Nothing beats the excitement of arriving at Walt Disney World on your first day. The rush of passing under the big bright “Walt Disney World” sign, arriving to your resort, checking in, getting settled, and then heading out into the parks. But, wait! What park do you go to first?
First you have to determine whether or not you even want to visit a park on your arrival day. This could depend on when you get to Orlando. If you’re in the area before noon then you have a good amount of day left and could accomplish a lot in a park. Not everyone chooses to arrive early though. It might be a waste of a whole days admission ticket to tour a park for only a couple of hours. Check and see how much it would be to add the extra day to your ticket package. If it’s not much more money, it might be okay to spend the extra just to have a few hours in the park on your first day. It’s important to check what the park closing times are on your arrival day so you can best determine your game plan. For Annual Passholders, there is no reason at all to worry about wasting a ticket or the extra cost because park tickets are covered for a full year. Lucky ducks.
Should you decide that you want to jump right into the magic, you’ll need to choose which park to visit. Every time I visit Walt Disney World I’m conflicted with this question myself. My first choice would always be Epcot but sometimes for one reason or another that just doesn’t work out. I like to choose Epcot simply because it’s my favorite park. My husband chooses Epcot as his first park pick because it reminds him of his first trip to Walt Disney World and his first attraction… Spaceship Earth. He loves Epcot for sentimental reasons.
Some folks absolutely love starting their day at Magic Kingdom. There really isn’t anything as ideal as the picturesque view of Cinderella Castle as you approach the park while on the monorail. Magic Kingdom is often a popular choice for first time families that are wanting to start their vacation off with a bang. Watching your child’s face when seeing Main Street U.S.A. for the first time is unbeatable. It’s the dream of so many people and I can see how it’d be hard to go anywhere else first.
For folks that favor using the Crowd Calendar, they might take into consideration the crowd level and the suggested park for their arrival day. To maximize the most of your time, it’s necessary to pick the right park… especially during peak season. With that in mind, using a Touring Plan that coincides with your arrival time at the park of your choice would be another great way to get a lot of things accomplished on your arrival day. There are touring plans for late arrivals, half days, and even Extra Magic Hours.
Often times, it’s almost impossible to get certain Advanced Dining Reservations on any day that you want at any time you want. On more than one occasion I’ve had to switch my original “first park” due to only being able to get one of my choice restaurants on my arrival day. As long as there isn’t a special event going on that will make that park particularly crazy that day, I’ll go ahead and switch my plans if I want that restaurant experience badly enough.
I’ve heard from quite a few folks that they don’t even bother with park touring on their arrival day. I think it’s a really great idea to take the rest of your day to enjoy your resort, the pool, a nice meal, and even a trip to Downtown Disney to get some shopping done and enjoy the nightlife. A lot of people like getting settled into their resort without the pressure of jumping into the parks as soon as possible. For guests driving, this is prime time to make a run to a grocery store and stock up on some essentials for your room.
If you’re staying at a moderate or deluxe resort you’ll have many more recreational activities to fill your time with. Taking a pontoon boat out from the marina or riding around the resort on a surrey bike is relaxing and fun. Whip out your camera and get some fun shots so you can remember your resort when you get back home. With that in mind, resort hopping is an absolute blast and with some free time on your hands it’s a prime opportunity to check out resorts that you’ve never seen before. A friend of mine always sets aside time to visit numerous resorts and enjoy drinks and appetizers for an evening. Take time to really enjoy the beautiful details that go into the resorts on property.
How do you decide what to do on your arrival day? Is it based on tradition or crowd statistics?