We head out to Epcot on a Tuesday with evening Extra Magic Hours.
Above is a chart showing the overall average wait time for each day so far in June across ten Epcot attractions. The Park hosts evening Extra Magic Hours on Tuesdays and those days are highlighted in orange. Thursdays with a morning Extra Magic Hour attached are highlighted in a color that seems to resemble yellow. For years, the advice was to avoid the Park hosting Extra Magic Hours because Disney resort guests just couldn’t help themselves from heading there in droves because they felt like it was Disney’s way of telling them where to go each day, even if they had no intention of taking advantage of the EMH.
In the FastPass+ era, it has become far less important to choose which day you visit a specific Park based on whether it’s hosting Extra Magic Hours or because it’s a certain day of the week that’s “always less busy.” When you have 100% of the available FastPass+ experiences being distributed for the majority of the attractions during each time slot every day, the same small amount of capacity is given to standby regardless of whether you’re visiting Epcot when there’s 28,000 people in the Park or 33,000 people in the Park.
Complicating things further, when Disney is expecting higher attendance, they ramp up staffing and capacity, which can actually decrease wait times and increase FastPass+ availability. We’ve all been to the grocery store during a peak time when it’s busy, but the wait to check out is nominal because eight registers are operating. We’ve probably all been to that same grocery store when it’s less busy during an off-peak time, only to wait longer to check out because only two registers are operating. Your day at a Disney theme park isn’t that much different. If you’re the 1,000th person in line at Space Mountain and both sides of the ride are operating, then you’re going to wait less than if you’re the 750th person in line and only one side is operating. So even if you could somehow guarantee that you’re visiting on a day with lower attendance, it could very well slow you down more than visiting on a day with much higher attendance. The trick is to visit on a day with lower-than-expected attendance, when capacity is ramped up, but the people don’t materialize. Of course, you can’t really do that until you know what staffing is going to look like, which isn’t typically available more than two weeks out.
If you’ve missed the post that features the above chart, with the average wait time at Magic Kingdom each day over the last 18 months, you might pull up the full post for that discussion. It should provide some insight into how crowds and wait times shift from day to day.
Back to this chart, over the first seven days in June, the two days with Extra Magic Hours are actually two of the three days with the lowest waits. Only Friday June 1st saw lower wait times and the day with evening Extra Magic Hours ended up seeing lower waits than either of the days around it. Avoiding Extra Magic Hours ends up backfiring here with longer waits on most non-EMH days.
On the other hand, during the next week, the Tuesday with evening EMH sees the highest overall average wait at 37 minutes, which is two minutes longer than the day before it. Avoiding Extra Magic Hours is good advice here.
The following Wednesday, June 13th, sees the lowest wait of that seven-day period, which is a departure from the week before when the Wednesday has the highest wait time over the course of that week. So we can’t really say with any certainty that Wednesdays are typically more or less crowded.
My advice would ordinarily be to avoid Saturdays at Epcot because of the number of groups chugging $15 beers around World Showcase in succession, in addition to the fact that waits are typically higher on weekends. But what we see so far in June doesn’t really support that either. Saturday June 9th actually sees a lower average wait than the following Monday, June 11th. Saturday June 2nd’s wait is also lower than the following Sunday or that Monday. On the other hand, Saturday June 16th sees the highest waits of the days around it by far. So Saturdays may or may not see higher wait times than other days during the week.
Here’s the same information in a different chart. Tuesdays with a * see evening EMH while Thursdays with a ^ host a morning EMH:
The overall average wait for the 19 days is 34.4 minutes and no day with Extra Magic Hours is more than three minutes off of that average in either direction, which also means all of those dates are within one standard deviation of 2.8 minutes. On the other hand, only one of the five days with EMH out of the last 19 is below average. Waits seem to be consistently lower on Fridays, but we’d obviously need to see a lot more data, and that pattern wouldn’t hold up in the fall with the Food and Wine proving more popular on Friday nights, in addition to Magic Kingdom’s earlier closes for Mickey’s Halloween/Christmas parties pushing people elsewhere.
Here’s a look at wait times on the day with the lowest waits so far this month, June 1st:
The lower wait may have more to do with attraction downtime than anything else. Here, Test Track and Frozen are operating for almost the entire day with Test Track experiencing about 15 minutes of downtime in the evening with the overall wait for the day at 73 minutes. Frozen doesn’t go down at all and the average wait is well below average at 47 minutes.
Here’s June 2nd, when the average wait climbs 23.3% to 37 minutes:
Here, we have a considerable amount of downtime at Frozen pushing the average wait time there up to 73 minutes, which is a 55% increase over the day before. Test Track also sees a little downtime earlier in the day, which pushes up wait times for a longer period of time as FastPass+ users are more likely to return. There, the wait increases 12 minutes day over day.
