Why you should visit Magic Kingdom on days it closes early

Cinderella's Castle at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom. Image courtesy Rob Schwarz Jr.
Cinderella's Castle at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom. Image courtesy Rob Schwarz Jr. /

I've been a Disney World annual passholder for years. As I live three hours away from the parks, I try and get up there every other month or so.

Despite having visited the parks countless times throughout the year, there's one thing I haven't done until now -- visit the Magic Kingdom on a day that it closes early.

I'm someone who likes to maximize my time in the park and stay from open to close, catching the fireworks at the very end of the evening. On days that Magic Kingdom closes early for a special event, there's usually no fireworks show. But let me tell you, longer doesn't necessarily equate to a better overall park experience.

Why you should visit Magic Kingdom on days it closes early

I just got back from a family trip to Disney World. Although we were staying four days (Saturday through Tuesday), we were traveling with other family members. Because we're annual passholders and can visit any time -- and because we were staying longer -- we went to the parks that the others wanted.

This meant going to EPCOT on Saturday and Animal Kingdom on Sunday. This meant visiting Magic Kingdom on Monday and/or Tuesday. The only problem was that Magic Kingdom closed early on Monday (4:30 p.m. due to a special event). We were bummed that the park closed early but decided to go anyways, figuring we could leave early and park hop to EPCOT afterward for some dinner and to do some of the kids rides with our children that we didn't get to do the first time around.

As it turned out, this was an amazing decision. Magic Kingdom was one of the emptiest I've seen it in months. I don't think it was the time of year because all of the parks were filled to the brim and even on Tuesday, a full Magic Kingdom day, the park was packed. It must have been that because the park closed early on Monday, many families on vacation for a limited time -- perhaps those without annual passes -- didn't want to pay for a full park day and be forced to leave at 4:30 p.m. without any of the special night time festivities.

Now if I wasn't an annual passholder, I'd be skeptical about using a full park ticket on a day when Magic Kingdom closes early. But the low crowds mean you can do as much, if not more, than on a full day when the park is packed.

It was refreshing to walk down Main Street and not be shoulder-to-shoulder with other guests. We didn't feel like cattle going through the Fantasyland area near Small World.

You'd think that it being a Monday would also have some sort of impact on the crowd levels, but when we went back to Magic Kingdom on Tuesday, a day in which the park was open until 11:00 p.m., it was immensely more crowded.

Again this is only anecdotal evidence from my one experience this past week, but it was enough to convince me to try going to Magic Kingdom again on a day that it closes early. If you don't mind not catching the fireworks show at the end of the evening, it's worth trying it out.

If you have a park hopper ticket, you can always head over the EPCOT or Hollywood Studios that evening and catch one of their evening spectaculars. Just be warned that the crowds at those parks are usually a bit heavier because fewer people tend to go to Magic Kingdom.