10 Things to Do Outside of the Disney Theme Parks
A day at a Disney is full of stimulation, artistry and of course the most essential ingredient, fun. Whether one is searching for Dole Whips, attending the Jedi Training Academy or just enjoying all the spectacular rides; sometimes stepping away is an ideal approach to re-energize. Fifteen-hour days can easily become exhausting, especially if one does two parks back to back. As a child, on occasion my family and myself would do this; for instance we may visit Magic Kingdom, followed by Hollywood Studios the next day. Two words, chaotic weekends. Even though a person is gorged with an entertaining day, relaxation is still key, yes even on vacation. Vacations are meant to clear your mind, and most importantly be fun, but how is that possible if you stress yourself out trying to do too much? That does not sound enjoyable to me.
There is a misconception by some that outside of going to theme parks there is little to do at Disney, which is just not the case. Disney has a vast amount of activities one can indulge in or places to visit that does not require a park visit, but can still be fun and relaxing.
What Can I do?
Swim At Your Resort Pool:
Hotels are beautiful. One of my favorite components of vacations is exploring the hotels, especially Disney’s. Like the themes parks, there are numerous places to visit at the resort, but the swimming pool tends to be the first place that catches my eye, and is usually the best. Florida and California are beautiful states that for most of the year have tropical climates, which make taking relaxing dips in the water all the more fun. At the pool, the guests can enjoy cool beverages (soda, juices water, alcoholic or non alcoholic), as well sunbathe on lounge chairs, sleep, read or whatever brings them serenity. Sometimes there may even be a lively and energetic pool party. The pool area is fun and a relaxing place to be.
Movie Under the Stars
As a long time Disney fan, I spend hours watching my favorite Disney films, and for a short time it is easy to become lost in the Disney magic of their motion pictures. Because of this, Movie Under The Stars is one of the best activities offered at their hotels. If the weather is reasonable, every night the Disney resorts will show a classic Disney film under the stars for free on the pool deck with seating provided by the hotel. Guests are encouraged to travel to any location that offers the films, depending on what is showing. Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campground and Resort is easily the favorite for this activity because guests sing-along with Chip-n-Dale, make delicious S’mores while watching the movie and relaxing. How fun is that!
Shop, Eat and Fun Rides At Disney Springs
For decades Downtown Disney was always one of the favorite spots to visit when vacationing, but recently with the new construction and a new name; the now Disney Springs is even more sought out and has a variety of options one can enjoy. These options include many fun and classic restaurants such as The Rainforest Café, T-Rex Café and Planet Hollywood. In Disney Springs there is also a numerous amount of shops for everyone to enjoy. Some of these shops include fan favorites such as, World of Disney, Once Upon A Toy, The Marketplace Co-op and other popular name brands but are not Disney related.
Rides are favored at Disney Springs as well. Characters in Flight is a must do ride if you visit. In this ride, guests will soar 400 feet into the air in the world’s largest tethered helium balloon (pretty cool right?), giving passengers a view of the Disney Springs areas. There is also a fun boat ride one can partake on. Guests can take a twenty-minute tour of the area in one of the amphicars in the water. They are also able to board a ferryboat in Disney Springs and be transported to select resorts. Even though there is a lot to do at Disney Springs, it is still relaxing and not too overwhelming.
Visit Disney Quest
Growing up, arcades were a part of me, in fact even now as an adult; on numerous occasions I have spent my birthday at Dave and Busters, which is why for this reason Disney Quest was an ideal place for video game lovers to visit. For those who do not know, Disney Quest was a five story indoor interactive theme park that closed in July of 2017. I know Disney Quest is gone now, but I had to include it. Disney Quest had vintage games and virtual reality rides. Remember Pac Man? Yep, they had it! My favorite had to be
Buzz Lightyear’s Astroblasters, where you can play bumper cars while blasting asteroids at the other guests. So much fun! Who needs theme park rides when you have this? This was an ideal place to visit when the weather was not cooperating, especially in Florida summer weather, which can be inconsistent. It is also relaxing and once again for a few hours you become lost in the world of video games.
Pamper Yourself (SPA Time)
As much as Disney allows people to escape into another world, so many times we focus on marking off a list on what to do next. It is difficult to not fill up your vacation days with a hectic schedule, because who knows when we will be able to return, however, it is important to allow yourself a detox and recharge, which is why a SPA day is perfect. Yes fellows, you can enjoy it too. Guest can pamper themselves in Disney’s SPA at Sense’s which is located in Saratoga Springs and the Grand Floridian. This Spa offers many traditional and unique treatments to help a person feel relaxed. I love pedicures, facials and even massages. For an hour or two I loose myself in those treatments. Need I say more?
