By Senior Diva
Let’s face it …the cost of a park pass is a large chunk of the cost of your Walt Disney World vacation. As a regular visitor to WDW, I never include my travel days in the total days I purchase in park passes. This doesn’t save lots of money, but does provide enough of a saving to pay for a lunch or an extra souvenir.
Living in South Carolina, I rarely, if ever fly to Florida since I can make the drive in a little less than 7 hours. On the rare occasion that I fly, it still takes me ridiculously close to the same amount of time since there is not a direct flight from my closest airport. The last day of my vacation is easy – I usually have an early breakfast and start the drive home so no pass would ever be necessary. If you have a full day (after 3 or 4 p.m.) on your final day, include a pass and use your last morning to re-visit a favorite attraction or visit something you may have missed. It’s the arrival day that is usual up for debate. Many opt to include their arrival day even if they do not arrive until 2 or 3 in the afternoon. These are true WDW storm troopers! You may only get to WDW once every few years or it may be your fist visit and you do not want to miss one minute in the parks. So then check-in, drop your bags and immediately get on a bus to one of the parks. For many this works well – but not for me!
There are enough things to do on your arrival day that do not require a park pass and that will leave you with an early evening to rest up for the remaining days of your vacation in the parks. Unless you will be arriving by 9 a.m. and will get full use of your pass, I suggest doing without one on arrival day.
If I leave home by 5 or 6 a.m. I will arrive in WDW in time for lunch. After checking in, if your room is ready early, get yourself settled in your room and then head to whatever restaurant or food court is available at your resort for a late lunch. You can also take this time to familiarize yourself with your resort – the quickest route to the bus stops or the easiest route to the main building. You can roam through your resorts gift shop or just take a leisurely stroll around the grounds to unwind from your travel, too.
One of the advance dining reservations I always make is for 7 p.m. at Raglan Road in Downtown Disney for my first evening. After freshening up from my drive and my exploration of my resort, I board the bus to Downtown Disney. If there is ample time before my dining reservation, I roam through the shops before dinner. After dinner, I roam through some additional shops before heading to the bus stop back to my resort.
You can actually spend your entire first afternoon at DTD and watch the candy making at Goofy’s Candy Co. or the Candy Cauldron, get free chocolate samples at Ghiradelli’s, see entertainment at the outdoor stage across form the World of Disney store, watch the Princess Parade from the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique or take a water shuttle to several different resorts (Port Orleans, Saratoga Springs, Old Key West) to get a look at some other resorts. You can also spend some time watching Characters in Flight balloon rides or be daring and take a ride of our own!
There are many things to do on your arrival day – the above suggestion is my first day tradition and I look forward to my meal at Raglan Road on each trip and to getting some shopping out of the way before visiting the parks.
There are spots where you can rent a boat, rent a bicycle or play mini-golf. You can take WDW transportation to the Boardwalk area and roam through shops or have a meal. You can head over to the Animal Kingdom Lodge where each day at 4 p.m. they offer a free guided tour of the resort with an explanation of the history behind the African Artwork displayed throughout the resort. Or, you can just relax on a bench on the grounds of your resort. The choices for your first day are many!
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