We don’t get out much at night. Or I should say, I don’t get out much at night. Mother likes me home by 9pm. And we don’t want to worry Mother.
You may notice as you poke around this website a bit, that it is not a big fan of Extra Magic Hours. This is due to a variety of reasons, but it basically boils down to the fact that 75,000+ people have access to Extra Magic Hours on any given day and many of them choose to visit the theme park with Extra Magic Hours. The good news is that very few of them actually arrive for morning Extra Magic Hour and few of them are able to stay late into the night when Extra Magic Hours begin at 11pm or later. In the case of the Magic Kingdom, I usually have a “tentative recommendation” on Magic Kingdom when it’s hosting Extra Magic Hours that begin at 11pm or 12am, particularly during the summer when Main Street Electrical Parade and Wishes are scheduled every night. I’m less enthusiastic about Hollywood Studios’ evening Extra Magic Hours because so few attractions are open. Other than Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, Tower of Terror, Star Tours, and Toy Story Mania, what else is there to do? In a similar vein, Epcot is also not ideal because Soarin’ and Test Track are swamped for most of the night and few attractions are open overall. This means more people in fewer lines and wait times stay long throughout the evening. At Magic Kingdom, there are enough attractions that crowds are more widely dispersed and waits only get shorter as it gets later in the evening and more people exit the Park. Finally, we generally prefer touring in the morning because crowds are guaranteed to be low, FASTPASSes are plentiful, and more attractions are open. As we’ll see as I try to trudge to Hollywood Studios at 7am the next morning (or the same morning, technically), an early morning after a late evening is an unpleasant experience. Specifically for this past Friday (when these pictures were taken), the Crowd Calendar states the following:
We have a long day at the Magic Kingdom, thanks to evening Extra Magic Hours. Both 9am to 12pm and 12:30am – 3am will be great times to tour, but the afternoon will be crowded due to the popularity of evening Extra Magic Hours with Disney resort guests. Most Disney resort guests will sleep in and arrive around 11am, in anticipation of staying until around 11pm. The morning will be an outstanding time to tour, but only if you actually arrive by 8:45am and head straight for Fantasyland or the headlining Mountain rides. You should be able to get a lot done before noon and you can either take a break or tour the less popular attractions in the afternoon, while collecting FASTPASSes for the rides you would like to ride again or weren’t able to make it to in the morning. For Main Street Electrical Parade, try to see the 11pm Parade in Frontierland or Liberty Square because it will be less crowded than the 9pm Parade and those areas are much less crowded than Main Street. If you are staying for Extra Magic Hours, I would recommend beginning in Adventureland because most people will head to Tomorrowland and Fantasyland first. Next, move up through Frontierland and Liberty Square on your way to Tomorrowland. Save Fantasyland for last because most families will be long gone from the Park by 1:30am and Fantasyland will be low on crowds. It’s not uncommon for Peter Pan’s Flight to have a 45 minute wait in the afternoon and a ten minute or less wait at the end of evening Extra Magic Hours. Save Dumbo, Peter Pan, and Winnie the Pooh for the very end of the night. Overall, I can tentatively recommend Magic Kingdom, but only if you can tour during one or both of the stated recommended times. The afternoon will be busier than more-recommended days during the week, including tomorrow. I would hold off on visiting until Saturday if you plan to tour during the afternoon, aren’t eligible or aren’t able to stay until the end of evening Extra Magic Hours, or won’t be able to arrive prior to 9am.
Here’s another image of the line to the Express Monorail at 10:30pm. I really can’t stress enough the idea that you can and should hang back from the crowd exiting the Park at the most popular exit times. Generally speaking, at Magic Kingdom, this is immediately after Wishes. At Hollywood Studios, it’s immediately after the first (and to an extent the second) Fantasmic. At Epcot, it’s immediately after IllumiNations. The stores along Main Street (Magic Kingdom), Hollywood Boulevard (Hollywood Studios), and Future World in Epcot will stay open for at least 30 minutes after the officially stated close time and often stay open for 60-75 minutes. At Magic Kingdom tonight, the closing time isn’t even an issue because the Park is open for another 90 minutes to everyone and four and a half hours for Disney resort guests. There’s just no reason to be in this line.
