Most guests who visit Walt Disney World understandably spend the majority of their time at the parks, however the Disney resorts can be just as fun to visit if you have some time to spend away from the theme parks. While there are some amenities that guests who are not staying at certain resorts are unable to use, such as the pools and fitness centers, non-resort guests are welcome to visit the shops, lobbies, and restaurants of the other resorts. The theming at each Disney resort is incredible, and many of them have a lot to offer in terms of dining, nightlife, and entertainment.
In terms of attractions within the theme parks, shows are all too often overlooked in favor of going on rides instead. I can understand why guests think that rides would in general be more exciting, however it blows my mind that so many people typically skip shows while visiting a theme park on a company that was started by making movies and animated shorts (ie: shows). If a certain show isn’t your cup of tea, that’s totally fine, but in general I would never suggest skipping an attraction just because you realized it was a show, and not a ride.
3) Character meet and greets
Meeting the characters has become a much more interesting and unique experience over the years, and yet so many guests, especially those visiting without children tend to skip meet and greets altogether. You may not think meeting characters is how you’d want to spend your time during your vacation, but this really can be a fun experience for guests of all ages. If you’re not all that interested in meeting characters, try one of the more unique experiences like character dining.
Another option for spending a day away from the theme parks is to participate in some of the recreational offerings at the Disney resorts. With so many things to do including horseback riding, fishing, parasailing, and golf just to name a few, there are a number of ways to enjoy your time on Disney property without ever leaving the resort.
While this might not be an activity for the whole family, there are a handful of locations around the Walt Disney World Resort that provide an excellent setting in terms of nightlife. Disney Springs has recently become one of the best places to go, with the opening of so many new bars and restaurants, and I would also recommend spending some time at the Boardwalk Inn. The Boardwalk features the Atlantic Dance Hall, Abracadabar, and Jellyrolls, the resort’s dueling piano bar. In addition, the Polynesian Resort is home to Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto, and while you’re there you can even participate in a monorail bar crawl.
The waterparks are a hit with guests visiting in the hot summer months, when they are at their busiest, but unless the weather is seriously too cold, they can be a fun way to spend some time in a pool during your Disney vacation. The parks are nothing like your local water park, as they are so elaborately themed, that they truly do immerse guests into a story in the same way that visiting the theme parks or resorts would.
7) Miniature golf
Another lesser done diversion from the parks is miniature golf, which is offered at two different courses at Walt Disney World—Winter Summerland and Fantasia Gardens. Like the water parks, these two courses are much more detailed and interesting than any of the ones I’ve seen in my hometown, and they can be a nice way to unwind on a non-park day, or an evening after visiting the parks or water parks.
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8) Aerophile—The World Leader in Balloon Flight
The hot air balloon located at Disney Springs, called Aerophile—The World Leader in Balloon Flight (previously known as Characters in Flight), allows guests to be lifted into the air high above the ground where they can experience a hot air balloon without committing to actually flying to another destination. In addition, this experience offers amazing views of Walt Disney World, and can be a fun activity for guests who are not uncomfortable with heights.
9) The VOID
We are thrilled The VOID recently joined the scene at Disney Springs. The two entertainment options – Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire and Ralph Breaks VR – are fantastic entertainment options at Disney’s Springs The VOID. Perfect for tweens, teens, and adults, The VOID is an ultimate virtual reality experience. Team up (or be teamed up) with four guests. The multi-sensory environment makes virtual reality feel like…well, REALITY!
10) Backstage tours
Though they generally come at an added cost, backstage tours are available at many locations across the Walt Disney World Resort. Be sure to visit the official Disney website, and book a reservation for the tour you’re interested ahead of time to guarantee your spot. Tours range from anything from the resorts (which are offered at no cost based on availability—check with the front desk) to the parks, with each offering different ways to get a glimpse into how the resort runs from a behind the scenes perspective.