The Walt Disney World resort in Orlando Florida, visited by over 50 million people each year, truly is the ultimate family vacation destination. With 4 theme parks, 2 water parks, twenty-seven Disney themed resorts and tons of other activities on offer, you can easily spend weeks at the resort without even scratching the surface of things to do. Whilst the four theme parks provide plenty of enjoyment there is so much to explore outside the parks that you really shouldn’t miss, so to help you out here are our “Top Five things to do at Walt Disney World that don’t require a theme park ticket”.
Number Five – Sports
No matter your level of sporting prowess Disney World has something for you. Golf has been a mainstay at the resort since opening day in 1971 with the Magnolia golf course opening at the same time as the Magic Kingdom since then this course has been joined by 3 other courses and recently even a footgolf course has opened up at Disney’s Oak Trail. But maybe regular golf is just too big for you, so why not try out the four spectacularly themed miniature golf courses on property including Winter Summerland where it’s two 18 hole courses let you explore the life of Santa both during Christmas and on his well deserved holiday afterwards or if classic Disney movies are more your calling, head on over to Fantasia Gardens which includes an 18 hole course featuring all your favourite moments from the movie Fantasia as well as the adjacent 18 hole “fairway” course that is meant to replicate a real golf course on a miniature scale, though be warned this is the hardest miniature golf course I’ve ever played on.
For a lot of people golf of any size really isn’t their thing, luckily Disney World has a ton of other sports on offer around the resort as well including courts for Basketball and Beach volleyball scattered around the hotels and also gives you the opportunity to indulge in a bit of horse riding at Fort Wilderness or even relax with some fishing on one of the many bodies of water around the resort. If you are really looking for a sport that all family members can enjoy together though look no further than Splitsville at Disney Springs featuring two stories of Ten-pin bowling action and partnering that with some great food and live music.
Number Four – Transport
Whilst buses and cars are the most popular transport on Walt Disney World property, they certainly aren’t the most fun. If you are looking for that classic Disney transport option you can’t go past the monorail, which will not only take you right outside the Magic Kingdom with a beautiful view of Cinderella Castle and if you jump across to the Epcot line it will also take you right inside the park and around Future World. The truly leisurely option to see the World through transport though is one the many boats on offer, you can get a multitude of boats over the gorgeous bay lake that will take you to any of the Magic Kingdom hotels or jump on a Friendship boat to take you from Epcot to Hollywood Studios and everywhere in between and the best thing about all these transport options is that they are completely free.
Number Three – Resort Hopping
No matter where you stay at Disney World, nothing is stopping you from exploring all the other hotels on property, simply head to a theme park and jump on the bus to whichever resort you choose. Each one has a distinct theme offering different dining, shopping and entertainment options. Some of the top resorts to explore include Fort Wilderness resort and campground which includes a free nightly Campfire sing-along with Chip and Dale followed by a movie under the stars and is one of the few places on property you can meet Disney characters for free. Whilst you’re around the Magic Kingdom resort area make sure you check out the nightly “Happily Ever After’ fireworks display from either the beaches at The Grand Floridian or Polynesian resort (Or my personal favourite) from the balcony of the Contemporary Resort with a beautiful overview of the entire park.
If you can only make it to one hotel apart from your own, my suggestion would be the Boardwalk. This 1900’s Atlantic City themed resort offers something for everyone, throughout the night make sure to catch the various street performers and play some of the carnival games around. Also if you are looking for the best way to get around the Boardwalk why not hire out a four-seater Surrey bike and see everything the Epcot resort area has to offer and if nightlife is more your style then maybe the Atlantic Dance Hall or Jellyrolls duelling piano bar is right up your alley.
These are just the beginning of all the hotel offerings at Disney World and with no cost to get between resorts, there’s no reason not to resort hop on your next Vacation. Whilst exploring all the spectacular resorts why not indulge in our next thing to do!
Number Two – Dining
Eating around the Disney World isn’t just something that can be done at Epcot, there are so many restaurants on property to keep even the pickiest of eaters happy. If you’re looking for something with that added Disney touch make sure you check out the character dining locations available outside of the parks such as Chef Mickey’s at the Contemporary Resort, 1900 Park Fare at the Grand Floridian and the perennial guest favourite Ohana for breakfast at The Polynesian!
My number one choice for dining though has to be a dinner and a show that’s offered by any the three Dinner Theatre shows on property. You can Dance with Mickey and friends whilst indulging in a BBQ buffet at Mickey’s Backyard BBQ, or why not get a taste of the Polynesian at the Spirit Of Aloha dinner show, though my personal favourite has to be the foot-stomping, hand-clapping Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue featuring all the Ribs and Fried chicken you can eat!
If you’re not in the mood for a full meal there’s plenty of snacks, desserts and bars to be found. For the ultimate dessert option for you and a group of friends you can’t go past the Kitchen Sink Sundae at Beaches and Cream Soda Shop at the Beach Club Resort, this includes scoops of every ice cream flavour available, brownies, bananas and an entire can of whipped cream! For the ultimate place on property to have a few cheeky adult beverages you can’t look past Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto, an immersively themed Tiki Bar that offers special surprises for every drink that’s ordered which come in some crazily collectable souvenir mugs!
Number One – Disney Springs
The ultimate variety day out that doesn’t require a park ticket is Disney Springs, truly offering something for everyone in the family at any budget. You could easily take multiple trips throughout your stay at the Walt Disney World resort and still not see everything on offer. Disney Springs features some unforgettable dining opportunities no matter your interests, step back in time and eat with the dinosaurs at T-Rex cafe, or dine on the water at The Boathouse, which is also the only place in the world you can take a ride on a vintage Amphicar.
Make sure you don’t miss all the unique shopping experiences such as the Family Favourite Lego store where you can marvel at all the characters on Display as well as play with some Lego yourself. You can also find here the World’s Largest Disney Store here at World Of Disney, the perfect place to sort out your souvenir shopping for the whole family, without having it eat into valuable hours on your park days. Also if you were looking to add that perfect piece of Disney artwork to your house look no further than the Art Of Disney store, a store that makes my wallet shed a little tear everytime I walk in.
There is always something to do at Disney Springs especially at night where it truly comes alive with free Entertainment that allows you to dance the night away. And speaking of free things to do make sure you drop by the Ghirardelli store to drool over all the chocolate for purchase whilst enjoying a free square just for dropping in.
These activities just scratch the surface of all the amazing things on offer at the Walt Disney World resort. Whilst the four amazing Disney Theme Parks should be a major part of your trip don’t think there isn’t plenty more to do in order to truly give yourself the greatest family vacation ever.