Ideas for Your First Evening at Walt Disney World

Start your vacation with a literal bang by watching fireworks from outside of the parks

Many people do not want to hit a Walt Disney World theme park the day that they arrive, because they do not want to use a day from their theme park tickets. There is plenty that you can do outside of the parks on that first evening. Here are a few of my favorites. Just make sure that you rest up so that you will be ready for rope drop the next morning. If you’re only using Disney transportation and need to go to a different resort, take the bus to Disney Springs, and then transfer. Or splurge, and take a Minnie Van.

Book a Resort Dinner

Some of the best restaurants at Walt Disney World are found in the resorts, but if you only spend time in the theme parks you won’t get to try any of them. Think about making a reservation at one of the Deluxe Resort restaurants. If you want to start your trip with a “Disney feel” make it a character meal, or try a signature restaurant. Start your holiday with what might be the best meal of your trip.

See the Animals

Most people realize that you’ll see plenty of animals at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, but did you know that you can also see them at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge? There are over 30 species who call the four savannas home. There are viewing areas outside, and sometimes Cast Members are on hand to answer questions. Combine the chance to see the animals with dinner at Sanaa or Jiko – The Cooking Place, and you’ll start off your vacation in style.

Disney’s BoardWalk

Disney’s BoardWalk is beautiful during the day, but it comes alive at night. No, it is not the same thing as Disney Springs, but that is a common misconception. You can play carnival games, shop, enjoy fine dining, hit a 21 and over club, or rent a surrey bike. Have a caricature drawn, especially if Mike is there because he does an amazing job. Each evening street performers entertain from 7:00 until 10:00, and the shows are free. (You might catch my family and me watching, we’re there a lot.) Watch the video at the end for more information. Disney’s BoardWalk is also a great place for my next suggestion.

Watch Fireworks

Just because you’re not in a park doesn’t mean you can’t watch the fireworks. If it’s Happily Ever After that you’re interested in head to any of the Magic Kingdom Area Resorts. At Disney’s Contemporary Resort there’s a viewing area on the fourth floor where you can see them and hear the music. If you have a reservation at California Grill the view is even better. My favorite place to watch Happily Ever After is probably the beach from Disney’s Polynesian Resort. Great view, and great atmosphere. If you want to see the fireworks part of IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth or Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular, try Disney’s BoardWalk or the Yacht and Beach Clubs. You can’t stay in one spot, but if you walk around a bit you’ll see them both. If the night is clear, you might also be able to see Happily Ever After in the distance.

Disney Springs

Possibly the most popular thing to do the first night of a Walt Disney World vacation is to head to Disney Springs. There’s dining, shopping, and plenty of free entertainment. You can bowl, watch a movie, or perhaps catch a concert at House of Blues. There are also some options that are meant for the adults such as The Edison. Disney Springs can get crowded at night, but it’s still a lot of fun. An evening at Disney Springs can be a great way to kick off your vacation.