Top Ten Non-Park Activities at Disney World

Editor’s Note:  Today we have another blog from Debbie.  Contact Debbie with any questions or to book your Disney World vacation today at Debbie@travelonadream.com. 

“Help!  I’m in Disney World, and I’m bored.”  Yes, that is something I’ve said to myself on a Disney World vacation a few years back.  I was tired of doing the same theme-park stuff, and I felt like I was stuck in a rut.  I wanted something different to do beyond the theme parks, so I started investigating.  Here is my “top 10 non-theme-park Disney To Do” list:

1.  Spa services.  Most deluxe resorts, and Coronado Springs, have a spa.  While some are bigger than others (the spas at the Grand Floridian, Saratoga Springs, and the Walt Disney World Dolphin are the largest), they all offer traditional spa treatments.  So far, I’ve booked spa services at the Grand Floridian (massage), Saratoga Springs (manicure), and the Villas at the Wilderness Lodge (massage).  By far, my favorite was the Villas at the Wilderness Lodge.  Thankfully, two of these three treatments were gifts, but if you have extra money in your Disney budget, this is an amazing way to beat the theme park burnout.  I recommend getting a spa treatment mid-trip, so that you get the stresses of theme park touring massaged (or facialed or manicured or pedicured) out of your body, and you’re relaxed for the second half of your vacation.

2.  Sports activities.  Did you know that Disney has many championship golf courses on property?  In addition, there are two mini-golf courses on Disney property, for those of us that haven’t mastered the real green.  Golfing not your thing?  Good, me neither.  Disney offers fishing excursions from the marina at the Boardwalk, Caribbean Beach, Contemporary, Coronado Springs, Fort Wilderness, Grand Floridian, Old Key West, Polynesian, Port Orleans Riverside, Saratoga Springs, Wilderness Lodge, Yacht Club, and from Downtown Disney.  Phew, I’m tired just typing that list!  Note that all fishing excursions are strictly catch-and-release.  Fishing still not your thing?  Good, me neither.  If you’re a runner, plan your vacation around one of the many Disney marathons.  Or, if you enjoy biking, you can rent one of the bicycles (or surrey bikes) from just about any Disney resort.  This is my favorite sporting activity.  Two words of caution if you do choose to rent a (surrey) bike from a Disney resort: 1) Watch out for those hills; they’re not easy to pedal up! 2) Watch for people.  It’s easy to get distracted looking at your surroundings, and before you know it, there’s somebody in front of your bike.  Want to watch a sports game instead of participate in one?  Head to the ESPN Club on the Boardwalk.  It’s a full service restaurant and bar, so feel free to have a meal and a few drinks as you’re watching your favorite team.  Note: parking at the Boardwalk is available across the street from the main entrance to the resort.  Parking at the Boardwalk is for resort guests only; valet parking is available to everyone for a fee.

3. Water sports!  From any marina at Walt Disney World, you can rent a sea racer or pontoon boat on a half-hour or hour basis.  Note that in most cases, the driver of the boat must be at least 16 years old.  Parasailing and water skiing lessons are available out of the Contemporary; call for details on this:  407-939-0754.

4.  Want to go see a movie?  Don’t forget about the AMC movie theater in Downtown Disney!  Pretty soon, there will be bowling lanes built in Downtown Disney (scheduled to open next year).  Downtown Disney not your thing?  Check out the campfire, sing-along and movie at Fort Wilderness featuring Chip and Dale.  Times vary seasonally, so be sure to call for availability.  Each night, a different Disney movie is shown.

5.  Theme park tours.  Eeew, I wanted to get away from the theme parks for a while!  I know, I know, but hear me out on this one.  These tours show you a completely different side of the park.  Each tour has its own unique twist, and for several of the tours, you get to go backstage (behind-the-scenes) at the parks.  Pretty darn cool to see.  Each tour has its own age restrictions, so be sure to check those out.  My favorite is the Segway tour/Around the World At Epcot.  Ever see Disney Cast Members riding around on a two-wheeled device that looks like a scooter for adults?  You get to ride one of those throughout Epcot for 2 hours (less training/safety time).

6.  Want to go to a show?  Let’s not forget about La Nouba in Downtown Disney!  A Cirque du Soliel show, you definitely have to have an appreciation for this style of show in order to attend.  This show was created exclusively for Walt Disney World, so you will not see La Nouba performed anywhere else in the world.

7.  Like to swim?  Don’t forget about Disney’s two water parks, Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon!  An admission ticket is required for both water parks (note: your theme park tickets will NOT give you admission to the water parks; you have to have a separate water park admission ticket, which are $52.19 per adult, ages 10+ and $43.67 per child, ages 3-9.  Children under age 3 are admitted for free.).

8. Have a video game lover in your party?  Don’t forget about DisneyQuest in Downtown Disney!  This could easily be an all-day event if you’re an avid video game lover.  Ticket prices are $45.80 per adult (ages 10+) and $39.41 per child (ages 3-9).  Advance ticket purchases can be made through officialticketcenter.com and offer a savings over these prices.

9.  Looking for an activity that doesn’t cost money?  Go resort hopping.  Visit other Disney resorts.  While this doesn’t technically require money to do, be prepared to spend some money in the resort gift shops.  Or, plan a meal at one of the resorts (Chef Mickey’s at the Contemporary is arguably the most popular resort meal).

10.  Still looking for an activity that doesn’t cost money?  Pool time!  Note that you can NOT pool hop, meaning that you can only swim at the pool at the resort you’re staying in.  The exception to this is if you are staying at a sister resort, such as Port Orleans Riverside/Port Orleans French Quarter, or the All Star Resorts.  Then, you can ‘pool hop’ to the pool of the sister resort.

Phew, I’m tired already!  I could plan a whole Disney vacation around these activities alone.  Who’s with me?

2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Rhonda on September 30, 2011 at 7:22 AM

    These are all great ideas Debbie!!

    One of my favorite, non-theme-park, things to do in the evenings, is visit the Boardwalk! You can easily spend a few hours strolling around, watching the street performers, playing arcade games, riding a surry bike, and–at the end of the evening–watching the Epcot fireworks!

    You can also sing along with your favorites at the dueling piano bar, Jellyrolls, or kick up your heels at the Atlantic Dance Hall. (Both of these places require guests to be 21 years or older).

    Rhonda

    Reply

  2. Posted by Susan on September 30, 2011 at 11:32 AM

    I love it!! We’ve done a lot of these things and more. I’m planning a trip over Thanksgiving and I have to keep reminding myself to add time in for the theme parks! We love just staying on Disney property and enjoying all they have to offer outside of the parks.

    I would add that the deluxe resorts also have additional activities to keep you entertained. These include movies under the stars, storytelling, animal spotting, etc. Not all of these activities require you to be a resort guest. Most of them are open to anyone that shows up – excluding those that are poolside.

    Reply

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