Walt Disney World: Tips for Arrival Day

Hey y’all! If you’ve been following me on Instagram, I’ve hinted that some Walt Disney World travel tips & tricks would be coming to the blog soon. So today, I am super excited to share my suggestions for the best Disney World arrival day with y’all!

A Little Background

Here’s a little disclaimer-I am not a travel agent, nor am I an annual pass holder who goes to the Parks all the time. However, I have been to Disney World 10 times. My most recent trip was in September 2015. I went with my best friend for five days and four nights. This was the first Disney World trip I planned myself, and I feel like I learned a lot about the Disney trip planning process. My bestie and I had a very successful and enjoyable vacation. We frequently relive our great memories through pictures and conversations.

Thanks to multiple childhood Disney World vacations and a successful Disney trip planning experience as an adult, I feel like a semi-expert on all things Disney World. In addition, Disney World is one of my favorite places and I will never get tired of going. I may not be able to go to Disney World as much as I would like, but I love sharing advice with others who are planning a trip to the most magical place on earth!

Our Disney World arrival day could not have been more perfect. I truly think it was one of the most successful aspects of our trip. Based on our experience, here are a few things I would consider when planning your Disney World arrival day for your next trip.

If you are flying, try to book a flight that arrives in Orlando mid-morning.

Our flight left Raleigh-Durham airport at 8:30am, and touched down at Orlando International Airport at 10:00am. Bonus-it was 15 minutes ahead of schedule. I felt like this was perfect timing. Although we still had to get up at the crack of dawn to make sure we were at the airport in plenty of timing to find parking and make it through security, we at least didn’t have to wake up in the middle of the night to make a 6:00am flight. And let’s be honest-we were so excited that a 5:00am wake up call didn’t seem that bad. With a 10:00am arrival time, we were able to make it to our hotel before lunchtime. This made if feel like we still had a good portion of the day to enjoy doing things around the Walt Disney World Resort.

Disney World Arrival Day
I love the train at the Orlando airport that takes you from your gate to the main concourse. I also love seeing the palm trees that immediately let me know I’m now in Florida.


Disney World Arrival Day
The Orlando airport makes me especially happy, especially on arrival day! I am one of those weird people who enjoys flying and thinks airports are fun.


Plan to spend the afternoon relaxing poolside at your resort on your Disney World arrival day.

So you’ve just gotten to Disney World. While it’s super tempting to head straight to the parks and hop on as many rides as you can, I highly recommend slowing down a notch. Take some time to explore your resort, and then go crash by the pool for several hours. My bestie and I spent the entire afternoon camped out by the Paddock Pool at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort. When we arrived we took our carry on luggage to bell services so they could hold it until our room was ready. We definitely made sure to pack our swimsuits and sunscreen in our carry on so we could easily access them before heading to the pool.

The Paddock Pool had a really good snack bar where we were able to enjoy lunch. Then we enjoyed drinks and snacks while relaxing all afternoon. I especially liked the strawberry daiquiri and Mickey Mouse ice cream bar. Also, guests at Disney resorts can buy a refillable souvenir mug. A flat price gets you unlimited refills on fountain drinks at all Disney resorts during your length of stay. I bought one of these at the main food court before we went to the pool, and took advantage of unlimited Diet Coke all afternoon.

Disney World Arrival Day
Delicious grilled chicken salad at the Paddock Pool


Disney World Arrival Day
Poolside drinks!


Disney World Arrival Day
A Mickey Premium Ice Cream Bar is a must at some point during your trip.


Go eat dinner and shop for souvenirs at Disney Springs

After spending the entire afternoon relaxing by the pool, we headed to our room and got ready for dinner. We had an 8:00 reservation for dinner at Planet Hollywood at Disney Springs (formerly known as Downtown Disney). This is a shopping, dining, and entertainment complex near the edge of Disney World property. The newest area of Disney Springs was still under construction when we were there, but there was still plenty to do. Planet Hollywood is a really fun place to eat. There are three levels of movie memorabilia, and movie clips play on a large screen in the dining area. After we finished our meal we walked around and checked out some of the memorabilia in different areas of the restaurant. Then we headed over to World of Disney, an enormous store with multiple rooms filled with any possible Disney souvenir you could want! It was nice to be able to do some souvenir shopping that first night so that we could focus on rides, characters, and shows while we were in the parks on subsequent days. After checking out a few more stores, we took a boat ride back to Saratoga Springs Resort.

Disney World Arrival Day
Fun evening eating at Planet Hollywood and exploring Disney Springs our first night!


In conclusion . . .

We seriously had the most PERFECT Disney World arrival day. I 10/10 recommend using your first day to enjoy some more low key activities before diving into the hustle and bustle of the parks. Relaxing by the resort pool is my personal favorite. If you’re driving, I feel like you especially need some time to regroup before hitting the theme parks. Plus you get more bang for your buck out of your park tickets if you wait until your first full day before heading into the parks.

What are y’all’s favorite things to do on your Disney World arrival day? I’d love to hear below!

-xoxo Liz


Hey Y'all!

I'm Liz- and I'm here to inspire you to embrace the simple joys in life and encourage you to be your authentic self!

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