Suggestions on how to plan Arrival Day

Hi everyone…I wanted to get some advice on how to plan our arrival day. Our plane lands at 11:10am on December 29. We are staying at the Contemporary and plan on taking Magical Express from the airport. This is our first trip, so I have no idea how much time to reasonably set aside for airport-to-hotel travel, hotel check-in, getting into the park, etc. Right now I have our touring plan set to start at 2pm in Magic Kingdom with a fast pass to meet Mickey Mouse. Does that sound about right? Too early or too late? Also, what attractions would you use your fast passes for on your arrival night? I really want to wow the kids on our very first time in the park. Thoughts? Thank you so much for your help!!!

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You’ll be in the MK before check-in time but maybe you’ll get your room early.

Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Big Thunder and the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train are great, thrill attractions. Of those, the Mine Train is the most competitive fast pass.

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First trips are so exciting! I think 2 pm sounds about right for an estimated start time. seeing Mickey first is a fun idea. You’ll have an hour to use that FP, so it won’t be too much of a rush to do that first. I would plan on seeing the Festival of Fantasy parade at 3 and then start a more serious touring plan after. Crowds and lines will be high at your arrival time and not start to let up until later in the evening, so be easy on yourself and your expectations.

Personally, I’d make my first FP for 4 to give myself more time to see the resort, to eat some lunch or a snack, and to soak in the first sight of Magic Kingdom and Main Street. That’s just me though. It takes my family a while to transition, and if I plan for them to get to something right away, we can sometimes feel less relaxed. You know your family best though!

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How old are the kids? I would say no way for that Mickey FP if you were staying at any other resort but I think you will be fine. You will have until 3:00 to make it so if you are the last drop off for MDE or if there is crazy traffic you should be fine. I agree with @Sam2071’s list but if you kids are under 8 I may add Peter Pan to that. If they are a little older Haunted Mansion too.

@Sam2071 - I’m hoping that we are to the Contemporary by 1:00pm and can get checked-in/our magic bands activated, and then head right into the park. If our room is ready, then that would be fabulous as it would give us some time to rest and then head into the park an hour before our dinner reservation. But, I’m operating on the assumption that our room won’t be ready and that we will need to go directly to the park. We are going to be a tired bunch! Currently, I am planning on two fast passes before our 4pm ADR and then one after. Now I’m thinking I might need to change that and just do a FastPass for Mickey in Town Square and then put two Fast Passes after our dinner.

@SallyEppcot - Unfortunately, we have an ADR at 4pm. Very good point about not self-imposing stress on myself and the family by trying to rush to the park in order to make our first Fast Pass. I might have to rethink my arrival day Fast Passes. Since we are arriving in the early afternoon during the holiday season, I was worried about crowd levels and having our first experience in the park be a bunch of waiting right from the beginning. I thought if I could time my Fast Pass correctly, then we could get right in to see Mickey with minimal waiting. Hearing from folks like you help me consider things (like unnecessary added stress) that I hadn’t thought of before. THANK YOU!

@PrincipalTinker - Our kids are 10, 7, and 5. I was thinking about Mickey and then Buzz for our back-to-back Fast Passes before our 4pm ADR at Be Our Guest, then schedule a 5:15 Fast Pass for Enchanted Tales with Belle for right after dinner with the hope of snagging a 4th Fast Pass after Belle. Now I’m wondering if 2 Fast Passes before our 4pm ADR is too optimistic. I thought 3 hours would be plenty of time to get from the airport (land at 11:10) to Magic Kingdom…but maybe not. I really appreciate your suggestions!


What are you going to do for lunch? Don’t forget to plan time for that. Also, what time is the parade that day? You might to be all the way back in Fantasyland when it starts to avoid getting caught somewhere on Main Street or in Tomorrowland. Peter Pan would also be a good fast pass to get for arrival day. 7DMT if you can get if would put you in the right location. Enchanted Tales with Belle is a great idea. I might consider holding off on Talking Mickey because I did the exact same thing on our first trip and had DD4 at the time meet Mickey first thing on the first day because hey we are at DisneyWorld. But she was really intimidated seeing him first thing. On later days she warmed up to him just fine but it was really a bit much for her on arrival day. I wouldn’t count on getting a 4th FastPass either that late in the day on a busy day.

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No matter what you decide, your arrival day sounds awesome. I think 4 pm is a great ADR time. You won’t have any trouble making it. Now that I know more of your details, I would keep one FP before dinner and move the other two after, just to spread them out a bit and give yourself a bit more breathing room. It is nice to have something to look forward to without a line first thing. As long as this isn’t your only MK day, it makes sense to try to keep things relaxed but to also ensure a few star moments to set the tone of your trip. Your kids are going to have a great time.