The Walt Disney World Resort is expanding its Extra Magic Hours program, giving its on-site hotel guests additional early-access to visit its theme parks.
Good news, right? Possibly. But if you are not staying on-site at Disney, the move now wrecks a time-honored strategy for getting the most from your day in the parks.
Disney is adding one hour of Extra Magic Hours before opening at Disney's Animal Kingdom every morning between now and June 30, with the exception of five days: May 11, 13, 17, 27, and 29. Then in July and August, Disney is adding Extra Magic Hours every morning at Disney's Hollywood Studios.
Ever since Theme Park Insider started, we've been preaching that fans should buy their tickets in advance, then arrive early before park opening, to get on rides before lines get too long. But that strategy doesn't work if the park's already filled with guests when you arrive.
That's why we also have been urging fans visiting the Walt Disney World Resort to visit a park other than the one that has the Extra Magic Hour on a given morning. Unless you are staying on-site at Disney and are willing to arrive early enough to enter the park right at the start of the Extra Magic Hour, you're just putting yourself behind those early visitors by going into an EMH park when it opens to everyone else.
Early admission doesn't seem to cause as much problem at other theme parks, since no other resort in the world hosts the tens of thousands of hotel guests each day that Walt Disney World does. But since Disney typically has limited the EMH to just one park each morning, you always had plenty of other options each day. And no matter which park you most wanted to visit, there would be several days during the week when it wasn't flooded early with EMH guests.
That will no longer be the case at Animal Kingdom — home of the wildly popular Flight of Passage in Pandora: The World of Avatar — for the next couple months. And after Toy Story Land opens in Disney's Hollywood Studios on June 30, non-hotel guests will have no chance at beating the crowds in the morning for that land's attractions for the first two months it is open.
The workaround? As always at Disney World, it's that Fastpass+ lottery. Try to get a FP+ time on one of the high-demand attractions at these parks during the months when they will be open early for hotel guests every day. Or... flip the script and plan to close the parks, instead. One of the best ways to get a relatively low-wait ride on Flight of Passage if to jump into its queue right before park close. Once the park closes, there are no more Fastpass+ arrivals, meaning that the standby queue now gets the entire capacity of the attraction, allowing that line to move much faster. We expect the same will be the case for Toy Story Land's Slinky Dog Dash coaster this summer, too.Tweet
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