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Walt Disney World Arrival Day Do’s and Dont’s

Arrival day at Walt Disney World is when the magic starts! But, what are the best things to do…and not to do on your arrival day?  Let’s take a look at some Arrival Day Do’s and Don’ts for your Walt Disney World vacation!

Arrival day at Walt Disney World is my favorite. It’s the beginning of vacation! It’s important to know the Walt Disney World arrival day do’s and don’ts so you can set up a magical trip for your family! Managing expectations is key!

Walt Disney World Arrival Day Do's and Don'ts

This can be one of the best days of your trip!  Once you arrive at your Walt Disney World Resort, you are in the “bubble”, and feel as if the outside world is so far away, right?  What are the best ways to spend your time on your arrival day at Walt Disney World to set your trip up for success?  With a few tips, and a magical mindset, your Disney vacation will be off to a great start! 

Disney World Arrival Day dont’s:

Do not expect your room to be ready upon arrival.  Disney’s official check in time begins at 3PM.  That does not mean your room will be ready at 3PM, or even shortly after.  To be prepared, be sure to pack anything you may need right away in a backpack or in your carry on.  Then you can have your necessities available until your room is ready. These items would include your Magicbands, IDs, a change of clothes, and any necessary medical items. You are welcome to store your items at Bell Services until your room is ready.

Do not go directly to a park without stopping at the front desk.  If you are planning to leave the resort to visit Disney Springs, a theme park, or another resort, you want to make sure your MagicBands are active. Also, it’s a good idea to double check with the front desk to make sure your tickets are active, and your charging privileges are working. A good way to test this is to try and purchase a snack at your resort to make sure your MagicBand is working.  You don’t want to waste time at Guest Services, or even have to to all the way back to the resort if something is not working properly.  

Do not book a sit down meal reservation within the first 3 or 4 hours of arrival.  It can take about 1.5 to 2 hours from the time you land in Orlando until you make your way through the airport and to your Walt Disney World Resort.  With any sort of delays, you will be incredibly late to your ADR, or miss it entirely.  It is advisable to book a sit down meal AT your resort, or a neighboring resort, on arrival day. If you plan to visit a theme park on arrival day, plan a late dinner around the 7PM hour.


Do not try to pack too much into your arrival day.  Traveling can take its toll on your family.  Your excitement is mixed with being tired from travel.  This is not the time to plan a “must do” character meal or park activity.  You want to be energized and ready for your first full day, not tired and stressed. Arrival day is a great time to get settled and explore your resort.

Do not arrive in Orlando unprepared for the weather.  While you want to be comfortable, and in some cases fashionable, keep in mind that you are arriving in Orlando later in the day.  Florida is likely warmer than the climate from which you came. That being said, arriving in your parka and scarf is going to be a very uncomfortable start to your trip.  You are going to be walking, carrying things, and navigating your way through the airport, and then around Disney property.  Wear comfortable shoes, dress in layers, and leave room in your bag to store your jacket or anything else you do not need when you arrive.

Disney world Arrival Day Do’s:

Do explore your Walt Disney World Resort.  You are paying to stay there, so you might as well enjoy it!  Arrival day is the perfect day to check out the activities that are offered at your resort, and plan on enjoying a movie by the pool later that evening.  Or, this is a good time to take in some pool side games, activities, and drinks for the afternoon.  Walk the paths or hallways of your resort, and get to know the lay of the land.  Key things are where the pools are, as well as the transportation stops and restaurants.  

Do take time to get your room organized.  When you arrive, if you have your luggage with you, take some time to get your room arranged.  Unpack, set out clothes for the next day, designate a shoe area in your room, unpack your toiletries, and give everyone some space to call their own.  This is also a great time to unpack any groceries you have had delivered and put some bottled water in the refrigerator.

