1. Rope drop at Magic Kingdom
Getting to the Magic Kingdom just before the park opens is one experience that can really create a special start to a day in the park. Arrive early to be greeted by a welcome show with favorite characters on the castle stage, and enjoy getting to ride your favorite attractions with short wait times first thing in the morning. Additionally, select entertainment and character experiences are only available early in the day, so there may be plenty of new things for your to see and do in the morning.
2. Behind the Scenes Tour
Disney has a behind the scenes tour to suit nearly every taste and interest. Whether you’re looking to learn more about the steam trains that run in the Magic Kingdom or you’d like to go behind the scenes at Living with the Land in Epcot, there’s a tour for that! New tour experiences are added constantly, and you can find tours in each of the four theme parks and at select resorts like Animal Kingdom Lodge.
3. Mini Golf
Mini golf may not be at the top of your list when planning a Disney vacation, but it’s actually a great way to spend some time when you have a day you aren’t planning on using a park ticket. Disney has two courses, Winter Summerland and Fantasia Gardens, and both are beautifully themed and likely much more of an experience than the local mini golf attractions you may have closer to home.
For another non-theme park activity, spend the day at Disney Springs and stop by The Boathouse to go for a ride in one of the famous Amphicars. These amphibious vehicles take guests on tours of Disney Springs from the water, and while the experience does come with a $100+ per car upcharge, it can easily create an extremely memorable experience. The Boathouse is the only place in the world that offers public tours with Amphicars, and seeing Disney Springs from the water in this much style just can’t be beat.
5. Interactive Games
You can find interactive games around most of the Disney theme parks and more recently on the Disney Play mobile app. Games like Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom or Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure can be some of the best ways to explore all of the details of the parks with kids. The games can be fun for the whole family, and in many cases you’ll need more than one trip to the parks to complete the “mission” so you can spread them over multiple trips if you like–plus they’re all free to play!
6. Wilderness Explorers
For a more interactive and educational experience, become a Wilderness Explorer at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Similar to the other interactive games, the Wilderness Explorer program has kids and families traveling around the park completing various activities. Each activity earns you a badge, and when all of the badges are earned you can become an official Wilderness Explorer!
7. Resort Recreation
Since so many guests spend the majority of their time in the theme parks, many of them do not even realize how much recreation is available at their resorts. Regardless of which resort you’re staying at, take some time to partake in the activities by the pool, rent a surrey bike, or go out parasailing on a lake. Activities vary by resort, but there is so much to do! Paid activities like watersports, bike rentals, and horseback riding are not limited to guests at a select resort the same way certain amenities (like pools) are, so check around to see what the nearby resorts offer as well.
8. runDisney Events
Whether you’re training for a marathon already or you just like to go out for a casual run on occasion, runDisney events allow you to stay active during a Disney trip and have fun doing it. These races are like no other race you’ve done before, as each one is themed with characters along the route and opportunities to stop for photos and see other entertainment along the course. Events often sell out quick, so be sure to plan these trips early!
9. Animal Walking Trails
A surprising number of guests visit Disney’s Animal Kingdom and skip the animal walking trails. The thought of any additional walking may not be appealing during a Disney vacation, but the animals on these trails are truly worth seeing. The trails include some of the most fascinating animals in the parks like tigers, gorillas, and komodo dragons, and no day at the park is complete without checking in on these beautiful animals.
10. Dinner Shows
Dinner shows may not be for the budget-conscious trips, but they are really a great time and make a fine addition to any Disney bucket list. With various themes like the Hoop Dee Doo Revue or the Spirit of Aloha dinner show, there are enough options to find something the whole family will enjoy. Like mini golf, dinner shows can be one of the best ways to cap off an evening without using a park ticket.