We are arriving in JAX around noon on Saturday, April 11 and driving to our rental home in Orlando. We have 8 day passes so can access parks that afternoon/evening. What park would make the most sense to visit? I'm guessing WDW or Epcot but would love input! We have 2 teens (13 and 16) in our family.
I'm going to say no park on arrival day. After arriving at noon, you are going to have to collect your luggage, get your rental car, drive to Orlando, check in to and get situated in your rental home, and maybe also stop along the way to pick up some food and other supplies. So, it could easily be 5:00 before you are ready to head out to a park. Why not just relax at your rental home, enjoy the pool or other amenities it may have, and be ready to hit a park for RD on the next day?
Knowing that I wouldn't be able to get to a park until 6PM, I would not use a full-day ticket - but if you have it, and it's "use or loose", then go for it.
Looking at the crowd calendar, MK has PM EMH, and as you will not be able to take advantage of that, I would reccomend AGAINST going to the MK. DHS has the lowest predicted crowd number (5) and is open until 9:30 PM. EP has a higher crowd number, and is open until 9:00 PM.
At DHS, some of the headliners might be difficult to ride without FPPs, but you could catch a show or two, have dinner and see Fantasmic. At EP, again, the two headliners may be "too hard", but there are many other things that typically have short waits, and WS is an open book, and you could see Illuminations.
For me, the decision would be easy - EP all the way. WS is my favorite place in all of WDW and I try to work in as many PMs there as possible to take advantage of the dining (and drinking) options.
I like starting off in Epcot. You could ride Spaceship Earth and Test Track (or Soarin, but I'm guessing the kids will prefer the faster moving ride), then dinner in World Showcase, followed by Illuminations. That's the start of a pretty good vacation for me.
I liked starting at MK. I just love seeing the castle first
Have you linked your tickets to your MDE account? I would do HS and book FPs at 30 days.