Most people come to Walt Disney World for the theme parks, but there’s actually just as much fun to be had in Disney resorts. Resort-hopping is a great way to experience some off-the-beaten-path fun while on vacation, and this list of 10 hidden gems at Disney World resorts will show you exactly why! While some of these items come with a price tag, others are free – and all are open to any guest, even if you’re not staying at the resort.
Want to channel your inner Katniss or Hawkeye? Then target the Fort Wilderness Resort’s Archery Experience. Guests aged 7 and up can sign up for the 90 minute archery adventure, and no previous experience is necessary! Class size is limited, so you’ll get plenty of individual attention.
9. Horse-back Riding
Another hidden gem we love at Fort Wilderness is horse-back riding. Yes, it IS possible to ride a horse at Walt Disney World! 45-minute trail rides depart from the Tri-Circle D Livery (while you’re there, visit the stables to check out the horses of Main Street, and Cinderella’s ponies!), for guests 9 and older.
8. Campfire and Movie Fun
The family fun continues into the evening at Disney resorts! Unbeknownst to many guests, most Walt Disney World resorts offer free campfires and marshmallow-roasting, followed by outdoor screenings of Disney movies. Activities are held weather-permitting – just check with Guest Services at your hotel for more details!
7. Pirate Adventures
Budding young pirates in your party will want to get on board a Pirate Adventure Cruise. There are a few different pirate adventures sailing around resort waterways, each varying slightly in theme and departing from a different Disney resort. But each promises a treasure hunt, snacks and drinks, and guaranteed pirate treasure!
6. Paddleboat Rentals
Another water adventure opportunity is at Disney’s Swan & Dolphin Resorts, where you can rent paddleboats shaped like swans. Paddle around for an hour on Crescent Lake to enjoy a breezy, relaxing escape from the parks.
5. Snag a Dole Whip
If you’re craving a Dole Whip but aren’t in the Magic Kingdom or Animal Kingdom, no problem! Just hop on a monorail to the Polynesian Village Resort, and head to Pineapple Lanai, just outside the Ceremonial House. You can also snag a Dole Whip at Disney’s Pop Century Resort. Two fantastic resort locations with the all-time-favorite Dole Whip!
4. Animal Viewing
You don’t have to be in Animal Kingdom to have your own animal encounter! Head to Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, where you’ll be able to view safari animals any night, for free! The viewing areas allow you to use night vision binoculars to watch the animals out on the savannah. There are also guides on hand to answer all of your animal questions.
3. Geyser Viewing
A unique feature of Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort is the 120-foot artificial geyser behind the lodge, that erupts every hour from 7 am until 10 pm. Just follow the path behind the pool area to Fire Rock Geyser, and get your camera ready!
2. Big Band Beat
One of the many gems that makes the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa a guest favorite is the house orchestra. Visit the lobby anytime, and if you stay long enough (they play several times daily), you’re bound to hear jazz, ragtime, Dixie, and maybe some Disney tunes! There’s also live piano music every afternoon.
1. (Free) Views
There are some fantastic – and free – views to be had from Disney resorts. To watch the Electrical Water Pageant, head to the beach on the Bay Lake side of the Contemporary Resort for a stellar view. And for fireworks, great vantage points include the beach at the Polynesian Resort, and the Sky Bridge on the 5th floor of Bay Lake Tower. You don’t need an expensive Magic Kingdom view room to enjoy your favorite night-time displays at Walt Disney World!