What To Do on Arrival and Departure Days in Disney World

Many of us arrive in Disney World at mid-day or in the evening, but don't want to use up a day on our park-hopper tickets for only a half-day of park touring.

Additionally, there are often times that we don't have a flight out until late afternoon or evening, but we've used up all of our tickets and need to fill the time until we leave for the airport.

What To Do On Arrival and Departure DaysWhat To Do On Arrival and Departure Days

Here are a few of our favorite ways to spend those open hours in and around Disney World. Let us know your favorites in the comments section below!

  • Head to the Boardwalk: Disney's Boardwalk is full of shops and restaurants where it's easy to while away an afternoon. If you're there in the afternoon, rent a surrey bike and get a little exercise around the lagoon! Or head to the Yacht Club and rent a boat for an hour. If you're there in the evening, play a few of the boardwalk games (or watch other people play 'em, 'cause they can get expensive), or watch some of the entertainers!

    Need food? We can highly recommend the ESPN Club (not during prime game time, of course), Beaches and Cream at the Beach Club Resort, Kouzzina, and Flying Fish Cafe (if you wanna get fancy). Of course, there're always corn dogs!

  • Hit Downtown Disney: There's a LOT to do here, so this is a good diversion if you have multiple hours to kill. Consider heading to the AMC Theater to see a film, test your architectural skills at the Lego store, get into the holiday spirit at the Christmas store, or relax with a margarita on the deck at Paradiso 37.

    There's plenty to fill your stomach here, too, and you can pay any range of prices. For low-cost eats, we recommend Earl of Sandwich. Rather sit down and relax? Try Maria & Enzo's for Italian or Raglan Road for pub grub! Don't forget to stop by Cooke's of Dublin for a fried candy bar (called a Doh Bar on the menu!).

  • Swim at the Hotel: If you're arriving a bit early on your arrival day, pack swim suits in your carry-on luggage. Disney guests are permitted to use their hotel pool on check-in and check-out days, so even if your room isn't ready, it can still be prime pool time! Just leave your luggage with bell services, change into your suits in the pool bathrooms or changing rooms, and get on with the relaxation!

    Leaving for the airport later on your check-out day? Even if you've already checked out of your room, just spend the day by the pool, then store wet swim suits in ziploc bags in your luggage until you get home that evening!

What are your favorite ideas for arrival and departure days? Let us know in the comments below!

Mase wrote on Fri, 04/29/2011 - 13:01:

Mase's picture

We usually have passes for when we come down, but this year when we go we wont. So we are going to be spending our time at Downtown Disney, and probably supper at our resort. Probably... still have to plan our ADR's for November... lol

J.P. wrote on Sat, 04/30/2011 - 01:48:

J.P.'s picture

I'm arriving early without a ticket for the first time this year and am hoping to get in a round of Disney Mini Golf! I've never tried the courses before.

DonaldDork wrote on Sat, 04/30/2011 - 02:14:

DonaldDork's picture

We always use our arrival day for Downtown Disney. Flying cross country limits what we can really get done (especially depending on park hours). So we get an ADR for about 2 hours after our arrival time. This gives us enough time to get to the resort, check in, rest for a few.. then catch the bus! We eat, walk DTD, then bed early so we can get on East Coast time!!
1st park is always Magic Kingdom!

On checkout day, we usually just hang at the resort until it's time to leave. again, we really dont have the luxury of going to a park since the flights are usually around noon. But it's fine.. the day BEFORE checkout is usually when we stay out the latest!!

Catherine wrote on Sat, 04/30/2011 - 04:32:

Catherine's picture

We always make it a tradition to visit DTD on arrival day!

JeffC wrote on Sun, 05/01/2011 - 19:12:

We too make it a tradition with the first-day duo of the Boardwalk and DTD. We save the parks for the first full day.

We also usually end our trip with a visit to the same - Boardwalk for a last stroll around, and DTD for last round of gifts, and lunch at EoS on the way out.

Tightrope wrote on Sat, 05/07/2011 - 16:21:

Tightrope's picture

We're arriving late the evening of May 13 at the Port Orleans Riverside resort and Bob Jackson's show at the River Roost lounge is a great way to start a Disney vacation (along with chocolate martinis of course).

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