There’s always something new and exciting to do at Walt Disney World, no matter how many times you visit. And even if you’re a long-time Disney fan, we’re betting that there are some activities you may not have even heard of. So, we’ve created a list of ten experiences at WDW that you might not have tried. A couple are geared towards those lucky few with disposable income, but some are completely free! Try adding a few of these lesser-known experiences to your next Walt Disney World vacation to see a whole new side of WDW.
10. Animal Watching at Animal Kingdom Lodge
You don’t have to spend big bucks to experience the animals at Animal Kingdom Lodge. In fact, you don’t even have to be staying there, and animal viewing is completely free! You can view all of the safari animals day and night (if visiting in the dark, try the night vision goggles supplied by cast members at the viewing stations!). There are also guides on hand to answer all of your animal questions.
9. Horseback Riding
Did you know you can get up close and personal with horses at Walt Disney World? Whether you want to go horse-back riding or perhaps ride in style in a horse-drawn carriage, the Tri-Circle-D Ranch at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort has everything for horse and pony lovers. They offer trail, pony, wagon and carriage rides, for a reasonable fee. If you’ve never seen WDW from the back of a horse or the inside of a wagon, we’d highly recommend it!
8. Get a Haircut on Main Street USA
Longing to look as dapper as a Dapper Dan? Stop in at the Magic Kingdom’s Harmony Barber Shop. Yes, you can actually get a haircut on Main Street USA! Whether you’re looking for a trim or something a little more colorful (pixie dust and colored gel, anyone?), you’ll find the perfect option here, along with talented hair stylists. Who knows, you may even encounter the Dapper Dans themselves! There’s even a special “My First Haircut” package for little ones, who will enjoy Mickey Ears and a certificate as part of their first haircut.
7. The Wave
We discovered The Wave…of American Flavors on our last Walt Disney World trip, and we’re sorry we didn’t stumble upon it sooner! Located in the Contemporary Resort, this restaurant has some seriously original and delicious dishes starring local ingredients (sweet potato gnocchi, seared lamb loins, and sustainable fish, anyone??). Our service was fantastic, and cast members catered wonderfully to food allergies and vegetarian restrictions at our table. To top it off, The Wave has a breakfast buffet that is by far the best value of any on property!
6. It’s Tough to be a Bug
Why be content just looking at the Tree of Life when you can go inside? That’s right, it is possible to walk inside the roots of the Animal Kingdom’s iconic tree – this is where you’ll find the often-overlooked attraction It’s Tough to be a Bug. It’s the perfect escape from the heat of a Florida summer day, and it’s full of endearing insect characters from the Disney animated film. Be prepared for some surprising 4D effects!
5. Backstage Tours
Many guests aren’t aware that there is a whole world of backstage tours available across Walt Disney World, for an additional fee. So if you’re looking for an experience beyond basic park admission, look no further! You can swim with thousands of sea creatures at Epcot’s The Seas with Nemo & Friends, explore the secret underground tunnel system under the Magic Kingdom, or go behind the scenes at some of your favorite attractions, for starters. This is a great way to see hidden Disney sights usually only seen by cast members!
4. Rent Your Favorite Ride
This one is for those who are looking to spare no expense for a special day at Walt Disney World. If you have the funds, you can rent several locations on property to hold your own private event or party. And yes, that does include some attractions! You could celebrate a milestone birthday on the terrace of Tower of Terror, or kick off your retirement with a private celebration at Kilimanjaro Safaris. You can either choose to have the attraction you’re booking remain in operation during your party (for an extra fee, of course!).
We simply adore celebrating Halloween at Walt Disney World! And did you know that you and your kids can even trick-or-treat at the Magic Kingdom during the Halloween season? It’s true! Book a ticket for Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party (but don’t wait – tickets sell out fast!) to enjoy special Halloween entertainment, a spooky parade led by the Headless Horseman, Halloween fireworks, tantalizing seasonal goodies not offered outside of the event, and yes, trick-or-treating at locations throughout the park (for kids AND adults)!
2. VIP Experience
If you really want to feel like royalty during your Walt Disney World vacation, this little-known experience is the way to go! You can book a Private Premium VIP Tour (pricing starts at $360 per hour, with a 6 hour minimum, and you can bring up to 9 guests to enjoy the day with you) to see the parks like a king or queen. A private tour guide will pick you up and escort you around the parks, and along the way you’ll skip all ride lines, plus take advantage of premium seating for any parades or shows you want to watch. Once you’ve experienced the parks as a VIP, we’re not sure you’ll want to go back!
1. Campfire Activities
We’re not sure if all the best things in life are free, but this one sure is, and we think it’s pretty great. Many Walt Disney World resorts offer complimentary campfire activities (including sing-alongs, campfire stories and marshmallow roasting) at night, right in the comfort of your own resort! You can also watch movies under the stars, again for free. So, if the parks haven’t completely tuckered you out, make sure you take advantage of this hidden freebie! Check with your resort for details and times.