June 15, 2024

Disney World Adds April 2024 Park Hours

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Walt Disney World has extended hours at Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios & Animal Kingdom for the second half of Spring Break season in April 2024. This covers the additions plus zig when they zag strategy

Walt Disney World has extended hours at Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios & Animal Kingdom for the second half of Spring Break season in April 2024. This covers the additions plus zig when they zag strategy for the parks and everything else you should know.

We’ll start with the latest release of new operating schedules. All four theme parks have had hours added to DisneyWorld.com’s park hours, and the current calendar now runs through June 2, 2024. Here are the hours for most of the newly-added dates:

  • Magic Kingdom: 9 am to 10 pm
  • EPCOT: 9 am to 9 pm
  • Hollywood Studios: 9 am to 9 pm
  • Animal Kingdom: 9 am to 6 pm

As a reminder, Walt Disney World’s normal practice is to release boilerplate or placeholder hours before extending those based on attendance and hotel occupancy projections. This has been common practice for years, and will almost continue throughout 2024. The only new wrinkle with the recent additions is that Magic Kingdom shifts to 10 pm closing times in mid-May 2024. Given the low to moderate crowd levels anticipated during shoulder season, there’s actually a chance those May 2024 hours will be pretty close to the final schedule.

Between that and Spring Break 2024 winding down in mid-April, there’s a decent chance this is the last material round of park hours extensions until the summer tourist season kicks into high gear. To that point, Walt Disney World has also extended park hours throughout the first half April 2024. Let’s dig into what’s been extended…

Magic Kingdom

  • April 1-6, 2024: 8am to 11pm (previously 9am to 9pm)
  • April 7, 2024: 9am to 11pm (previously 9am to 9pm)
  • April 8, 2024: 8am to 10pm (previously 9am to 9pm)
  • April 9-12, 2024: 9am to 11pm (previously 9am to 9pm)
  • April 13, 2024: 8am to 11pm (previously 9am to 9pm)

For the most part, we like what we see here. Magic Kingdom is opening at 8am and closing at 11pm every single day during the first week of April. That makes sense, as Spring Break will be busy and this is the week immediately after Easter.

While it’s usually the case that the week leading up to Easter is when more schools have off (and that’s probably also true this year), the holiday is occurring early. Many school districts in the Midwest and Northeast aren’t out for their recesses until the week after Easter this year.

Following that, the extensions are not as aggressive in the following week. This also makes sense to us, as fewer major districts will have breaks that following week. Of course, there’s always the possibility that (recent) history will repeat itself and the last week of Spring Break will be surprisingly busy and the week before that will be quiet, but we wouldn’t count on that.

To the contrary, these park hours extensions, which are based on Disney’s internal attendance forecasts (…which aren’t always accurate), are almost exactly what we expect. If you’re visiting after April 13, don’t be surprised to see far fewer extensions. Although there will still be a few stragglers, that next week should be the unofficial end of Spring Break season.

While we would’ve loved to see a midnight closing or two, the good news for anyone visiting Walt Disney World in the first half of April 2024 is that there are options each week for 8am park opening days.

As a reminder, we highly recommend doing Magic Kingdom on an 8am opening day if your trip straddles both 8am and 9am opening days. Between the extra hour in the morning and another 2 at night, strategy becomes much easier–and that’ll be doubly true if crowds are “only” 7/10 or below.

I know we repeat this ad nauseum, but the strategic significance of Magic Kingdom opening at 8am instead of 9am cannot be overstated. Early Entry starting an hour later is almost useless, whereas it’s incredible at 7:30am. One hour makes a world of difference. See our 7:30 am Early Entry at Magic Kingdom ‘Party Season’ Strategy. (Spring Break is not ‘Party Season’, but the exact same idea applies on those days!)

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

  • April 1-2, 2024: 8:30am to 9:30pm (previously 9am to 9pm)
  • April 3, 2024: 8:30am to 9pm (previously 9am to 9pm)
  • April 4-5, 2024: 8:30am to 9:30pm (previously 9am to 9pm)
  • April 6-7, 2024: 9am to 9:30pm (previously 9am to 9pm)
  • April 8-11, 2024: No extension 
  • April 12-13, 2024: 9am to 9:30pm (previously 9am to 9pm)

Early Entry will once again officially start at 8am on the above dates that Disney’s Hollywood Studios opens at 8:30am. Unofficially, Early Entry should begin even earlier. This is a really big deal. As we’ve mentioned countless times, the earlier that Early Entry starts, the better. There’s less “competition” and you can get way more done.

In fact, that’s how I Did Every Ride at Disney’s Hollywood Studios Before 11am Via Standby Lines. Don’t count on replicating these results, but the strategy is sound. We’d thus highly recommend doing DHS on one of these dates if at all possible.

Then there are the 9:30pm closing days, which are likewise a really big deal. The upside here is two showings of Fantasmic. Double-bonus: the second showtime is 30 minutes after park closing, meaning that it’s at 10pm on these April 2024 dates.

We highly recommend seeing the second showing. It’ll effectively extend your day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios by 30 minutes to an hour, which is more than you’ll get by jumping in line for a ride at the end of the night.

Equally as important, we’ve managed to see the second showing of Fantasmic from spectacular seats without arriving more than 5 minutes in advance of showtime. This has been the case even on evenings when the first performance was quite busy and seats filled up 30 minutes before showtime.

