We’ll continue where we left off with our look at the benefits of staying on property at WDW. (See our previous article, Benefits of Staying on Property at Walt Disney World, part one for the first half of this post.)
Extra Magic Hours
Some people love them, some people hate them. We’ve learned to embrace them. Extra Magic Hours are just that – extra magic hours for you to spend in the parks. These hours are only available to guests staying in a Walt Disney World hotel/resort. Each day, one park opens an hour early or stays open for one or more hours after normal closing time. The early morning Extra Magic Hours are particularly valuable. Crowds are always lighter in the morning – but that extra hour before normal park opening can mean you get to hit all of your favorite attractions before the lines become unbearable. Sometimes you can even hit them twice. Rides like Toy Story Mania will still be busy – but your chances of actually getting on the ride go up quite a bit.
The evening Extra Magic Hours are a little more hit or miss. Some evenings, after all the non-resort guests are ‘kicked out,’ the park can be quite empty and enjoyable. On our last “on-property trip,” my wife and I got to stroll through World Showcase and not see a single guest. We literally walked from Mouse Gear, through Mexico and all the way to the rear exit of the park and maybe saw one or two cast members. We felt like we had the whole park to ourselves. It is one of my favorite Disney memories. I have to tell you, World Showcase at night is amazingly beautiful – especially with no extra noise or people. Now, the opposite can also happen. On more than one occasion after all the parks had closed, it felt like every resort guest headed over to the park with Extra Magic Hours in the evening. I distinctly remember an evening where the Extra Magic Hours were at Magic Kingdom. The crowds had been light and at about 10pm we went into Mickey’s PhilharMagic with practically no one in Fantasyland. When we came out it was packed – shoulder to shoulder.
The evening crowds are why I said some people hate Extra Magic Hours. I say we’ve learned to “embrace” them because we look at it as bonus time. Even if we don’t get to use them every day and even if they’re crowded a couple days, it is still extra time that we wouldn’t normally get in the parks. Even when it feels like the parks get crowded, you can usually find some quiet places. HINT: On busy Extra Magic Hours nights, we’ve had good luck in Adventureland at Magic Kingdom – it seems people typically head to Fantasyland or Tomorrowland.
Resort Concierge Services
Don’t feel like getting on the phone and booking your tee-time, making a dinner reservation, scheduling a behind-the-scenes tour? Just head down to your resort lobby and talk to the Disney concierge. They can offer suggestions, give you details, answer questions, take your payment, and handle the reservations for you. It might seem like a small thing – but not waiting on the phone to make your dining reservation (or worse, taking a chance on getting one while you’re in the parks) is a nice perk of staying on property at WDW.
We mentioned this in our first article of the series. Disney magic is a part of staying on-property. You can’t quite explain it, but it comes from things like hidden Mickey’s in your hotel room, coming back after a day at the parks and finding your towels folded into characters, receiving the best service from Disney Cast Members, hearing Disney music everywhere you go (and not even realizing it). There are so many more, you just have to go to understand.
So those are many of the reasons that we love to stay at a Disney resort when we go to Walt Disney World – and why we think you will too. With that said, we’re about to start exploring the reasons we love to stay off property when we go to WDW.
On or Off Property?!?! Check out Jonathan’s full article series covering this great debate:
Staying Off Property at Walt Disney World
Benefits of Staying On Property at Walt Disney World, part one
Benefits of Staying On Property at Walt Disney World, part two
Staying Off Property at WDW with More Space