Arriving in Disney is one of the greatest parts of the vacation. There’s so much potential! There is fun in Disney all day and all night long, so here are some tips to make your evenings even better.

1. Spend the evening in a park.

Spending an evening in one of the Disney parks may require some strategic planning especially if you’re just arriving in Orlando. Allow two to three hours to get from the airport to your hotel to the park. Sometimes it can take a while especially if you have to wait for the Magical Express or a taxi service.

After you arrive at the resort and check in, drop your belongings in your room. If you opted for your luggage to be delivered via the Magical Express, you don’t need to wait for it. Also, skip some time at the front desk by checking in online, which is a newer option. Disney will text you with your room number, and you can skip the front desk! Allow time to wait for the bus, hop on the monorail, or catch a water taxi. This might take a while if a bus just left. Generally speaking, busses run every 20 minutes or so.

Once you get to the parks, avoid the urge to rush in. Soak up the ambiance of the park entrances at dusk or after-dark. The parks are beautifully lit in the evening giving arriving guests a completely different experience than a day-time entrance.

An evening in the parks is a different experience than a day in the parks just because of the lighting and decorations.

An evening in the parks is a different experience than a day in the parks just because of the lighting and decorations.

A great arriving night activity is a character meal in the parks, but be sure to leave yourself plenty of time for transportation. If you opt for a quick-service dinner, avoid peak hours between 6pm and 7pm during which you’ll find the longest lines and fewest tables.

If you decide to head right for the attractions, making FastPass+ reservations will help shorten your wait time and add more value to your evening. Once you’ve managed to use all three FP+ options, head to a kiosk and schedule a fourth! This is especially useful when Disney has decided to extend the park hours (just ask a Cast Member if this has happened) or during Extra Magic Hours.

If nighttime attractions aren’t your thing, consider playing a game like Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom or A Pirates Adventure.

After an enjoyable evening in the parks, you probably don’t want to spend hours trying to get back to your resort, so having an exit strategy is important. If you plan to watch an evening show like the fireworks, consider sacrificing a great seat for a spot closer to the park exit. This will help you avoid the mad rush for the exit after the show is over and some of the longest lines for busses. Also, check transportation schedules. It would be a shame if you planned to take the monorail but the monorail has stopped running by the time you’re ready to leave. If you’re really in a hurry to get back to your resort or you have some impatient or sleepy children, consider taking a taxi instead of Disney transportation. There’s no taxi service at the Magic Kingdom, so walk across the street to the Contemporary Resort, and take a taxi from there. The other parks have taxi services.

2. Spend an evening outside the parks.

Perhaps you don’t want to waste a park day for just a few hours in the evening, you arrived too late to head to the parks, or maybe you spent the whole day in the parks and are ready for something different.

The resort is a great place to spend your evening. Choose a dining experience at your resort or another one, or schedule a dinner show like Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue or Spirit of Aloha. Visit one of the heated pools or a hot tub, catch a movie, or roast some marshmallows at the campfire. If you’re at an Epcot area resort or a Magic Kingdom area resort, consider watching the fireworks from outside the parks. Sometimes Wishes can be just as magical from the white sand beaches of the Polynesian resort or the California Grill at the Contemporary. If you spend the evening at one of the Magic Kingdom resort area hotels, be sure to catch the Electric Water Pageant on the Seven Seas Lagoon.

Catch a dinner show during your evening in Disney World!

Catch a dinner show during your evening in Disney World!

3. Split up the group.

If part of your group wants to visit a park and the others want to relax, consider splitting up. Disney Springs is a great option if a group wants to split apart. Part of your group could even go to the parks while the other part goes shopping or takes a dip in the pool.

If parents want some time alone, the kids can visit the Childcare Centers, which usually open at 4 or 5 pm and stay open until midnight giving parents plenty of time to grab a romantic dinner and share a bottle of wine.

4. Catch some Zs or Make a plan.

A day in Disney is certainly magical, but with the average guest walking seven miles a day, it can also be exhausting. This might mean you or the kids need a nap. Hit the hay and rest up for your next day in Disney World!

You can also make a plan for your next Disney day. What parks will you visit? What attractions or shows will you experience? What will you eat? Making these plans will likely save you tons of time making decisions and waiting in lines when tomorrow comes.

Do you spend your Disney vacation evenings inside or outside the parks?
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