I'd never experienced practice ice that's scheduled like you're describing, but I've only done eastern sectionals and nationals, and there, the practice ice was interspersed with the events throughout the day. I'm competing at adult eastern sectionals this weekend, and they've done a good job with practice ice. They have it interspersed throughout the day - so unlike the Morris Open, where the practice ice is at 6-7am and my event is at 8pm (useless), at easterns, you can get practice ice that's within about 1-3 hours of when you're skating, normally. They do a good job.
One of the things I try to look into re: practice ice is if the rink has a normal freestyle that I can get to, ideally just before or during the event, or if not, then at any time when I can get there, even weeks before the event if the event is localish. I'm doing that for the Morris Open - I've scheduled myself to drive my butt over there this Monday, although the competition isn't for some weeks, so I can see the place, skate around (even if it's a different rink than where I'll compete, it helps my nerves to have skated in the building before), etc. I also plan to do this the day before the event, but in case those sessions are crowded with other people with the same idea, I've planned for this Monday as well.
But I was happy that the Morris Open didn't have us sign up/pay for practice ice in advance of them publishing their schedule. That would have been a waste of money.