Sometimes you’re in Disney and you don’t have a park day planned – maybe it’s your arrival or departure day, or maybe you just scheduled in an easier rest day. What can you do if you’re not going into the parks? Aside from the water parks and shopping at Disney Springs, there are tons of things that Disney offers that you don’t need a park ticket for!
Disney Springs hot air balloon ride – If you’ve been to Disney Springs, chances are that you’ve seen the hot air balloon on the skyline. But if you’re looking for something a little bit different to do, consider actually going up in the balloon! It’s tethered to the ground so it doesn’t go anywhere, but it will take you up above Disney Springs and gives you a great view of the property. You can easily see the resorts in the area, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and of course Disney Springs.
La Nouba – Also in Disney Springs, you can actually see a Cirque du Soleil show. They have performances most evenings and tickets are recommended in advance.
Disney Quest – this was rumored to close for awhile, but for now it’s still here. Disney Quest is located in Disney Springs and it’s an interactive arcade. There is a separate entry fee but it’s not as bad as the parks. If you have kids (or a husband!) into video games they may really enjoy this.
AMC Dine-In Theater – Looking to get a little air conditioning? Disney Springs also has a movie theater so you can catch the latest Disney films (or any other movie currently out). Plus it’s a dine-in theater, so if you need a meal at the same time they’ll be happy to serve you!
Pub crawl around resorts (or cupcake crawl) – similar to drinking around the World, but you don’t have to be in the parks to do it. Most of the hotels have bars, many with interesting and unique drinks that are worth trying. Consider doing a monorail pub crawl, with stops at the Contemporary, Grand Floridian, and Polynesian. Or try the Boardwalk area, where there are a number of restaurants with bars.
Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto – This bar is so cool that it deserves its own mention. You can read more about it here, but Trader Sam’s is a unique tiki bar experience with delicious drinks and interactive elements!
Watch the animals at Animal Kingdom Lodge – You don’t have to be in the Animal Kingdom to see animals. Animal Kingdom Lodge is arguably one of my favorite resorts, because nothing beats seeing a giraffe or zebra outside the window of your hotel! There are viewing areas to watch the animals, and throughout the day they have activities for kids, many of which are educational. If you’re hungry I highly recommend eating lunch or dinner at Sanaa, where you can get good food as well as view of the animals while you eat.
Visit the Boardwalk – the Boardwalk is a fun and free place to visit, and is especially good at night. There are lots of restaurants if you’re looking for dinner, but there are some other fun things to do there too. On certain nights Atlantic Dance Hall is open with a DJ if you’re interested in dancing. But the real highlight of the Boardwalk is Jellyrolls, a dueling piano bar.
Chip and Dale’s campfire Singalong – Another free activity, head to Fort Wilderness for Chip and Dale’s campfire sing-along. You’ll get a fun atmosphere around the campfire, with the option to buy a s’mores making kit to roast over the fire. There’s usually a movie playing afterward, so if you want to stick around and watch that it’s also a free activity (like many of the resorts that show movies).
Carriage Ride at POR – Port Orleans Riverside is a beautiful hotel in the moderate price range. If you’re looking for a way to relax or you want to see all of the grounds, consider taking a horse drawn carriage ride. It’s a little expensive, but something different to do that you don’t need park admission for. Plus, it’s nice and romantic if you’re on a honeymoon or anniversary trip.
Visit the resorts just to see them – the resorts are really masterpieces themselves, and if you always stay at the same place, it might be fun to hop around and see some of the other offerings. A perfect excuse to visit a new resort is to make a dinner reservation there and enjoy some of the food offerings. Before or after eating you can stroll around, take photos, and marvel at the great job Disney has done with themeing. Some of my favorites to visit are Grand Floridian, Polynesian (though not right now during the construction!), Animal Kingdom Lodge, and Port Orleans. If you’re visiting during Christmas resort hopping is extra cool because you get to see all of the Christmas decorations!
Water sports – over at the Contemporary there are actually some water sports you can try, run through Sammy Duvall. Parasailing and hang gliding are very popular, and something fun to try!
Have you done any of these activities? What is your favorite thing to do outside of the Disney parks?