PlanningThe ParksTips

How to Spend Your Arrival Day at Disney

The first day at Walt Disney World is so exciting. Finally, arriving in the magical and being in the Disney bubble is when the dream does come true. Deciding how you should spend that first day can be tricky. Depending on when you arrive, who you are traveling with, and how long your trip is can all impact what you want to do that first day at Walt Disney World.

To help you make the best first day at Walt Disney World, we have some top suggestions for you to choose from when making your decision.

magic kingdom
magic kingdom

Head to a Disney Park

The first option you could do is the obvious choice of heading to one of the Disney Parks. If you know you won’t be able to wait, choose to book a Park Pass Reservation to one of Disney’s Parks for your arrival day.

This can be a good option if you have a short trip and want to make the most of your time at Walt Disney World. We also think heading to the Park on a more extended trip can be a good option. We call this Disney math. Once you have purchased a five-day ticket, adding a day won’t be much more. This means that even if you can only enjoy a few hours in your favorite Disney Park on your arrival day, it might be worth it.

We suggest not heading into a Disney Park on arrival day if you have little ones. Traveling can take a lot out of them, and adding additional stimulation from a Disney Park could cause a meltdown. If traveling with younger kids, consider another option for our first day at Walt Disney World.

Disney Springs Evening
Credit: Disney Dining

Disney Springs

If you want to enjoy Disney magic without heading into the Parks, consider an evening at Disney Springs. Here you can enjoy great music and fantastic food choices, shop, and enjoy Disney magic.

Disney Springs has so many outstanding shops and restaurants that it can be an excellent option for a first day. Make a reservation at fantastic dining locations, such as Raglan Road, Morimoto Asia, or Boathouse. Consider Polet Pig, Chicken Guy, or Deluxe Burger for a quick meal.

There is so much to see and do at Disney Springs that it is a great place to spend a first day at Walt Disney World.

Have a Nice Meal

As mentioned with Disney Springs, having an excellent meal to start your Disney trip is a great first day. Consider booking a nice sit-down meal at one of the many fantastic restaurants found at Disney’s Resorts.

Top options for a great meal would be California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Sanna at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, Topolino’s Terrace at Disney’s Riviera, or Citricos at Disney’s Grand Floridan Cafe. The Resorts throughout Walt Disney World offer some of the best food on property. Enjoying one of these during arrival day is a fantastic way to start a vacation to Disney.

We will warn that this can be a challenging option for little ones. Travel days can be difficult, and adding a longer meal can end in frustration. Many families want to start the vacation with a character meal like Chef Mickey’s, but this can be tough for kids. Instead, a quick meal that takes less travel and stress can be the better option.

Cozy Cone Pool
Credit: Disney

Enjoy the Pool

You knew this one was coming for your arrival day. Take time to relax and enjoy your Walt Disney World Resort pool. It is a vacation, after all. After a long day of travel, sometimes the best way to spend your arrival day is by doing nothing. Enjoy just relaxing at the pool with the family.

Enjoy the pool activities around the feature pool while enjoying the sunshine and Disney magic. You made it on vacation, so enjoy all it has to offer.

Fantasia Gardens Mini Golf
Credit: Disney

Other Activities

Another option for your first day is exploring other Walt Disney World activities. Disney has two miniature golf courses that are a lot of fun, two water parks, a bowling alley at Disney Springs, and so much more. If you are traveling with a group that likes to stay busy, consider one of these activities during your first day.

Art of Animation Characters
Credit: Trip Advisor

Explore Disney Resorts

Finally, consider taking time to explore some of the Disney Resorts. Start by taking time to walk around your Resort. This will be your home for a few days, so knowing where amenities such as the pool, food, and where bus stops are can be beneficial.

We also recommend exploring some of the other Walt Disney World Resort hotels. Take a skyliner ride to visit Disney’s Caribbean Beach or Disney’s Riviera. Jump on the monorail to explore Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, or Disney’s Polynesian Resort. Think about walking around the Boardwalk Inn and the Beach and Yacht Club Resorts.

Each Walt Disney World Resort is so unique that exploring what they offer is a lot of fun and a great way to start a trip to Walt Disney World.

There are many ways to enjoy your first day at Walt Disney World. Depending on your goals, the length of your trip, and who you are traveling with can impact what might be the best option for your group.

We hope these options will help you narrow down what option would be the best for you as you enjoy your first day at Walt Disney World.

Jennifer Retzlaff

Jennifer became a lifelong Disney fan during her first trip to Walt Disney World in 6th grade. From that moment, Disney became a big part of her life. She quickly started to introduce her love of Disney to her family with a Disney honeymoon and then family trips when her youngest was 18 months old. She loves the magic that Disney brings to people through theme parks, cruises, and adventures. As a teacher, she tries to bring Disney magic into her classroom to help kids believe that “If You Can Dream It, You Can Do It.” She is also part of the Magic Vacation Planner team as a personal travel advisor. With this team, she can now help others plan magical vacations. She loves bringing her love to Disney to readers with How to Disney.

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