Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide - Contents  Click to go back to MousePlanet main page
 Discussion Boards | Reviews | News | Trip Planning | Shop | Travel | Site Map
Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide
Look in: MousePlanet WWW

Brian Bennett

[ Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide - Contents ] [ Return ]

The Early Arrival Situation
(what to do when you don't want to use a day on your park passes)

Mary Lynn Dalton (muirdalton@hotmail.com) posed an interesting question:

HI! You have a GREAT GREAT web site! Can you give any suggestion for what to do on our first day when we will not be arriving until about noon or 1 p.m. (Saturday, July 1). I know the parks will be packed. Any ideas of how to maximize our time--we have 2 children, age 7 & 12.

Here's a more complete answer than I gave Mary Lynn, since I've had some more time to think and organize a good list.  I also include ideas that can work even if you don't have a full afternoon, but want to immerse yourself in the atmosphere to kick off your vacation right.  (Note:  This list assumes that you don't have park passes to use this first day as it would "waste" some time on the passes.)

Depending on which resort you're staying at, you might want to see if you can check in, get settled, and spend the afternoon at the pool. Unfortunately, that might not work since it's a bit early to check-in at most Orlando-area hotels -- especially the Disney ones that have a very late check-in time of 3-4:00pm.  (See WDW Resorts from A to Z to see a great list of themed pools that you may use if you're staying at that particular resort.)

One comment, if you arrive early, are staying at a Disney resort, and don't have a rental car, you can stash your baggage with bell services at your resort and still head off to do something fun.

Offsite activities (if you have a vehicle):

  • Take a drive over to Tampa or Daytona and spend the afternoon at the beach.

  • Visit Celebration, just West of WDW on SR-192 (it's a small town being developed by Disney, and intended to be a model community).

  • Shopping, miniature golf, or food at the Crossroads (just outside of WDW's Hotel Plaza Boulevard on SR-535).

  • Visit one of the non-Disney water parks or dinner shows.

Daytime On-Property (or night, you can decide):

  • Play a round or two of miniature golf at Fantasia Gardens or Winter-Summerland.

  • Typhoon Lagoon

  • Blizzard Beach

  • River Country

  • Visit the Wide World of Sports complex.

  • Downtown Disney

  • DisneyQuest (especially during the day, because it's less crowded than early evenings)

  • Enjoy the entertainment, restaurants, and shops at the Boardwalk.

  • Shop or eat or both at Downtown Disney's Marketplace or West Side.

  • Rent a boat at any of the resort marinas (the water mice are a riot, and the pontoon boats are fun, too).

Fun Meals:

  • Chef Mickey's at the Contemporary Resort

  • Ohana at the Polynesian Resort

  • 1900 Park Faire at the Grand Floridian

  • Whispering Canyon Cafe' at Wilderness Lodge

  • Beaches & Cream at the Beach Club Resort

Classic Resort Combo Visits:

  1. "Monorail Tour" (Contemporary Resort, Polynesian Resort, Grand Floridian Resort & Spa) - this fits nicely in nicely with Classic Strolls #1 (below)

  2. "Old South" (Port Orleans Riverside and French Quarter) - along with Classic Strolls #2 (below) if you wish, or you can take the boat from one resort to the other if you don't want to drive

  3. "Spanish Eyes" (Coronado Springs and Caribbean Beach Resorts) and you can include either or both Classic Strolls #3, 4 (below) if you want to do some walking

  4. "The Old Frontier" (Wilderness Lodge and Fort Wilderness Campground) - along with Classic Strolls #5

  5. "'Weekend' in New England" (Yacht Club and Beach Club Resorts) - can be easily combined with Classic Strolls #6

  6. "Coney Island Baby" (Boardwalk) - can be easily combined with Classic Strolls #6

Classic Strolls:

  1. Polynesian Resort to the Grand Floridian Resort (or vice versa) going past the Wedding Pavilion along the way

  2. Port Orleans Riverside to the French Quarter (or vice versa) along the carriage path that runs along the Sassagoula River

  3. Around the lagoon at Caribbean Beach Resort (and you can include a stroll across Parrot Cay Island and some shopping or food at Old Port Royale while you're in the neighborhood)

  4. Around Lago Dorado at Coronado Springs Resort (and you can check out the Dig Site or do some shopping or eating at the marketplace, too)

  5. Wilderness Lodge to Fort Wilderness Campground (or vice versa)

  6. You can pick your own starting point, but you can easily enjoy a walk that includes the Yacht Club Resort, the Beach Club Resort, the Boardwalk, the Dolphin and the Swan...then returning to your starting point.


  • Take the water taxi from Old Key West Resort to Downtown Disney (or vice versa).

  • Take the water taxi from Port Orleans Riverside to the French Quarter or all the way to Downtown Disney (or vice versa).

  • Hop on a "friendship" for a ride from the Yacht & Beach Club to the Boardwalk to the Swan & Dolphin to the Studios or Epcot.  This can be an especially good move if you need to go to the park to buy your passes for the next morning anyway.

  • The monorails, but that's been covered.

Nightime Ideas:

  • Catch the Electrical Water Pageant and/or Magic Kingdome fireworks from any of the Seven Seas Lagoon or Bay Lake resorts.

  • See IllumiNations 2000: Reflections of Earth from the Boardwalk or Beach Club Resorts, but be aware you'll have a limited view.

  • Pleasure Island

  • Fort Wilderness campfire program (if you're a WDW resort guest)

  • Hoop-de-doo (requires reservations)

  • Polynesian Luan (requires reservations)

Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide

Walt Disney World Update for a list of the latest WDW trip reports and WDW features by Mike Scopa and Sue Holland!

Service Cutbacks in the World

Trip Planning Guide Home

Intro & References

Phone Directory

Planning Your Trip




WDW With Kids

Everything Else in WDW

When the Trip is Done
Information on scrapbooking album services and supplies

Can't find what information you're looking for? I would appreciate it if you would click here tell me what's missing so I can "fill in the blanks" as soon as possible.

Amazon Honor System Click Here to Pay Learn More

[ Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide - Contents ] [ Return ]

Go to: Top | Section Contents | MousePlanet Main Page

Copyright MousePlanet® Inc. | Legal Information & Privacy Policy | About/Contact MousePlanet | Link to us

MousePlanet® is not associated in any official way with the Walt Disney Company, its subsidiaries, or its affiliates. The official Disney site is available at www.disney.com. This MousePlanet Web site provides independent news articles, commentary, editorials, reviews, and guides primarily about the theme park resorts of the Walt Disney Co. All information on this site is subject to change. Please call destinations in advance to confirm the most up-to-date information.