Hotel first or direct to Epcot?

We are getting into town (driving for the first time rather than flying) at 11 am Saturday. Do we go straight to Epcot or stop first at Port Orleans to ditch the car and then take the bus? We have our magic bands so we can do either (and FP start at 12:30) and we’ve done all of the check in stuff already.

I like the idea of the extra hour in the park but I’m unsure how awful it would be to leave after Illuminations and deal with the traffic rather than the bus. We’ve never had a car with us before so I don’t know if it actually makes it easier or harder! Thank you for any thoughts!

After a day of travel - I would just go to Epcot and then leave after Illuminations.

Some people have mentioned that you need to check in at the resort to “activate” your MBs - don’t know if this is still true or not.

In our experience, traffic is not the issue, instead it is making your way through the horde to the park exit (which you have to do either way). The drive was pretty easy when we did it, and was probably faster than going by bus.

We couldn’t use our magic bands to purchase anything until we checked in to our rooms, but you would be able to use them to get into the parks.

I would expect driving out of Epcot to be far easier than the hordes hitting the bus after Illuminations. Leaving at park close or after an “event” like Illuminations is the one time you can count on a wait for DIS transportation as everyone else is doing the exact same thing. Now after a long day in the parks, do you want to have to worry about driving the family? That might be the only reason to consider taking the bus IMO…

I don’t usually go to a park on arrival day (after an 8 hour drive, I’m pretty much spent), but on occasions when I did, I’ve always stopped by the hotel first. I usually get there mid-to-late afternoon, and my room has always been ready. It gives me a chance to at least wash up, change my clothes, and have an “I’m, here” drink of something I’ve brought with me. Car or bus to the parks is a whole different conversation. I do a combination of both; depends on factors such as timing, which park, who I’m with, etc.