Is Disney Downsizing its Extra Magic Hours Program Again?

One of the biggest perks of staying on property at Walt Disney World is the Extra Magic Hours program, which allows hotel guests staying at a Disney resort (or selected partner hotel) to exclusively experience attractions at a specific park during a one or two-hour window of time reserved only for on-property guests either before the park opens or after it closes.

Though this system has been in use for several years, it has gone through a number of revisions over the years, with 2013 bringing the most significant change in recent years when the number of evening extra magic hours was reduced from three to two.

While it has only been just under four years since this change, in recent months Extra Magic Hours has gotten some additional cuts, with the number of attractions available for guests during this special time dropping exponentially (especially at the Magic Kingdom) and Extra Magic Hours being cancelled altogether some nights to make way for special events.

However, even though the Extra Magic Hours program may not provide the spectacular value it used to, this perk been at least a reliable offering for resort guests. However, that could be changing soon. WDW Magic first reported earlier this week that the official Walt Disney World calendar currently shows evening Extra Magic Hours at Disney’s Hollywood Studios being discontinued in just a few weeks, after February 24 2017.

Now while it’s true that nothing is set in stone and Disney could always update their official calendar before this date next month, we’re inclined to believe that Disney really will end evening Extra Magic Hours at Disney’s Hollywood Studios before the end of next month. And here’s why:

1. Disney’s Hollywood Studios seems to be everyone’s least favorite park

Disney’s Hollywood Studios has some truly incredible attractions. From the thrilling Twilight Zone Tower of Terror and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster to the whimsical MuppetVision 4D and of course the absolutely crucial Star Tours, this is certainly a park worth visiting.

However, even though there are some really cool things to see at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, it would be a stretch to say that there are plenty of things to do at this park. If we include character encounters (like those at the Star Wars Launch Bay as well as Mickey, Minnie and Olaf), Disney’s Hollywood Studios has just under two dozen attractions, far fewer than any other Walt Disney World park.

Many guests have said that Disney’s Hollywood Studios is a “half day park” and unfortunately, this criticism does have some truth to it as it is possible to “do” the majority of this park, with the exception of its two nighttime spectaculars, in less than six hours.

And with guests pouring out of this park by mid-afternoon, we’d imagine that Extra Magic Hours at this park are not terribly well-attended, and Disney could be looking at eliminating the evening version of this program in an effort to save a little bit of money. And honestly, this is one cost-cutting measure we can definitely understand, as there’s no reason to fully staff a park when there are less than a few hundred people walking around.

However, even though saving money could be one of the big reasons why Disney is looking to axe this late night offering at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, there could be something else at work here too…

2. Construction on Toy Story Land and Star Wars Land could be (finally) getting ready to ramp up

Though its has been almost a year since walls went up around the back quarter of Disney’s Hollywood Studios, much of the construction work that has been going on in this area has been land clearing, which has been easy to do during the operating day without much noise or disruption.

However, as we get closer and closer to the (assumed) announcement of opening targets for both Toy Story Land and Star Wars Land (largely rumored to be happening this summer), Disney may want more time to really get these projects going. And since Disney likes to keep construction-related disturbances during the day to a minimum, they could be trying to give workers as much time as possible after hours to start doing some of the heavy lifting for these upcoming lands in advance of their opening date debuts later this year.

3. Disney could be ready to draw down its Extra Magic Hours elsewhere as well

Image: Disney 

While we don’t think Extra Magic Hours will ever really go away, Disney could possibly be looking to downsize this program even further. Not only could this be a measure intended to cut costs, but Disney could also use the discontinuation or downsizing of Extra Magic Hours to try and sell guests on upcharge experiences as well like The Magic Kingdom After Hours. If fact this very experience is essentially a paid version of Extra Magic Hours, and if Disney sees that they can get guests to pay to stay in the park after it closes to regular guests, they might reconsider giving away this park time for free, even as an incentive to stay on property.

At the end of the day, we don’t truly know what is going on with Extra Magic Hours at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, as the park has yet to make an official announcement about the future of this program. However, this move certainly wouldn’t be surprising, as Disney’s Hollywood Studios is currently the least-visited of all of the Walt Disney World parks, and a draw down of evening Extra Magic Hours would impact guests less at this park specifically, rather than almost anywhere else.

Disney's Hollywood Studios map

Have you ever taken advantage of the Extra Magic Hours program at Walt Disney World? Do you think this program is worth keeping (especially in the evening) at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, or is it time for a change? Let us know what you think in the comments below!

Originally published in Theme Park Tourist by , Friday, January 27, 2017 06:54

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Don Korta
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