1. Check out your resort
Many guests visit Walt Disney World and spend very little time at their resorts. This makes sense, because with so many things to do, why would you want to stay at the resort? Still the resorts really have a lot to offer, and whether or not you want to spend a day at the pool, get some nice photo ops, or just know what services are available, it’s worth spending a couple of minutes exploring your resort when you first arrive.
2. Take the monorail, skyliner, or boat
If you’re going to a park that has a non-bus option, take it! Chances are you’re not taking a monorail, skyliner, or a boat anywhere you go at home, and experiencing these unique modes of transportation first on your way to the parks can make the experience all the more magical.
3. Visit the Magic Kingdom
Most Disney fans will agree, the Magic Kingdom is the first park you should visit. Of course, if you prefer any of the others that’s fine too, but you may find something extra magical about walking down Main Street USA and coming upon Cinderella Castle on the first day of your trip.
4. Have a classic Disney snack
Restaurant meals can wait, but first you should definitely grab your favorite Disney snacks. Whether it’s Mickey premium ice cream bars, Dole Whips, churros, turkey legs, or anything else, your first day in the parks is certainly not complete until you have the snack you’ve been dreaming about for weeks.
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5. Meet your favorite characters
One of my favorite things to do when I enter the Magic Kingdom is to go right to Town Square Theater and meet Mickey. Whatever character you choose to meet, plan on getting to at least one meet and greet on your first day. Don’t worry about having kids or no kids with you, everyone can be a kid at heart in Disney, and meeting characters is still always a great time!
6. Take a break
On the first day of your trip, you’re probably ready to get going non-stop, but don’t. The worst thing you can do is wear yourself out on the first day. If your trip is a week long, take the first day slow. Try to get around to the things that you want to do, but if it doesn’t happen plan to come back another day. And take a break to relax either at your resort, or just at the park on a bench with a drink.
7. Snap some photos
While you’re running around on the first day, don’t forget to take some photos. You may not be tempted to stop and snap some pictures, but it will be well worth it after you return home and have some tangible memories from the first day of your trip. Don’t forget to take advantage of Disney’s PhotoPass service, even if you do not have Memory Maker these (or any) cast members are happy to take your picture with your camera or phone.
8. Buy a pair of ears
If you are planning on buying a pair of ears, or a hat, sunglasses, or any other accessories, you’ll want to do so on the first day. Why get ears towards the end of your trip when you’ll only have a short time to actually wear them in the parks?
9. Take in the details
Another reason why you should take it slow on the first day is so you can really experience all of the details the parks have to offer. Take your time to experience the immersive theming in various areas around the parks and then start running off to your favorite attractions.
10. See the parade
If you happen to be in the Magic Kingdom on your first day, see the parade! The worst thing you can do is keep putting it off and risk never getting around to it. Short on time? Watch it from Frontierland or Liberty Square, which on most days is noticeably less crowded than Main Street.
11. And the fireworks
Each of the four parks now have a nightly spectacular of some kind, and if you’re still in the parks later in the evening this can be a great way to end your first day. Whether you catch Rivers of Light in Animal Kingdom or Happily Ever After in the Magic Kingdom, watch the show and end your evening on a high note.
12. But don’t leave during the post-fireworks rush
Unless you want to be in a massive crowd leaving the park and wait in a long line for the bus, monorail, skyliner, or parking tram, take your time leaving the park. If the park is still open, get in line for one more attraction, and if not slowly peruse the shops and make your way out to let the crowd thin a little bit.