Top 10 Things to Do at Disney World Without a Park Ticket
With Magic Kingdom ranked the most popular theme park in the world and the rest of the Disney theme parks in the top 10, you can’t go wrong with a Disney vacation! While many of us travel to Disney World for these incredible theme parks, there might be days we get to spend in beautiful Orlando when we want to explore what other Disney magic there is outside of the theme parks. Here’s a list of other amazing attractions you won’t want to miss if you’re in Disney World without a park ticket!
10. Play mini golf – there are two mini golf courses on Disney property: Fantasia Gardens and Fairways and Winter Summerland. Both courses are a fun way to spend an afternoon outside of a Disney park!
9. Go bowling – this is an especially good idea for rainy days in Orlando. Splitsville Luxury Lanes is in Disney Springs and has great food – they’re known for their burgers and pizza. And they have a pretty great draft beer menu for adults 21 and older!
8. Check out Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground – here you can book archery lessons or horse-drawn carriage rides, rent kayaks or canoes, visit with the horses that can be seen in Magic Kingdom, or go on pony or wagon rides. This is also the location of the Mickey’s Backyard BBQ and Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue dinner shows!
7. Relax at the spa – there are a handful of spas at Disney World, but the most well-known is Senses at the Grand Floridian. My suggestion – have a leisurely breakfast at the Grand Floridian Café followed by a spa appointment. Then spend the afternoon at your resort pool or exploring Disney Springs (see below!).
6. Explore Disney’s BoardWalk – This area surrounds the Yacht and Beach Club Resorts and BoardWalk Inn. There are a handful of shops and restaurants here, accompanied by evening street entertainment. You can rent Surrey bikes and explore or take an evening stroll with a beautiful view.
5. Resort hop – If you’ve never been to a Disney World resort, you may wonder why this is on the list. Don’t wonder. Just go visit one (or a few!). The details captured in each resort’s theme are incredible. You’ll enjoy walking around and just taking in the sites! The best way to do this is a “monorail hop” – take a stop at each of the resorts on along the monorail (Grand Floridian, Polynesian, and Contemporary) for easy transportation and try a drink or snack at each one! Some resorts also do tours – check with a resort front desk to see when and if these are offered.
4. Take in everything that is Disney Springs – Disney Springs has exploded with new shops, restaurants, and experiences over the last few years. As far as shopping is concerned, it has everything from Disney shops to high-end shops. I can’t even begin to name all of the delicious places to eat and drink (but the Ghirardelli chocolate shop, Art Smith’s Homecoming, and Jock Lindsay’s Hangar Bar definitely come to mind). There are experiences like Flights of Wonder and the Boathouse water taxis, and even street entertainment as you explore. Disney Springs is an attraction all on its own!
3. Take advantage of your resort – If you’re staying at a Disney resort, take advantage of exploring what it has to offer. There are many excellent pools, restaurants, lounges, and recreational areas at each hotel. One of my favorite recreation activities is sand volleyball at Coronado Springs. The resorts also have special events – ask the front desk at your resort what activities are going on while you’re there. For example, many resorts show Disney movies outside on select evenings at no cost or have times scheduled for arts and crafts.
2. Have a unique dining experience – There are lots of restaurants outside of the parks, including character dining. Some of the most unique and highly praised include Ohana at the Polynesian resort, The Boathouse at Disney Springs, and Trattoria al Forno at Disney’s BoardWalk. Ohana’s breakfast is with Lilo and Stitch and dinner includes storytelling and family games. The Boathouse at Disney Springs is known for it’s uniquely delicious seafood dishes, Baked Alaska dessert, and water taxis for rent before or after your meal. Trattoria al Forno at Disney’s BoardWalk features a breakfast that’s hosted by Rapunzel and Flynn as well as Ariel and Prince Eric! Advanced reservations are highly recommended and can be made up to 180 days in advance, which is something your Disney travel agent can help you do.
1.Catch evening fireworks – there are a few awesome ways to do this, but here are my favorite two: 1) get a dinner reservation to California Grill at the top of Disney’s Contemporary Resort. After dinner, walk out onto an observation deck and you have a beautiful, birds-eye view of the Magic Kingdom fireworks! The observation deck even plays the same music that is heard within the park, so you don’t miss any of the magic! 2) Head to the Polynesian Resort, grab a Dole Whip at Pineapple Lanai, and have a seat on the beach area by the lake. This is a different – but also magical – view of the Magic Kingdom fireworks!
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