When to schedule extra half day - arrival? Or departure?

6 day early December trip. This board has been so helpful: what are your thoughts?

We got 5 day park Hopper passes for ourselves & 2 grandkids 7, 9. Then decided to get MVMCP on 1 day. (Probably their only WDW trip so go big or go home!)
We’re staying at BWV.

Since flying has been a little …iffy… We then decided to fly down the day before. Luckily were able to get a 1 nite reservation to stay at a BW studio. (Then transfer)

TUES-Arrive MCO 1:30 pm.
To the hotel by … 3:00?
The Only dining we could get is 8:40pm Storybook dining at Artist Point which I think might be too late if we want to start EARLY the next day
Use half day park Hopper?
*Get settled in, explore grounds/pool etc? *
W, TH, F, SA (4 ticketed days)
SUN - MVMCP starting 4:00 & I’ll assume a later night.

MONDAY Depart MCO 4:50pm We have Beaches & Cream ADR for 1:45. Last hurrah before we head to the airport.

So we have another half+ day.
Your thoughts or experiences about scheduling it on the

  1. Arrival day,
  2. On day of Mickey’s Christmas Party or
  3. Departure day.

Thank for your insight!

What time will you begin your day for this arrival?

I always plan at least 2hrs to get to resort, just in case.

So plan 3:30 arrival at BWV. Which park are you going to if you go?

I tend to prefer to settle in on arrival. Especially if you’d not really get to resort til late afternoon anyway. Travel is exhausting. I like to get a good night’s sleep after enjoying my arrival day, maybe a nice dinner (something else will come available besides that crazy late dinner — if you’re staying BWV try TAF as it’s easy, as is A&C). That way I can hit it hard early the next day.

Also, not part of the question but something to consider: transfer day which would be Wed will mean if you’re rope dropping you’ll need to give yourselves a little extra time on top to get bags transferred to new resort. And you’ll effectively be “homeless” that day until your room is ready at the new resort.


I wouldn’t use a park day arriving that late in the day. Settle in, check out stuff on the boardwalk, eat a good dinner and get ready for a super early Wednesday.


What @OBNurseNH said.

My plan would be to arrive, relax a bit (i.e. hit the bathroom), head to supper, then early evening with your luggage set up to go to Bell Services and your essentials ready to go with you to your park.

If you keep the Storybook - look for an earlier modification of your ADR time - and explore WL. There’s a lot of great stuff there for ages that your grandkids are.

I’d probably keep the evening simpler and switch to Ale and Compass at Yacht Club.

Or even do a Swan/Dolphin restaurant.


Agree with the others. I wouldn’t go to the park on arrival day. There is so much to see and do during the holiday season at WDW!

Go look at the holiday decorations at Yacht Club (Miniature village with train) and Beach Club (gingerbread carousel, which they theme differently each year). You can find all the hidden Mickeys on the carousel. You can grab holiday snacks and drinks at both places. I don’t know if Boardwalk will do a gingerbread display this year.

You can also walk over to the Skyliner near Epcot and go for a ride and stop at any of the resorts if you like. We love touring the resort decor at Art of the Animation.

You scored Storybook Dining! :heart_eyes: It is a fabulous character experience and the food is great. But it is such a late reservation! I presume you will RD or get to your park early on Wednesday. So, I would give up Storybook Dining in exchange for rest and sleep! Four continuous park days is probably going to be tiring. Look for a earlier reservation for Storybook or a QS at the Boardwalk or an earlier TS at the Boardwalk.

On departure day, you will probably sleep in after a late night at MVMCP and may not have that much time if you have an ADR at 1:45.

Other thoughts if you have time is to go to Disney Springs and do the Christmas Tree Trail or go to the Grand Floridian to see the life sized gingerbread house.

Last year, DSIS and I went to WDW the week before Christmas for a couple of days but we didn’t go to the parks. We just toured the Christmas decorations and ate our way around WDW.

If you like to see what those “free” things to do and see are, see my TR. We ate our way through FL so the WDW Christmas touring portion begins here: https://forum.touringplans.com/t/eating-my-way-through-fl/82755/61?u=stlouie.

Make lovely memories with your grandkids and take lots of pictures!


Transfer: luckily we’re staying at BW for our 1 nite & 5 nite stay, so we can just drop off our bags at the front desk, then pick them up & take to a new room. Not have to schlep them around.

Oh even better! If you have the same category of room booked, stop at the desk at check-in and ask if it might be possible to remain in your same room. That will negate the need to move at all. There’s no guarantee but I know that they will make every effort provided both rooms are the same category!


We’re staying six nights at the Dolphin in late December and I was in this same boat. However, when buying tickets, the price difference between a 6-day ticket and a 7-day ticket was only a $20 difference. So we’re doing both. :slight_smile:

We’ll do an Epcot evening on arrival day and HS on the morning of our departure. Figured we could try to get a GotG boarding group arrival morning and knock out some low-wait rides that evening when we arrive, which makes our full Epcot day that much easier.