On the other hand, if you remove Frozen and Test Track from the calculations, June 2nd’s wait times is 26 minutes versus 22 minutes on the 1st, which is still an 18.2% difference over the two days. That’s not that far off from the 23.3% difference that we saw when the wait times for all ten attractions were included.
The pictures that follow are all taken on Tuesday June 12th, a day with evening EMH. Here’s the chart:
Waits during evening Extra Magic Hours are typically among the shortest of the day as they drop as it gets later into the evening and people invariably leave. Come 9:15pm, the 25-minute average wait is just about the same as what we see at 10am. By 10:30pm, the 16-minute wait is right around what we see at 9:15am. As always, posted waits are exaggerated at closing time to deter people from getting in line at the very end of the night. And as always, you can get in line for any operating attraction right up until Park close. So if you get in line for Test Track at 10:58pm, I’d expect to wait about 15 minutes and be off the ride around 11:25pm.
Another nice thing about evening EMH is that Living with the Land, Journey into Imagination with Figment, and Disney & Pixar Short Film Festival stay open through 9pm for everyone and then continue to run until 11pm for the EMH.
Ordinarily, these attractions close at 7pm. That’s slightly less important at the Imagination attractions, but it does afford an opportunity to enjoy Living with the Land in the dark, where it’s cool to see the greenhouses lit up against the night sky. In the winter, it gets dark enough to enjoy these views before 7pm, but during the summer, you’d have to visit on an evening EMH night to see it.
A few more pictures around here:
The Seas Pavilion almost always stays open until 9pm and is typically a ghost town after 7pm.
But even with Extra Magic Hours now available to a record number of people, including guests staying at a variety of Disney-Springs-area hotels, you’ll still see few people in line anywhere other than Soarin’, Test Track, and Frozen during the EMH.
It’s usually smart to visit other attractions during the first hour of EMH before moving on to the headliners, though that can be a challenge because Soarin’ Around the World, Test Track, and Frozen are so spaced out. If you’re skipping IllumiNations, I’d hit Soarin’ between 8:45pm and 9:15pm followed by Living with the Land. Then visit some other attractions like Mission: SPACE, The Seas with Nemo, Turtle Talk (only if you have 20ish minutes to spare), Figment, Spaceship Earth, and the like before embarking on Test Track or Frozen.
But as someone that has experienced the rides “a number of times” over the years, the best part about evening Extra Magic Hours is the ability to enjoy World Showcase with very few people around.
Although if you want to buy into Disney Vacation Club, you’ll probably need to do that at another time.
Disney doesn’t do a very good job of advertising it, but the majority of World Showcase’s attractions, stores, restaurants, and quick services remain open during EMH.
This is 9:50pm and the stores in Canada are all open with nobody coming in or out.
O’ Canada, the Pavilion’s Circle-Vision 360 film, runs its last show five minutes before evening EMH ends.
So it’s open all night.
I probably wouldn’t take the time to see it during EMH since it will take about 20 minutes.
But if you’d like Martin Short all to yourself, it’s a good opportunity.
Likewise, all of the stores in the United Kingdom are open:
Or perhaps a late night pint.
Note that Impressions de France does not stay open during evening EMH with its last show at 8:45pm nightly.
You might remember that the show now starts at :15 and :45 past the hour, which typically makes it easier to fit into a schedule since you’ll known when it’s time to head over.
You’ll only need to arrive a minute or two before the show starts to get a terrific seat.
But the stores remain open.
As does the bakery and ice cream shop.
I’m not sure that I’d spend my evening EMH time eating, but some restaurants accept reservations through 10pm.
That includes Chefs de France. Others, like Le Cellier, accept reservations through 9:30pm. And others, like Rose & Crown Dining Room, only seat people through 9pm, like other days.
You can check to see how late a restaurant seats guests by searching for the restaurant at DisneyWorld.com and then changing the date to one with evening Extra Magic Hours attached. That’s usually Tuesday.
Teppan Edo, which I recently reviewed here, seats guests up until 10pm, which means you’d finish up around 11:15pm and be able to enjoy the walk out of Epcot with just a couple of weird photographers looking annoyed as you walk through their pictures.
A few more in France:
Bad news on the Spice Road Table front: You’re going to have to fight for a table during regular hours. They don’t seat past 9pm.
But the stores and most of the Pavilion remain wide open until 11pm. This picture was taken at 10:55pm with just one cast member anywhere in the vicinity.
Tangierine Cafe operates until 11pm.
With nobody nearby.
Obviously, wandering World Showcase during evening Extra Magic Hours isn’t for everyone.
But if you’re lamenting how busy and hot it is during the day and don’t necessarily care about riding Test Track again, it’s an incredibly fun, relaxing way to enjoy one of the prettiest areas in any of the Parks at night.
We’ll visit the other half of World Showcase and see what’s going on in Future World East next time.
For now, we’ll enjoy the walk out:
We’ll take a closer look at France next.