HALF DAY AT DISNEY
Five itineraries to help you enjoy the magic on your arrival or departure day
You've arrived at Disney World! Woohoo!
…now what? You probably only have part of a day on your arrival (and departure) days, but you're still going to want to enjoy every possible moment of the magic. There's no flopping on the bed watching television in your hotel room for you!
But what if you don't want to use a full park day ticket? No worries. This is Disney, after all, the entertainment Mecca. We've pulled together some sample itineraries to give you some ideas on how to spend those vacation "bookend" days:
The perfect way to start (or wrap up) your Disney shopping is to head to Downtown Disney. Check off everyone on your souvenir list—or pick up that special something for yourself. Catch all the fun at the LEGO shop, or get lost in The World of Disney.
Once you've worked up an appetite, grab a sandwich at the Earl of Sandwich, or sit down and enjoy a full meal at the Rainforest Café, amid the vines, sights, and sounds of the rainforest.
If you're still up for some adventure, go to Cap'n Jack's Marina to rent a canopy or pontoon boat to cruise around for a while, enjoying the view from the water.
Goofy's Candy Company—like the mix-and-match, design-your-own treat. Pair a krispy treat with dark chocolate, crushed Butterfingers, and white chocolate drizzle, marshmallows with white chocolate and crushed Oreo crumbs, or whatever you can dream up. Yum!
If you're lucky enough to be camping at Fort Wilderness already, you probably know how you're going to spend your half-days—staying right where you are and enjoying the fun!
But if you're staying at another resort or off-site, you're still welcome to come to Disney's fabulous campground. Park in the front lot and hop a bus into the campground to enjoy some of the amenities.
Rent a bike or canoe to explore the resort. (Watch out for the armadillos!) Or, rent a boat or sign up for the horseback trail rides. When you're good and hungry, head to Trail's End for some down-home grub (or grab a Giddy Up & Go, a take-out meal that's rumored to be the best in the World).
If you're visiting in the evening, the must-see event is Chip 'n Dale's Campfire Sing-a-long. First, grab some sticks and make yourself s'mores until you can't squeeze in another. Or, buy some popcorn, pizza, hot dogs, or other snacks at the Chuckwagon. Then, belt out some familiar tunes with the rest of the gang, and wait for Chip and Dale to come out and say howdy. After that, settle in for the movie on the outdoor screen.
Electric Water Pageantfloats right past the Fort Wilderness beach every night, so be sure to catch this sparkly, lighted parade of floats before you head out.
Head over toward Epcot to explore the Boardwalk, Yacht Club, and Beach Club resorts. If you're visiting in the evening, your first stop should be Beaches & Cream Soda Shop. Got a good-sized crowd with you (or maybe you're just feeling extra-hungry)? Ask for the Kitchen Sink—and plenty of spoons to share.
After you've had your ice cream fix, stroll around the grounds of the Yacht and Beach Club. Check out Stormalong Bay—although you can only swim if you're a guest, it's worth taking a peek!
Then, cross over the bridge to the Boardwalk. Rent a surrey bike and pedal your way around the Crescent Lake, stopping to watch the live entertainment.
The adults in your party can dance the night away or enjoy the lively music scene at Jellyroll and the Atlantic Dance Hall, or pop in to the ESPN bar to catch a game on one of the many televisions.
And if you're visiting in the morning? Don't miss the Boardwalk Bakery. Pick out a pastry fresh from their oven, and enjoy it at the tables out by the lake.
Disney's West Side is a great half day, evening hot spot. Even if you thought you were tired from traveling, you might find you're having so much fun you play well into the night.
If you've got avid gamers on your hands, DisneyQuest is a must. Five floors of high-tech fun await you. Paddle a raft through a jungle, build (and then ride!) a roller coaster, enjoy old pinball favorites, record your own music…it's a video-lover's dream.
After you've gotten your fill of beeping and joysticks, catch the Cirque du Soleil. You'll be dazzled by the feats and sights of the live performances.
Feel like just relaxing? AMC Pleasure Island 24 Theaters offers all the latest releases in comfy stadium seating.
