What to Do at Walt Disney World on a Half-Day
When you fly or drive into Walt Disney World, you’ll sometimes run into an interesting problem.
You’ll arrive too late to spend a full day at the parks. And this leads to a challenging question.
What can/should you do during a half-day at Walt Disney World?
A Calculated Park Approach
Your most logical approach involves a park visit. However, you should pay attention to a potential sticking point here.
The moment you pass through the entrance gate at a theme park, you’ve spent one of your valid admission dates on your tickets.
So, if you’ve bought a five-day ticket, you’re really only getting four and a half days…which is fine. I merely want you to be aware of it.
Frequent Disney guests can do more in a half-day than newbies can in two or three days.
Also, Disney incentivizes guests to buy extra admission days anyway. The difference in pricing means that you can affordably get more days.
Presuming you’re okay with that, you can do a lot at a park in a few hours. In fact, I rarely stay in the same park for more than four hours these days.
I can do whatever I want in a short window and then rest up for a while before doing something else.
My advice centers on your picking the rides that you love the most. Pick the one with the longest expected wait-time and save it for last.
Then, do as many of the others as you can. When you’re a few minutes away from closing, get in line for the last one.
Cast members will let you ride it as long as you were already in line when the park closed.
Here’s the other park approach you can take on most days.
I suspect that we’ll reach 300 days by the end of the decade, thereby honoring Walt Disney’s wish for a daily World’s Fair.
You should lean into this behavior by enjoying a more casual park visit on your half-day.
After all, you’ve either flown or driven all day. You’re tired and could really use a good time.
So, head to the World Showcase and visit one of the many food kiosks available. On a non-festival day, pick a lounge instead.
You can nurture a beverage and soak up the atmosphere within the Disney Bubble without going full bore.
I’ve known many people who enjoyed this flavor of the half-day visit so much that they made it a staple of each Disney vacation.
Spend the Day at the Hotel
The half-day discussion cuts two ways, and this strategy applies to each one.
Sometimes, you’ll arrive in Orlando in mid- to late-afternoon, leaving you little opportunity to reach your hotel and then swing back to the parks.
On other occasions, you’ll have a late flight on the final day of your trip. I recently experienced this scenario, and my plans changed after the fact.
I desperately wanted to Rope Drop at Walt Disney World on our final morning. However, the forecast called for heavy rain.
Our hotel checkout took place at an awkward time in that we couldn’t have changed clothes after a park visit.
We didn’t want to have wet clothes or – even worse – drenched socks when we went to the airport.
So, we improvised and bought breakfast at the hotel. Then, we sat on our hotel room deck and watched the rain fall on the trees outside our building.
That was legitimately one of the most magical moments I’ve had at Walt Disney World in years.
I pull up the video of it sometimes on my phone when I need some joy.
A Walt Disney World hotel works perfectly as a home base for your entire vacation. It also doubles as a fantastic way to pass a few hours.
You can shop at the various stores, where the lines are noticeably less crowded than at the parks.
You can also either snack or eat a meal or both. The food at Disney resorts rivals the quality of anything in the parks and often seems superior.
I’m slotting this in its own category because you can take multiple approaches, one of which doesn’t involve a resort.
Walt Disney World owns and (usually) operates two water parks, Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon and Disney’s Blizzard Beach.
You could swim at one of these parks without facing some of the hassles that come from a theme park.
Disney’s bus transportation system includes stops at both water parks. However, I should mention that only Blizzard Beach is open right now.
Of course, you’ll either need to purchase water park tickets or have them as part of your admission/annual pass.
Conversely, you can swim at your hotel for free. You can also pool hop to other locations, but that might prove too ambitious for a half-day.
As such, I’d recommend that you pack a swimsuit and plan on lounging in the sun. If you’re arriving late, a nighttime swim is pretty great, too.
Also, you should know that many Disney pools also have pool bars nearby. So, you can again order a cocktail and relax after a tiresome travel day.
Here’s a very specific suggestion. Many Disney admission tickets include a free round of miniature golf.
The Disney campus includes Disney’s Fantasia Gardens and Disney’s Winter Summerland, two miniature golf courses.
Both of them are terrific, and mini-golf is a time-proven form of family entertainment.
Here are our friends at Resort TV1 playing the Fantasia course:
And here are the Trackers at Winter Summerland:
By the way, you can combine two half-day distractions at Blizzard Beach. As the name suggests, Winter Summerland resides right by the water park.
Disney Springs Shopping
Here’s the most obvious non-theme park suggestion. When in doubt, go to Disney Springs!
You can do plenty of eating, drinking, and shopping here, more than enough than to make a morning/evening out of it.
However, you can also try some of the more ambitious options. Depending on when you visit, you could try your hand at bowling.
Later in the evening, you could visit Planet Hollywood or House of Blues, where you might find some live entertainment.
You could also hang out at a nightclub, The Edison, which offers some delicious cuisine too.
In fact, you could even catch a movie while you’re at Disney Springs.
The AMC DINE-IN 24 is legitimately one of the most luxurious movie theaters in the country. And you can have food brought to your chair!
Disney Springs even offers some more touristy options. You can ride an Aerophile Balloon into the sky over Disney Springs.
At The BOATHOUSE, you can ride an Amphicar around the lake. Both will provide unforgettable memories, making them ideal half-day activities.
Feature Image Rights: Disney