Why would anyone go to Disney and not stay at an onsite hotel? Staying at an onsite Disney hotel has many advantages. It gives you the ability to take the Disney’s Magical Express shuttle, the option to purchase the dining plan, the thrill of being surrounded by the Disney magic 24 hours a day, the choice to purchase things throughout the parks and hotels and charge back to your room key (and even have items delivered back to your room) – but the greatest advantage of all that you get by staying at an onsite Disney hotel: extra magic hours!
The extra magic hours are the primo perk of staying at an onsite hotel. The perk alternates between the 4 major parks of Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom. Extra magic hours give you either early admission mornings, or late evenings. One day, you might be able to enter Magic Kingdom early (an hour earlier than regular guests who aren’t staying at a Disney onsite hotel), and the next day, you might be able to stay at Epcot late (up to 3 hours later than regular guests). During peak volume times, there will be both early admission and late evenings on the same day.
This past Friday night, Magic Kingdom had extra magic hours in the evening. Magic Kingdom closed to regular guests (not staying at an onsite Disney hotel) at midnight. Giving you plenty of time to play at the park, one would think. But, if you were staying at an onsite Disney hotel, there were late evening extra magic hours- which meant that onsite hotel guests could stay until 3 am in the morning.
Yup – I said 3 am! And no, I don’t need to have my head examined (although my mom may disagree with you on that – she’s not so big into the Disney magic…)
Before becoming Disney regulars, I would never have dreamed about keeping kids out until 3 am to go around a theme park. That was before I was a Disney regular. Coincidentally, it was also before I had kids.
When Disney adrenalin kicks it, kids (and adults) will go until they drop. And there’s nothing like being able to walk onto rides to get everyone hyped up more. Plus, you’re surrounded by other families (and wee kiddies) doing the same thing – so you don’t feel out of place at all. Extra magic hours work like a charm!
We went to Magic Kingdom from 11 pm-3 am (closing) and had a blast. (We had a late start because we’d spent the day lounging at the pool before hitting Hollywood Studios for a couple of rides before that park’s closing. Then we hit Ohana’s for supper at the Polynesian.)
Arriving at 11 pm, we saw the tail end of the Electrical Magic Parade, and then rode many more rides in 4 hours than would have been possible in a 2 day period at peak time – even with strategic planning and multiple use of fast passes. You just can’t do what we did in those 4 hours.
With 2 kids who are 6 years apart, we sometimes now have to separate – one parent with each child. DD11 will still ride the kiddie rides with her sis, but she’s a roller coaster junkie, and DD5 is too small for the big roller coasters.
Friday night, DD11 rode space mountain 3x, DD5 rode Peter Pan 3x (and we all rode another time together), the family of 4 all rode Speed Track Raceway 4x, DD11 rode Big Thunder 2x (1x with all of us), all 4 of us rode Carousel (my favourite ride – a classic!) several times – plus we rode Pirates of the Caribbean, Aladdin, Dumbo, Winnie-the-Pooh, It’s a Small World and more. (If you’ve ever been to Disney, you know that all of these rides are fast pass rides, save Small World and Carousel, and all usually have wait times of >1 hr each).
The characters (Goofy, Pluto, Chip and Dale, Donald, etc) all came to the Sorcerer’s sword for closing at 3am, and the girls got to play with several of them.(Chip and Dale had a great time with DD5’s lais from dinner at Ohana’s.)
Stay at an onsite Disney hotel. The extra magic hours alone are worth it! You’re getting extra access, and during the busy summer months, that is like gold. Why wait 90 minutes in the 106 degree sun to ride one ride, when you can go after dark, and ride as many (and as often) as you want?
Call me – I just returned from visit #19 to Disney. I know the ins and outs of converting your family’s dream vacation into your favourite memory!