For part of your day, grab a towel and just head to your resort pool. No matter which resort you're staying at, Disney's fantastic theming makes every pool something special.
Afterward, dry off and do a little resort hopping. If you park at a monorail resort, you can climb aboard the monorail and take a tour through the Grand Floridian, Polynesian, and Contemporary resorts. Hop off whenever you like and explore the theming, or grab a bite to eat at the resort restaurants.
If you're visiting in the evening, you can catch the fireworks over at the Magic Kingdom right from the beach at the Polynesian and Grand Floridian. Then, wait for the Electric Water Pageant to float on by.
Don't forget—morning and evening are perfect photo-taking times, before the sun climbs too high and gives you harsh lighting conditions. Take advantage of the timing to snap some lasting memories of your Disney vacation.
Kathleen M. Reilly is the author of WALT DISNEY WORLD EXTREME VACATION GUIDE FOR KIDS and is polkadotsuitcase on the DISboards.
I liked your article is an interesting technology thanks to google I found you
Last trip we got there in the middle of the day and had reservations for dinner at O'hana that night. We took our time exploring the other resorts on the monorail and boat. At the Polynesian we got to enjoy the Magic Kingdom fireworks in the restaurant with music piped in. Dinner was awesome! This was a great way to start our vacation.
That?s really sherwd! Good to see the logic set out so well.
All the suggestions are wonderful. I would only say. RELAX. Take it all in and go slow. That way all the wonder that is Disney is absorbed and enjoyed and a vacation really is taken instead of a frantic trip
| Sheila Moran
I wish we could stay long enough to do all these things but I have one more idea get a in park bus to the french quarter.then ride the free boat to downtown disney.This will start your vacation with happy children,and adults!
Since its more than likely you paid for a day anyway and go to the parks and stay until the last possible moment. Or if you happen to go during the christmas season hop to different hotels. the decorations are awesome or go to Fort Wilderness Campground, people decorate their campers, quite a sight to see.
Don't forget to check your resort's itinerary for the day. They often have lots of fun activities planned throughout the day, including movies & craft projects for the kids!
| Ron G.
Love the article, but did everyone forget if you have a four day ticket or more adding an extra only costs $3-4, so it's not like your wasting bunches of money to spend a few hours in one of the parks. I do love finding fun thing to do outside the parks, but I go to WDW for the parks.
Dont forget about the "goofy golf"! There are 2 locations on property and it makes for a fun couple of hours!
Start your own traditions! For example, we like to start our vacation by visiting Magic Kingdom and having the photo pass photographers take our pictures in front of the Castle. We eat dinner once during our vacation at Cinderella's Royal Table, usually in the middle of our trip. Then on our last morning there, we enjoy a hearty buffet breakfast at the Crystal Palace and go on our favorite ride one last time before flying home to NJ.
Great suggestions! We usually grab dinner at Epcot and see Illuminations our first night. We stay long enough at WDW that an extra day on our passes is just a few dollars - well worth the price to grab some extra park time!
While you're at Fort Wilderness, visit the Tri-Circle-D Ranch where they stable the horses used to pull the trolleys on Main Street. One stall has been converted to a Horse Museum, with photos of many of the horses that were featured in Disney movies. You can also see the white ponies that pull Cinderella's Carriage.
| Loreen C. Gorzelany
How about hotel hopping using the monorail. Good way to see more of Disney on the monorail and the hotels are beautiful.
These are all great ideas! A common half-day itinerary for us on our last day is having breakfast at Chef Mickey's in the Contemporary Resort, and then doing some shopping at Downtown Disney.
| Dawn B
Excellent suggestions. The last time we went (2006) we went to Downtown. We're planning on doing that again in December but may do one of the others instead.
| Ronald Barnard
Great set of half day suggestions. Some of my party will arrive before me and those suggestions will help a lot. I wish that Disney did have an after 5pm discount so we could enjoy an evening in one of the parks, like Epcot. It is such a great place to stroll around the countries as the sun goes down. We will try most of your suggestions at the end of this month. Thanks
Great suggestions. I would add another... Tour the Animal Kingdom Lodge to view (for free) the animals on the Savanna. There are several viewing areas, some good places to grab food, and a nice gift shop.
| Dawn Smith
Great article. Being an avid Disney traveler, I have tried all of your suggestions and highly recommend them to others. Thanks for bringing me the Disney spirit while I wait for my next trip!
| Abby Balque
Ride the monorails and the boats when you get their. Before you leave, relax and remember your trip. A time to say goodbye. A.
