If it wasn’t for extra magic hours, we would have never gone on Soarin’.  It’s been so many years since Soarin’ has opened at Epcot. Being annual passholders we have been to Epcot dozens upon dozens of times, but we hate to wait in lines, who doesn’t.  Usually the listed wait time is 90 minutes during regular theme park hours, at least any time we have been over in The Land and checked the wait time, it has said 90 or more minutes wait.  We don’t usually use fast passes because you have to get there early enough for the FPs, by the time we get into the park they are usually all gone for the day.

During one of our recent trips to Disney, while staying at a Disney resort, we finally took the opportunity to visit Epcot after hours.  We still had to wait to get onto Soarin’ but the wait time was about 40 minutes.  Something we learned about EMH is that as long as you get to the attraction before closing time, they will let you on.  So, if EMH hours is from 9 pm to 12 am at Epcot, if you enter the Soarin’ line at 11:59pm you will get to ride.  This can save you a lot of wait time, the lines thin out significantly the closer you get to closing time.

Another ride that I got to ride on during EMH was Toy Story Mania at Hollywood Studios. This ride also has long wait times.  As I mentioned, we don’t go to the parks early (we aren’t really morning people), so Fast Pass distribution doesn’t help us, but evening Extra Magic Hours does.  Toy Story Mania was really awesome, I still had to wait a little, it took about 15 to 20 minutes.  I was in the single passenger line, the other line moves slower. This is one of my favorite rides of all time.

I really love evening Extra Magic Hours at Magic Kingdom, the more empty the park is the better. It’s awesome to be there with not many people around. The wait time for Peter Pan’s Flight is usually an hour or more during regular park hours – and packed with parents and kids of course.  We’ve walked onto Peter Pan’s Flight with no wait before, the closer to closing time the quicker you can get on. Same for Winnie the Pooh, no line.  Usually it’s not this empty until the last 15-60 minutes during EMH.  Once we were in the Haunted Mansion with only two other guests, that was the least crowded it’s been. Still waiting for it to be just us, that will be awesome.

You can always do the less popular rides/shows at the start of EMH, like Tomorrow Land Transit Authority, Carousel of Progress, It’s a Small World, Philharmagic, Country Bear Jamboree, and then do Pirates, Splash Mountain, Space Mountain, Buzz Light Year, Peter Pan, etc. towards the end of EMH.  Once we went on 14 attractions in 3 hours, you just can’t beat that. It’s also a great time to play the Sorcerer’s (Magic Card) game.

Make sure to keep your Key card handy, they will ask to see it if entering the parks after hours, and they will ask to see it at some of the rides. Also, each member of the group should have their card, they once made a stink about my husband needing to show his card as well at the Haunted Mansion, mine wasn’t good enough for both of us.  So to save time searching for the card, it’s best to keep it handy.

If you have the chance to stay on Disney property, I highly recommend it.  In my opinion, the Extra Magic Hours perk is worth staying at a Disney resort.  You can’t beat having all your transportation taken care of as well, that makes thing a lot easier. To me, it just wouldn’t be a vacation unless we were staying at a Disney resort.

Updated for 2013: Disney announced that their Extra Magic Hours for evenings during 2013 would be shortened to 2 hours, this was done in conjunction with another promotion called Limited Time Magic.  Limited Time Magic consists of new promotions or activities that are only available for a limited time.   These Limited Time experiences vary, it can be new merchandise only available for a short time, or different character meet and greet opportunities, as well as new entertainment – recently the Dapper Dans, the barbershop quartet, sang popular boy band songs.  To find out more about Limited Time Magic go to http://disneyparks.disney.go.com/let-the-memories-begin/limited-time-magic/?int_cmp=INS-intWDWtoWDW-limitedtimemagicnge