Do enjoy the pool at your Walt Disney World Resort.  Walt Disney World resorts have amazing pools!  Not only do they have fun feature pools, but also some very relaxing quiet pool areas.  Either of these atmospheres will make for a nice arrival day activity for your trip.  Having a dedicated afternoon and evening at the pool is a great way to start! It is nice to have a relaxing quick service meal, a nice drink by the pool, and let the kids run off some energy.

Do visit Disney Springs.  I think Disney Springs is amazing, yes.  But do you want to take park time to visit? Maybe so, but most don’t want to.  So, I think visiting Disney Springs on arrival day is ideal.  We used to have a fun first day tradition of going to Disney Springs. One of our Disney Springs traditions is to let our children pick out a new lanyard and pins.  This is also a good place to get a last minute dining reservation if you end up having enough time for a table service meal.  

Share your Walt Disney World arrival day do’s and dont’s with us!  Do you have your Walt Disney World arrival day plans made?  The key is to have reasonable expectations and to start your trip in a relaxing way.  This allows you to enjoy more time in the Disney parks during your stay.  After all, isn’t that where the magic lives?

Carrie Hurst

Married to my high school sweetheart, we are raising two pirates and a princess. A lifelong Disney fan, lover of good food, and all things creative, I hope you will join me in sharing joy and making memories everyday.



  1. Chris Seger says:

    My wife two of my boys and myself will be down at the end of April. After having to put off the trip 3 times (because of Covid 19) we are now able to enjoy our trip…… SO EXCITED.

    1. That is fantastic! Your trip will be here before you know it. Have so much fun!

    2. John P Graf says:

      My daughter and I are going in the first week of May. We have been before but the first time without my good friend that was our official disneyworld tour guide. He passed away at an early age from cancer so we are gong in his memory

      1. I am sorry to hear that! I hope you have a MAGICAL time!

  2. Frank Pelanek says:

    We stay in the Fort Wilderness Campground, so we hit the ground pretty hard, usually trying to make it to Hollywood Studios before lunchtime, and park the camper in the lot. By the time we break for dinner, our campsite is open, so my wife will start on dinner while I put the kids to work helping me get the campsite set up. We all finish in time to eat together, unhook the truck and head back to HS for one of the nighttime fireworks shows. We incorporate pretty much all of your suggestions, the camper is already organized for us, we pack our own food for dinner plans, etc. We usually take a break from the parks mid week and spend a whole day relaxing in the campground with their pool and activities.

    1. Yes! I love the idea of the campground. It’s such a great options for families. It sounds like you have a good arrival day routine down!

  3. Tricia-Lyn Smith says:

    We tend to book a early 5 to 6 am flight landing for about 730/8 am. We head to our resort when luggage was handled by disney we checked in to see if our room was ready. We have been lucky some trips and can go right up. After that regardless if room was ready we head to epcot as its a relaxing park with lots of yummy food and simple rides. We dont cram anything but we do get all we can out of each park if you are not exhausted at the end of the day did you really go?? Every family operates different and what works for some may not work for others. Good for first timers but if you have been many times as I am thankful for then what we do is purely normal ?

    1. I love that you like to arrive early and get a full day on your first day! Isn’t it funny how our Disney travel style changes the more we go? We have been over 15 times, and I agree. The more you go, the easier it is to find your style!

  4. Mich Adams says:

    We are coming to Orlando in 15 days. We are only going to be able to visit the Magic Kingdom one day. We are planning on taking our time and being there the entire day. We have a 7 yr. old and a 4 yr. old. Are there mean plan tickets available along with the park tickets? Is it worth buying them? What would be a couple of “Must do’s” for the girls.

    1. That sounds so magical! Disney is not currently offering a dining plan. So all your meals will be out of pocket. For future reference, only onsite guests of the Walt Disney World resort hotels are eligible for a meal plan. The most important thing is that you have purchased your ticket to Magic Kingdom now, if not sooner, so you can make your park pass reservation. I think you will want to spend a lot of time in Fantasyland and Storybook Circus!

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