Here are 10 Non-Park Day Activities you should work into your next Walt Disney World Vacation!
Walt Disney World is 27,000 acres or 40 square miles. This is the same size as San Francisco, or TWO Manhattan Islands, for perspective. In other words: Walt Disney World is BIG. There are TONS of things to see and do other than theme parks (of which there are four). How do you know what to do? You get a travel agent (aka ME) and talk about Non-Park Day Activities! Here are ten Non-Park Day Activities to think about for your next Walt Disney World Vacation!
Enjoy Your Resort
It’s easy to fall into the line of thinking that “I paid too much money to just sit in a hotel,” but when you go to Walt Disney World, half of your trip OR MORE is just paying for that hotel! ENJOY IT! Every single resort has at least one place to eat, and all resorts outside of the Value Category offer at least one Quick Service Restaurant and at least one Table Service Restaurant. It is not inconceivable to plan an entire day of activities JUST at your hotel.
Explore the pools! Yes, plural. There are multiple pools at each resort, and some of them are pretty awesome, with waterslides and even water playgrounds. You will also find an arcade in every resort, too. Need more? You can watch “Movies Under the Stars” on the lawns and, if you pick the right resort, catch the nightly fireworks at one of the parks WHILE you’re watching the movie! Check the lobby every day to get the list of daily activities offered at your hotel, and pricing, if necessary. And when in doubt, grab a nap! Remember, you’ll be walking 8-12 miles PER DAY. Your body, and your kids, will thank you!
Tour the Skyliner Resorts/Do the Skyliner Bar Crawl
Yep: Bar Crawl. There are 4 hotels with Skyliner stops, so it has become “a thing” to Skyliner Resort-Hop. There are several ways to do this, even combining EPCOT and Hollywood Studios stops, with Art of Animation, Pop Century, Caribbean Beach, and the Riviera. You could simply look around the resorts, do the Bar Crawl, or, even more intriguing, do a DESSERT crawl!
Tour the Monorail Resorts/Do the Monorail Bar Crawl
The Monorail Resorts are absolutely iconic. Even if you’ve never been to Disney World, you’ve probably at least heard the names. The Contemporary, the Polynesian, and the Grand Floridian are the massive, and pricy, resorts that surround the Magic Kingdom and Seven Seas Lagoon. Even if you can’t afford to stay there, they’re worth a visit, especially at Christmas time! You could plan a bar crawl, stopping at such amazing Lounges as Steakhouse 71, Trader Sam’s, and Enchanted Rose. Maybe you like to eat? Well, from California Grille, to Kona Cafe, to Narcoossee’s, you will not be disappointed with food options at any of these resorts!
Looking for an out-of-the-box arrival day activity? Did you know that you can watch the Magic Kingdom fireworks from ALL of the Magic Kingdom area resorts? Whether you choose the observation deck at the Contemporary, or the beach at the Poly, or luck into an amazing dinner seat at Narcoosee’s, enjoy the fireworks without the massive crowds. You can also take in the Electric Water Pageant, too! And there’s plenty of shopping at these massive hotels. Plenty of Non-Park Day Activities for all!
Visit the Wilderness Lodge
I will not apologize for my unabashed devotion to the Wilderness Lodge. It is my absolute favorite and I’ve yet to find a place that I love as much as this. So NATURALLY I am going to advise you to take a visit to the Lodge! Themed after the Pacific Northwest, this place has all the charm of the US National Parks, including a Geyser that does shoot water into the air on the regular! The food options here are PLENTIFUL. Starting outside with Geyser Point, this “lounge” offers amazing food and drink options in a bar setting, though technically a quick service restaurant. It’s worth the trip just to eat the Bison Burger. If you’re looking for another great lounge, head inside for the Territory Lounge!
Head inside for two amazing table service options! First, if you’re into all-you-care-to-enjoy food and a fun atmosphere, Whispering Canyon Cafe is the place for you! Looking for an upscale, unique character dining experience? Try Storybook Dining at Artist Point, where you will dine with Snow White, Grumpy, Dopey, and the Evil Queen!
Take the time to enjoy the GORGEOUS lobby. And see if you can find some of the secret, private lounging areas. And no, I won’t just tell you because I enjoy my privacy! Now, I’m going to tell you ONE semi-secret location. If you head out to the Boulder Ridge DVC Villas, and walk into the main building, you will find the Carolwood Pacific Room. Not only is this an amazing place to chill out and relax, it also has some of Walt Disney’s Trains. You simply MUST see this room! To read more about the Wilderness Lodge, click here!
Visit Fort Wilderness
No, Wilderness Lodge and Fort Wilderness are NOT the same place. Fort Wilderness is a campground with tent and RV sites, plus cabins. Wilderness Lodge is a fancy hotel themed to the Wilderness. Having said that, Fort Wilderness is a vacation in and of itself! This resort by far has the most to offer its guests!
