Credit: Disney

How to Spend Your Check-in Day Without A Park Ticket

We get it.  You have planned a trip to Walt Disney World for weeks, months or even years and all you want to do is head right into one of the parks.  This is a great option; however, if you don’t want to pay for a park ticket on your arrival day, we have some fun activities you can do around Walt Disney World without a park ticket.

Hit the Pool

One fantastic way to start your vacation to Walt Disney World is to visit the pool at the resort.  If you are staying at a Disney resort, the pools are some of the best themed pools you will find and are truly magical.  Even if your room isn’t ready, you are more than welcome to visit the pool.  Pack those swimsuits and sunscreen so you are ready to jump in!  In the afternoon, you will find activities at the main pool deck.  These are a fun way for kids to compete in pool games and receive some fun prizes.

Check Out Resort Activities

When you get checked in at your resort, make sure to ask for a resort guide.  This guide will let you know what fun activities are happening around the resort.  You can often enjoy crafts such as tye-die, necklace making, painting, drawing and so much more.  These are great options to keep kids entertained without rushing to the park.

Credit: Disney

Head to Disney Springs

If you prefer to leave the resort, think about heading to Disney Springs.  Disney Springs is a great location to enjoy entertainment, shopping and food.  Visit World of Disney, the Lego Store or Uniqlo.  Try some delicious snacks from Evergladed Donuts & Cold Brew or Gideon’s Bakehouse.  If you are looking for a meal, there are excellent options for a quick meal or a nice, sit-down experience.  Chicken Guy, Polite Pig and Deluxe Burger are all good options for those quick, but delicious meals.  Looking for a sit-down meal, there are excellent options in Disney Springs.  Homecomin’, Morimoto Asia, Raglan Road or Boathouse would all be fantastic options when it comes to getting delicious food while providing excellent service.   Walk around and enjoy the beauty that is now Disney Springs.  Spending some time at Disney Springs is a good way to get that Disney magic without a park ticket.

Photo Credit: Disney

Go Golfing

For a more active option, consider golfing at one of Disney’s outstanding courses.  There are four golf courses throughout Disney property providing pro-level experiences.  You can choose to visit Disney’s Palm Golf Course, Disney’s Magnolia Golf Course, Disney’s Lake Buena Vista Golf Course, or Disney’s Oak Trail Golf Course.  You will want to book tee times ahead of arrival to make sure you are able to get in. 

Not a pro golfer?  Consider visiting one of Disney’s mini-golf courses with the whole family.  Fantasia Gardens and Fairways Miniature Golf as well as Winter Summerland Miniature Golf both offer fun, family friendly options.  These are first come, first serve tee-times.

Resort Hop

Another fun thing to do throughout Walt Disney World that doesn’t need a park ticket is visiting other resorts.  Think about exploring some different resorts by doing a monorail or skyliner crawl.  Hit up the different lounges or pool bars at the different resorts for some fun and a great way to experience what could be your next resort.  On the monorail, make sure to visit Enchanted Rose at Disney’s Grand Floridian, a Beauty and the Beast themed lounge.  At Disney’s Polynesian Resort there are a few great options to try.  Tambu Lounge and Trader Sam’s provide a fun, tropical experience.  


For a fun skyliner crawl, make sure to hit up Disney’s Riviera Resort and Disney’s Caribbean Resort.  Banana Cabana at Disney’s Caribbean has some great apps and drinks.  The skyliner can then get you to the Epcot area resorts such as Yacht and Beach Club as well as Boardwalk Inn.  Visiting all these different resorts is a fantastic way to see more of Disney and experience some of the magic of the resorts.

Schedule a Nice Meal

Meals are a big part of any Walt Disney World vacation.  For a special evening, think about scheduling a meal at one of the signature dining locations either at another resort or at Disney Springs.  At Disney’s Contemporary Resort, you can enjoy a meal at California Grill and then experience the fireworks.  Other outstanding dining options are Citricos and Narcoossee’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa.  As we mentioned before, at Disney’s Springs there are numerous options for a great meal.  Boathouse is fantastic as is Morimoto Asia or Wine Bar George.  After a long travel day, a nice meal out is a fantastic way to start your vacation.


Watch a Movie

On most evenings, guests can enjoy a Disney movie outside under the stars at their Disney resort.  Get into the Disney mode by enjoying a favorite Disney movie, at a Disney resort with some fun Disney snacks.  Check out what movies are showing during your stay by asking at the front desk.

These are just a few of the ways you can spend your first day at Walt Disney World without getting a park ticket.  Although it is super fun to head right into the parks, sometimes after traveling it is nice to have some time outside the park.  Visit the pool, have a nice meal and get familiar with the area before jumping into your touring plans.  We hope these ideas give you some options for when you arrive on your vacation.

About Jennifer Retzlaff

My name is Jennifer Retzlaff and I became a lifelong Disney fan during my first trip to Walt Disney World in 6th grade. From that moment, Disney became a big part of my life. I live in Iowa with my husband and two kids who are growing up too quickly for my liking. I started introducing my love for Disney early to my family with a Disney honeymoon and then trips when our youngest of 18 months. Since then, our family has been to Walt Disney World over five times and we continue to plan and dream for the next trip. I love the magic that Disney brings to people through the theme parks, cruises, adventures and movies they create. As a teacher, I try to bring that magic into my classroom to help kids believe that “If You Can Dream It, You Can Do It.” I recently reached a dream of mine as I joined Magic Vacation Planner as a personal travel advisor. With this team, I can now help others plan magical vacations. As a passionate writer, I also have my own blog at magicalvacationsbyjen which is also where you can follow me on instagram for trip reviews along with tips and tricks for your next magical vacation.