Author: Canadian Diva
Bittersweet is the epitome of what it feels like on the last day of your Walt Disney World vacation. You have had the most magical days or week of your life… and then, it comes to an end (but hopefully not for too long). There is a melancholy feeling when you wake up, knowing you will be on a plane or in your car, heading back home. Home is sweet, yet leaving Disney World is a sadness that one cannot explain unless you have experienced it. If you think I’m being melodramatic, just ask anyone who has been to WDW and they can attest to this feeling.
So what do you do on your very last day in the most magical place on Earth? (This article pertains to those mainly staying on Disney Property)
I wrote an article on what to do on your first day here. For your last day, it is similar in terms of possible half day touring plans, however it also depends on when your flight (if you are flying) leaves or how long it takes for you to drive back to your city.
It is strongly advised that you not to book your flight early in the morning. Nothing is worse than having the best time of your life the night before, only to quickly get packed and wake up groggy at 5am (or earlier) to catch an early morning flight. When making your flight plans, try and book your flight midday or even in the evening, so you may enjoy the magic just a bit longer. You will also feel less rushed and can plan things well. Here are some suggestions; broken down to different parts of the day depending on your departure time.
Late Morning Departure:
The Canadian Diva family once had a late morning departure. With only a few hours left of magic in a Disney Resort, all we could do was pack and have breakfast in the food court. The plus side was, that at least we didn’t feel too rushed leaving. The downside was, it didn’t feel so magical.
Early Afternoon Departure:
Unless you are planning to make it to Rope Drop in the morning and feel that you can do a lot before you leave, it is probably best not to waste an expensive park ticket for such a short time. A good use of this brief time would be for you make an ADR (Advance Dining Reservation) at one of the fabulous Disney Resort Restaurants. It will be a wonderful way to end your trip. Book a character meal if you have children. This will also help alleviate time away from your regular touring plan during the week, if your have a character meal at the end of your trip. Make sure you check out first, if your ADR falls within the check out time (at most WDW resorts, checkout is at 11:00 am). You can always leave your luggage at the front desk of your resort. Make sure you know the exact time your bus is leaving for the airport. And keep in mind, travel time to and from the restaurant, it’s best if you choose a restaurant close to your resort or better yet, in your resort.
Diva tip: you may request a late check out time, however it is not always granted depending on availability and you may be charged extra for this time. Make sure you make your request upon reserving your room.
Don’t want the hassle of a sit down meal? Worried about missing your bus to the airport? Why not take this time to have a Quick Service meal at your resort and explore. Take some last minute Photo Ops, and relish in memories of your time spent there. Chances are, you probably were too busy at the parks during your vacation so this is the perfect opportunity to take in the magic of your Resort.
If your resort is near the Downtown Disney Area (soon to be named Disney Springs), why not go to Downtown Disney? Shop for last minute gifts, eat at the many Quick Service places there, you are still in the magic without buying an expensive park ticket. See these articles on some of the things you can do in Downtown Disney/Disney Springs.
Late Afternoon to early evening departure:
Most likely the most popular option. For those flying out, you can check out at 11:00 am from your resort (given that you are staying on property). When you check out and if you are using the Magical Express, they will take your check in bags for you. You can leave your carry-on luggage with the Front Desk and be able to pick them up when you are about to depart later in the day.
If you plan on going to the parks, make sure you plan wisely. Go on touringplans.com and pick a park with the lowest crowd levels, so you can get the most out of this shorter time. One trip, we decided to go to the Magic Kingdom on our last day. According to touringplans.com, crowds were as low as 2/10, so we were able to do a lot of attractions. We booked an ADR at Crystal Palace and had a great time. The only problem was, we were just in time for our flight because we didn’t want to leave! We kept saying, “We have a few minutes left to do one more ride!” We rented a car for our trip, so that gave us a bit more flexibility. A fantastic thing about the new FastPass+ is, if you plan it right*, you will be able to get in on those last minute attractions at a certain time. Try to book your must do early in the day. This would make your last day a bit happier to bear.
Diva tip: if your “last day” falls on a day of a hard-ticketed event, like the Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party or Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, at Magic Kingdom, TAKE ADVANTAGE of the low crowds in the morning!! Many people will not be visiting the Park during the morning and early afternoon that the event is held. Lines for attractions will be smaller. As soon as the crowds are coming into the Park to attend the special parties, (usually they come in the late afternoon around 4 pm) you and your group would be ready to leave!
Keep in mind, the water attractions. I would strongly advise not to go on Splash Mountain (if you are visiting Magic Kingdom) or Kali River Rapids (if you are going to Animal Kingdom) on your last day. Although there are restrooms to change and at your resort to shower (public showers for guests), it could be uncomfortable traveling back to your home, wet.
Diva tip: take into consideration, the time to actually leave the park and to your resort to pick up your carry-on luggage from the Front Desk. If driving, of course your luggage will already be in your car. Also keep in mind the traffic and paying tolls, if going to the airport and prepare some time for any unforeseen issues.
Don’t want to waste money on a Park Ticket?
There is still A LOT to do on your last day if you have a later departure time. You can play miniature golf, see Nick the Devo’s review here.. Or check out ESPN Wide World of Sports,. Maybe walk on the “Boardwalk” and have a treat from the Bakery. And as mentioned above for the Early Afternoon Departure, make an Advanced Dining Reservation (ADR) at a resort restaurant! You will have more time, so you can enjoy! Take this opportunity to “tour” a resort you haven’t been to and want to explore. Resorts are like the parks themselves with such incredible theming, you will be sure to enjoy your last hours with the Disney magic still intact. You can dream and start planning for your next vacation because you may want to stay at the resort you just visited.
And again, Downtown Disney (Disney Springs) is always a great way to spend your free time. Since you are leaving later, book an ADR at one of the many restaurants there. Shop large at the World of Disney Store, the biggest Disney Store on the planet. As I mentioned in this article, if you have children, there are mini-attractions which cost around $2 only that they can enjoy and it will feel like a mini-visit to the park.
Now let me warn you, you will experience PDD (Post Disney Depression)! So make the most of your last day! Let it be magical and it will make waiting for you next Walt Disney World Vacation, worthwhile.
*Diva tip: Booking with a Walt Disney World Vacation Specialist will help maximize your time and save you money. A specialist can help you with all of the tips mentioned above, check out our own Patricia. Remember she is FREE as long as you book a Walt Disney World Vacation Package.