Extra Magic Hours – Park Hop or Not?

How much time do you want to spend on a bus?

There is a line of thinking that the best way to do as much as possible in one day at Walt Disney World is to use Extra Magic Hours in the morning when available, then Park Hop to a different park for the rest of the day. The idea is that the park with Extra Magic Hours will be the most crowded park that day, so you’ll want to leave when the crowds arrive. The logic makes sense, but is it really true?

First off, let me quickly explain what Extra Magic Hours are. They are a benefit of staying at a Walt Disney World hotel. Each day one park will open early or close late, but only resort guests are allowed to be there. It’s a great benefit, especially if you weren’t able to get a FastPass+ for something that is important to you. When the Extra Magic Hour is in the morning, you’ll have a chance to experience the park in question with the smallest crowd of the day, because many resort guests decide that an extra hour of sleep is more magical than heading to a park that early.

I’m local, so I don’t use Extra Magic Hours because I’m not staying at a Walt Disney World Resort. That means that I can look at this question from a different perspective. Since I am not eligible for Extra Magic Hours, do I avoid the park that has them because the crowd level will be higher? No, I have never avoided a park because there were Extra Magic Hours in the morning. The only time I’ve ever seen a higher crowd level because of the benefit is if there are evening Extra Magic Hours. Some resort guests will show up at the end of the day to watch the nighttime show, and then stay for a couple of hours when everyone else has to leave. But even then Extra Magic Hours haven’t caused a dramatic rise in attendance.

My suggestion if you’re using Extra Magic Hours in the morning is to also book your FastPass+ reservations for that same park. Book them as early in the day as possible. If you have noticed a crowd that is unbearable by the afternoon after you’ve used your last FastPass+, then Park Hop if you want. Just remember that there is no such thing as a non-crowded park anymore. Unless there is a special event taking place, the crowd levels will be similar at all four parks. Ask yourself how much time you want to spend on a bus. If there are things you haven’t done at the other parks, go ahead and Park Hop. No matter what you decide, have a great time, in spite of the crowds. After all, you’re visiting the most magical place on earth.