Arrival/departure day ideas

Hi! We are arriving at Orlando at 10:30 in the morning and do not have park tickets for that day. We also will depart at 5:30pm on our last day and do not have park tickets that day either. We are using Magical Express and we are staying at the Wilderness Lodge. I am curious about all of your ideas on how to spend those days. I know we will have lots of fun exploring WL (we have never stayed in a deluxe resort before and are so excited!), but I feel like I need to have something in my back pocket just in case we want more. Disney Springs? QS in another resort? Share your wisdom–I really rely on this board so much, thank you all for making my trip magical!)

There is so much you can do! I’ve heard of people touring all the deluxe resorts to see all the Christmas decorations. Like GF has a life size gingerbread house and yacht and beach club have a life size chocolate carousel. We plan to visit the art of animation resort (bc my DS5 loves Pixar Cars) and I have early reservations for the TRex cafe at Disney Springs. DS has also has a Christmas tree trail and Santa. There is a Photopass Studio at DS and since we got the MM, I plan to go get some family Christmas pictures! Ive heard you can book a sleigh ride somewhere, I don’t know the details on that. We are staying at AKL so I have late breakfast reservations at Boma for our last day. I figured after that we could walk around the resort, enjoy the pools or visit DS again.

Depending on your length of stay, it can be really cheap to add extra days of parks (after 4 days, the per day adder is on the order of $15-20) so I’d at least consider adding days potentially - 2 more half days in the park fairly cheap is tough to match.

Outside of just exploring Wilderness Lodge and Disney Springs, you can take the boat to the Contemporary and then do a Monorail crawl of the 3 monorail resorts (Contemporary, Polynesian & Grand Floridian). All are interesting to see - if you’re going at now thru Xmas they will all be decked out for the Holidays which is worth seeing. You can shop, eat and tour the grounds at all 3 easily enough. You can then monorail or boat (from Poly/GF) over to the Magic Kingdom and hop the boat back to Wilderness Lodge or get back to the Contemporary to catch that boat.

Just looked it up, the holiday sleigh rides are at the cabins at Fort Wilderness. There is also a ranch there with pony rides etc. Looks fun!

Hi when I booked our trip with hotel and park tickets I get free rounds of min. golf. Also you can explore ESPN, and the boardwalk. Fort Wilderness also offers fishing and boating.

We did a Monorail resort tour on our departure day - it was a nice relaxing way to wrap things up.

I have an 8 hour drive to/from WDW, so by the time I get to WDW, typically mid-to-late afternoon, all I want to do is unpack, relax (maybe at the pool), have a nice dinner at one of the resorts or DS, and crash early so I can be ready for the next day. Likewise, on departure day I know I have an 8 hour drive ahead of me, so I typically leave pretty early so I can get home; at the most I’ll grab breakfast somewhere, but more typically I pack and go and pick up something to eat once I clear Orlando.

That being said, the couple of times I went with an AP, I DID go into EP and had dinner at one of the WS restaurants vice a resort - but I won’t use a full day’s ticket for less than a half day in a park.

We just got back from our first time at Wilderness Lodge, and we loved it. It will be my first choice in the future. There’s a Hidden Mickey hunt that you can do if you have kids that would like that sort of thing. Just ask the concierge for the sheet. The pool there is great also. We try to do a special dinner our first or last day. We did Hoop Dee Doo this year, and we did Chef Mickey’s last time. We don’t want to waste time on park days for such things, so 1st/Last day is perfect. Another option is the dinner show at the Polynesian. Fort Wilderness has some activities like horseback rides, and that’s just a ferry ride away.

WOW!!! Thank you all for such great ideas!

I LOVE just going around to the various resorts - and you have some fun ones in your area. Now my family things it is stupid / boring - but what do they know.

I may use that first day to just chill. Hit the pool / spa / do Hoop De Doo that first evening. I may also just take advantage of having an earlier dinner at one of the monorail resorts.

As an aside - not sure what room category you requested. HOWEVER - last time we were there we had a wood view (also a dumpster view). However we faced the MK so we could see the fireworks at night. So if you are not upgrading to a better view (which I don’t think is necessary) - see if they can put you up as high as they can and facing the MK - you may get an unexpected firworks view. Also as a whole - if there is something you would like to upgrade to - just ask the front desk - we asked to upgrade to bunkbeds. Ultimately didn’t as it was a bit more than I wanted to spend - but it is MUCH cheaper at checkin than when making reservations.

Just enjoy and relax - the nice thing about the Deluxe resorts is that there is a sense of CALM (activity - but calm) - so just enjoy that.

Yes! We had a standard view room with a view of the fireworks, and it was perfect. Room 6054. I just posted a picture in the room request thread.

We have similar arrival and departure times as you. On arrival day, even though the flight gets in mid morning, I’m assuming we won’t make it to our resort till around lunchtime, and we have no scheduled plans that day. I considered doing Hoop that night, but decided to save it for a MK day. We will recover from waking up at 3 or 4 am, enjoy the pool, get settled in, and get to bed early. Departure day, I booked a mid-morning Bon Voyage breakfast as a last hurrah.

We went to International Drive once on departure day and did an indoor skydiving experience for the family

That was great fun

And followed it with a nice buffet lunch on International Drive