Take A Ride (Carriage or Surrey Bike?)
There are some days when we just don’t feel like walking (especially after spending the previous day on our feet at Disney), which is why a bike rental or carriage ride is a great substitute. Sit back and relax! In this ride, you will cruise along the banks of the Sassagoula River, pedal down the promenade by Barefoot Bay, or wheel around a woodland trail. These surrey bike rides are available at The Boardwalk, Caribbean Beach, Old Key West, and Port Orleans-Riverside. Some people do not enjoy bikes; therefore another ride that can be enjoyable is the horse drawn carriage. No, it is not just for couples. This is a twenty-five-minute ride that takes you through Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground. This ride is available at Fort Wilderness and Port Orleans Riverside Resorts. Regardless of what ride you choose (maybe both), it is relaxing to be off your feet sometimes.
Visit Disney Boardwalk
Even if you don’t visit a park during the day, once it closes there is still some fun that can take place, and I would highly recommend finding your way to The Boardwalk. The Boardwalk is located at Disney’s Boardwalk Inn Resort and is open to all guests. There are a variety of shops, food choice (quick-service, table service, kiosks, & Boardwalk Bakery) to enjoy. Sometimes live entertainment is there as well, which always hype’s up my mood, after all who wouldn’t want to partake in a night of fun? For a mature crowd of twenty-one and older, there is also a multitude of alcoholic beverages. Did someone say margarita and tequila? If that isn’t a definition of relaxation, I don’t know what is.
Cirque du Soleli
As a person who grew up around the stage, I have always been enthralled through performance art; whether it is theater, comedies, magic shows or even circus productions. Cirque du Soleli is a contempary performance featuring acrobats, gymnasts, trapeze artist and other skilled performers. Instead of spending the day in lines at Disney, Cirque due Soleli is a substantial replacement that can be just as entertaining. This show is very alluring and full of individuals with amazing talent. There are a variety of different foods and beverages to enjoy, while watching the show. For an hour an half, you’re mind escapes into the world of La Nouba, so relaxing, intriguing and fun. For nineteen years: it captivated the hearts of many but on December 31, 2017, Cirque du Solei: La Nouba took it’s final bow. Soleil Entertainment Group and Walt Disney Parks and Resorts are currently in the process of developing a new Cirque due Solei show at Disney Springs, so stay tuned!
Water Activities At The Contemporary Resort
Water parks are popular among Florida residents, especially during summer, however if one wants to avoid theme park traffic, and long lines, water fun at Disney’s Contempary Resort is a proficient substitute. At the resort, the marina offers numerous water activities, which include; parasailing, jet skiing, water skiing, wake boarding and tubing. All of which I have done and so much fun. These activities can also be accommodating in keeping guests chilled during hot days. The Contemporary Resort can keep guest occupied with these activities for an extended period, even throughout the entire day if they chose to. All of these activities are high energy, but can still be relaxing, especially if you have grown up around the water as I have. This is easily a day full of fun, and a theme park ticket was unnecessary.
Bowling At Splitsville
Bowling can be argued as one of America’s favorite pastime activities. I have always enjoyed it, and too much surprise I am fairly decent at it. Can anyone say strike? At Disney Springs there is a two floor- bowling alley by the name of Splitsville. This bowling alley includes food and live music that is open until 1 am. Splitsville’s environment is energetic and lively, reminding many why they are on vacation. The fun does not stop when the sun sets. This is an impeccable place for family, couples, or even just a group of friends to enjoy bowling on a compromising weather day, or after a tiring day at the park. Like I said previously, detox and relaxation are essential, and this place has all those components.
At Disney resorts, and Disney Springs there is a large variety of different theme bars for their older guests. Some fan favorite bars include; The Dueling Pianos, Trader Sam’s, Abracada Bar, Tune-In Lounge and La Cava del Tequila. It is always fun to try drinks and feel out the bar before venturing to another.
Lively music, fellowship with friends or family is a special way to end the day; whether one went to a park or chose to use their time differently. Bar hopping can sometimes get dangerous for obvious reasons, but luckily Disney’s shuttle runs until 2 am, therefore guests do not have to stress over finding a way back to their hotel, but instead just enjoy the night out. Detoxing with margaritas, tequilas or even beer is by definition what relaxation should be on vacation, am I right?
You see, aside from theme parks, there is so much more to do at Disney, why limit yourself to just the parks.
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Special thanks to Lindsey Johnson for writing this article: Passionate, Creative, and Fantasy; these are three perfect words to describe the essence of why I love Disney. Disney allows me to escape my reality, and enter into different worlds through artistic stories beyond my wildest imagination.