BUT Disney is SNEAKY. If you aren’t paying VERY close attention to certain things just before and during your trip, you could actually completely MISS OUT on extra park time. But don’t worry, we’re going to share all the secrets with you here.
1. Park Hours Calendar
One thing you should do before and during your trip is to check the park hours for your trip. Park hours are released several months in advance. And, it’s a good idea to look at these hours as soon as they’re released so you can see which parks will be open the latest (or earliest) during your trip.
But, if you just stop there, you might miss TONS of valuable park time. Disney World park hours can change a lot. Within the past few weeks alone, we’ve seen Disney extend park hours ahead of spring break and even extend EPCOT’s hours for one Saturday. With that EPCOT one, Disney actually added 2 EXTRA hours to the end of the day there, allowing guests to stay all the way through 11PM instead of 9PM. That’s a huge amount of time you could have missed out on if you didn’t know about that change.
There’s no telling exactly when these hours will change. With some, they are changed weeks in advance. Other times, the changes come just days before the affected days. Moral of the story: you NEED to check those park hours right before your trip and during your trip or you could miss out on valuable time in the parks.
2. Early Bird Gets the Worm
Another way you might just get some extra time in the parks is by being early and “rope dropping” the park. Before the parks closed for the pandemic, Disney experts knew to arrive at the parks early because Disney would let guests in a little earlier than the park’s set opening time. Any extra time in the park is a big bonus. Getting there earlier could also mean that you could be first in line when the super popular rides officially opened up.
After the parks reopened, we noticed that the way in which things were structured didn’t really allow for very much rope dropping. But, during some of our recent visits, we’ve noticed that Disney has sometimes been letting guests in earlier than the park’s scheduled opening time and we’ve actually managed to get there for it. So, if you get to the parks early enough, you could take advantage of being one of the first ones there and get a head-start to your day.
This ability to enter the park a little earlier is not announced or anything like that, but, as they say, the early bird gets the worm.
3. Extra Hours on the Calendar
Recently, we got a SUPER special (and super random) park hours bonus. This wasn’t on a calendar or on a sign in the park. Instead, we found out about this extra park time from a pop-up that showed up on our phones while we were INSIDE of a park.
We were in Magic Kingdom not too long ago on a day when the park was set to close at 8PM. While we were there, we got a pop-up from the My Disney Experience app that said select attractions would stay open until 8:30PM that night. That’s a whole extra half-hour! We were not expecting this at all, and if we hadn’t noticed the notification we wouldn’t have known.
So, it’s really important that you have the My Disney Experience app downloaded on your phone and you’ve enabled notifications to be sent to you. If not, you could totally miss out on this bonus time.
Overall, all of these “secret” extra park hours are either totally unannounced, added quietly to the calendar, or are just sent as a pop-up while you’re already IN the park. If you want to make sure that you don’t miss out on any of these, you’ll need to pay attention to your phone throughout your trip and stay up to date.
Be sure to check the park hours every day of your trip and look for any unique pop-ups. You can also subscribe to the DFB Newsletter for all the latest info. We’re always on the lookout for big Disney updates and we try to get that information out to you as soon as possible so you can be the most prepared for your trip.
Join the DFB Newsletter to get all the breaking news right in your inbox! Click here to Subscribe!
Have you experienced any of these “bonus times” in the parks lately? Let us know in the comments.