While scrolling through our social media platforms, I often see posts from guests contemplating visiting the parks when they first arrive. Of course, it’s understandable; finally, arriving at your Disney destination after a long countdown is very exciting; we are all busting at the seams to enter the parks and get started. However, to get a good start to your time away, it isn’t always a good idea to head straight for the nearest entrance.
Let’s look at some pros and cons of kicking off park time on your arrival day; it might help you to decide if this is a worthwhile investment of your ticket money.
Advantages to entering the parks on your arrival day:
- Depending on where you are coming from, your arrival day might be hard to get through; having the carrot of entering the parks as soon as you arrive might encourage you to sit through those long hours of travel.
- Planning a smaller day can help ease your family into the Disney spirit, allowing you to get a warm-up for the days still to come.
- If you have the energy, day one can be a good opportunity to start a bit later and stay in the park longer, seeing fireworks and riding the attractions till closing, something we often run out of energy for when starting at rope-drop.
- If your children travel well, they might have used up all their resting time in the plane or car and need to get out some of their energy before settling into your resort room.
Disadvantages to entering the parks on your arrival day:
- If your family is most active in the morning, you might be wasting a paid day ticket on a smaller window of opportunity to enjoy your time.
- Kids that are tired from traveling can often have a sudden burst of energy followed by a crash of exhaustion. This might leave you wishing you hadn’t bothered going not too long after your entry.
- Without a resort room to get changed in, you might go into the park unprepared. Our comfy travel clothes aren’t often the same as our light layers and supportive walking shows that perform best in the parks. The last thing you want is to develop blisters, sore feet, and a wardrobe malfunction before you’ve even gotten started.
- Feeling rushed. There is no worse feeling than stressing over time or travel delays and knowing that you are missing out on something at your destination. Heading straight to the parks might make your journey more stressful when those hiccups arise.
In my experience, coming from so far away, arrival day is best for enjoying light activities, visiting old favorite shops, and generally settling in with an early dinner and a good sleep. The right decision for you will likely depend on your travel journey length to get there, time of day of arrival, and the temperament of the people you are traveling with. If you decide to give it a go, be sure to keep everyone hydrated, caffeinated, and comfortable with snacks to keep the energy up and ‘hangry’ at a low.
Zoë Wood is a travel writer from Sydney, Australia. Since her first visit to Disneyland at the age of 6, she has spent her years frequently visiting Disney Parks and traveling around the world.
Join Zoë as she lets you in on all the tips, tricks, anecdotes, and embarrassments that arise from her family adventures.