We venture out to Magic Kingdom Park to check out their version of Extra Extra Magic Hours (EEMH), each of which begins at 7am for eligible guests every day through November 2nd. Previously, we had a tremendous amount of success at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, when we visited Avatar Flight of Passage first thing after the EEMH there began at 7am. You can read all about that experience here. We also saw what it takes to rope drop Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run at 6am at Disney’s Hollywood Studios for EEMH in this post. We then returned last week for an alternative touring plan, beginning the day with Toy Story Land with plans to ride Smugglers Run right before the Park opened to everyone, which I cover in this post.
It’s 6:36am as we approach the entrance. You’ll need to scan your MagicBand/ticket or show your resort ID straight ahead to be let in on the left side of the train station. Unlike the other Parks, where the single eligibility scan is it, we’ll be doing so again inside the Park.
This is the size of the crowd at 6:40am. There might be a hundred people at most.
It’s a good opportunity to take a picture with the Mickey floral.
There won’t be anybody else around.
I used my usual trick of lining up over to the side, which will allow me to quickly scoot by the majority of the people who arrived before me.
It’s not a lot of people.
The crowd will begin to grow as time goes on. To be among the first people to Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, arriving around 6:40am is smart. For any other attraction, you could be at bag check at 6:50am and still be among the first people to arrive. Even if you get here right at 7am, you’ll still wait just about ten minutes for the Mine Train, if that.
At 6:55am, we were let into the Park.
It’s a pretty easy walk.
Several PhotoPass photographers will be out to snap shots if you want to make a stop this early.
For the sake of touring efficiency, it’s best to skip ahead.
Those eligible for (Extra) Extra Magic Hours head right.
Seeing promotional filming in the Hub gave me flashbacks to my morning at Hollywood Studios, where the taping delayed everyone’s morning by ten minutes to start the day and then kept Slinky Dog either closed or running at limited capacity for more than a half hour.
Fortunately, we won’t be inconvenienced here as we approach another set of cast members who will confirm our Extra Magic Hours eligibility.
During (Extra) Extra Magic Hours, only Main Street, Tomorrowland, and Fantasyland are available. On Main Street, both Mickey and Tinker Bell begin meeting at 7am for the start of the EEMH. Officially, these are the included attractions:
- The Barnstormer
- Dumbo the Flying Elephant
- “it’s a small world”
- Mad Tea Party
- The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
- Mickey’s PhilharMagic
- Peter Pan’s Flight
- Prince Charming Regal Carrousel
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
- Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid
Unofficially, the Princess Fairytale Hall Meet and Greets with Rapunzel/Tiana and Cinderella/Elena will be operating, in addition to the Ariel’s Grotto Meet and Greet.
- Astro Orbiter – Currently closed
- Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
- Space Mountain
- Tomorrowland Speedway
- Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover
- Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress
We’ll begin with the most popular attraction in the Park in Seven Dwarfs Mine Train in Fantasyland. Everything in Tomorrowland will be a walk-on for the duration of the Extra Extra Magic Hour. We could feasibly begin the day with Mickey Mouse in Town Square, but you’ll be in better shape if you use FastPass+ there later in the day.
The next holding area is in the usual spot on the walkway towards Mad Tea Party, and eventually, Mine Train.
In addition to the low crowds, EEMH is a unique opportunity to enjoy the sights and sounds of the theme parks in the morning glow.
Typically, the earliest we’d be able to enter Magic Kingdom is 7:45am. This is a full 45 minutes before that.
As usual, I’ve managed to fall behind a bit, which may better represent your own experience if you’re a little slower to move through the various processes.
After standing here for just a minute, the walk over to the Mine Train began at exactly 7am.
This was considerably fewer people than we’ve seen during past rope drops.
The path is the same as it always is.
With a regular 9am open, I recommend arriving at Magic Kingdom by 8am and being in the holding area to the right of Cinderella Castle by 8:15am. By 9am, at least 1,500 people will typically be headed to the Mine Train first thing. The first person to arrive will walk right on, while another person who was also present before the Park opened will wait an hour or more.
Here at 7am, there might be 250 people making the same trek.
The first person to arrive will walk right on, but the last person will be in for a wait closer to ten minutes, if that.
I’m about two-thirds of the way back in line.
And I was on-board at 7:10am, after initially arriving at the attraction entrance at 7:03am:
I was back out front at 7:14am, for a total experience time of about twelve minutes.
There are not a whole lot of people coming this way.
We got right back in line.
And did not run into a whole lot of resistance.
We’ve got a straight shot past what would ordinarily be the merge point with FastPass+.
One potentially nice thing about the EEMH is that you will utilize the various standby queues. With FP+, you’d bypass the Mine Train queue and the Peter Pan’s Flight queue, which we’ll see next.
We were on-board eight minutes later, at 7:23am:
Back out front at 7:28am, things have picked up a bit.
The posted wait of 15 minutes is probably still a bit high, but I don’t think they can make it say twelve minutes.
Those who visit the characters early in the morning typically enjoy better interaction and you may well have the princesses to yourself. As a mid-30s, single adult male, this is not ideal. But you could meet all four princesses, in two separate lines, in about ten minutes.
