Once you’ve done that, then you need to complete your journey, with most people opting for either a rental car, town car, or Disney’s Magical Express (DME). We find renting a car quicker than DME, but then again, we did have a poor experience with DME the last time we used it, with the bus stopping off at several other resorts before it got to ours, and a half-hour wait before it even left the airport. We prefer to be in control of our own destiny, but even so, there's still the time spent at the rental desk, and it’s a good half-hour drive to Walt Disney World once we're in the car.
On average, it takes us a good hour to two hours from touchdown at the airport to actually arrive at our hotel, so don’t make any plans too soon after your plane arrives. If you’re scheduled to land at midday, if you have a delay, and then a rough journey from the airport, you may not actually be at your resort until say 3:00pm.
That’s one reason we never plan much for our first day. We work on the theory that anything we get done is an extra, rather than planning a lot and being disappointed. One year, we were due to arrive in the late afternoon, and we had an IllumiNations cruise with friends booked for that evening. We figured we had a good cushion before the cruise sailed, but our flight was delayed, and we only just made it, running to catch the boat, which still had to wait for us. It’s not an experience I’d want to repeat again, as we could’ve missed an amazing experience.
Our usual arrival time is late afternoon, and we know that we’re not going to last much past early evening, although we always stay up as late as we can, to try and acclimatize to our new time zone. We always leave touring the parks until our first full day, as we feel it’s too much for our arrival day.
Perhaps you’ll have a more pressing issue to consider. If you have, say, a four-day park ticket, but you’re there for five days, maybe you want your arrival day to be the day you don’t visit a park. Why not take time to relax, enjoy your resort, do some shopping, and maybe go swimming?
We usually do reserve a meal for our first evening, just so we know that there’s something in the diary, but in the past, we’ve missed meals due to a late arrival, or we’ve just found we’re not hungry enough. Equally, we tend to find that, if we’re tired, perhaps the food doesn’t taste as good. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that we’ve rarely enjoyed a good meal on our first night after a long flight. Again, it’s something worth thinking about.
I certainly don’t want to be a downer on the first day of anyone’s vacation, but these are all things worth thinking about. You also know yourself, and your party better than anyone, and what they're capable of. You may well be able to pack in a full day's touring at the parks and have a great time, but you do need to consider how much the travelling will take out of you. For us, it’s a lot. For others, it may only be a little. The last thing you want is to try and cram too much into the start of your vacation, and wear yourself out for the rest of it.
Beach Club - Solarium
The Solarium, a place to relax between the lobbies of the Beach Club and the Beach Club Villas. - photo by chezp
About the Author: Cheryl and husband Mark live in England and love to travel, particularly to Disney, and they have made numerous visits to destinations across America and Europe. They recently completed their tour of every Disney theme park around the world, which culminated in their visit to Japan, including the Tokyo Disney Resort. Click here to view more of Cheryl's articles!
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