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Opening Magic Kingdom

Opening Magic Kingdom

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Considerations For A Smooth Arrival Day At Disney






You made it; you’re at Walt Disney World!  It is your arrival day, now what do you do?  And, while you have carefully planned your vacation, you may not have planned your arrival day.  There are a few things to take into consideration to make your arrival day go smoothly.

Let me begin with the caveat that we don’t or shall I say, haven’t followed all of the advice that is about to follow.  Sometimes successfully and sometimes not.  And, we have changed our arrival day plans a bit over time.

For the sake of ease, these arrival day considerations are based on the fact that you have flown into Orlando International and are using Disney’s Magical Express service to get to your resort.  Adjust if this doesn’t apply to you and your traveling party.


Consideration:  It may be best to not make ADR’s for your arrival day.  Especially with the new 24 hour cancellation or you’ll be charged a no show fee policy.  The last thing you’ll want to worry about is flight delays/cancellations and missing your ADR.  Wait and schedule ADR’s for the following days in your vacation.

Again, we have done just the opposite.  We’ve eaten at Mickey’s Backyard BBQ, Chef Mickey’s, Mama Melrose, on our arrival day.  We’ve even had tickets to ticketed events such as Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.  If our flights had been delayed we would have been out some money.  Gratefully, that didn’t happen and now we typically schedule ADR’s for the other days in our vacation.



Consideration:  The resort pool may be just what the doctor ordered.  This has been the case for our last two trips.  No parks until we hit the pool.  I can’t tell you how many times we walked by pools to our resort rooms with the boy asking if we could swim.  The answer has been yes for the two most recent trips.  We just make sure the swim suits and any other needed items are packed in our carry-on bags so we don’t wait for the luggage delivery to our resort.  After a dip in the pool and possibly a snack, we are re-energized and ready to hit the parks.

Consideration:  Have needed items in your carry-on luggage.  Disney’s Magical Express’ luggage service can take up to 5 hours to arrive in your room after your flight.  Depending on the time of your flight arrival, it could be bedtime before the luggage arrives.  We make sure to have jammies, swim suits, items needed for park touring, and clothes for the next day, just in case, in our carry-on bags.


Consideration:  No need to wait for your luggage, or your room to be ready for that matter.  Walt Disney World Resort official check-in time is 3:00 pm.  If you arrive prior to that time, your room may not be ready.  No worries.  Just get what you need from your carry-on bags and let Bell Services hold your bags.  There are locker rooms near the pools for changing if you want to swim.  Or you can explore the resort or grab your Key to the World cards and hit the parks.  If you have what you need, there’s no reason to wait for your luggage to arrive.  It is a magical feeling to arrive back in your resort room and discover your checked luggage has arrived.


Consideration:  You don’t have to use a day of your park ticket on your arrival day.  There is plenty to do outside the parks—explore your resort, visit Downtown Disney, or explore other resorts, so there is no need to use a day of your park ticket, unless of course, you have planned to do so.

Consideration:  It has been a long day, get some rest.  This may mean a nap poolside or in your resort room or turning in early.  Your Disney vacation is going to require lots of energy.  Rest up and be ready!


Again, we haven’t followed this consideration very well.  We’ve seen parades, fireworks, etc. on our arrival day.  There was one trip, however, that we napped on the bus to the park, after swimming in the resort pool.  It wasn’t planned, but still felt great.


If you are anything like us, your arrival day means that you have been traveling since early that morning and possibly the day before.  At this point, we are feeling a mixture of excitement, anticipation, and exhaustion.  It’s easy to just run on adrenalin at this point, and we have done that, too.

We have learned that by managing our arrival day in terms of time, energy, and needed items, the rest of our vacation goes much more smoothly; dare I say magically.  If you think I’m kidding, check out how we lost the boy at Orlando International on the arrival day of our most recent trip—click here.

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