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Time to Go to Disney World! Here's What to Do on Your Arrival Day

by Mommy Frog on April 16, 2023 Orlando

When you go to Disney World, your first vacation day is often filled with excitement, magic and a little bit of travel stress. Once you arrive at the Most Magical Place on Earth, the true fun can begin! Your Disney World arrival day is a great time to settle in and relax a little before jumping fully into theme parks the next day.

In general, we don't recommend doing a park day on your arrival day since you wouldn't be able to utilize the full "worth" of a ticket. Of course, it's important to maximize your time at Disney World, which for some means conquering a partial park day on arrival, while others would rather rest up for a full park day on day two. Sometimes you may have short trips, very early flights or other situations where it makes sense for your group to hop right into a park. If you're an annual passholder, you wouldn't have to worry about using up a park ticket day.

If you are a family of frogs who'd prefer to wait, here are some things to do on your arrival day (without going into a park)!

What to Do on Your Arrival Day at Disney World

Relax at Your Resort

Your Disney World arrival day is the perfect chance to settle in and explore your new home away from home! Check-in time for Walt Disney World Resort hotels is at 3 p.m., though there is no guarantee your room will be ready by then. When doing online check-in, you can request an earlier time, though requests may not always be accommodated. Once you're checked in, you'll receive a notification once your room is ready, so no need to stop by the front desk.

Disney's Wilderness Lodge pool

Whether or not your room is ready, you can begin to enjoy all of your resort amenities. Bell Services can typically hold your bags if you would like to travel lightly. We love having a pool day, grabbing a meal from the resort's quick-service restaurant and enjoying activities such as crafts, games and Movie Under the Stars.

As you explore, it's a great time to note the resort layout and where transportation is so you know how far you might need to travel to get to the bus stop the next morning. Once your room is ready, be sure to relax a little and try to go to bed on time (or earlier) so you can start your early morning well.

Explore Other Disney Resorts

With over 25 resorts, there's plenty to see at the Walt Disney World Resort hotels. It's definitely worth "resort hopping" and exploring the different theming and amenities. Note that you are unable to use other hotels' pools, and you'll want to use Disney transportation or have a dining reservation to park.

The "Monorail Resorts" around Magic Kingdom — Disney's Contemporary Resort, Disney's Polynesian Resort and Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa — are some of our favorites to visit with beautiful theming and lots of great dining options.

'Ohana – Stitch posing with kids

Book a Table-Service Restaurant

Speaking of dining, a sit-down meal is another great way to spend your Disney World arrival day. You can book a dining reservation for restaurants at Disney Springs or a resort hotel. Character dining is another fun way to add Disney magic to your first day. There are lots of great character dining at the resorts to choose from, so you could start your Disney World vacation with delicious food and get to say hi to Mickey Mouse!

Of course, some people prefer to go with the flow and just plan a quick-service restaurant (especially if concerned with flight delays or traffic). Either way, be sure to enjoy some Disney food to celebrate the start of your trip!

Tee Up for Some Miniature Golf

Did you know Disney World has two different miniature golf locations, each with two different courses? We frogs make it a point to try to find a putt-putt on every trip we take. Both locations, Fantasia Gardens and Winter Summerland, offer two whimsical 18-hole courses. Prices are $14 per adult and $12 per child, plus tax, so it's a very fun and affordable activity on Disney property.

Check out our Disney World mini-golf guide for more details!

Explore Disney Springs

Teens & Tweens Outside Disney Springs LEGO Store - Star Wars Figures

One of our favorite activities for a non-park day is visiting Disney Springs! Disney Springs is a dining, shopping and entertainment district at Walt Disney World. The best part is — it's toadally free to enter! You'll find both Disney-owned shops (be sure to visit World of Disney for lots of souvenirs) and name-brand stores such as Under Armor, Sephora and the LEGO Store. There are tons of dining options to choose from, as well as fun family activities such as watching a movie at AMC Theatres Dine-In or bowling at Splitsville Luxury Lanes. Learn more in our Disney Springs guide!

Enjoy Entertainment Outside the Theme Parks

At Walt Disney World Resort, there's plenty of quality entertainment outside of the theme parks! Disney Springs, the resort hotels and Disney's BoardWalk offer great live entertainment without needing a park ticket. Witness the incredible skills at Cirque du Soleil, a comedic dinner show with Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue or casually stroll by live street performers. Your arrival day can include a fun night of food and entertainment!

Attend a Disney After Hours Event

Disney After Hours — No crowds in Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge

For those game for staying up late after traveling and who really want to maximize their park time, consider booking a Disney After Hours event. This separately ticketed event occurs after regular park hours and features much lower wait times on attractions and character experiences, plus complimentary popcorn, ice cream and bottled beverages! They typically run from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m., and you can enter as early as 7 p.m. Disney After Hours could be ideal for those who know they can stay up the entire time, and especially great for those coming from the West Coast. Did you know Undercover Tourist offers discount tickets to Disney After Hours?

What does your family like to do when you first go to Disney World? Let us know in the comments below!

Related: How to Enjoy Live Entertainment at Disney World — Outside of the Theme Parks!

Hoppy planning!

Keep hopping, Mommy Frog!
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Undercover Tourist is the leading supplier of online discount tickets to Orlando, Florida-area attractions, including Walt Disney World® Resort, Universal Orlando Resort™, SeaWorld® Orlando, LEGOLAND® Florida Resort and more.

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