Let’s start with dining. If you’re after a dining event, look no further than the Hoop Dee Doo Revue! Returning in June 2022, this is one of the oldest dinner shows in the country! It’s menu includes all-you-care-to-enjoy chicken and ribs and more delicious “cookout” foods, INCLUDING STRAW! BERRY! SHORT! CAKE! It’s fun for kids and kids at heart! You may, instead, want something slightly less high maintenance, so head next door to dine at Trail’s End! There is also a quick service location and a “take out” restaurant, as well as a general goods store that sells kitchen necessities for the kitchens located in the cabins, or for those that are camping. You can even grab a moonshine cocktail at Crockett’s Lounge!
For a more in-depth look at the activities at the Fort, I will do a more thorough review later, but for now, some activities available include: archery, horseback riding, pony rides, fishing, bike rentals, jogging trails, canoe and kayak rentals, basketball and volleyball courts, segway tours, and more! And you can even see the Magic Kingdom fireworks and the Electric Water Pageant!
Visit the Boardwalk Area
Let’s next head over to the Boardwalk area! This is another resort-area that has a lot to offer guests that are NOT necessarily staying at these resorts. Between the Boardwalk Bakery and the pretzel cart, the pizza window to the Margarita stand, there are plenty of awesome food and beverage options! Rent a Surrey Bike (also at a discount with your Magical Extras on your vacation package – talk to me, your travel agent, for more details!) and take the scenic view of the Boardwalk! Or maybe you want to see the Harmonious fireworks while having an ice cream treat from Beaches and Cream on the Beach at Beach and Yacht Club.
For adult fun, you can visit AbracadaBar or Jellyrolls. Stay tuned for more Boardwalk fun, too, as the Boardwalk gets a glow up!
Visit the Animal Kingdom Lodge
Yet ANOTHER amazing resort to visit on a non-park day: Animal Kingdom Lodge. In this instance, you can just sit in a rocking chair and watch giraffes walk by. Evidently, this is a rare thing? But that’s not all! Animal Kingdom lodge also offers some unique dining opportunities. When you visit the Lodge, plan to eat at either Jiko, Boma, or Sanaa. Here, you can enjoy African-inspired cuisine in a beautiful setting. Then, head out to watch the animals roam the savannah! You can also use night vision goggles to watch the animals at night!
Head to Disney Springs! Shopping, Eating, and MORE!
Disney Springs has a TON to offer, I just wish it wasn’t so far away. Here, you can eat an amazing meal at places like The Edison, the BOATHOUSE, Raglan Road, and more! The food options are vast and plentiful! My favorite? The BOATHOUSE! For those that don’t want an expensive sit-down meal, you could go to Chicken Guy, Polite Pig, D-Luxe Burger, and more!
If you’re looking for unique ways to see Disney Springs, consider a ride in an Amphicar or the Aerophile! In both instances, you can receive discounts, too! Also available, catch “Drawn to Life,” an all new Cirque du Soleil show.
Additionally, you can get all (or most) of your shopping done in one convenient place! Visit the LEGO Store, World of Disney, Marketplace Co-Op, Uniqlo, Vera Bradley, and so much more, and feed your inner shop-a-holic!
If you’re looking to satisfy your sweet tooth, Disney Springs, again, has you covered! Grab a cupcake from the cupcake ATM at Sprinkles! Likewise, visitors with food allergies can visit Erin McKenna’s Bakery NYC for all their gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free, vegan, kosher baked goods. You could also head to Everglazed for some delectable donuts, or Gideon’s Bakehouse for half-pound cookies! Need something cold? Head to Marketplace Snacks for Dole Whip Nachos! And back from hiatus, you can ALSO Create Your OWN Treat at Goofy’s Candy Company!
Disney Springs also has bowling! Head to Splittsville, where you can bowl and dine as a family. Also, this is one of the discounts available in your Magical Extras! To see more about Disney Springs, visit here!
Waterparks and Sports
In addition to more than 25 hotels and 4 theme parks, Walt Disney World also has 2 water parks. In order to access these, you will need a ticket, which is sold as a day pass, part of the water parks and sports ticket option, or park hopper plus ticket option. There are also 2 miniature golf courses, PGA-level golf courses, and Foot Golf!
Book Character Dining or Fine Dining
Sometimes, you don’t want to give up your time for a character meal while in the parks, so what better way to get a taste of the parks by visiting a character meal at one of the Disney Resorts? All the fun, none of the heat! We recently did this very activity on our non-park day at DisneyLAND, and it was wonderful. We never felt rushed and DEFINITELY ate our money’s worth! Or maybe you want to have one night where you get all dressed up and go out for a fancy dinner. This activity is also perfect for non-park days!
What do you plan for your Non-Park Day Activities? Let me know in the comments! Are you ready to book your next Walt Disney World Vacation? Contact me today for your free vacation quote!