The Early Arrival Situation
(what to do when you don't want to use a day on your park passes)
Mary Lynn Dalton (email@example.com) posed an interesting
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
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
Visit the Wide World of Sports complex.
DisneyQuest (especially during the day, because it's
less crowded than early evenings)
Enjoy the entertainment, restaurants, and shops at the
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).
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:
"Monorail Tour" (Contemporary Resort, Polynesian
Resort, Grand Floridian Resort & Spa) - this fits nicely in nicely
with Classic Strolls #1 (below)
"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
"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
"The Old Frontier" (Wilderness Lodge and Fort
Wilderness Campground) - along with Classic Strolls #5
"'Weekend' in New England" (Yacht Club and
Beach Club Resorts) - can be easily combined with Classic Strolls
"Coney Island Baby" (Boardwalk) - can be easily
combined with Classic Strolls #6
Polynesian Resort to the Grand Floridian Resort (or
vice versa) going past the Wedding Pavilion along the way
Port Orleans Riverside to the French Quarter (or vice
versa) along the carriage path that runs along the Sassagoula River
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)
Around Lago Dorado at Coronado Springs Resort (and you
can check out the Dig Site or do some shopping or eating at the marketplace,
Wilderness Lodge to Fort Wilderness Campground (or vice
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
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
The monorails, but that's been covered.
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
Fort Wilderness campfire program (if you're a WDW resort
Hoop-de-doo (requires reservations)
Polynesian Luan (requires reservations)
Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide