The Frog Family usually arrives in Orlando for our Disney vacation in the afternoon. There’s not enough time to squeeze in a full day’s worth of activities, but we want to get the fun started anyway. Here are five of our favorite things to do on arrival day…
1. Epcot & IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth
The kids love Epcot and it’s a great park to visit on the afternoon and night of arrival. Even if it’s crowded, there’s plenty of room to move around; this is a great way to ease into the hustle and bustle that will come later in the week. Tad and Lily like to do a few attractions in Future World like Journey Into Imagination With Figment, Spaceship Earth, Test Track and Mission: SPACE. Leap and I just like to take in all the beautiful sights and sounds. We end the day with our favorite fireworks show, IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth. It’s at 9 p.m. so we can still get back to the room in time for a good night’s sleep.
2. Hollywood Studios & Fantasmic!
If Fantasmic! is showing on the night we arrive, we kick off our Disney vacation at Hollywood Studios. The Fantasmic! theater is on Hollywood Boulevard, the same place as two Frog Family favorites: the Tower of Terror and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. Leap and Tad can usually ride Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster twice using the Single Rider line and the whole family can go on Tower of Terror before we get our seats for Fantasmic!. We go back to Hollywood Studios later in the week to enjoy the rest of the park.
3. Downtown Disney & DisneyQuest
This is a perfect option if you want a very low-stress way to kick off to your Disney vacation, but want something that satisfies the kids and the parents. Downtown Disney has great restaurants like Wolfgang Puck, Bongo’s, House of Blues and Fulton’s Crab House. It’s also great for just walking around and doing a little shopping. The best part for the kids though (and yes, we parents love it too!) is DisneyQuest. We use a ‘Fun Visit’ on our Water Park Fun & More ticket and do awesome attractions like Virtual Jungle Cruise and Cyber Space Mountain until 9 or 10 p.m. so we won’t be too tired the next morning.
4. Character Dinner & Fireworks
For an extra special treat, I make character dining reservations at Chef Mickey’s for dinner on arrival night. Chef Mickey’s is in the Contemporary Resort which is right next to the Magic Kingdom. So after we meet Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Pluto and Goofy, we head to the observation deck for an amazing view of the fireworks show, Wishes Nighttime Spectacular. Another dining option with a view of the Magic Kingdom fireworks is ‘Ohana at the Polynesian Resort.
5. Check-In, Swim, Eat & Rest
If you’re exhausted from a full day of traveling or if you want to make absolutely certain the little ones are in bed early, this option is for you. After we check-in to the hotel, I’II take my time unpacking our bags and getting organized while Leap and the kids head straight to the pool. When I’m finished, I’ll grab supper for everyone from the food court then go meet the gang for a pool-side picnic.
However you decide to kick off your Disney vacation, it’s important to be well-rested for your first full day in the parks!