Did you know there are some Walt Disney World attractions that are not open all day?
Despite what the park hours may be, there are a handful of attractions that open later than the park or close earlier, and if they are on your must-do list, you’ll want to take note! Here are the rides you need to time just right or you’ll miss!
There are a variety of reasons an attraction may open late or close early, but it can really be a disappointment if you race at rope drop to something you really want to see and it’s not open yet. Even worse is saving something until the end of the day – especially if you’ve promised it to your kids – and then you find out it closes earlier than you expected. Keep in mind these are all subject to change at any time but, in our experience, these times are fairly reliable. Let’s break down which attractions you can usually expect NOT to be open all day.
Tom Sawyer Island
If you are longing for the carefree days from Mark Twain’s stories of Huckleberry Finn, just look beyond the Liberty Square Riverboat, down Rivers of America, and you’ll see the rustic river rafts that will take you on a glorious trip to a time when kids abandoned their chores and did some serious exploring. It’s Tom Sawyer Island.
You’ll scurry across shaky bridges; dive into deep, dark caves; and admire the scenery that would have been familiar to young pioneers as they settled across the Midwest. Hours at Tom Sawyer Island usually begin about two hours after park opening and end as much as three hours before park closing. The rustic nature of the island makes it a daytime-only attraction, so sunset definitely influences when the last raft will cross the river.
Country Bear Jamboree
Ahh, Grizzly Hall. One of the very last attractions Walt Disney himself put his stamp on. This classic hillbilly hootenanny features singing, music playing country bears that will have you stomping your feet, clapping your hands, and maybe even singing along.
It takes Big Al, Liverlips, and the rest of the band just a little longer to get going in the morning. They’ve been doing it for 50 years, after all. Give the gang about two hours after Magic Kingdom opens before heading to Frontierland for their first show.
Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor
After scaring up some screaming laughter to help power Monstropolis, your master of ceremonies Mike Wazowski likes to sleep in a little later in the morning, so stop and grab your Starbucks before racing over to Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor. There’s a good chance you won’t find the monsters at their most funny until one to two hours after park opening.
And if you’ve seen her lately, you know just how much Roz needs her beauty rest. Monstropolis typically rolls up the red carpet and closes the comedy club an hour or so before Magic Kingdom closes. This attraction is newly reopened, though, so keep an eye out for changes.
Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress
Take a tour through just how far we’ve come with another classic Walt Disney World attraction. Following family life through the 20th century, Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress is a nostalgic favorite, and it’s a great way to end a hot day in the park. Thank goodness air conditioning was invented.
Although this is not on everyone’s must-do list of attractions, there are many who wouldn’t miss it for anything. It is a 20-minute long attraction, though, prepare for a lengthy rest in the dark theater. This attraction closes early — Uncle Orville likes his privacy starting an hour before the normal theme park closing time.
Impressions de France
This is a little movie shown in the France Pavilion, about 18 minutes long, that takes you on a delightful tour of France, from Cannes to Normandy, hot air balloons to horses. This is an attraction that really emphasizes the “don’t blink or you’ll miss it” nature of not being open all day.
In addition to the film, you can visit the gallery cases that highlight various aspects of the French contribution to the arts, including costuming, music, and more. But if you want to enjoy this delightful experience, you’ll have mere minutes to do so. The space is shared with the Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along, and the Impressions de France film runs for only about 90 minutes to two hours (or slightly more) at the end of the day. Seriously, act fast on this one.
Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along
If you miss out on Impressions de France, though, it’s Belle’s fault. 😉 It is a tale as old as time, told through beloved tunes that we all know and are probably humming in our heads right now. There is a unique twist to the familiar story told in the Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along, though, so this will be a fun take on what you thought you knew about the story of Belle and her beastly prince.
As this happy little audience participation sing-along shares space with the Impressions de France film, you can expect to see the hours on this attraction end early in the evening, approximately two to three hours before EPCOT closes.
