Guests staying at select Walt Disney World hotels and other resorts have access to Early Theme Park Entry. The timing and style of early entry were changed from the previous Extra Magic Hour system when the offering was reintroduced to the theme parks after reopening post-pandemic.
This guide covers all those changes plus what hotels include early theme park entry, what rides are open, and our best tips.
Walt Disney World Early Theme Park Entry
Walt Disney World guests are allowed entrance into the theme parks 30 minutes prior to official park opening. Valid theme park admission and park pass reservations are required.
Early Entry replaced the previous Extra Magic Hours which existed pre-COVID and allowed guests an hour of early access at theme parks. The difference is that Early Theme Park Entry allows resort guests 30 minutes early access to every single theme park, each day instead of on select days or select parks. So this means that you can get into each theme park 30 minutes early every single day of your vacation if you’re staying at a Walt Disney World resort.
The bonus of this change from Extra Magic Hours is you can access the theme parks early each day of your visit and this also spreads this access across all four theme parks rather than the previous system which focused it all one theme park at a time. This does help spread the crowds out more evenly even if the early access is cut down to 30 minutes. The downside is really for guests not staying in a Walt Disney World resort hotel as they will always be one step behind resort guests in the mornings. This is just yet another reason to opt for the convenience of staying at a Walt Disney World resort.
Walt Disney World Early Entry Eligible Hotels
Early theme park entry is a benefit for registered Guests staying at Disney Resort hotels and select other hotels, which include the following resorts at Walt Disney World along with a few partner hotels:
- Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort
- Disney’s All-Star Music Resort
- Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort
- Disney’s Art of Animation Resort
- Disney’s Pop Century Resort
- The Campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort
- Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort (read our Disney World Caribbean Beach Resort review)
- Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort
- Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter
- Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside
- The Cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge (read our Animal Kingdom Lodge review)
- Disney’s Beach Club Resort
- Disney’s BoardWalk Inn
- Disney’s Contemporary Resort
- Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
- Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort (read our review of Polynesian Village)
- Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
- Disney’s Yacht Club Resort
- Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
- Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
- Copper Creek Villas & Cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Jambo House
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Kidani Village
- Disney’s Beach Club Villas
- Disney’s BoardWalk Villas
- Disney’s Old Key West Resort
- Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows
- Disney’s Riviera Resort
- Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa
- The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
- Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel
- Walt Disney World Swan Hotel
- Walt Disney World Swan Reserve
- Shades of Green® on Walt Disney World® Resort
- B Resort & Spa Lake Buena Vista
- DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Orlando
- Hilton Orlando Buena Vista Palace
- Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista
- Holiday Inn Orlando
- Wyndham Garden Lake Buena Vista
- Wyndham Lake Buena Vista
- Four Seasons Resort Orlando
- Signia by Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek
- Waldorf Astoria Orlando
- Drury Plaza Hotel Orlando Lake Buena Vista
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Entry Theme Park Entry Attractions
Here is the full list of available attractions for every single theme park at Walt Disney Wold that is available for Early Theme Park Entry. As you can see below, nearly everything will be open!
- “it’s a small world”
- Astro Orbiter
- Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
- Dumbo the Flying Elephant
- Mad Tea Party
- Mickey’s PhilharMagic
- Peter Pan’s Flight
- Prince Charming Regal Carrousel
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
- Space Mountain
- The Barnstormer
- The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
- Tomorrowland Speedway
- Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover
- Under the Sea ~ Journey of The Little Mermaid
- Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress
- Beauty and The Beast Sing-Along
- Frozen Ever After
- Mission: SPACE
- Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure
- Soarin’ Around the World
- Spaceship Earth
- Test Track
- The Seas with Nemo & Friends
- Alien Swirling Saucers
- Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway
- Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
- Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith
- Slinky Dog Dash
- Star Tours – The Adventures Continue
- Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
- The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
- Toy Story Mania!
- Avatar Flight of Passage
- Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain
- It’s Tough to be a Bug!
- Na’vi River Journey
- TriceraTop Spin
Disney Early Theme Park Entry Strategy
With only 30 minutes to spend in the theme parks (as opposed to the hour given during the previous Extra Magic Hours offering) before the non-resort guests arrive, you want to maximize your use of this time the best you can in order to get the most from it! Here’s our best tips for enjoying your Walt Disney World early entry:
- Arrive at least 30 minutes prior to the start of early entry as people will already be lined up, you don’t want to waste this precious 30 minutes waiting in line outside the gates.
- Allow extra time for Disney transportation, depending on how you plan to arrive.
- Prioritize attractions that have paid Individual Lightning Lane access. If you can utilize these 30 minutes to ride those rides, you can save your self time (these lines get long later in the day) and money for this individual charge.
- Eat breakfast at your hotel, don’t waste your morning eating breakfast in the parks when this is the time the ride wait times are lowest. Arrive fed and prepared to ride!
The individual Lightning Lane in this park is Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and easily nearly all guests will be booking it to this ride. As long as you arrive 30 minutes prior to Early Entry and are towards the front of the pack, you should get on this ride with minimal wait. This ride will only increase in wait times throughout the day and the only way to beat it is to pay for that individual access. I recommend riding it during Early Theme Park Entry.
Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance is the individual Lightning Lane in this park so most guests will run (literally run!) to this attraction first. This can be a bit of a risk as its easily the most popular ride at Walt Disney World and sometimes can have down time in the morning so keep that in mind! In this scenario, you might be better off going to Slinky Dog Dash instead unless you are at the front of the crowd. You can expect Hollywood Studios to have the most crowded early entry morning hours so I recommend arriving an hour before it begins if Rise of the Resistance is your plan. If not, show up 30 minutes prior to the beginning of Early Entry like we recommend for the other parks, and go straight to Slinky Dog Dash.
Over at Animal Kingdom, Avatar Pandora Flight of Passage is the most popular ride with Individual Lightning Lane paid access. Similar to other popular rides this line will just grow and grow all day. I recommend going to this ride first before anything else. The line won’t nearly be as long as it is in the afternoon.
EPCOT currently has a unique situation with Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind only having individual Lightning Lane access or a virtual queue option. So in this case, a standby line is not an option making it no go for early theme park entry. In this situation, I recommend prioritizing Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure or Frozen. Do your best to enter EPCOT from the International Gateway so you can enter via World Showcase. If you do, you’ll be in the prime location to go straight to Remy’s since the France pavilion is so close to the entrance here. After that, go straight to Norway and ride Frozen Ever After.
If you arrive early and agree with your group on which ride to head to first, you can make the most out of your first 30 minutes of the park day!
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