People ask me all the time “aren’t you tired of going to Walt Disney World?” or “haven’t you done everything there?” The answer to both is always no! There are so many things to do and see across Walt Disney World Resort, I don’t know if you could ever experience every single thing. Not even counting the new attractions, restaurants and activity offerings they are constantly opening, there are a lot of things that many guests may be overlooking during their Walt Disney World stay. Here are a few you may want to check out:
9. Resort tours
Several of Disney’s resorts offer complimentary tours—and you don’t necessarily have to be a guest there to take advantage of them. Storytelling is rich in everything that Disney does, including the resort hotels. Each one has a theme, a back story, and elements throughout the design that carry that out. At Wilderness Lodge you can take a guided tour with a “ranger” who explains how it was modeled after National Parks Lodges of the early 20th Century and goes into detail on the many design features in the lobby that carry out the overall feel—many you wouldn’t even realize. Over at Animal Kingdom Lodge there are a couple of tour options, one is a culinary tour. It meets just before the dinner service and takes you into Jiko for a look at how the restaurant design reflects African culture, along with a sampling of the bread service. Then you go to Boma to talk about its theme and design and sample a few small bites from the buffet. I recommend these tours, especially if you are staying at the resorts for a greater appreciation of everything that goes into making your stay even more magical. Check resort times guides for details.
8. Resort Activities
Each resort has a list of activities they offer throughout the day. Many of these are free activities that take place poolside, but a few are offered for a fee and include some sort of take home like a tie dye t-shirt or a small craft. At the Disney Vacation Club resorts you will often find more activities going on, or a Community Hall room with games and other things you can do on your own for entertainment—perfect for afternoon downpours. Animal Kingdom Lodge is probably my favorite resort for activities. They have learning activities set up on various days and times to teach about African Culture, animal behaviors and conservation. At each activity kids can earn a bead for participating. I think my 5 year old was more interested in bead activities than theme parks on our last stay. I always recommend taking full advantage of your resort and all of the amenities it offers.
7. Disney Springs Activities
A visit to Disney Springs can mean more than just great dining and shopping. Several venues offer activities that make for a great break from the theme parks. The AMC Theater offers movies and a meal. The VOID offers a hyper-reality experience that places you in a virtual world interacting with characters and engaging all of your senses. People who have experienced this are raving about it. Or, if you are looking for more old fashioned fun, I love to plan some time at Splitsville for bowling. Not only is it a really fun bowling alley with great theming, the food & drinks are very good here as well.
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6. Scavenger Hunts (of sorts) for Kids
I love giving my children the chance to learn while they are on vacation. Two park activities give them the chance to not only learn new information, but also to practice their skills of communicating with people. In Epcot’s World Showcase kids can participate at the Kidcot stations. Here they can place stickers on a Ziploc “suitcase”, or you can have your own passport. I love the World Showcase Explorer book that SparkofInspiration on Etsy makes. At each country kids interact with a cast member from that country learning something about their culture, history and language. It engages kids in World Showcase and insures that you will get to visit every country. At Animal Kingdom the Wilderness Explorers books have been a huge hit with my kids. They are sworn in at the front of the park (on the bridge in front of the Tree of Life) and carry their books with them through the park to participate in activities to learn about animals, the environment, culture and conservation. For each activity they place a sticker in their book. I love these activities that add more to the park than running from attraction to attraction.
Did you know that you can go fishing at Walt Disney World? This has been a fun break day activity for my family on several trips. Some resorts like Fort Wilderness and Port Orleans Riverside have fishing areas where you can stand on a dock and drop a line in the water. But there is also an option for a private excursion on a pontoon boat. One of Disney’s captains will accompany you with poles, bait (and snacks) to find the best fishing spots. These depart from several resorts and are a great way to see Walt Disney World a little differently. All of the fishing at Disney is catch and release. You can contact the Enchanting Extras line to find out more.
4. Hunting for Mickey
This is one you may be missing right under your nose. Throughout Walt Disney World Imagineers have hidden Mickey heads in their designs and attractions . . . just a little tribute to the mouse who started it all. These are most often in the form of three circles forming Mickey’s Face and two ears, but are sometimes a profile, and sometimes you’ll even find other characters hidden. There are several books available as well as mobile apps that can help you track down Mickeys. This is a great way to pass time while waiting in line or to engage in all of the wonderful details of park and resort design.
3. Resort Dining
I think sometimes the table service restaurants at the resort hotels are overlooked in favor of dining in a park. While that may be more convenient, some of the very best food can be found in the restaurants at Disney’s resorts. And sometimes it is much easier to get a reservation or a walk up to dine in these hidden gems. Many are convenient to the theme parks like The Wave at The Contemporary Resort (love their breakfast buffet) to the Magic Kingdom or the Ale & Compass Restaurant at Yacht Club within walking distance of Epcot. Or, they may have a very good menu and beautiful location like Sanaa at Animal Kingdom Lodge Kidani Village with an out of this world bread service and gorgeous views of the savanna.
2. Afternoon Tea
If you are looking for a relaxing afternoon break, might I suggest the Garden View Tea Room at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort? Here you will find a full English tea service served in the afternoons. It is a calm, quiet and delicious. If you are traveling with a group of ladies, it is especially fun to go experience the tea served here. And definitely get the strawberries.
1. Behind the Scenes Tours
Have you ever wanted to see what makes Walt Disney World work? Or learn more about the theme and design that goes into parks and attractions? Disney offers multiple behind the scenes tours to give you a look into the inner workings and storytelling in the parks. There is an in-depth multi-park tour, or you can opt for shorter tours that are contained in one park. My personal favorites are Keys to the Kingdom, Marceline to Magic Kingdom, and UnDISCOVERed Future World. There are seasonal tours for Christmas and specific interest tours like the Behind the Steam Trains tour. Disney also offers educational experiences with several offerings at the Seas Pavilion in Epcot, The Behind the Seeds tour at the Land Pavilion, and the Caring for Giants tour at Animal Kingdom. If you have some extra time on your vacation I highly recommend one of these tour experiences—the guides are always fantastic and you get a different look at the parks.
What are some of the experiences you recommend that guests may be missing on their Walt Disney World vacation?