On those same busier days, the late performances of Fantasmic had multiple entire sections that went unfilled. I was able to snag the third row of a great section at (literally) 2 minutes before showtime, and that was on a busy day. That followed doing Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance shortly before park closing with an actual wait of under 20 minutes.

We followed that strategy repeatedly last year, including during the peak of Spring Break. (With that said, I haven’t tried it since last November and would never recommend anyone else for whom Fantasmic is a must-see cut it so close.)

Animal Kingdom

  • April 1-5, 2024: 8am to 8pm (previously 9am to 6pm)
  • April 6-13, 2024: 8am to 7pm (previously 9am to 6pm)

The 8am opening time is clutch at Animal Kingdom. This means Early Entry at 7:30am, which is pretty sparsely attended. See Animal Kingdom Park Opening & Early Entry Ride Strategy (or, “How I Did Every Ride at DAK Before 10:30am.”)

Even if those end up being 10/10 crowd level days in Animal Kingdom, you can pretty much run the table on rides by taking advantage of Early Entry and being aggressive with rope drop and the first few hours of the day. The vast majority of guests cannot/will not get up that early. (Just look how many complaints there are about virtual queue start times being at 7am!)

At the opposite end of the day, Animal Kingdom continues to officially close after nightfall for most of these days! It’s getting to the point where there isn’t much time after dark on some of these nights, but we still highly recommend staying for evenings in DAK to enjoy the Tree of Life Awakenings (as applicable), plus Pandora and the rest of the park after dark.

Our Animal Kingdom Afternoon Arrival Strategy is once again the ideal approach for this park. Genie+ is a better option during Spring Break than during the slowest stretches of the year, but those 8pm closings still should allow for you to accomplish a lot in the final few hours of the day.

But, if your plan is to arrive late and leave early, Genie+ can be a good option. After experiencing 8/10 and above crowds there (and seeing the Lightning Lane actually be valuable for stage shows!), we aren’t quite so assertive about Genie+ being categorically “bad” at DAK. It really depends.

As always, the earlier opening times at Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom, and Magic Kingdom make it easier to beat crowds at those parks. There’s a huge advantage to early risers, and savvy strategy or knowledge of how to leverage Genie+ and Lightning Lanes can be a gamechanger.

We’re huge fans of leveraging Park Hopping and splitting most days into two half days. If your family is full of early risers and staying on-site, I’d be taking advantage of those 7:30am Early Entry times (and that includes DHS, unofficially). I wouldn’t be doing any mornings at EPCOT, and would instead start the day doing Early Entry at the park that opens earliest and bounce around to leverage park hours and crowd dynamics.

To that end, check out our Genie+ v. Savvy Strategy at Walt Disney World, which is the result of extensive ‘testing’ to determine the best and worst ways to beat the crowds. You can also do pretty well in the evenings at Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios–and that’s somehow still true even now that Fantasmic is back. EPCOT is more of a wildcard–the dust still hasn’t settled on Luminous or the other new stuff there.

Ultimately, lots of very good park hours extensions for April 2024, which was at least partially to be expected given that it’s still the second half of Spring Break season. But you never know, especially since a lot of dates in March didn’t receive the same treatment. (With the benefit of hindsight, we now know that was for good reason–the parks were dead and you would’ve been better off with the shorter hours and lower crowds!)

Nevertheless, these hours should put any fears you might have to rest, as there’s enough here to leverage to beat even bad crowds. Well, unless you like to sleep in…but even then, they’re still not bad. If you’re an early bird, though, lots of opportunities to get that worm (the worm being short standby lines). The extensions at Animal Kingdom are really good–and even that 30 extra minutes at Disney’s Hollywood Studios is great.

About the only disappointment is the lack of extensions at EPCOT; even though that’s par for the course, it seems like they’re leaving food & beverage money on the table. Of course, it’s also bad from a guest perspective since EPCOT has been busier with the debut of Luminous and completion of the World Celebration Gardens. Perhaps with the opening of CommuniCore Hall this summer, EPCOT will have later closings or earlier openings. Here’s hoping!

Magic Kingdom opening at 8am on many mornings during Spring Break season is a great development, and a trend that we really hope becomes daily during the summer tourist season. Between the opening of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure and higher heat and humidity, having more time in Magic Kingdom before it gets hot and crowded is a good thing. (Alternatively, I’m more than willing to ride Tiana’s Bayou Adventure after nightfall if Disney wants to do midnight summer closings!)

Looking forward, it’ll be interesting to see the degree to which park hours are extended in the second half of the month and in May 2024. We’re not holding our breath for major extensions during this month and a half to two month stretch, which is typically shoulder season. Who knows, though. Maybe Walt Disney World’s upcoming ticket deals that start on April 2 will spike crowds ahead of the summer season. Stranger things have happened! We’ll keep you posted.

Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!

YOUR THOUGHTS

What do you think of Walt Disney World’s operating hours for the home stretch of Spring Break season? Pleased with the earlier openings or later closings for the first half of April 2024? Is this schedule is reasonable, or are more extensions needed to help absorb crowds? Confused about the lack of extensions for EPCOT? What has been your experience with crowds and wait times? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!

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