Let’s Talk Early Entry and Extended Evening Hours
We know more about Extended Evening Hours and Early Entry at Walt Disney World. I’ll talk you through everything in today’s park update.
Early Entry at Walt Disney World
Disney bummed out many of its loyal fans when it confirmed that Extra Magic Hours weren’t returning.
Formerly, guests staying at official Disney resorts got to enter a Disney theme park an hour early.
Sometimes, they’ll get to stay an hour after the park has closed to regular guests, too.
On the best days, Extra Magic Hours would include opening and closing hours, giving DVC members a chance to spend two extra hours at the parks.
You could do a LOT with those two hours, especially if you knew what you were doing. So, the loss of Extra Magic Hours hurt.
Soon afterward, Disney announced that two new amenities would replace the previous Extra Magic Hours program.
Let’s be honest about the fact that we’re less excited about the first one, Early Entry.
Ostensibly, DVC members and other people staying at official Disney resorts will “will be able to enjoy more fun with 30-minute early entry to any Walt Disney World theme park, every day.”
Disney veterans kind of roll their eyes at that a bit. We know what the parks are like an hour before opening.
Right now, a 30-minute advantage doesn’t even guarantee that you enter before other guests. Cast members often allow people into the parks early for Rope Drop.
Now, Disney might crack down on that during the 50th-anniversary celebration to make this amenity more valuable. I’m not holding my breath, though.
The Early Entry List
Still, Disney just stated which attractions will participate in the Early Entry program. You can read the complete list here.
First, you must scroll past the giant list of qualifying hotels, reinforcing that this amenity isn’t that exclusive.
Still, a few things jump out at me in reading the list. For example, most of the popular attractions at Magic Kingdom will participate in Early Entry.
The noteworthy exceptions are Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Haunted Mansion, Jungle Cruise, and Splash Mountain.
I can explain two of these, as Jungle Cruise is still performing refurbishments to update its theme.
As for Splash Mountain, it’s had scaffolding up a lot lately. Disney’s struggling to keep that one operational as is. Adding more throughput is a bad idea.
The absence of Haunted Mansion and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is a bit of a mystery to me, though.
Still, I’m nitpicking, as most people will sprint to Seven Dwarfs Mine Train anyway.
At EPCOT, the big three of Soarin’, Frozen Ever After, and Test Track are all available.
Similarly, Disney’s Animal Kingdom will open Pandora – The World of Avatar for Early Entry.
You’ll have a chance to knock out Na’vi River Journey AND Avatar Flight of Passage early in the morning.
At Disney’s Hollywood Studios, you’ll have a plethora of options. Slinky Dog Dash, Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, and Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run all open early.
So, early arrival will have its benefits, assuming you’re willing to sacrifice breakfast or eat it inside the park.
About Extended Evening Hours
Epcot fountain, photo courtesy Tom Bricker
For DVC members, there’s an even better amenity coming. In fact, this one sounds superior to Extra Magic Hours.
Remember that long list of qualifying resorts you just scrolled through? Most of them won’t get this unique benefit.
Yes, Disney has introduced Extended Evening Hours of rewarding its most loyal and highest-paying customers.
You must stay at a Deluxe Resort or Villa to quality. So, that narrows the list of qualifiers substantially. Thankfully, DVC members make the cut, though!
We’ll get to stay in the parks for two hours after they’ve technically closed to guests! That’s a massive benefit right there. It’s like half a Disney After Hours event, only you’re getting it for free!
Disney has already announced the October dates for Extended Evening Hours. So far, the schedule appears to be Mondays at EPCOT and Wednesdays at Magic Kingdom.
On Mondays, you’ll get two hours from 10 p.m. to midnight at EPCOT, which is terrific. Even better, the big three attractions will all be operational.
In fact, the only ride that isn’t listed is Journey into Imagination with Figment. I don’t know what that’s about, but I think you can live without it for the night.
At Magic Kingdom, the list is actually larger than for Early Entry. This is because haunted Mansion and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad are both running at night!
In fact, another ride I didn’t mention, Pirates of the Caribbean, will also operate for Extended Evening Hours but not Early Entry.
The only loss is the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover, which you can ride whenever you want throughout the day anyway. Its lines are rarely long.
I’m only mentioning it in case you’re like me. You love riding the PeopleMover late at night to admire the soft neon glow of Tomorrowland.
One Final Thought
I’ve discussed the big three at EPCOT. Well, on October 1st, that total increases by one when Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure debuts.
Disney has confirmed that this new attraction will utilize a virtual queue. I had hoped that DVC members might get to ride it during these early or late amenities.
Alas, Ratatouille doesn’t appear on either list…yet. If that changes, I’ll be sure to inform you.
Until that time, you should plan to ride Ratatouille during the regular park day, not during one of these special access periods.