On arrival day, do I have to check-in before I go to the parks?
Sometimes, but you don't have to do it in person!
It is not unusual for people to want to hit the parks as soon as they arrive.
However, to do that, you'll need to make sure your tickets (and dining plan if applicable) is ready to go and activated.
SO, here is what you'll need to do:
- If you have a PACKAGE - meaning you purchased your room + tickets or room + tickets + dining plan - you'll need to check-in before you go to the parks. If you don't check-in before you go to the parks, your tickets and your dining plan will not work.
- If you have a ROOM ONLY reservation, you do NOT need to check-in before you go to the parks. Since your tickets aren't attached to a room, they are already "activated" and you can head to the parks whenever you are ready!
Now, checking in can look like a couple of different things:
This is best for people that forgot to do on-line check-in, people that have super specific room requests that they want to follow-up on, and people that are already going to be at the resort dropping off their bags with Bell Services (and don't mind possibly waiting in a line - but I'd still do online even if I was dropping off bags).
ALSO - this is good for people that want to do anything other than have 1 credit card attached to their account (so if you want to add an additional card OR cash - but if you don't need to do that immediately you can always add it later).
This is the traditional way of checking in. You go inside and find the counter. Maybe wait in-line for a bit and then give the person working there your information.
They do that type type type thing (why do they have to type so much?! Hotel desks and airline check-in counters BOTH. So much typing! Makes me nervous).
After all the clicking of the typing they give you some maps and maybe a flyer or 2 and then send you on your way.
Even if check-in time isn't "officially" until 3 or 4 pm, you can still go ahead and check-in before then. Your room may not be ready - but you'll be "officially" checked-in and Disney will (barring any glitches) text you your room number when it is ready to be occupied. And, as long as you have your MagicBand on you, you shouldn't have to go back to the counter.
This is best for people arriving during peak check-in and out times (you can avoid the regular counter lines this way), people who want to get to the action the fastest and those that love Kansas State University being in the Elite 8 (I just tossed that last bit in there to see if anybody was still reading).
When you do online check-in, if you know you'll want to head to the parks as soon as you can MAKE SURE YOU SELECT A CHECK-IN TIME THAT IS BEFORE WHEN YOU THINK YOU'LL BE HEADING TO THE PARK. (Those capital letters aren't yelling, just emphasis).
If you don't have a check-in time selected that is before when you want to go to the parks your tickets and dining plan may not be activated and then you'll be super sad when you get to the gates. Sure, they'll be able to help you there BUT it will slow you down.
Again - checking in early online does not mean your room will be ready right then (although it might be). You should get a text message with room information on it when it IS ready, though. Then, you'll just use your MagicBand to get in when you head back to your room.
My recommendation is to, whenever possible, use on-line check-in. You can always follow-up at the desk if you have any questions or issues but on-line saves you time AND gets you out into the fun FASTER.
If you DO need to visit the counter (to do things like add an additional credit card for charging), try to pick an off-peak time!