Credit: Disney

What to do First When Arriving at Walt Disney World

You’ve just arrived in Walt Disney World, and you’re chomping at the bit to start your vacation. But what to do first?  

We don’t want Guests to be paralyzed with indecision, so we’ve compiled a list of some of the things we like to do on our first day on property. Your priorities may be different, but these suggestions may give you some ideas about how to begin your WDW adventure in a memorable way.

First Stop: Magic Kingdom

Like many other Guests, we try to visit Disney’s Magic Kingdom as our first Disney Theme Park of the trip. This Park is hands-down the most popular Theme Park in Walt Disney World (and the entire world), for good reason! Somehow, only when you’re standing on Main Street, U.S.A., snapping selfies with Cinderella Castle, does your Disney vacation REALLY feel like it’s begun.

Hopping on your favorite Magic Kingdom rides is another great way to celebrate your arrival at Walt Disney World. Every Guest will have their own favorites, of course, but we make a beeline for Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Splash Mountain (note: Splash Mountain is scheduled to be closed for refurbishment around January 10 this year, but it’ll be open again in February!).

Check Out Your Resort

When visiting Walt Disney World, we always stay on property, so we don’t have to miss a moment of magic. One of the first things we like to do is get to know our Resort. Even if your room isn’t ready yet, you can still use all of the amenities at your Resort hotel as soon as you arrive.

We’ve stayed at various Resorts on site, and love discovering new ones! It’s a great idea to check out the Resort map, get acquainted with the features of your home-away-from-home, find out about all the activities and events going on during your stay, and of course, swing by the restaurants and pools on site so you can easily find them later.  

We also like to set up any credit cards we’ll use during our stay by visiting the front desk to have them linked with our MagicBands.  

Grab a Mickey Bar (or Iconic Walt Disney World Snack of Your Choice)

No matter where you’ve traveled from, you’ll probably have worked up an appetite by the time you arrive at Walt Disney World. One of the first things we do is seek out our favorite Disney snacks.  

That might be a classic Mickey Ice Cream Bar, available at snack kiosks throughout Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Here’s hoping the special 50th Anniversary version, hand-dipped with raspberry coating and Pixie Dust, is still available this year when we visit!. 

It could be the beloved Dole Whip, commonly found at Aloha Isle in Magic Kingdom’s Adventureland and now also at several other locations on property. Or you might reach for my personal favorite: cinnamon glazed pecans, piping hot, and waiting for you at nut carts around WDW (let your nose guide you)!

Take a Deep Breath

The power of smell is pretty amazing. Scents have the ability to instantly transport us to another time or place, which could be why scents that remind Guests of Walt Disney World are so popular!  

One thing we always do when arriving at WDW is simple: take some deep breaths, letting all those Disney scents we’ve missed wash over us. 

Whether it’s the comforting smell of your Disney Resort Hotel lobby, that tantalizing sweet smell as you walk down Main Street, U.S.A. in Magic Kingdom, or even the not-so-pleasant-yet-somehow-still-intoxicating aroma of the water on Pirates of the Caribbean, there are countless treats in store for your nose once you arrive in Walt Disney World!

Hop on a Monorail (or Gondola)

No offense to Disney’s complimentary bus system, but we’ve always been partial to Disney’s Monorail Transportation. Hopping on board the monorail for some nostalgic panoramic views is a great choice for your first day on vacation – it’s like a big ol’ “Welcome home” from Walt Disney World!

You can enjoy a similar feeling by opting for a gondola as you soar over the treetops on the Disney Skyliner. There’s something magical about seeing WDW unfold below you, knowing that you have a vacation full of Disney magic ahead!

Visit Your Favorite Restaurant

When you’re ready for a meal, celebrate the start of your magical vacation at your favorite restaurant. We love to dine at Be Our Guest Restaurant in Disney’s Magic Kingdom our first day, since Be Our Guest epitomizes the magic of Fantasyland for us. 

Disney Springs is another excellent choice for dining options: The BOATHOUSE, Morimoto Asia, and T-REX Café are other eateries we miss when we’re not at Walt Disney World.

You could also start a new tradition by trying a restaurant you haven’t before. Think Space 220 Restaurant at World Discovery in Disney’s EPCOT, La Creperie de Paris at the France Pavilion in EPCOT’s World Showcase, or Steakhouse 71, which replaced The Wave…of American Flavors at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. Just be sure to make advanced dining reservations to avoid disappointment!

Bottom Line

There’s no wrong way to spend your first day at Walt Disney World. But it’s worth thinking about what you want to do when arriving on property, so that you can hit the ground running (maybe literally – we know how exciting it is to arrive at Walt Disney World!).  

About Stacy Milford

Stacy has lived in 4 countries on 3 continents, and travels whenever humanly possible. Passionate about music theatre, dessert, and adventure in the great wide somewhere, she visits Walt Disney World every year, usually during Halloween! Stacy currently divides her time between writing and teaching English as a second language to children in China, and is pretty sure growing up is over-rated.