Florida Guide > Planning your Trip
Tips for your First Night in Orlando
Visitors from the UK usually arrive in Orlando anytime between 3.00pm and Midnight. When we first started staying in a villa a late arrival meant there was only just time to pick up milk, water and biscuits (the first morning nearly always includes an all-you-can eat breakfast!) before tumbling into bed.
However arrival times can vary and if you can plan carefully you can be at your villa by 4.00pm. This would be 9.00pm or 10.00pm in the UK and although tired going to bed that early leads to a very, very early wake up time the next day. We have, over the years, always tried to start our holiday that day and try to get into local time as quickly as possible.
On one occasion after we had unpacked we took a trip to Downtown Disney to the cinema. You do not need to wait until you get there to check what is on as you can do this on-line from the UK before you go. There is always plenty to choose from and usually some good films that will not even be shown in England for a month or two.
If the cinema does not appeal you can still go to Downtown Disney, it has lots of Disney atmosphere to get you into a Disney frame of mind. The girls love going in to the World of Disney store to get an idea of what souvenirs they want to get and I never fail to be touched by the Disney Magic! The playground outside the Lego store is a great place for children to run around after being "strapped in" transit for a good portion of the day. The playground has things to climb on and huge bins of Lego blocks to use. If the kids are really itching to get on some rides they can go on the carousel and the train.
If you just want a relaxing evening spending the night in downtown Celebration is a must. Here you will find a wonderful change from the hectic pace of rest of the World. There is plenty of choice of restaurants and after dinner you can go and sit on the rocking chairs around Celebration Lake. When the girls were younger we used to get them looking for alligators floating in the water! This relaxing start prepares us well for the hectic days to come at the Parks.
If you have travelled from within the US you may arrive about lunch- time and then you will have the afternoon and evening to see the sites and it is probably worth using one day of your pass. The parks tend to empty in the afternoon, which makes it far easier to get around and go on the rides.
Epcot normally stays open later than the other Disney parks, you can go there to wander around the World Showcase and also have a relaxing meal at one of the restaurants before watching the Illumination fireworks show.
Water parks in the peak summer months tend to open until 8.00pm and they also go quieter in the afternoon as people head for a rest or onto another park. In the hot summer months they are great places to be at the end of the day as it becomes slightly cooler. The girls love to end the day with burger and fries before heading home.
A visit to Hollywood Studios is also a great way to start your holiday. If you go in the Christmas period be sure to visit the Osborne Family of Lights. You can dine in any of the restaurants (making a reservation before if necessary) or just go to one of the many fast food outlets. Be sure to finish your day at Fantasmic, this show is just amazing and, with the inclusion of so many of the Disney characters and the electrifying effect of being part of such a large audience, you feel as though you have been transported right into that truly magical Disney experience. It really does set the tone for the rest of your holiday.
Finally, of course, you could just dive in the villa pool for a couple of hours before ordering a take-away!
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Page added on: 9 October 2006
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