Walt Disney World lost billions of dollars in 2020. When Walt Disney World needs to be encouraging guests to visit the resort, it might seem that ending Extra Magic Hours could be considered an “own goal.” However, we think it might be a genius idea that will significantly contribute to Walt Disney World’s financial recovery.
Extra Magic Hours always appeared to be a great perk when staying at Walt Disney World. Extra hours in a park each day without non-resort guests always seemed appealing. However, the truth was, the perk was never as good as it seemed. Walt Disney World has over 30,000 hotel rooms, and each will hold several guests. All those guests could attend Extra Magic Hours. That is a lot of extra guests! The number of guests from non-Disney hotels who could attend Extra Magic Hours has also progressively increased in recent years. The result was Extra Magic Hours could be even more crowded than regular park hours.
Early Theme Park Entry will replace Extra Magic Hours later this year. Disney Resort hotel guests and guests of other select hotels will be able to gain 30-minute early entry to any theme park every day. Unlike Extra Magic Hours, this will be at all 4 theme parks. Disney has suggested the new service will allow better guest spread across all four theme parks. Although the hours will be shorter than Extra Magic Hours, it will give resort guests priority access each morning.
Although Disney has not mentioned it, there will now be many spare evenings each day at Walt Disney World. Extra Magic Hours took up premium park time availability for hard ticket events. Each year Christmas & Halloween parties are not held on certain nights to fit in Extra Magic Hours. Also, morning Extra Magic Hours reduced the ability to offer additional breakfast offerings. Also, guests taking advantage of Extra Magic Hours reduced the number of people willing to pay for hard-ticket events.
In recent years Disney has increasingly been offering After-hour events, Halloween parties, Christmas Parties, and various Early Morning Magic offerings. These events are priced from $80 for Early Magic to $155 for Villians After Hours at the Magic Kingdom. These events make large sums of cash. Extra Magic Hours’ removal means, even more, can be scheduled.
The number of tickets available for these events is a closely guarded secret. However, it is assumed to be around 5000 for Extra Magic Hours. Assuming tickets cost an average of $140, each night brings in an impressive $700000. If Disney could hold 200 events a year, it would equate to a cool $140 million. Perhaps holding on average 2 parties a night in 2 parks, and you get to an impressive half a billion dollars.
However, this is only a fraction of the potential earnings. Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party rumoredly has 30,000 tickets at up to $150 each. Assuming an average cost of $110 and you earn $3.3 million a night. Events are not held every night to make room for Extra Magic Hours. Assuming there is a demand, that is even more revenue to grab.
There are even several up-ticketing options Disney has not taken advantage of yet. Epcot has previously not held After Hour Events, but with new Ratatouille and Guardians of the Galaxy attractions coming soon, surely it is only a matter of time. Plus, Star Wars must be the most lucrative untapped hard-ticket option.
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge breakfast and after-hours events would have mass appeal. Disney previously sold Early Morning Magic tickets at Toy Story Land for $79. If Toy Story Land could sell for $79, what could Star Wars sell for?
With the removal of Extra Magic Hours, resort guests will have more spare time on their hands in the evening. Also, non-resort guests are likely to be disadvantaged by the new Early Theme Park Entry, and many will be willing to pay extra for priority access. Plus, who knows what will happen long term with FastPass+ and whether paying for premium events will be the only way to guarantee rides on the biggest attractions.
Rough calculations, but it seems possible that Disney could raise several extra billion dollars through hard-ticket events. While Disney had massive losses in 2020, these could certainly help improve finances. It isn’t hard to see how ending Extra Magic Hours will help Walt Disney World’s Financial Recovery. I might be cynical, but perhaps the reason for stopping them has very little to do with better managing park attendance?
To learn more about Walt Disney World visit our 2021 Guide to Walt Disney World.
This Guide is part of our “Road to 2021 at Walt Disney World” series. Check out the rest of the guides for the latest information.