Keeping Fit While at Walt Disney World: 10 Things to Know

Credit: Disney

For many people, vacation is a time to relax, let loose, and indulge in rich meals and decadent desserts.   I’m usually one of those people.  I also know that for some people, the hard work of staying fit doesn’t get to stop while you’re on vacation.  I’ve been one of those people too, and I can tell you that it IS possible to keep up with your fitness while visiting Disney.  Whether you’re training for your first 5k or an Ironman, or half-way to your weight loss goal, there are plenty of ways to keep your focus on fitness while also enjoying your Disney vacation.


1. Just “doing Disney” is a great start.

If you plan to spend most of your days in the theme parks, you can count on walking 20,000 or more steps in the day.  For those not fluent in step counts, that’s 10 miles or more.    That’s just doing all the stuff you would normally do in a day at the parks!  If you want to add more, there are many opportunities to forgo transportation to walk more.  Skip the tram from the parking lot, try walking from EPCOT to Hollywood Studios, and take in the Jungle Trek and Gorilla Falls walks at Animal Kingdom for bonus steps.

2. If walking isn’t good enough, there are plenty of running paths!

I’ve always loved running while on vacation because it’s such a cool way to explore the area, and I’ve done some really fun runs at Disney World.  If you’re staying at a Disney resort, you’ll find a convenient jogging trail or path nearby and plenty to see.  While they all offer safe and entertaining runs, a few really stand out and keep you right in the Disney magic.  The Contemporary has a path that’s just under a mile, and the one-mile long path between Disney’s Grand Floridian and Polynesian Resorts offers views of the Magic Kingdom across the Seven Seas Lagoon.  It’s super fun to run the loop around Crescent Lake that connects Disney’s Yacht Club, Beach Club, and Boardwalk resorts; head off in one direction and you’ll find the back entrance to EPCOT, head in the other and you can choose from 2, 3, and 4-mile routes around Disney property.  If the natural environment is more of your thing, check out the trails at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campground and Wilderness Lodge.  And if you are staying at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa or one of the Disney Springs hotels, your morning run can easily take you to explore Disney Springs as it is just waking up.

3. Why train when you can race?

Sure, you can keep up your training while at Disney.  But why not plan your trip around your big race itself?  With four big race weekends throughout the year, RunDisney events have become the favorite races of many runners.  Choose from the Marathon weekend in January, the Disney Princess Half-Marathon weekend in February, Star Wars Rival Run weekend in April, or the Wine and Dine weekend in November.  While the showcase events are full or half-marathons, 5ks and 10ks are available during all of the weekends as well.  You can even push yourself by signing up for one of the Challenges, where you complete multiple races in the same weekend!!


4. Hit the pool early for some laps.

If swimming is your fitness mode of choice, you can make it work at Disney with some planning and flexibility. Your best bet for laps on Disney property is Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort. While it doesn’t have “lap pool” per se, the large pool does have a 25 yd straight away.  Show up first thing in the morning and you should be able to make the pool your own.  While other pools at Disney won’t offer the same length laps you’re used to, you can make them work if you need to.   You can often find a “quiet pool” that’s empty so even though you’re turning every 15 yards, at least you won’t have to dodge around people!  There are also some pools in Orlando that offer day passes, so if you have a car it might be worth a quick google search!

5. Gym rat? No problem!

Well…as long as you’re staying at a resort that has a fitness center, or are willing to spend a little extra time and money.  Most of Disney’s deluxe resorts, and a few of the others, have fitness centers (and spas!) that guests staying at the resort can use any time during their stay.  If you’re staying at a resort that doesn’t have a gym, find the closest resort that does and look into the prices for a day or length-of-stay pass.  Better yet, schedule a spa service and get access to the gym along with the pampering you deserve while on vacation!   Of course you could always look for a standard hotel off-property that has a typical hotel fitness room if you’re looking for a more affordable option!

6. Use an app.

If running, swimming and the fitness center aren’t your thing, search for an app that will allow you to bring a fitness coach on vacation with you!  There are apps for all types of exercise these days, from yoga/pilates/barre classes to high intensity and cross-fit type workouts.  All you need is your phone and your hotel room or some outside space, and you can plan your workout in whenever you have time.

7. Drink water.

Whether you are a fitness guru or just trying to shed a few pounds, you probably know that proper hydration is a key to your success.  This doesn’t go away while you are on vacation at Disney.  In fact, the need for water becomes even more important, especially if you’re keeping up with your workout routine on top of all the walking in the heat!  Start your day with lots of water at the resort, bring large refillable water bottles to the parks, and refill whenever you see a water fountain.  Don’t wait for the bottle to be empty, or your likely to need to go out of your way to fill up.  Opt for water over coffee, soda, and other sugary or caffeinated beverages at meals, and try to reduce your time in the sun on hot days.  Staying properly hydrated will help you keep up the quality of your workouts AND the quality of your vacation!  

8. Bring your own snacks.

Notice I didn’t say don’t eat Disney snacks.  I mean, what’s a visit to Disney without a Mickey ice cream bar, a turkey leg, or a Dole Whip?  But if you bring your own snacks you will definitely save on money and calories, and you can be more intentional about which Disney snacks you want to enjoy instead of grabbing the closest thing when your mid-morning hunger attack hits.   Some of my favorite snacks to bring to the parks are apples, Larabars (or your bar of choice), and zip lock baggies of nuts or trail mix.

9. Look closely at the menu, and ask for the chef if needed.

While you’re probably keeping up a pretty good calorie burn by following some of the above recommendations, you still might want to be careful about your meal choices at restaurants.  Hidden calories abound at restaurants, and Disney is no exception.  If you put some time into reading the menu though, you can find healthy options at most Disney restaurants.  Look at the kids menu for Disney Check meals, which are designed to meet nutritional guidelines for little ones, and see if something similar is on the adult menu.  If you’re Paleo, Whole30, etc. you might want to start by looking at an allergen menu to see which meals are recommended for Gluten Free and Dairy Free diets.  When in doubt, let your server know what you’re looking for or ask to speak with the chef.  They can usually find a way to accommodate your needs!

10. Relax!!!!

Seriously! A stressed body is not a healthy body, and if all the logistics of trying to find a way to keep up your fitness routine and find the healthiest food options while also trying to be present with your family or friends is too stressful, your hard work will backfire!  Remember that rest days are ok, that just the walking you are doing is keeping your muscles and metabolism working, and you are on vacation after all!  I even read an article recently that said that a hot bath is helpful for weight loss, so feel free to run a bubble bath in your room or visit the hot tub and call it a day.

About Katie D

I grew up in New Jersey in a family where the word “vacation” was synonymous with “Disney World.” After a few years of visiting regularly, my family became Disney Vacation Club members which meant we visited even more! Going to Disney always felt kind of like going home, and some of my best childhood and teenage memories occurred there. Now that I live in Jacksonville, FL I am excited to be a short drive from this magical place and look forward to making new memories for years to come.