Skip to Content

What to do on Arrival Day at Walt Disney World

Ready to kick off your Walt Disney World adventure with a bang? Your first day sets the tone for an unforgettable vacation. Say goodbye to stress and hello to pure magic! If you’re wondering how to start your journey with a sprinkle of pixie dust, I’ve got you covered. Here are some fantastic ways to make the most of your arrival day at Walt Disney World!

What to do on Arrival Day at Walt Disney World

Get the most value out of your park tickets and don’t go to the parks on your arrival day. Many times you are tired from travel or arrive mid-day. In my opinion, using a full-day ticket for only half-day value is not worth it. There are so many options to magically start your vacation without going inside a Disney Park.

Book a Character Dining Meal

This is the best way to start your Disney vacation. You get the magical interactions with the characters and get a wonderful meal.  Out-of-park character meals include Chef Mickey’s, Topolino’s (breakfast only), and Artist Point (dinner only).

Chef Mickey’s is the best choice because you get Mickey and the gang. The all-you-care-to-eat family-style meals are decent and the meal is lots of fun for everyone in the family.

Enjoy Your Resort

Even if you are staying at a value resort, the resorts are fun to explore. Go swimming in the pool. All of the resorts have a free movie under the stars in the evening. Get some needed naps in before your first full day at the parks.

Go Resort Hopping

Visit the Deluxe and moderate resorts. They are gorgeous! Grab a dinner reservation at O’hana or the California Grill around the time of the Magic Kingdom Fireworks and you can enjoy them at dinner.

Without a dinner reservation, you can watch the fireworks at the resort beaches. I prefer the Poly for that because I can also grab a Dole Whip to enjoy while watching the fireworks. Check out all the free activities at the Animal Kingdom Lodge

The Best Resorts to Visit are:

If you are visiting around during the Holiday season, all these resorts are decorated for Christmas with massive trees and some with Gingerbread houses.

  • Disney’s Grand Floridian
  • Disney’s Polynesian Resort
  • Disney’s Contemporary Resort
  • Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
  • Disney’s Boardwalk Resort
  • Disney’s Beach Club Resort
  • Disney’s Art of Animation Resort

Go to Disney Springs

Disney Springs offers so many fun ways to start your vacation with dining and lots of shopping options. There is also a lot of live entertainment for the whole family to enjoy. 

Things you might enjoy at Disney Springs:

  • Coca-Cola Beverage Bar
  • Dinner at Raglan Road
  • Go to the Portrait Studio and Get your Pictures taken, they are included in Memory Maker.
  • Catch a movie at the AMC Dine-In Movie Theater.
  • Window Shop

Visit a Water Park

In 2025, guests staying at a Disney World Resort hotel can enjoy admission to one of the water parks on their check-in day – included with their stay. The water parks offer something for everyone: big thrills, lazy rivers, wave pools, interactive play areas for younger kids, and water slides the whole family can enjoy together.

Go Mini Golfing

Did you know that Walt Disney World has two fun-themed mini-golf courses? Fantasia Mini Golf is themed after Disney’s Fantasia movie and Winter Summerland is Santa’s summer getaway. Tickets are less than $20 per person.

At Disney’s Winter Summerland Miniature Golf Course, guests can choose between two courses: the Winter Course or the Summer Course. Both 18-hole courses feature merry touches from Santa and his elves. Golfers play around giant peppermints and a melting ice castle on the Winter Course, while the Summer Course lets guests putt around sandcastles and surfboards.

Tips for Having the Best Disney Arrival Day

  • Don’t over-schedule your day. You will appreciate rest from traveling and getting enough rest to hit the parks running on your first park day.
  • Let Bell Services Take Your Luggage. Sometimes your room is not ready and that is ok. Simply leave your luggage with Bell services and enjoy the resort and other activities listed above. You will get a text once your room is ready.
  • Go over your Touring Plan for the next day. You are finally at Disney and so excited to go to the parks. While you are lounging at the pool or enjoying your first Disney meal, review which rides are your must-dos and continue to build that excitement.

What do you usually do on your arrival day at Walt Disney World? Let me know in the comments! 

Consider planning and booking your next Walt Disney World vacation with a Concierge Vacation Planner like Favorite Grampy’s Travels. I’ll take away the stress of planning a Disney vacation and help you get the best price! Click Here to Get a no-obligation consultation now.

Thank You for Spreading the Pixie Dust!


Friday 10th of January 2020

We usually fly in a little late in the evening, but if there's time we'll relax & head to one of the resort bars for a nightcap. We are staying at Animal Kingdom Jambo house this coming trip so we will go outside & enjoy a bonfire, maybe catch a glimpse of nocturnal creature. Like you mentioned, pool time is wonderful. Hot tub bonus for the win as well.

Peg Price

Sunday 28th of January 2018

If you book a package deal through Disney, you get free tickets to the miniature golf and Wide World of Sports Complex.

We always do Disney Springs on arrival day. It's become a tradition - Disney Springs and Rainforest Cafe. We also like going to the make-your-own Disney T-shirt store and designing matching shirts. Last year we got Minnie Mouse, one that said "Minnie Mama" and one that said "Minnie Mini" (for my granddaughter). Then we wore the shirts on Magic Kingdom day.

It's also nice because it has a Lego store. The Lego sculptures aren't to be missed. Even the dragon coming out of the lake! The World of Disney store is a nice place to suck in the Disney experience. And Amorette's Patisserie. Oh, what lovely treats they have! It's a bit pricey, but well worth the cost. Granddaughter LOVES the chocolate-covered strawberries ($12 for 3, but they're HUGE strawberries). I've tried the eclairs (the pistachio one is delicious) and the Mickey Mousse cake. Both were to die for!

April H.

Thursday 1st of February 2018

What cute ideas for shirts! The Rain Forest Cafe is a great choice, such yummy food (the dessert especially) and a fun atmosphere. I love going into Amorette's Patisserie and watching them make the treats, so mesmerizing! I will have to try those strawberries, thanks for taking the time to comment and the recommendations. :)