How to Spend your Arrival Day at Walt Disney World
Your Walt Disney World vacation is booked! Yay! Now it’s time to start figuring how you want to spend your vacation days. A question we are often asked is, “What should we do on our arrival day?” This is a great question deserving of great answers! Take a look below to see our best suggestions for your Walt Disney World arrival day.
Enjoy your Resort
Check-In time for Disney resorts is technically 4pm. We always recommend completing online check-in and selecting an early arrival time to increase your chances of having a room ready sooner rather than later, especially if planning to arrive early in the day. There is no guarantee your room will be ready early, so be prepared for a room at 4pm. If your room is not ready you can leave your bags with bell services and go on with your day. Even without a room ready- you have full access to everything at your resort. This includes the pools, restaurants, gym, arcade, additional activity rooms, playgrounds, and complimentary Disney transportation.
We suggest exploring the resort! We always pack our bathing suits and a change of clothes in a smaller bag to keep with us just in case we don’t have a room when we arrive. Use the public resort restrooms to change if you plan to take a dip in the pool. You can find life jackets in various sizes at every Disney resort main pool area should you have little ones. Ask the front desk staff for a resort activity guide to see what scheduled activities are happening at your resort for the day. Activities could include pool games, trivia, painting classes, tie dying, etc.- Disney resorts always have something fun going on that you will likely miss out on during your more busy park days, so take advantage on your arrival day! Most deluxe level resorts also have a community hall type room where both kids and adults can find resort specific crafts and activities. Regardless of the Disney resort category you are staying, you will find an abundance of fun things to do and explore at your resort.
Visit Disney Springs
Disney Springs is the shopping, dining, and entertainment district for Walt Disney World. You do not need a park ticket or park pass reservation to visit, and it is also easy to access via complimentary Disney transportation. Depending on your resort you can either ride a bus, hop on a water taxi, or walk to Disney Springs. If you have a car- parking is free at Disney Springs.
You likely will not have the energy to visit Disney Springs after a full day in the theme parks, so your arrival day is a great time to venture over to this Disney destination! You could spend an entire day at Disney Springs and still be unable to experience it all. There are tons of great shops, dining options, and activities. Visit the Lego store, enjoy a family photo shoot at the Disney PhotoPass Studio, meet a ‘polar bear’ at the Coca-Cola store, shop at World of Disney, dine at The Boathouse, T-Rex Cafe, or another fabulous restaurant, and catch Drawn to Life, Disney’s newest Cirque du Soleil show. Disney Springs also offers seasonal activities and entertainment, so be sure to check your My Disney Experience app before your visit.
Using your arrival day to explore nearby resorts is another fun activity you can do. Staying at a monorail resort? It's so easy to hop on the monorail and visit the other resorts. Or maybe your staying at a resort with Skyliner access? Take a ride to Disney's Boardwalk area or one of the other Skyliner resorts. The ride offers great views and is an exciting experience. Many Disney resorts also offer boat transportation, which can make for a more relaxing trip. While most boats are designed for transportation to the theme parks, you can still utilize for transport to other resorts or simply to experience the ride. We love riding the boats near sunset for the view.
Play a Round of Mini Golf
Did you know Disney has two miniature golf locations on property?
Fantasia Golf has two 18-hole miniature golf adventures based on Disney's classic animated film Fantasia, and is located near Disney's Boardwalk area by the Swan and Dolphin hotels.
OR join Santa and his elves at Winter Summerland Miniature Golf, which also has two unique 18-hole mini-golf experiences. Winter Summerland is located next-door to Disney's Blizzard Beach water park.
Both miniature golf courses are available to book up to 60 days in advance, but reservations are not required to play.
Common Arrival Day Questions
Should we plan a park day for the day we arrive?
Unless your trip is a short getaway, we do not recommend scheduling a park day on the same day you arrive. Travel plans, especially with flights, can be unpredictable and it would be a shame to miss out on valuable park time.
Should we make dining reservations for our arrival day?
Most Disney dining reservations can be cancelled up to 2 hours in advance without penalty. A 2 hour cancellation window gives you time to cancel the reservation should your travel become delayed or your situation change. If hoping to make a dining reservation on your arrival day we suggest scheduling for later in the day and in a location you would like to spend time once you arrive (i.e. your resort area or Disney Springs).
What if our travel is delayed and our arrival time changes?
Just another excellent reason to work with a Castle Coach! If flights or other travel issues occur that prevent you from arriving to Disney (or any destination booked by us) on your scheduled day then a Castle Coach can help you coordinate and figure out your options. If trying to reschedule flights and dealing with airlines- the last thing you want to be doing is spending more time on the phone talking with Disney! We also highly recommend purchasing travel insurance whether through Disney or a third party. A vacation is a big investment worth protecting from unforeseen circumstances.
Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Resort Category post. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Quick-Service Guide and Most Difficult Dining Reservations to Score. For more of a comprehensive guide including our best Disney World tips and tricks read our First Disney World Vacation Must-Do's and Top Mistakes to Avoid at Disney World. If you are interested in working with a Disney World vacation planning expert- reach out to a Castle Coach today. Castle Coaches Travel agents provide full-service concierge level vacation planning to all Disney and Universal destinations (and more!).