Disney Tips: Park Hours

When visiting a Disney Theme Park, it’s important to know and understand the hours of operation as well as how the hours can change. In this post, we’ll discuss regular park hours as well as extra hours.

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Typically, Disney releases park hours several weeks in advance of the actual date.  At Disneyland, it’s about 4-6 weeks and Disney World is about 9-10 weeks.  The initial hours are typically just a generic set of hours they use as a placeholder until the actual date approaches and they have a better idea of total park reservations and staffing availability.

As the actual date gets closer, Disney will typically increase the hours to better meet demand.  Disney World typically adjusts the hours about 2 weeks out.  Then, in the days leading up to and including day of, they could further increase those hours.

For the most up to date hours, locate the hours section on the main page of the app, or click this link to see information about a specific day including hours, shows and refurbishment schedule. https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/calendars/day/

Usually, the parks will also offer some form of extra hours for guests at the Disney owned hotels, and sometimes, the good neighbor hotels.  At this time Disneyland is not offering additional hours, so all park guests get the same hours.

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Disney World, on the other hand, has two forms of extra hours.  These extra hours are called Early Theme Park Entry and Extended Evening Theme Park Hours.

Early Theme Park Entry hours are available to any Disney resort and Disney good neighbor hotel registered guests.  Early Theme Park Entry is billed as a 30 minute head start in the parks for the hotel guests and is available for all parks every day.  In reality, most parks open about an hour before the official park opening time, allowing guests to line up for their preferred ride prior to the rides starting up.

To find out which hotels are eligible for Early Theme Park Entry and the rides available, click this link: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/guest-services/early-entry/

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Extended Evening Theme Park Hours are available to guests of Deluxe Resorts only.  This benefit is available on select nights only and allows eligible guests 2 extra hours in the park beyond the normal closing time.

To find out which hotels are eligible for Extended Evening Theme Park Hours and the rides available, click this link: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/guest-services/extended-evening/

So how do I know if the hours for my date changed? The best way is to view the park hours section of the Disney app before you leave home as well as the night before each park day. You never know when something will change. Also, some blogs keep a running total of changes in hours. Some of these blogs post the info on Twitter or elsewhere and some send email updates.

So will Disney ever shorten hours? No, the initial hours posted will be the shortest possible operating hours for that day.

So will all rides be open for the extra hours? No, the rides listed should be open, however refurbishment schedules, ride breakdowns, weather, and other events could play a role in some rides not being available during either extra hours events.

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So when can guests start arriving for Early Theme Park Hours? On site transportation begins running anywhere from 60-90 minutes ahead of the official park opening. To be among the first guests to be picked up by the bus at your resort, be at the bus stop at least 90 minutes before official park opening. Parking lots typically open an hour before the official park opening.

Currently, guests are reporting being let in more than an hour before the official park opening. Some rides will start up right away while some will wait until closer to the actual start of Early Theme Park Hours. Again, that officially begins 30 minutes before the actual opening. Some rides may be down at the beginning of the day, so you may have to change on the fly when you arrive at the park and go to a different ride.

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So when are non resort guests let in? If you’re not staying onsite, you can typically go through security and tapstiles to get into the park prior to the official park opening, but they’ll hold non resort guests to the side and let them in when the park opens.

So how do Extended Evening Theme Park Hours work? After the park closes, rides will scan magic bands, phones, or room keys in order to verify extended hours eligibility. If you’re not eligible for rides, you can stay in the park and visit shops, take pictures, etc. If you are eligible, you’ll be treated to short lines for most rides throughout the park for 2 hours after the park’s closing time.

So are there other extra hours available? Yes, throughout the year, both US based parks offer additional events in the parks. Some of the events are free for select groups such as DVC moonlight magic, annual passholder events,etc. However, most are ticketed events. Both locations offer numerous nights of Halloween and Christmas parties between August and December. Each location may have specific events as well. In 2022, Disneyland is offering Disneyland after dark with several theme nights.

So have the parks ever closed early? Yes, typically this only happens in extreme situations. When hurricanes are projected to go straight through Orlando, Disney World will notify guests of potential closures or changes in operations a few days in advance. When the terrorist attacks on 9/11 happened, Disney World quickly closed the parks shortly after opening for the day and ushered everyone out. Disneyland had not opened for the day and did not open that day.

If you’re ready to start exploring a Walt Disney World or Disneyland family vacation, I recommend checking out Undercover Tourist for your ticket options. I’ve already used them twice, once at Disneyland and once at Disney World and will plan to continue comparing their prices with other sites, however I usually come back to UT because they have the best deals and their instructions make it easy to add your tickets to the Disney apps.

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