I’m headed to Fantasyland’s second highest priority, Peter Pan’s Flight.
That, along with the Mine Train and The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, should be your ride priorities during the EEMH. It doesn’t make a tremendous amount of sense to do anything else, other than the Meet and Greets.
You would have the Carrousel largely to yourself and you can’t beat the bright morning yellows and oranges in the sky.
Waits for Peter Pan’s Flight should be under five minutes during the entirety of EEMH.
On a regular 9am open day, the actual wait will hit 20 minutes within five minutes of opening and come in closer to 40 minutes by 9:30am. It’s posted at five minutes at 7:30am. There’s no FastPass+ available during (Extra) Extra Magic Hours, so all of the attractions’ capacities are given to standby.
If you’re headed to Liberty Square, Frontierland, or Adventureland after the Extra Extra Magic Hour, then up ahead is as far as you’ll be able to go until 8am. Unless height requirements are keeping you from other attractions, it doesn’t make sense to ride small world this early, considering it will see waits under ten minutes until at least 10:30am. It’s also a lengthy ride.
Typically, you’ll be hustled through the interactive queue at Peter Pan’s Flight.
This early, there are plenty of opportunities to take it all in.
It looks like there might be one ship’s worth of people ahead of me.
It’s a bit of a struggle to take dark ride photos with a very wide f4 lens. If only I had that iPhone 11.
We were back out front at 7:38am for a total experience time of eight minutes. That’s about four minutes shorter than the ride typically takes with FastPass+.
We got back in line.
This time, our wait was about two minutes to board:
We were back out front at 7:46am, for a total experience time of eight minutes, perhaps in part due to spending a minute less taking photos in the queue. We could walk right back on again for a ride that still sees 60+ minute peak waits nearly every day. I’ve saved an hour in line on each ride through Peter Pan’s Flight and around 90 minutes on each ride at Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. That’s a savings of four and a half hours during the first 45 minutes of Extra Extra Magic Hours.
We stopped by The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh next.
It might surprise you how quickly the ride gets bogged down after regular Park open, given its low capacity and high FastPass+ allotment.
With a regular 9am open, the actual wait is typically 20 minutes by 9:20am.
Its placement directly across from Seven Dwarfs Mine Train probably doesn’t help.
We arrived at 7:49am, were on-board at 7:53am, and found ourselves back out front at 7:58am.
Guests ineligible for (Extra) Extra Magic Hours are free to peruse Main Street USA up until official Park open. The Welcome Show on the Castle Forecourt Stage in front of Cinderella Castle begins five minutes before regular Park open and at its conclusion, everyone will be released to head to the attraction of their choice. Since it’s a couple of minutes before that happens, I could elect to get in line for any of these Fantasyland attractions again.
Mine Train’s actual wait is likely up to about 15 minutes, with Peter Pan’s Flight and Winnie the Pooh closer to five minutes each. You’ll obviously get the most value out of EEMH if you arrive in time to take full advantage of it. I was able to do Mine Train twice, Peter Pan’s Flight twice, and The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh once over the span of an hour and without much effort. That’s not far off from what you can expect to do during the paid Early Morning Magic event, which costs $80 per person. I review that here if you’d like to compare.
Really, the big difference is that during Early Morning Magic, you use the FP+ queue at Mine Train, and they open up this pathway so you can quickly reenter the queue, instead of having to go all the way back around. That saves about five minutes per ride. But as far as wait times and crowds are concerned, Extra Extra Magic Hours is comparable to Early Morning Magic.
Earlier this year, I wrote extensively about the benefits of an 8am regular open versus the 9am opens that we typically see outside of this Extra Extra Magic Hours period. You can pull up one of those posts here, which links back to some other rope drop strategy posts. The fact is that an 8am arrival at a theme park is too early for most tourists on vacation. That means very few people are going to be on hand that early. 9am is more doable, but even then, the vast majority of those visiting the Parks will arrive after 10am. That’s why these mornings are so good.
It’s also why Disney adding an Extra Magic Hour from 7am to 8am, “literally” every single day for 2+ months, is a bit of a head-scratcher. Obviously, Disney expected record attendance for the Star Wars opening. These Extra Extra Magic Hours were then a way for Disney to offer its on-site guests an opportunity to tour the Parks in significantly lower crowds. Of course, Galaxy’s Edge has been an incredible disappointment from an attendance perspective, doing little to drive interest. Wait times at the Florida Parks so far in September are down over 50% compared to last year, due in large part to these extended hours and increased staffing. The benefits of the increased staffing will be more prominent as we move through the morning.
If you can believe it, this is just about the extent of the rope drop rush to Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at 8am.
As I pointed out during our Animal Kingdom rope drop, a lot of the people who would be present for a 9am open will also do what they can to be at the Park for an 8am open, or in this case, a 7am open. The early open benefits everyone who arrives later as well. I’ve already been on the Mine Train, Peter Pan’s Flight, and Winnie the Pooh, so I’m no longer in those lines, which makes them shorter for everyone who arrives after I’ve moved on.
In the next part, we’ll continue on into Tomorrowland for Space Mountain, Tomorrowland Speedway, and Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin.