It’s out with the old and in with new in 2021 as Walt Disney World have officially stopped their Extra Magic Hours for select resort guests and replaced them with the all-new Early Theme Park Entry as part of Disney World’s 50th Anniversary Celebration.
So, what exactly is Early Theme Park Entry, who can use it and where can you use it? These are all questions many upcoming Walt Disney World guests have been asking, so we have decided to outline everything you need to know about Disney’s new Early Theme Park Entry!
Firstly, Early Theme Park Entry grants Walt Disney World Resort hotel guests and select Official Disney Partner hotel guests access to ANY of the resort’s theme parks - Disney's Hollywood Studios, Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, and Disney's Animal Kingdom - 30 minutes before the parks open to the public, every day! Disney Deluxe and Villa guests will also be admitted to the theme parks on certain nights after they close.
Previously eligible Disney guests had access to Extra Magic Hours, though this only granted early entry to a select park each day, whereas now eligible Disney guests will have access to any of the four theme parks, every day. Not only does this help spread the number of guests in each park throughout the resort but it also gives Early Theme Park Entry guests much more flexibility and freedom when planning their days at Disney. Guests will still need an eligible admission ticket for Walt Disney World and those without a Park Hopper ticket will have to remain at the theme park they enter for their Early Theme Park Entry.
Each theme park has their own method of Early Theme Park Entry, for instance Epcot had a special section of touchpoints Early Theme Park Entry guests could enter through ahead of the rest of the public, and at Magic Kingdom all guests were allowed into Main Street but only Early Theme Park Entry guests could enter either Tomorrowland or Fantasyland. So be sure to look out for signs and cast members directing you!
By now you’ll be wanting to know which hotels will grant you access to Early Theme Park Entry and as previously seen with Disney’s Extra Magic Hours, all of Disney World's Resort hotels and Villas offer Early Theme Park Entry. Though this Magical benefit is not limited to these hotels alone: B Resort & Spa — Disney Springs Area, DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Orlando, Four Seasons Resort Orlando, Signia by Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek, Hilton Orlando Buena Vista Palace, Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista, Holiday Inn Orlando, Shades of Green on Walt Disney World Resort, Waldorf Astoria Orlando, Walt Disney World Swan Resort Hotel, Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort Hotel, Walt Disney World Swan Reserve, Wyndham Garden Lake Buena Vista Disney Springs, and Wyndham Lake Buena Vista all also offer their guests the Early Theme Park Entry to Walt Disney World.
During the Early Theme Park Entry period only select attractions, shops and foot outlets are operating, though there are far too many to list them all, so here are the top 3 rides you will have access to as part of the Early Theme Park Entry period at each theme park:
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
- Space Mountain
- Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin
- Test Track
- Soarin' Around the World (which famously has extremely long queues during the day!)
- Frozen Ever After
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
- Rock 'n' Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith
- Slinky Dog Dash
- Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
Disney’s Animal Kingdom
- Avatar Flight of Passage
- Expedition Everest - Legend of the Forbidden Mountain
Many of these rides can attract long queues as the day goes on (I have once waited over 3 hours for Avatar Flight of Passage at Animal Kingdom!) so using the extra 30 minutes afforded by the Early Theme Park Entry period is an excellent way to head straight for the rides at each park that will get the busiest once the parks open to the rest of the public.
Certain guests are also being offered Extended Evening Theme Park Hours which allows access to the theme parks after they close to the public on select nights in the week. All guests staying at one of Disney’s Deluxe or Deluxe Villa Resorts will have access to the Extended Evening Theme Park Hours, but also guests of the following Disney Partner hotels: Walt Disney World Swan Resort Hotel, Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort Hotel, Walt Disney World Swan Reserve, Shades of Green on Walt Disney World Resort, will have access to the Extended Evening Theme Park Hours.
Extended Evening Theme Park Hours are subject to change but as a generalisation you can expect, for example, Epcot to remain open to Extended Evening Theme Park Hour guests on a Monday from 10PM to 12PM and for Magic Kingdom to remain open on Wednesdays from 9PM to 11PM. As with Early Theme Park Entry, guests will still need an eligible admission ticket for Walt Disney World and those without a Park Hopper ticket will have to remain at/ return to the theme park they entered earlier that day. Select attractions, shops and food outlets will be open to Extended Evening Theme Park Hour guests and the selection is very similar to those open for Early Theme Park Entry.
Early Theme Park Entry will also be compatible with Disney’s new service, Disney Genie, which offers guests the ability to plan their trip, making recommendations to help you make the most of your Disney day!