pan, and 45 minutes for 7 Dwarfs. I have a hunch that the 20 minutes at Space Mountain was inflated, because the 7 Dwarfs wait time sure was.
At 10:10 we got in line for 7 Dwarfs, with a posted wait time of 45 minutes. We were done riding by 10:25, so, consistent with our prior visits, the wait time at 7DMT is massively overstated at the end of the night. We hopped right back on and were done riding twice by 10:40. To be clear, we rode twice in under 30 minutes, and probably could have ridden twice more before 11. At that point we squeezed in Winnie the Pooh (walk on) and Ariel (we were the only fools out at 11 to go on Ariel, but I’m not the boss).
So all in all, from 9-11pm we rode: the Carousel, the Teacups, Astro Orbiter, the Speedway, Mine Train twice, Winnie the Pooh, and Ariel.
For those without a little one making the decisions, you could have easily done Pirates, Haunted Mansion, Big Thunder Mountain, and Space Mountain in place of the kiddie rides we did, and you’d still get Mine Train in twice before closing. That’s a pretty solid two hours.
By doing some Lightning Lane selections in the evening before park closing, and then staying for the extended hours, you can seriously knock out all the rides in the park. Just make sure you do Jungle Cruise with a Lightning lane before park closing, because that’s a long wait always (even the Lightning Lane was 15 minutes) and it isn’t available during extended hours. Same with Splash Mountain, but no Lightning Lane required during the “colder” months.
We also took advantage of the extended hours at Epcot on Monday night (10pm-midnight). Contrary to what has been posted on social media, there are some food options open during the extended hours. The restaurants and stands in the World Showcase are closed, but there were multiple little options open near the front of the park. We got hot pretzels and drinks at a cart outside of the Land. We also saw the Joffreys cart open by Mission Space at 11:30pm.
The Epcot extended hours are a little less exciting. Ratatouille is not included, nor are some less in demand rides like Imagination and Living with the Land.
So basically the point of the extra hours at Epcot is to ride Frozen, Soarin, and Test Track with minimal wait. We walked on Soarin right around 10 and I’ve never seen it so empty. Literally the theater we were in was only filled in the middle of the 3 sections. I’ve never been in a theater that wasn’t fully filled. Crazy.
The line for Frozen was actually quite long at 10:15 when we checked it (wrapped around outside like peak times during the day). The posted wait was 40 minutes and based on my experience I’d guess that that was probably pretty accurate. It did drop down to 30 minutes by 10:45. I bet in the second hour it gets great, but we were out of steam unfortunately and skipped it. Obviously no Anna and Elsa sightings outside of their Somerhaus during the extended hours.
We waited 5 minutes for Test Track, then walked on Spaceship Earth and called it a night.
The monorail ride back to the Contemporary was honestly a pain. Thankfully the Resort Monorail was still running for the length of the extended Epcot hours, but there were some delays due to monorails going to the yard and whatnot, so it took awhile getting back (30-40 minutes feels like an eternity with a 4 year old near midnight).
The Magic Kingdom extended hours are a glorious way to feel like you are at a paid-for after hours event without forking over hundreds of dollars per person. The park was a ghost town by 10 (excluding Main Street, where they kindly even had photo pass photographers out well past 11pm). The Epcot hours are nice, but not a total game changer. It’s worth hopping on Test Track and Soarin with no wait, and the wait for Frozen is definitely better than attempting to ride it at rope drop.