Early check in?

Q: Can I head straight to the theme parks or do I need to check-in at my Disney World resort first? 

A: With the advent of My Magic+,  Disney World vacations are a lot more streamlined than they used to be.  Your MagicBand, which will be shipped to you before you head out on vacation,  will contain all of the information on your Disney package including resort reservations, tickets, dining plans, and Fastpasses.  They can even be set up as a form of payment and room key.  Through the My Disney Experience website and app guests are also able to manage reservations, book dining and even have the option of checking in to your resort online the same way you would for a flight.

With the online check-in system, guests can check-in within 60 days of your arrival date and make room requests from a series of pre-determined options.  Once the check-in has been set up, Disney will send you an email or a text message on the day you are due to check-in with the time your room will be ready and your room number.  This means that when you arrive at your resort you can essentially bypass the front desk and head straight to your room to drop-off your luggage before heading back to the lobby to get your check-in documents.

It is no wonder that the convenience of this has many visitors that have booked a Disney package asking whether or not they need to physically check-in at all? Can they not just go directly to the theme parks that morning and check-in afterwards? If you’re flying into Orlando airport and using Magical Express, you must make the resort your first port-o-call as the airport buses don’t go to the theme parks.  However, if you’re renting a car or driving, the temptation is definitely there to hit up the thrill rides and check out your room later.

Though it does seem like it would be possible, the official line from Walt Disney World is  No. All guests need to check in at their resort prior to heading to the theme parks.  The reason being is that your package needs to be activated.  The place to have this package activated would naturally be at your resort where they will do an ID check and will also allow you to link a credit card to your MagicBand to cover expenses.   So its important that you set aside time at the start of your arrival day to visit the online check-in desk at your resort and have everything properly set up.

What happens if I just show up at the theme park anyway?  By skipping this crucial first step you may find that your MagicBands will not work properly.  I found this out the hard way on a recent vacation.  I was meeting friends at the Magic Kingdom and decided that I would just skip the resort and head straight out to meet them. When I arrived at the park, my billing information was not set up properly and none of my dining plan information was showing up.

It is possible to remedy the situation without going to your resort but it does mean (in my case) a lengthy visit to a busy Guest Services department in the theme park where I needed to wait in line until they sorted me out.  It’s not the end of the world if you show up at the parks first but it’s not incredibly convenient either.  So I would heed Disney’s advice and make your Walt Disney World resort your first stop.  This is also beneficial if you need to make any last-minute room changes or alterations to your reservations as there is greater flexibility earlier in the day before the majority of people have already checked in.

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Find articles like this helpful? Then why not consider working with an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner? As an agent with MickeyTravels, I’ll be on hand to help you with everything from finding your perfect package to nabbing those hard to get dining and Fastpass reservations.  Best of all my services are absolutely FREE.  Get in touch at 1.800.801.4025 via email at mroden@mickeytravels.com or follow along on Facebook

Image copyright Disney


Do I Need to Check-In to My Resort Before Heading to the Theme Parks? 1

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