The American Adventure
Benjamin Franklin and Mark Twain are your hosts through some of the most milestone moments of our fledgling nation, accompanied by 35 audio-animatronic figures and a 72-foot movie screen in The American Adventure. They’ll take you on a journey that ultimately leads you to the introduction of more contemporary figures who feature prominently in the fabric of America.
The first show in the theater typically begins about 45 minutes after the park opens. The final show typically begins 15 to 30 minutes before the park closes.
Turtle Talk With Crush
It’s not often you’ll have the opportunity to talk up close and personal with a turtle, asking the questions you’ve been dying to ask. If you can wait just a short while after EPCOT opens, you can find out what it’s like to live in the current, what a turtle might enjoy as a snack, maybe even what his favorite things are in the ocean.
Your journey to The Living Seas and into the Turtle Talk with Crush attraction can begin just 20 minutes after EPCOT opens. But you can’t expect a turtle not to heed the call of the waves all day. The last chance you’ll have to join Crush will be about 20 minutes before the park closes.
Although right now, all of EPCOT opens at the same time, in the before time, that was not the case. Prior to the COVID-19 shutdown, World Showcase opened about two hours after EPCOT opened, or typically around 11AM. You could still access early morning breakfast reservations, but since most people enter through the main gate, as opposed to the International Gateway entrance, it took a while for people to amble on back to do a tour of the countries.
With more morning options in World Showcase and hours at the park increasing, at least for now, it looks like World Showcase will continue to open at the same time as Future World. But this could potentially shift back to how it was at some point in the future. Definitely keep an eye open for changes.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
At the moment, the attractions at Disney’s Hollywood Studios all open at the same time as the theme park itself. There are, however, a few things you’ll want to put on your list to do earlier in the day since they currently close before the end of theme park hours.
Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy
There are two big things you need to know about learning from the master – Lightning McQueen. This is not an easy attraction to get to, and you’ll want to keep that in mind since it does close early.
Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy takes place at the Sunset Showcase Theater, which is down at the end of Sunset Boulevard, kind of past and behind Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith. Because it’s a little off the beaten path, give yourself a few minutes to find it, but be aware that the last show is usually an hour before the theme park closes. If it’s a must-do for your little ones, don’t wait until the end of the day.
If you remember the original Muppet Show television show, you’ll feel like you’re walking right onto the set when you step into the theater for this attraction. Many of your favorite Muppets characters will be waiting to entertain you with pretty awesome music and a laughter-filled 3D experience.
This is a perfect place to cool off on a hot afternoon, and you may want to visit in the afternoon to do just that. This attraction performs its last show for the day typically an hour before Disney’s Hollywood Studios closes.
Walt Disney Presents
The man, the myth, the legend that is Walt Disney is on display in this self-guided gallery tour of Walt’s history. From small-town America to the toast of Tinseltown, you’ll see artifacts and treasures from throughout Walt’s life.
You can go at your own pace through this exhibit, but you’ll want to keep in mind that the attraction usually closes an hour prior to the theme park. If you really want to take your time and see it all, make plans to go a little earlier in the day.
Vacation Fun – An Original Animated Short with Mickey & Minnie
The Mickey Shorts Theater, located on Echo Lake at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, is the current home of this adorable short that takes a nostalgic look through some of Mickey and Minnie’s favorite vacations. It’s an entertaining and totally air-conditioned way to spend a few minutes of your day.
This attraction closes an hour before the rest of the park, so don’t save it for too late. You’ll want to add this to your schedule a little earlier in the day.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail, African Birds, and Maharajah Jungle Trek
These self-guided tours, which take you through the lush landscape of an African forest or the mystical Asian forest, bring you up close to a variety of interesting animals. Majestic western lowland gorillas and exotic Asian tigers are a highlight of these journeys through winding paths and dense flora and fauna, and the Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail leads you to the African Aviary, where you’ll find a variety of bird species native to the African continent.
