Disney’s theme parks are definitely a major draw that bring people to Walt Disney World. The parks are amazing and highly recommend that you visit them. That being said, there is so much more to experience outside of the parks that many people don’t know about because they are so focused on the parks! Planning non-park days may help your Disney budget be more affordable, or maybe you just want to do something a little different and less busy than the park experience. Whatever the reason, here are 8 ways to enjoy Disney World without going to the parks:
8. Miniature Golf
There are actually two great miniature golf locations on property. If you are feeling merry and like you may want to “cool” off, then check out Winter Summerland Miniature Golf close to Blizzard Beach Waterpark. This is a course that Santa himself created as part of his vacation home. There is the summer course and the winter course, so why not experience both? Are you a Fantasia fan? Then Fantasia Gardens at the Walt Disney World Swan Hotel may be the place for you. There are 2 different courses for you to enjoy that take you through scenes that you may find similar to scenes and characters from Fantasia. The cost at both locations is $14 per adult and $12 per child (3-9).
7. Explore Disney Springs
Disney Springs has so much to offer. Shopping, dining, exploring, hot air balloon ride, music and so much more. There is no cost of admission to get in and you can stroll through the hundreds of shops and dining establishments, which is enough to keep you busy all day long. Disney Springs offers a great taste of the Disney magic and immersive experience without having to step foot inside the parks.
6. Chip & Dale Campfire Sing-a-long (or any campfire)
This is an actual character event that is also completely free of charge. Most nights (weather permitting) Chip and Dale dance and sing songs around the campfire at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campground. It doesn’t cost anything to visit the resort, but you may have to take a boat from the Magic Kingdom (you won’t have to enter the park, so no admission required) depending on what parking restrictions may be in effect at Fort Wilderness. It is a really fun event, and you can even bring along your own s’mores fixins’ to enjoy a tasty treat while you sing along with your favorite chipmunks. They also celebrate and announce special events like birthdays and anniversaries, so don’t be shy about telling them what you are celebrating. There are also campfires nightly at many other Disney resorts that you could join if you aren’t interested in singing and the character experience. You could also attend any of these campfires. Just be sure to check the times to make sure you don’t miss it.
5. Movie Under the Stars
Most of the Disney World Resorts offer a movie nightly under the stars for guests to enjoy. Pack your blanket/towel/chair and head out to your favorite resort and catch the movie that is showing. You will want to check with the resorts to determine the times and what movie will be showing, but it is a great time to enjoy the scenery and watch one of your favorites on the big screen under the stars.
4. Surrey Bike Rental
This is just so much fun! You and your family can rent a surrey bike (or normal bikes) from certain resorts and bike around the resorts. This is a great way to explore Disney resorts, get exercise and get quality family time. It’s a break from the crowds of the parks to enjoy something a little different while on your Disney vacation. Plus, the rental fee is pretty inexpensive, so it won’t break the bank for you to enjoy this experience! Wilderness Lodge and Disney’s Boardwalk are probably my favorites to go for a ride!
3. Aerophile (formerly Characters in Flight)
How often do you get to see a real hot air balloon? How about a hot air balloon that goes 400 feet in the air over the beautiful Disney Springs? If you want an amazing experience with amazing views of Walt Disney World, then you will want to check this one out. You have to go to Disney Springs (no admission required) and you can’t miss the huge balloon with classic Mickey colors and your Disney favorites on it. The prices are $20 per adult and $15 per child for an 8-10 minute view from the top. You can see for miles, and it is amazing.
2. Self-Guided Resort Tour
Set out to tour all of the resorts. Each resort is very different from all of the others and there is a lot to see and do at each resort. Use Disney transportation to hop from resort to resort and get to exploring. You can also check out the activities going on at each resort for the day, and join in. You could learn to hula at the Poly or feed flamingos at Animal Kingdom Lodge. There are so many experiences to be had that you can only learn about from actually going to visit, explore and interact with the cast members. This can be a blast for all ages and may help you decide where you want to stay on your next trip.
1. Enjoy the Fireworks
There are many wonderful fireworks viewing locations from outside of the parks. You can watch Happily Ever After from spots at the Ticket and Transportation Center, Grand Floridian, Polynesian Village Resort, Contemporary Resort, Wilderness Lodge and Fort Wilderness. You can ask cast members there where the best places to enjoy the show is and they will help point you in the right direction. If you make dinner reservations at Narcoossee’s, Ohana or California Grill, you can dine and enjoy the show from the restaurant. At the dining locations and many of the outside viewing locations, the music is piped in so you can still get the full effect of the show. Don’t miss the Electrical Water Pageant that also crosses the lagoon and lake that can also be viewed from these locations!