Hi! Although we've done many of the things listed here, it still gave us many things to think about for our next trip down! Thx!
- MagicBands can now be purchased without ticket media - The bands are now available for purchase across property.
- Changes to boat schedules at Downtown Disney - Schedules have been changing recently due to construction.
- Meet and greet locations updated for Villains Unleashed! event - Over 50 Disney villains will be taking over the park until the 13th hour!
- Blog - The Good and Bad of the "Muppets Most Wanted" Blu-ray
- Ultimate Day VIP Tour available at Epcot Food & Wine Festival - This daylong tour begins at the Festival Center's VIP Lounge and includes champagne, a beverage tasting, six-course tapas-style lunch, wine, private backstage tours, time on Epcot attractions, food and beverage pairings with Disney chefs, VIP seating at the Eat to the Beat Concert Series, and reserved seating for IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth fireworks spectacular.
- Awesome Mix Tape Dance Party scheduled for Villains Unleashed! event - Over 50 Disney villains will be taking over the park until the 13th hour!
- Blog - New Golden Oak Outpost Menu is Waffle Fry Heaven
- Sunrise Safari at Animal Kingdom ending 12/28/14 - This tour is exclusive to Animal Kingdom Lodge Kilimanjaro Club Level guests.
- American Idol Experience to close August 30 - No plans have been announced for the space.
- Florida residents save $40 on Cirque du Soleil tickets - Through September and October, Florida residents will save $40 on adult Cirque du Soleil tickets purchased at the box office.
- VIDEO: The Refurbished Capt. Cook's at Polynesian Resort - After a long refurbishment, Capt. Cook's has reopened at the Polynesian Village Resort. Major changes include artwork in the seating area, a new menu, no more ordering off of touch screens and the tragic loss of the Dole Whip self-serve machine.
- American Film Institute at the end of Backlot Tour to close - As of August 17, the American Film Institute Showcase exhibit at the end of the ride will be closed. This exhibit features props and costumes from various films. The gift shop will also close.
- D23 Expo 2015 tickets are now on sale - Tickets for next year's D23 Expo are now on sale. The D23 Expo will be held August 14-16, 2015 at the Anaheim Convention Center.
- Constantine the Frog to attend Villains Unleashed! event - The "Muppets Most Wanted" villain will be at the Stage One Company Store location near Muppet*Vision 3D.
- Blog - Polynesian Resort's Capt. Cook's quick service restaurant reopens after refurbishment
- Golden Oak Outpost now serving specialty waffle fries - This walk-up stand is located on the backside of Frontierland on the walkway to Adventureland.
- Tower of Terror On-ride videos available with Memory Maker - After riding The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, a video of the guest's ride will be added to their My Disney Experience account. This video is only available to guests who have purchased Memory Maker.
- Win a 2 Night / 3 Day stay at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin! - Answer 3 questions about the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin on our contest page for a chance to WIN!
- Great Irish Hooley Festival to be held at Downtown Disney - "Hooley" is Irish slang for party or celebration. Celebrate with food, drink and dancing.
- Update coming to My Disney Experience - make dining reservations 20 minutes in advance - A new update will allow guests to make same day dining reservations only 20 minutes in advance.
- Performance times updated for Night of Joy - Disney’s Night of Joy is a hard-ticket event at the Magic Kingdom that features contemporary Christian performers.
- VIDEO: Disney Park Bench - Polynesian Resort Lobby - Lobby Waterfall - Take 5 Minutes to Relax at the Polynesian Resort.