Because of the location and the terrain of the trails, the opportunity to enjoy these experiences may begin as early as 30 minutes BEFORE the park officially opens. Closing time for the trails is often an hour and 15 minutes (or more, depending on the season) prior to the end of park hours at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
You know that song where they talk about the lion sleeping tonight? Well, if we’re being honest, lions actually sleep as much as 20 hours a day. So it should be no surprise that in order to make sure they get enough rest so they can get up early and, umm, go back to sleep, Kilimanjaro Safaris usually closes an hour earlier than the park closes.
The animals tend to be a little more active in the morning, so it actually may be a good idea anyway to hit this attraction up at the start of your day instead of waiting to the end and being too late.
Kali River Rapids
So many people note that Disney’s Animal Kingdom is usually super warm much of the year, and having a place to splash down into some cool, crisp water is a great idea when the heat gets to be a bit much. You’ll have to wait to ride this river rafting-style ride — it typically opens up an hour after the gates open at the theme park.
Wildlife Express Train, Conservation Station, and Affection Section
These attractions go hand in hand. Affection Section is a petting zoo where you can interact with some gentle animals and the experts who take care of them. Conservation Station gives you the opportunity to see how the animals are taken care of both at Animal Kingdom and in the wild. Both are located in Rafiki’s Planet Watch. In order to get to Rafiki’s Planet Watch, you’ll have to take the Wildlife Express Train.
The train begins running typically about an hour and a half after the park opens, so that is also the same time Affection Section and Conservation Station open. The last train leaves the station to Rafiki’s Planet watch at 4:30 in the afternoon. Both Conservation Station and Affection Section typically close about half an hour later at 5PM.
Here is the special 50th anniversary souvenir you have to be a Florida Resident to get your hands on
The Animation Experience at Conservation Station
Also located at Rafiki’s Planet Watch, you’ll need to board the Wildlife Express Train if you want to take part in the Animation Experience, a 25-minute long activity that will get your creative juices flowing. The demonstration, which walks you through drawing a beloved Disney character, takes place multiple times throughout the day, but it usually doesn’t begin until an hour or two after the theme park opens.
Again, based on the train schedule, you’ll usually find the last demonstration for this attraction is about 15 minutes before Rafiki’s Planet Watch closes, giving you time to catch the last train back.
This is a fun activity that lets you complete a series of challenges throughout Disney’s Animal Kingdom on your way to collecting a series of “badges” for your success! You do this at your own pace, and the Cast Members can often change up the challenges a little bit to accommodate younger children or guests with special needs.
The kiosk to begin the adventure is located on the bridge between the Oasis and Discovery Island, and it opens about an hour after the park does. It usually closes two to three hours earlier than the park.
Kids ages 10 and under will get a chance to be archeologists as they explore this prehistoric dig site — a giant sandbox and playground right in the middle of DinoLand U.S.A.. It’s located so that it’s fairly easy to access from most of the park, making it a good place to give your kids a break to run around and burn off some energy. In our experience, your kids might like this better than the actual rides!
This attraction typically opens about an hour after the theme park, and you can expect it to close an hour or more prior to the end of theme park hours.
Fossil Fun Games
Step right up, ladies and gentlemen, and try your hand at some traditional carnival games. squirt guns, toss-across, basketball hoops, and more will take you right back to the last time you were at your county fair or church carnival, except this time, with a dinosaur theme.
Let the games begin, but not until about 30 minutes to an hour after the park opens. And you’ll want to snag those vouchers and win those prizes before the games shut down, which happens as early as two to three hours before the park closes.
Keep in mind that the opening and closing time for any attraction is subject to change, but these attractions are the ones we know are pretty consistent at opening late and closing early. The times listed may be influenced by weather or season, so keep them in mind as an estimate, but check your times when you arrive at the park for up-to-the-minute information.
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Do late opening or early closings mess up your Disney day? Tell us why or why not in the comments!