First Saturday–Basic Itinerary
BASIC EPCOT ARRIVAL ITINERARY eb10
Check in, get settled if your room is ready, and be at Epcot as soon as you can—and no later than 5:30p.
Depart Epcot no later than 9:30p to avoid the crowds leaving after the fireworks show “Illuminations,” which during the holiday season begins at 9:30–which you will see later on this week.
- Arrive at your hotel, following the instructions in your Disney Magical Express packet if you are using it to get from Orlando International to your Disney Resort. Check in
- Unless you are arriving late, your room will likely not be ready, but you can get your keys, meal credits, special show tickets, and park tickets. Change into clothes more appropriate for the weather–which your To-Do List reminded you to pack in your carry-ons. You will be able to check any carry-ons until you return later tonight, and to call later to find out your exact room
- If your room is ready, and if you have time, get food and supplies (bowls, napkins, scotch) for your breakfast in the morning, which you will be eating in your room. Time permitting, also get (from the counter service restaurant) a “Refillable Mug,” which you will be able to re-use at your resort for free drinks over your entire stay
- Leave your hotel no later than 4:30p (Pop Century) or 4:50p (Polynesian)
- Head to Epcot (if Pop Century, find your resort’s bus stop and take the bus labeled Epcot; if Polynesian, walk to the Epcot monorail at the Ticket and Transportation Center (TTC) (not the resort monorail that stops in the Poly’s main building!) and take it)
AT THE PARK
- Go through the turnstiles and pick up a park map and “Times Guide”–a schedule. Check your map, and go straight, walking through Future World, heading towards the World Showcase. (You will see the attractions in Future World you are walking by on later this week.)
- Check the time. If it is nearing 5:45, turn left and walk along the lagoon to Norway, wandering through the shops and exhibits at Norway until it is time for your 6:30 reservation at Akershus in Norway (table credit)
- If it is earlier than 5:45, still go left, but see the pavilions starting with Mexico, skipping Norway until around dinner time at 6:30, and continue to head clockwise around the lagoon.
- Each pavilion will have some or all of shopping, special exhibits, a ride, a movie, a special Christmas story that is part of Epcot’s “Christmas Around the World” program, and other special events—such as acrobats in China.
- Check your map, time schedule, and the pavilion itself, to see what each pavilion has.
- For scheduled events like the Christmas story, acrobats, etc, sequence what you do when among items that are not scheduled (shops, exhibits, and rides), and bounce back and forth between nearby pavilions, so that you don’t have to wait long for the scheduled items.
- Keep your eye on your watch until it is time to return for the 6p Christmas tree lighting ceremony at 5:45. Follow the other steps in the “Check the time” entry above
- Continue to visit the pavilions
- Keep an eye on your watch, and around 8:30 pm, head (still clockwise) for the International Gateway located between France and the United Kingdom. (You will see the pavilions you are walking by on later this week.)
- Exit through the International Gateway, and as you exit ask a cast member for directions to Disney’s Beach Club Resort. (Basically, walk straight, avoiding lefts when they offer themselves.)
- At the Beach Club, find Beaches and Cream’s “to go” window, get some ice cream, and while eating it look at the Christmas decorations in the Beach Club lobby
- If you have time (by 9:30 you need to be out of Epcot entirely–to have walked back to Epcot, entered, walked through it to the entrance where you came in, and exited), visit the lobby of Disney’s Yacht Club Resort (right next door to the Beach Club) and view its Christmas decorations. (If you don’t have time, see it later this week. You will also see the decorations at the Boardwalk–the other Disney deluxe hotel here—later this week.)
- Exit where you entered Epcot to begin your day here no later than 9:30 to avoid the crowds leaving after the special Christmas showing of the Fireworks show “Illuminations” at 9:30. (You will see this later this week.) Find either the bus stop (for Pop Century) or monorail (for the Polynesian)
- Note to Polynesian guests: to find the walkway from the “Ticket and Transportation Center” (TTC), which is where the Epcot monorail stops, to the Polynesian, stay as right as you can once you leave the monorail ramp and begin exiting the TTC. You will see eventually a small sign directing you to the Polynesian
BACK AT THE HOTEL
If your hotel gift shop is still open, buy food, supplies (bowls, spoons, etc) and refillable mugs for breakfast in your room if you did not have time, or a room assignment, earlier
LINKS TO DAYS AND TO-DO LIST
The links below take you to pages with specific guidance on what to do every day of your first family Walt Disney World vacation, and the To-Do List for preparing for your trip.
- To-Do List
- First Saturday
- First Sunday
- Second Saturday
- Second Sunday
LINKS TO BASIC ITINERARY VARIANTS
- For itinerary design goals and the basic December Itinerary, see this
- For shorter and longer itineraries targeted at the same December week, see this
- For itineraries covering all the other parts of the year, see this
- To design your own itinerary, see this
- For rides that might be skipped, see this
- For a comprehensive guide to rides and attractions, see this