What To Do On Arrival Day At Walt Disney World

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For many guests visiting Walt Disney World, much of their arrival day is spent traveling. This can be exhausting and time consuming. By the time you arrive at the Most Magical Place on Earth, you’ve more than likely already missed out on several hours the  parks have been open. Rather than visiting the parks on arrival day, I recommend a relaxing day taking advantage of some of the great Disney activities available outside of the parks.

Visiting Downtown Disney is my favorite thing to do on arrival day. The Downtown Disney area is filled with unique stores, delicious foods, and even a hot air balloon. The World of Disney is the largest Disney store in the entire world. You’ll definitely want to make a stop there. Downtown Disney also features other great stores such as the new Marketplace Co-Op, Tren-D, Disney’s Day of Christmas, and more.

If you’re in the mood for something to eat, Downtown Disney is also home to some fabulous restaurants. You can dine at restaurants such as Earl of Sandwich, Wolfgang Puck, Planet Hollywood, and House of Blues. If you’re looking for something sweeter, you can also find my personal favorite, the Mickey Premium Ice Cream Bar at Downtown Disney. Goofy’s Candy Co. is another great place to stop for something to satisfy your sweet tooth.

For guests staying on property at Walt Disney World, arrival day is a great time to take advantage of the Magic Your Way package inclusions. Disney’s Magic Your Way vacation packages include vouchers for several different non-park activities. Using your two free admissions, you could spend the day at Disney’s interactive theme park, Disney Quest. If miniature golf is more your style, these vacation packages include two free vouchers for a round of miniature golf at either Disney’s Fantasia Gardens or Winter Summerland miniature golf courses. You can also take advantage of a 10% discount at Splitsville, the bowling alley at Downtown Disney.

Your arrival day is also the perfect time to take in one of the many shows outside the Disney parks. Visit Cirque du Soleil – La Nouba at Downtown Disney to see a spectacular show consisting of more than 65 talented acrobats, trapeze artists, jugglers, and more. Several of the Disney resorts also host entertaining dinner shows. You can experience an authentic Hawaiian luau at The Spirit of Aloha dinner show located at Disney’s Polynesian Resort. Disney’s Fort Wilderness hosts the Hoop-De-Doo Musical Revue, a dinner show featuring Wild West dancing, Vaudeville comedy, and delicious BBQ foods.

In addition to dinner shows, the Walt Disney World resorts offer numerous entertaining activities. You can rent a boat from one of the Magic Kingdom area resorts and set sail on Bay Lake and the Seven Seas Lagoon. Both Fort Wilderness and Port Orleans offer carriage rides around the resort. Each of the Disney resorts also features a uniquely themed swimming pool. (Please note that pool hopping is not allowed at Walt Disney World.)

A ride on the monorail is another great resort activity for your arrival day. Many guests, myself included, consider the monorail to be an attraction in and of itself. You can see the Polynesian, Grand Floridian, and Contemporary as you take a ride on the Magic Kingdom monorail loop. You can even take a ride through Epcot’s Future World on the Epcot monorail loop.

What is your favorite arrival day activity at Walt Disney World? Let us know in the comments below!

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15 thoughts on “What To Do On Arrival Day At Walt Disney World

  1. My family also does that. We try to get the earliest flight possible so we can get to Disney as soon as possible. Many times our room isn’t ready when we arrive, so we just leave everything with the bell boys and go have fun!

  2. That’s definitely a great way to start a vacation! Many times, our arrival day does involve checking out the resort and possibly going for a swim too.

  3. My advice? head to EPCOT and just tour the worlds, a lot of people never really see all EPCOT has to offer because they never actually go into the world, it really is like being immersed in another world for however long you are in there…you can get lost in the Moroccan bazzar or take a look at the waterfalls in Canada. EPCOT is our favorite resort (Disney Studios follows as close second) and if you take your first evening to check out World Showcase you will appreciate all it has to offer! PS we usually eat in EPCOT as well, this year we are going to Coral Reef for a late dinner, if we are hungry before then we sample some foreign foods 🙂

  4. When I used to come down on vacation (I live in the Orlando for over 15 years now), I ALWAYS took the time to get acclimated to the resort I was at for a couple of hours, at least. I remember when I was staying on property for the first time. I chose the Caribbean Beach Resort, and I was by myself for this first stay on property, which I think was smart. After checking in at the Custom House, I was wisked to my room in the Jamaica Village, which I truly enjoyed. I was right by the bridge, so getting to Old Port Royale (Centertown had not been added when I was there in September of 1992) was a breeze. I got changed into some swim shorts, grabbed a book and went to the beach right outside my door and down the stairs, since I was on the second floor. It was the start of one of the Best vacations I ever had!

  5. I usually book a meal with a big buffet for my arrival day since my family is usually starving! We also visit downtown Disney and explore the resort. Finish it off with time in the pool, an early bedtime, and we are ready for rope drop in the morning!

  6. If I arrive early enough (by 1pm) I head over to EPCOT and straight to Sunshine Seasons for lunch and then to France for a Grand Marnier Slush but if I arrive later, then Downtown Disney is a must do for some pizza at Wolfgang Puck’s and ice cream at Ghiardelli’s. After that a cruise to Port Orleans Riverside for a carriage ride around the resort and if Yeehaw Bob is playing at River’s Roost, we definitely join in the fun! I never thought of trying the mini golf before but I love being out of doors after being cooped up in airports and planes all morning. That is a great idea, especially with all the wonderful restaurants to dine at afterward that are nearby.

  7. We usually pack a “pool bag” if it’s nice enough for the pool, in case our room isn’t ready when we get there, even though we now live in Florida. We didn’t do that on a trip down from MD for our anniversary one year and have learned our lesson. We usually give our bags to the bell boys when we get to our resort and I know we can get them back out, but it’s easier to have everything together in one bag in case we need them. We also make sure we have our hats etc. available in case we decide to head into the parks, usually after lunch at our resort.

  8. We always head to Downtown Disney for a little shopping (The Lego Store is usually first on the list for my little dude who has money burning a hole in his pocket!) and then dinner at Wolfgang Puck Express! Twinkle lights in the trees, Disney music, and the biggest Disney shopping store in the world make you really feel like you’ve arrived!

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