- Blog - Haunted Mansion Merchandise Continues to Materialize
- Refurb scheduled this winter for the Haunted Mansion - The attraction will be closed from 12/1 - 12/19/14.
- Move It, Shake It, Celebrate It Street Party reduces number of performances this month - Performance times will be 5:40 and 7:00pm on August 12, 13, 19, 20 and 29, 2014. Concrete work taking place on Main Street will limit the number of performances on those days.
- It's Tough to be a Bug refurb extended until 9/27 - This attraction was originally scheduled to reopen August 11, but will instead stay closed through September 27.
- Yankee Trader shop refurb extended through December - The shop is becoming a Haunted Mansion gift shop.
- VIDEO: Disney Park Bench - Adventureland - Swiss Family Treehouse Exit - Take 5 Minutes to Relax at the Magic Kingdom.
- Big Hero 6 characters coming to Walt Disney World - A specific date and location for the meet and greet has not yet been announced.
- Frozen Summer Fun extended at Disney's Hollywood Studios - This celebration has been extended through September 28.
- Top 5 Experiences at Walt Disney World That Don't Cost a Thing! - Walt Disney World can be a very expensive place — between park tickets, hotels, parking costs, meals and snacks, it all adds up very quickly. That’s why it’s important to remember that there are several fantastic experiences at Walt Disney World Resort that don’t cost a thing!
- Club Villain dance party planned for Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party - This will take place at the Diamond Horseshoe Saloon in Frontierland.
- Blog - New Disney Parks Inspired Coffees from Joffrey's
- Updated list of restaurants that accept Tables in Wonderland - Tables in Wonderland members save 20% off of all food and beverage purchases at the participating Disney restaurants.
- Video: Disney Park Bench - Polynesian Resort Dock - Polynesian Resort - Take 5 Minutes to Relax at Polynesian Resort Dock - Polynesian Resort
- Epcot After Hours Wind Down extended through November 9 - Stick around after IllumiNations for an evening at one of 4 exclusive lounges featuring food and beverages from award-winning Epcot chefs and sommeliers.
- Blog - Review: "Guardians of the Galaxy" combines humor, action, and a stellar cast to become the perfect summer blockbuster
- All-Star Music food court closes for refurbishment - The Intermission Food Court will be closed 8/1/14-12/20/14 for refurb.
- New events added to Epcot International Food & Wine Festival - Late Nights LIVE! and new Premium Package events added.
- Astro Orbiter rehab extended by one week - Originally scheduled to end September 19, the ride will now reopen September 28.
- Food & Wine Festival Premium events now available for booking - This includes seminars, signature dining experiences and other special events.
- Changes coming to Move It, Shake It, Celebrate It Street Party? - An update is rumored for this parade later this year, possibly around October. Possible changes are new music; Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and Donald moving to the top of the floats; and Stitch joining the fun. Sebastian, Lumiere, and The Mad Hatter will leave the parade.
- During pool rehab, Polynesian guests will have free admission to Blizzard Beach - Originally, the resort guests were just going to be given one-day tickets to the water park, but that has been changed. They will now have complimentary unlimited admission to Blizzard Beach during their stay at the Polynesian.
- List of restaurants participating in the 2015 Disney Dining Plan - This list will be updated as more restaurants are added. Epcot and Downtown Disney restaurants don't normally finalize their participation until later in the year.
- 2015 Magic Your Way Disney World packages released! - A Walt Disney World package is a resort room and theme park admission. The Disney Dining Plan may also be added.
- Happy 15th Birthday to Rock 'n' Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith! - The attraction originally opened its doors at Disney’s Hollywood Studios on July 29, 1999.
- Victoria & Albert's will no longer accept Tables in Wonderland - This begins August 1, 2014.
- Summertime Pals Ink & Paint Cel release - This limited release will be available at the event, or pre-order by September 25 at 5:00pm EST.
- Haunted Mansion merchandise shop coming to Magic Kingdom - The former Yankee Trader shop will become a Haunted Mansion merchandise location in the near future. The decor will be inspired by Madame Leota and will carry items from the Haunted Mansion Authentic program, such as apparel, home goods, souvenirs and more.
