Essential Must-Dos for Disney Resort Arrival Day

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The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and you wake up with a smile on your face, ready to head to Walt Disney World Resort. You’ve bought a Park ticket, booked a Park reservation secured an advanced dining reservation. You’ve planned and packed those cute outfits. You are ready to go… it’s vacation arrival day!


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For a Disney fanatic, there is no better feeling than checking into a Disney Resort on day one of your vacation at the most magical place on earth. Regardless of which Resort I am bound for, there are some must-dos upon check-in. This is what I always do when arriving at a Disney Resort.

Strap On My Magic Band


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The key to your Disney experience is the magic band. This vacation must-have is an important item, so be sure you not only pack it but bring it in an easily accessible bag. When you arrive at your Resort, you will scan your magic band for entry to the Resort and again to enter your Resort room.

Digging around in your suitcase for this important Disney accessory is no fun, so stash magic bands in a central location that you can easily access, like the pocket of a tote bag or in a purse. This ensures you can easily snatch it out and use it to get to the magic.

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To-do number one after arriving at my Disney Resort is always to strap on my magic band. After all, on Disney property, you can use this little beauty as a room key, credit card, Park ticket, Disney Genie, and Lightening Lane pass.

Flick on the Disney Resort Channel

Tower of Terror & Information

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The ambiance is everything, so set the mood as soon as you enter your Resort room by tuning into a Resort channel on your television. If you are a Disney hotel newbie, Walt Disney World Resort channels highlight attractions in each Park. You can also learn about activities, shopping, and dining at Disney Springs, Disney Waterparks, and Adventures by Disney vacations, all on your Resort television.

My favorite channel to set the mood is the Park hours guide. This channel is a great reminder of Park and Disney transportation hours each day. Plus, the scrolling channel plays upbeat Disney movies and Disney Park music that serves as the perfect background playlist in your Resort room. Walt Disney World lovers relish that delightful loop and are always happy to flip to this channel immediately upon arrival.

Related: Things I Always Do In Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Enjoy the Lobby


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With the convenience of direct-to-room service (virtual check-in), you technically don’t ever have to drop by the Resort lobby during your stay. Your magic band will serve as your room key and is ready to go from when you arrive on the Disney World property. When your room is prepped and ready, you’ll receive a room information text from Disney, complete with your building and room number, so you can bypass the check-in desk and head straight to your room.

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While I’ll admit heading straight to my room after a late-night drive to Walt Disney World has come in handy many times, I love the magical feel of the Resort lobby as a hub at my home away from home. I always head to the lobby to get the feel of the Resort and explore as soon as I drop off bags in my Resort room.

Even if this expedition just means a quick walk around the quick service dining location, lobby, and gift shop at a familiar Resort like Pop Century or All-Star Sports – I always visit the lobby when I arrive at a Disney Resort hotel.

Related: Things I Always Do During a Day at the Magic Kingdom

Purchase Refillable Mugs


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A great checklist item to tackle on that initial lobby pilgrimage is to purchase refillable Resort mugs. If you are going to spring for this bottomless beverage mug, you should buy it as soon as possible to begin using it. Head to the quick service eatery at your Resort to purchase a refillable mug, then fill-er-up and sip a soda as you stroll the lobby!

If you are new to this concept, Disney World Resorts offer Guests the opportunity to purchase refillable 16-ounce character-clad insulated mugs for $19.99 each. These mugs are refillable for up to 14 days and ensure bottomless soft drinks, coffee, tea, juice, and hot chocolate at resorts during your stay.

Refillable mugs can be used at other Disney Resorts, too, so you can have a soda post-Magic Kingdom after a monorail ride to Contemporary Resort or during an evening animal watching at Animal Kingdom Lodge. Using refillable mugs as you Resort hop can be a big money saver.

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Families have varying opinions on how “worth it” purchasing a refillable mug is. For Guests that snag a soda during a Resort quick service meal once a day and that want to sip a coffee on the way to the Parks, a refillable mug is a cost-effective idea. Not to mention, you have a cute reusable souvenir to take home.

Related: Things I Always Do In Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Unpack Your Bags


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Some travelers will always be more organized than others. While I’ll admit I am a “Type A” super organized traveler, I think everyone could benefit from the organization tip to unpack your bags after arrival. If you are staying at a Disney Resort for more than one night, do yourself a favor and unpack and organize your belongings after arriving at your Disney Resort. Setting up toiletries, hanging bags and hats on the trusty hooks in the room, and of course, unpacking clothing and shoes and stowing them in the closet and dresser do a lot to tidy your space while preventing the need to snatch out suitcases every few hours to search for misplaced items.

I love planning Park outfits, packing snacks, and double-checking my Park bags each night before hitting the Parks at rope drop the next day. I find that staying organized in the Resort room makes for an easier Park prep. experience, keeps my clothes looking better, cuts down on clutter, and helps me have more fun. So even if you don’t usually do this on trips – make like a Disney pro and unpack your bags when you arrive at a Disney Resort!

Whether you are checking in at The Wilderness Lodge, Grand Floridian Resort, rooming with the animals at Animal Kingdom Lodge, visiting Art of Animation, or that opening day classic Contemporary Resort- you are going to love staying on the property on a Disney World vacation. Hopefully, this Disney checklist is helpful as you make a Walt Disney World arrival day plan. Enjoy your magical vacation!

About Katie Chapman

Hey There! I am a Georgia native with a passion for writing, traveling, cooking, decorating, pugs and of course all things Disney. Growing up in South Georgia just a few hours from Walt Disney World made for a magical childhood. Some of my best memories were made on Main Street U.S.A. with my sister watching SpectroMagic nighttime parade or beside my grandparents, parents and extended family at Chef Mickey’s celebrating on a family vacation. Epcot was my favorite park from a young age and I credit it with my interest in and love for international travel. As a kid I loved meeting characters and watching films around World Showcase and could spend hours exploring each of the countries in Epcot. These days, my husband and I get away to explore a new country whenever we can and even incorporate trips to The Disney Store and Disney Parks around the world in our travels. One of our travel goals is to visit every Disney Park in the world. I love writing about Disney restaurants, park tips, Disney outfit inspiration and Disney history. Pocahontas is my favorite Disney Princess (90s kid here!) but Mr. Toad is my spirit animal. When I’m not at Disney I’m reading about park history, watching Disney documentaries and shopping vintage Disney merch for park outfits. I never pass up a reservation to Ohana, an empty seat on Living with the Land or a Violet Sake.