Most people plan their Walt Disney World vacation with 1 thing in mind—the theme parks! And while there is certainly more than enough to keep you entertained in the parks just by experiencing the attractions, there is so much more to Walt Disney World resort. I am often approached by one spouse who says they really want to take their children to Disney, but the other spouse doesn’t want a theme park vacation. After I rattle off the list of everything else there is to see and do in the World, it is hard to deny there is something for everyone. So many people don’t know that they can do all of these things at Walt Disney World:
9. Archery Lessons
What?!? Even before Brave became a hit for Disney and Pixar, Fort Wilderness was offering archery lessons as one of their recreational offerings. My family did this last year, and it was such a great experience that my son asked for a bow for Christmas. No experience is required, and the excellent instructors walk you through it step by step. You will need to make a reservation in advance, and it is only offered on select afternoons. You can contact 407-WDW-PLAY for more information.
If you are looking outside the parks for a thrill, parasailing at Sammy Duvall’s Watersports Centre is the thing for you. The Centre is located at the Contemporary Resort, and it offers a lot of different water experiences like personal watercraft rentals, water skiing and tubing, and of course parasailing. Once you get high in the air over Bay Lake you had a panoramic view of the Magic Kingdom and the rest of the Walt Disney World Resort. It is literally breathtaking. Be sure to reserve your time before you travel.
7. Fishing Excursions
When someone mentions Walt Disney World I am sure that fishing is NOT the first thing that comes to mind, but they offer several different options for anglers. Fort Wilderness and Port Orleans Riverside offer pole fishing. The real fun comes with a guided fishing excursion, though. You can fish on Bay Lake and Seven Seas Lagoon, in the waters around Disney Springs, or in Crescent Lake around the Epcot Resorts and World Showcase Lagoon. There are several times offered during the day, but I would recommend the earliest time to avoid the heat and the possibility of thunderstorms. I’m no fisherman, but I booked the excursion that departs the Yacht Club and goes into World Showcase Lagoon and Crescent Lake for my family. My boys and husband thought I was a very cool mom (it was a Father’s Day gift), but my secret motivation was to get the World Showcase Lagoon perspective of Epcot before the park opened. But, guess who caught the biggest fish?
6. World Class Golf
Did you know that Walt Disney World boasts 4 golf courses? Not only that, but they host a PGA tournament. The Magnolia, Palm, Lake Buena Vista are all 18 holes and there is also the Oak Trail 9 hole walking course. You can book a tee time or take lessons, and club rentals are available if you need them. You will want to book a tee time in advance, and if you have the Waterpark Fun & More option on your tickets it includes the Oak Trail course. There are other specials depending on the time of day and if you are staying at an on-site Disney resort. You can visit golfwdw.com or call 407-WDW-GOLF for more information.
5. Charter a private fireworks cruise
Disney’s nighttime shows are spectacular! But, a lot of people don’t know that you can experience those shows like a VIP. There are in-park dessert parties at both Epcot and Magic Kingdom where you get reserved seating for the fireworks along with a selection of treats. There is also a Pirate & Pals Fireworks cruise to view Happily Ever After where you can book a seat on a boat with lots of other people. These are both fun experiences, but if you are looking for something really special, take a look at the private cruises to watch Happily Ever After or Illuminations. If you are celebrating a special occasion these are a great surprise. We booked one for my son’s birthday—our boat was decorated with balloons and a birthday banner, there was a cooler full of drinks and a basket of snacks. We did aHappily Ever After cruise, so our captain toured us around Bay Lake and Seven Seas Lagoon where we watched the Electrical Water Pageant before anchoring to watch Happily Ever After directly in front of the train station (the music was played on the boat’s radio). It was a different perspective, and a very exciting experience. Plus, no crowds to fight in the parks. A truly VIP experience can be had if you rent out the Grand 1 yacht for the night! These experiences should be booked 180 days in advance.
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4. Horseback Riding
Not something you would ever think about doing at Walt Disney World, but it is a fun option. At Fort Wilderness, 45 minute horseback trail rides are offered. This is a very relaxing way to spend part of your afternoon, and a great way to see the natural aspects of central Florida. Exploring the woodlands of Fort Wilderness will allow you to see wildlife like deer and take things a bit slower. This is a great way to spend a day off from the parks. There are some restrictions, you must be 9 years or older, be over 48 inches tall and weigh less than 250 pounds. Contact Disney to schedule in advance.
You’ve seen the divers in the tanks at the Seas, but did you realize that you could join them? There is an amazing experience called DiveQuest that can put you into one of the tanks at the Seas. You must be SCUBA certified to participate in this 3 hour experience (40 minutes of which is actually spent in the tank). Your family can even watch you from pavilion’s viewing windows, and you can purchase a DVD of your experience. If you aren’t SCUBA certified there are other options to experience the tanks. There is the Dolphins In Depth tour that features interaction with the Seas’ dolphin inhabitants, and the Seas Aqua Tour that offers a snorkeling experience in the tanks. See, you don’t have to go to the Caribbean to dive or snorkel with tropical fish—you can incorporate it into you Disney vacation!
2. Photo Sessions
Disney offers various levels of formal photo sessions in the parks and around the resorts. These sessions offer some beautiful backdrops for all types of photos: engagement, wedding, graduation, children and families. Different from the PhotoPass Photographers, Disney’s Fine Art Photography will schedule an individualize portrait session with you. They are not inexpensive, but they are a great way for a Disney-loving family or couple to commemorate a special occasion. You can see more on their website: http://disneyfineartphotography.com/
1. Enter the Utilidoors
Have you wanted to pull back the curtain and discover a little bit about how Disney creates its magic, but never thought you could? Well, you can! Disney offers several behind the scenes experiences to show you some peeks at their backstage tricks (you can see a complete article about this here: http://www.disneydining.com/top-10-behind-scenes-looks-walt-disney-world/). One of these experiences, the Keys to the Kingdom tour, allows you to go underground at the Magic Kingdom to see the legendary utilidoor tunnels that were built to facilitate cast member travel, trash removal, etc. in the Magic Kingdom. A very cool thing that you may not know you can do yourself, even if you aren’t a cast member.
What are some other unknown things we can do at Walt Disney World?