As far as Story Book Dining, we are also going in early December and there is no availability. It is top of my list and we have been unable to get it so far. I have been checking everyday and also have a reservation alert set. We are staying at WL so hoping if I can’t find one before our trip that we might be able to do waitlist.

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My concern would be if the arrival flight is pushed back your plans could be in the dumps. And MK would be the logically choice if you’re going to go at all. But I would drop that ADR if going to a park.
That final day ADR cuts park day short and departure mornings tend to eat more time than normal.
I would suggest using the party day, making a park resi for HS, the one I predict would fill up first on that day. Plan on the HS visit Wed or Thurs. to gauge if you need to switch it. If it’s early December you might have availability day of or day before at all or most of the parks. Let’s the kids pick which park to go to that morning based on what’s available.


I would do the half day either on the departure day or the MVMCP day, depending on your preference.

I would not schedule park time on arrival day due to the potential for delays. Whatever you do the first day should be flexible so that you aren’t too disappointed if you miss it.

Your departure day is more likely to be extended than contracted by travel disruptions. But you may want to have a relaxed final day depending on your personality, in which case I would do the partial day on your party day. Also take into account if one of those days looks better for crowds (and weather, if you are able to change last minute).


Update: You gave me some great things to think about.
Do not plan a park visit on 1st day since we arrive in the afternoon. Too much potential for problems and exploring the resort will be fun.

Save the other half day for morning of MVMCP or departure.

By that time we’ll know which park we want to go back to.
And let kids select after we get there based on weather, what we missed, etc.
Use it more for the park experiences, shows, etc rather than top tier rides.



Great idea! I would go ahead and make a park reservation for your most likely day / park so that if reservations run out you’ll at least have an option. But hopefully you can change it close to the day of if needed.


This goes against when most other have been saying …

We’ve done it both ways and now prefer to spend a couple hours at HS on arrival day rather than doing a park on departure day.

The reasons:

(1) HS is a great park to stack LL for the evening. I stack evening LLs while we are traveling. Our plane arrives around 2:00/3:00 pm, we go to our resort, we grab a QS dinner, and then we head to HS to arrive around 7:00 pm. The past trip we arrived and 7:15 pm and between 7:15 and 9:00, used LL for SDD, TSM, and MF:SR and had 2 rides standby on A2S. We have done this twice in the past 6 months. In May, between 7 and 9 we did ILL for Rise and LL for SDD, MMRR, TSM and A2S.

(2) For my family, departure day is always chaotic with packing and arranging to get to the airport. Even when we have had late afternoon departures, we have felt the mornings at the parks to be rushed when we had topic and check-out.

(3) We find it more exciting to do a park on arrival day (even for a short period of time), then to have some park time on departure day. Instead we stay at the parks late the day before departure and sleep-in on departure day.

That said, there is a risk of plane delays thwarting my plans for arrival day which cuts against this plan.


How far is your flight? The longer the commute, the more likely a delay will thwart arrival day plans. For me, my flights usually arrive at 5pm (Phoenix > MCO), so any delay and my day is shot. But if your arrival is like noon, even if you’re delayed you will usually be able to salvage the most important activities.

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Welp - one reason for deciding to fly in early is because of potential flight problems.
Aaaand that’s just what happened.

I just got an email that the flight we’re on to arrive at MCO is changed to 8 hours later. So instead of arriving early afternoon, We now won’t get in until 10:30PM.
SO glad I built in a half day to explore the resort and enjoy non park activities.

They also changed to going home flight to 2 .5 hours earlier, but that I can live with.


Bummer about the change in flights! Hope you are getting some sort of compensation for this. I thought if they changed your arrival time by that much they had to offer you cancellation or something.

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Yeah I think if they change is greater than 3 hours you get compensation plus ability to rebook another flight.


After going thru their CHAT (worthless) and being on hold with muffled scratchy music that I’m pretty sure is considered an alternative to waterboarding torture, I finally got someone who said they will refund me the outgoing tickets. (to put it in perspective, an hour of repeat, “It’s a Small World” singing would sound heavenly)
Which, at the original time, was a great deal $$

Now I just have to find new airfare.
At considerably more $$$.
$$$. $
One might almost say… Disney Pricing! :sweat_smile:


For the trip I’m currently on, I really wanted to do a party on arrival day but couldn’t get my ticket switched from fri to Thurs. And I’m super glad, because my 2p arrival turned into 430p plus rush hour traffic. I just had time to put down my bags before a 640 dinner res. Air travel is just too unreliable these days to spend money and/or have plans that rely on arrival day. Now if it’s just bonus stuff or of it’s just a few bucks difference in a multi day ticket, that’s another story.