- Merchandise Events and Artist Appearances/Signings for August - List of authors and artists coming to the theme parks for signings and merchandise releases.
- List of characters updated for Villains Unleashed! event - Over 50 Disney villains will be taking over the park until the 13th hour!
- Beginning today, PhotoPass print packages are no longer offered table-side at character meals - This includes Chef Mickey's, 1900 Park Fare, 'Ohana, Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue, Disney's Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show and Tusker House Restaurant.
- Disney Visa cardholders can book Food & Wine Festival events early - Disney Visa cardholders can book special events two days earlier than the general public - on July 29 and July 30 from 7:00am-11:00pm EST.
- Tables in Wonderland adds blackout dates for several restaurants - The Tables in Wonderland program offers Florida Residents, DVC members and Annual Passholders 20% off of all food and beverage purchases at the participating Disney restaurants.
- Information on Holiday sleigh rides at Fort Wilderness - This horse-drawn "sleigh" ride is a fun way to celebrate the season.
- Marketplace menus for Epot International Food & Wine Festival - List of menu items for the marketplaces set up around World Showcase.
- Rehab planned in November for Magic Carpets of Aladdin - The Magic Kingdom attraction will be closed 11/10 - 11/21/2014.
- Food & Wine Festival Special Dining Experiences released - Bookings for these experiences begin July 31.
- 10 Places to Wait Out a Thunderstorm at Walt Disney World
- Disney Castaway Cay Challenge added to Princess Half Marathon Weekend - Runners who are registered for any of the Disney races (5K or longer) during the Weekend have the option to complete the Disney Castaway Cay Challenge when sailing on the Disney Dream February 23-27.
- Fantasia Miniature Golf Course rehab planned off and on for the next two weeks - Gardens Course closed 7/22-7/25/2014, 7/28-8/1/2014, 8/4-8/8/2014. The Fairways will still be open.
- Blog - I Can Go The Distance: Deciding is one thing, registering is another
- Save up to 30% on a Room Only reservation at Walt Disney World! - Valid for stays most nights 10/4/14 - 11/25/14 and 11/29/14 - 12/23/14.
- 2015 WDW hotel discount released for U.S. Military - Valid for stays most nights 9/28/14 - 10/3/15.
- All 3 remaining weekends sold out for Harambe Nights - July 26, August 2 and August 9 are sold out.
- Annual passholder discount for Spice Road Table - Through 9/17/14, Annual Passholders can get a 30% discount on their bill.
- 2015 Military Ticket Discount info released - Members of the military can purchase 4-day Magic Your Way tickets with Park Hopper option for $177 each.
- Changes to reservation times for Wishes Dessert Party - Reservations are all being set for 6:00pm, no matter when Wishes is taking place. The dessert party will actually take place one hour before Wishes.
- Frozen Summer Fun Premium package is sold out for all remaining dates - This package gives guests at Frozen Summer Fun Live reserved viewing for several events.
- Wild by Design tour to be discontinued after 9/26/14 - This tour takes place at Disney's Animal Kingdom.
- Fantasy Football Convention coming to ESPN Wide World of Sports - The convention will give attendees access to ESPN talent, a live fantasy football draft and more.
- Radio Disney to shut down stations and lay off employees
- Disney proposes new contract for part-time employees
- SeaWorld announces new habitats for killer whales
- "Frozen" behind-the-scenes special coming to ABC
- PANDORA Jewelry coming to Disney Parks
- Universal Orlando to build fifth hotel?
- Comedian and actor Robin Williams found dead at age 63
- Universal's Hogwarts Express sees one million riders
- Disney janitor arrested for sexually assaulting coworker
- Disney's Be Our Guest Restaurant tests new standby line policy
Today's Theme Park Hours
Epcot Future World:
Epcot World Showcase:
|9:00 - 11:00
9:00 - 9:00
11:00 - 9:00
9:00 - 9:30
9:00 - 7:00
9:00 - 7:00
9:00 - 7:00
Extra Magic Hours Morning: Epcot FW