We all have rituals (so to speak) that we may conduct when we arrive in a certain place, and for me a Walt Disney World resort is one of those places. I have certain things that I must do every time I arrive as habits, and other things that I do or recommend to travel clients to do upon arrival to make their vacation run more smoothly. Here are 8 of those things:
8. Check In
This is a “Well, duh!” But you do have the option of online check-in. At least 80% of the time I prefer to check in at the resort in person and here’s why. First, I’ve had times when I’ve done online check-in and went to my room to find that my Magic Bands did not work, so I had to trek back to the lobby to have that fixed anyway. I’ve also heard of some issues with package activations under some circumstances if you do not check in at the resort first—you don’t want to get to the park and have the possibility of your tickets or dining plan not working properly. Now, this is not supposed to be an issue, you should be able to do online check-in and not have issues, but they do sometimes happen. Second, I often have specific requests on my reservation for a type of room or a room location. If I check in at the desk I can ask if those have been met, and if not I can politely ask if there might be any other rooms available and let them know I am willing to wait to get into my room if it is just a matter of mousekeeping needing to get to the type of room I want and clean it. And, call me old fashioned, but I enjoy that first exchange with the Disney Cast Members and I get that excitement that I’m “home” for my vacation.
7. Test Your Magic Band(s)
You may want to ask to do this at the front desk if you check in in person. They can check any number of your Magic Bands to make sure they are activated and working. You could test it in the gift shop or the food court to make sure the charging privileges are working. I always check mine on the room door. Hopefully at least one of them will work to get us in initially, but then I check all of the bands for each person in our room on the door lock. And we each have a couple of bands as we’ve purchased some of the specialty bands. Sometimes they all work, sometimes a few do not and we have to go to the desk to activate them for that reservation. I don’t want to come back from the parks after fireworks only to find out we all wore bands that day that don’t unlock the door!
6. Assign your PIN
Many people assign a PIN number for your reservation online, but if you did not (or if you forgot it) you will need to do this at the front desk. This is the 4 digit number you will use to authorize any purchases or charges on your Magic Bands—make sure it is something easy to remember & that everyone in your room with charging privileges knows it. Remember, this is the code that prevents anyone from charging to your room if you happen to lose your Magic Band.
5. Drop Off your Luggage
If you did not use Magical Express to arrive at the resort you have your luggage to deal with. My family drives down and cars get hot parked at Walt Disney World. So, if our room is ready we take a few minutes to take our luggage to the room (if we are staying at a value or moderate resort). If it isn’t ready we can leave the bags with bell services. At deluxe resorts we normally let Bell Services unload the car as we arrive and they store the luggage until we are ready. That way we can go ahead and enjoy the parks or the resort. Just don’t forget to have a day bag with items you may need like medications, sunscreen, bathing suits, MAGIC BANDS, etc. This works the same in reverse when you check out. Bell Services can store luggage after you check out until you are ready to leave so you can soak up that last bit of Disney Magic.
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4. Get your Mug
If you are on any of the Disney Dining Plans you get a refillable resort mug as part of the plan. If you are not on the dining plan and are staying for several days you may want to invest in one of the mugs (they can be cost saving if you drink a lot of soft drinks -guilty- or coffee). I would recommend purchasing or picking this up as soon as you get to the resort for your first meal so that you can maximize the value and the number of drinks you get with your mug. You can find them in the food court or quick service food area of the resort (sometimes at the pool bars as well).
3. Check your Room
You probably all know where this is going, but you do want to thoroughly check your room for cleanliness. Make sure that nothing was left behind by the last guest, make sure that you have toiletries, and make sure that everything appears clean. If anything is out of order you can either call the front desk, or go down to the desk. If you call you will get a central call center who will act as a middle man for your concern. If you go to the desk you know you are speaking to someone at the resort. It may depend on how serious the issue is with your room (& how far away from the front desk you are) as to how you want to handle it. I also recommend doing a bedbug check (a google search will turn up 1 million and 1 ways to do this). Any hotel or resort can have bedbugs; people bring them in, it isn’t an issue of the hotel. One thing you might not think to check is the refrigerator to make sure it is working and on its coldest setting. And, if you are a germaphobe like my friend Lara & me, you will want to use your handy dandy Lysol spray and wipes to thoroughly disinfect the room (especially the remote and light switches).
2. Study a Map
You will be given a resort map at check-in (another reason I like to do that in person). If you did online check in they will normally send a link to a resort map in the text with your room number. Take a look at the map. Try to figure out which bus stop (if there are more than one) is closest to your room, determine the best paths to the food court and lobby. Find the feature pool and the quiet pool. If you have a car and are staying at a value or moderate which parking lot is most convenient. Some resorts like the Contemporary, Yacht & Beach Club and the Boardwalk have walking paths to the parks—scope those out. And some resorts have multiple transportation options, figure out where each one of those may be.
1. Take a Walk
I am a big fan of all of the Walt Disney World resorts. I think each one is interesting and I enjoy just walking around each resort and taking in the theme. Aside from just being an enjoyable way to pass time, this is a great way to acquaint yourself with the locations you just found on the map. One of my favorite resorts is Port Orleans Riverside and there must be at least 5 ways to get from one point to another at that resort—it is like a challenge to figure out the most efficient way before the last day of our vacation. Take some time to enjoy the resort and get your bearings when you arrive.
Those are just 8 things to do when you arrive at your Walt Disney World resort—what do you do?