A few people hanging out for the 11pm Parade. One of the nice things about visiting in the summer is that Main Street Electrical Parade is scheduled twice every night. As we’ll see, the second Parade is significantly less crowded than the first. Well, we’ll sort of see that, since I was at Epcot at 9pm. Take my word for it??
A lot of people around Main Street, many of them still headed to the exit after trying to move through the crowds for the last 15-20 minutes since Wishes ended.
From a “wait time perspective,” the time after Wishes is the absolute worst time to get in line at Plaza Ice Cream Parlor on Main Street. The line was still out the door.
The Hub area was beginning to clear out, but good viewing spots up front for the Parade are starting to get taken about 30 minutes out.
Here we are looking around Frontierland between 10:50pm and 11:10pm, right before the Parade arrives in Liberty Square and Frontierland. You could have walked up here and gotten a spot right along the rope as the Parade strolled down the street. Beats the 60+ minute wait on Main Street for the 9pm Parade.
I won’t ruin the Parade by posting the whole thing here in case you haven’t seen it, but this will give you an idea about what it looks like. I’m not a big daytime Parade fan, which is fine because I’m about as far from their target audience as possible. I do enjoy the Magic Kingdom’s nighttime Parades, particularly because this one doesn’t have an agonizingly annoying song (with lyrics, anyway) that plays on repeat. Main Street Electrical Parade always seems like it would be the parade Stanley Kubrick would design for Disney if they asked circa 1971. It’s quite bizarre. To recycle a joke from my Twitter account, let’s just say I was happy I gave up hallucinogenic drugs last week.
For some reason I was in the mood for a chili cheese dog – a feeling I have never really had before. But as I said earlier, I don’t get out much at night. Maybe it is a nighttime thing. Anyway, Casey’s Corner was too busy with no available tables. This dog and fries are from Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe.
Fantasyland was still decently busy around 12:30am, about 30 minutes after evening Extra Magic Hours began.
A decent queue at Winnie the Pooh, but still only 15 minutes or so.
People still headed to the exit.
Here we are on our way back out front at 12:45am for Monorail intelligence gathering as described here: https://www.easywdw.com/uncategorized/the-state-of-the-monorail-magic-kingdom-edition/.
Mickey and the Princesses were meeting guests during evening Extra Magic Hours for a while, but they don’t anymore. The most common reaction after that announcement (which included removal of characters in Fantasyland) was, “I loved meeting characters during evening Extra Magic Hours, there was never anyone in line!” Well, you sort of just said it….
Here we are headed back in at 1:45am.
There were fewer than ten people in line, but it still takes a few minutes just to walk the queue.
A 2-minute actual wait time at Peter Pan’s Flight.
Four people on it’s a small world.
No wait at Dumbo.
Honestly, I haven’t actually been on Dumbo in years. When I’m at Magic Kingdom for rope drop, I’m usually headed somewhere else. I also got to ride Tomorrowland Speedway. It wasn’t a whole lot of fun…especially when I was the only car on the road.
No wait for Snow White.
No one in line at Winnie the Pooh.
Two people on Mad Tea Party.
The last of the evening Extra Magic Hours’ crowd on their way out.
The clock approaches 3am. I don’t think there are any fairy tales where something bad happens at 3am. I didn’t notice anyone turning into a pumpkin or anything.
Main Street Emporium was open throughout the entirety of evening Extra Magic Hours.
A lot of fun at Magic Kingdom this evening, minus the whole watching the Monorail situation out front for a couple of hours. It reinforces the Crowd Calendar recommendation on evenings like this. The downside to a late night is that it basically makes it impossible to wake up for rope drop the next morning. It’s certainly viable if you have no interest in doing anything early in the morning or plan to head home the next day and can sleep in until 10am. We’ll come back when evening Extra Magic Hours start earlier and Main Street Electrical Parade/Wishes are scheduled less often and see if crowds/waits are any different.