First Evening Rituals?


Heading for first time to WDW next month (frequent Disneyland visitors), and I'm curious what folks first evening rituals are when they fly/drive in, and what tips you have for starting off your trip right and getting into the Disney spirit.

My brother and I (two adults) are arriving on a Sunday afternoon and our park tickets don't start until the next day. Had considered Disney Springs for the first evening, but I'm not sure it's going to get us in the Disney spirit. Staying at POP to save $$, so would like to get off our property.

So what do you do to kick to off your trip, outside of the theme parks? Disney Springs worth it? Boardwalk? Drinks or dinner at one of the deluxe resorts?

Any advice appreciated. Looking for a fun, relaxed evening before 5 days in the parks.


When my family went down in November this past year, we opened up our trip at Mickey's Backyard Barbeque. It was great. We will do that again on our way down in June of 2020.


Our trend on the last few trips is a meal at Le Cellier in Epcot - typically a late lunch or early dinner depending on our exact arrival time on Saturday. Our room is usually available by then and we go back to our resort to hit the room, maybe pool depending and relax before hitting the Magic Kingdom for a late night. There's nothing quite like the MK at night to start off the trip after a great filet at Le Cellier along with copious amounts of pretzel bread...


Typically we lay low on our arrival day. Get a meal somewhere (for us, it's usually at our resort - Sanaa), enjoy the resort. If early, we consider some time at Disney Springs. We usually go to bed early and hit the ground running.

This last trip over Labor Day weekend, we flew in early, took it easy in the afternoon, and went to the MNSSHP that evening. We had a great time, but DS9 was whiny and dragging butt by 9pm In the end DH and he left early and DD and I stayed for fireworks.


Resort crawl for sure. Take the boat over to Wilderness Lodge, or take the bus to AKL. Both resorts scream Disney magic IMO. The monorail resorts are great, too. From MK you could take a bus to Port Orleans French Quarter or Riverside and jump on the boat to Disney Springs. It's something about the boat rides at Disney that make it feel magical for me. I don't think you can go wrong with any of the choices you already came up with. You are likely to get the Disney spirit just checking in to your hotel.
Have fun and hope you will do a trip report.


so many cool options - it really comes down to what you find most interesting / relaxing / easy. With Uber and the sort - having a car is a less relevant question - but you will find that plans can become less than peaceful when you are tying to navigate from hotel to some other areas.

However - it may be fun, as it is your first time - to head over to the MK resort area and have dinner. Ride the monorail and check out the other monorail resorts or even take the monorail for a ride to Epcot. If you do that - you can then get a BUS back to your resort. In WDW - SOMETIMES (not always for sure) but sometimes getting there is part of the fun. So perhaps you take the bus to MK and have dinner at one of the resorts in the area. Once done - get onto the Epcot loop, get a quick view of Epcot and then get a but back to your resort from there.


We usually start with dinner at Disney Springs. One of our favorite restaurants, The Boathouse, it out there. I think there's plenty of "Disney Magic" out there now, especially if you're into window shopping at places like Art of Disney and World of Disney or even the Christmas store. Goofy's Candy Shop is fun to wonder around in if there's not a big crowd. I love checking out the Lego sculptures. We tend to stay out of the stores that we can shop at here in Houston and focus on Disney specific stores. We also avoid restaurants out there that we have here like Blaze and Rainforest. We don't buy much because we save that for the outlet. However, if we didn't have a car I would just shop sale racks.


This is not exactly what you asked but since it would only cost about $20 to add a day to each ticket, I might consider heading into a park if you arrive early enough. WDW parks are much bigger than DLR. It would be easy to need 2 days in MK and Epcot. I'm always for dinner in a resort on an off day. AKL would be my vote.


I second what @TBurgoon said and do freebie stuff like using WDW transportation of all modes, explore resorts, ride the monorails, go to Disney Springs. WDW is so much larger than DLR, this will give you a chance to see what else is out there besides the four parks - and to get a preview peek at the parks from the outside. Many hotels have great restaurants, entertainment, and decor that you won't experience if you limit yourself to your own hotel and the four parks.


First evening, no ticket...

AKL savanna and supper at Boma.

Monorail tour and Electrical Water Pageant.


Chip an Dale Campfire Sing-A-Long at Ft Wilderness.


My suggestion is to head to the Poly for dinner ('Ohana or Kona Cafe) then drinks at Trader Sam's Grog Grotto and finally the beach for The Electric Water Pageant and fireworks.


I agree completely with @TBurgoon, A walk around AKL grounds, and the lobby gets me primed for the parks. And a dinner at Jiko to start off the trip would be very memorable and delish.
@kristievcat and @stuckinbmode also have good plans.


We just had to drop everything and get to THE castle as soon as we arrived. We had the last day as a resort day so we started our tickets as soon as we arrived. Even though it was nearly 7pm we went over to MK, hovered 3ft above the ground up Main Street whilst opening and closing our mouths in awe, rode Astro orbiter then headed to Casey's for a hot dog before standing slap bang in the middle of Main Street for the most amazing view of the fireworks. Our first evening was perfect for us.


If you're coming from the west coast you may want to keep it low key that first night, because if you plan on RDing the next day then 6am is going to come REALLY early for you! If you're not RDing, on the other hand, and there's a Christmas party that night I'd do that. We tend to do that on arrival day anyway, and the late night will give you a chance to stretch your pacific time wings a bit.


I know I'm bucking the earlier advice, but fun relaxed evening suggests Ragland Road at DS...good food, great drinks, and mighty fine craic


Thanks all. These are some great suggestions, I think we've narrowed it down to Disney Springs or the suggestion of doing the monorail hotel tour (Polynesian Trader's Sam's sounds as fun as the original). We'll see how we feel when we get closer. I suspect we'll want to catch that glimpse of the castle the first night.


As an first-time-returner i would also suggest:

Diner at Poly or Grand Floridian, Dhole Whip at Poly with Electrical Water Pageant and Fireworks!
(all without parkticket)

See my new trip report for details :wink:


Thanks! I'm loving your trip report!!


Not sure whether you purchased a vacation package through Disney (hotel + park tickets) but if so, you'll receive vouchers for mini golf before 4 PM during your stay. We usually like to go early and play a round of mini golf at Fantasia Gardens and then walk around Disney Springs. Although it doesn't have the same magic as the parks, I think Disney Springs is an incredible place ever since they've done the re-theme.


We always have a lite dinner in Springs the first night! But I like the idea of the monorail tour!