Okay so hear me out: I’ll be the first to admit that not everything on this list is actually “hidden.” It’s hard for Disney to keep much from us hardcore fans. But the items on this list are lesser known, really cool, and, yes, hidden gems from Walt Disney World Resorts:
1. Night Goggles at Animal Kingdom Lodge
Animal Kingdom Lodge is great for sneaking in hidden gems and detail flawlessly. The Savanna at AKL isn’t exactly a secret, but some people might not know that come nighttime, you can still view the animals! Out in the back viewing area, behind the pool, a cast member is stationed early in the evening with night vision goggles for guests! You can see the whole savanna with these and learn a ton from the cast member!
2. Sunset Overlook at Animal Kingdom Lodge
One more for Animal Kingdom Lodge because it rocks. Sunset Overlook is a library tucked off the main lobby in Jambo House. This room is used for resort activities and a general quiet area. It’s filled with cool African artifacts and comfy chairs and books. It is themed around real life explorers – Martin and Osa Johnson – and their adventures. Plus it was a killer view.
3. Geyser at Wilderness Lodge
For those who know Wilderness Lodge, this is a fan favorite. Disney has recreated Yellowstone’s Old Faithful beautifully and it sits right in between the main building and the pool area. This geyser goes off every hour on the hour between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. It’s incredibly cool and shoots incredibly high: 120 feet!
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4. Treehouse Villas at Saratoga Springs
Have you ever wanted to sleep in a treehouse? Well, you can at Saratoga Springs! While the resort has the standard rooms and suites, it also has this awesome villa experience! These villas can fit up to nine guests and sit tucked away in the woods by the resort and river. Talk about a unique vacation stay!
5. Stormalong Bay at Yacht and Beach Clubs
This may be the coolest pool on property. It is not the largest – that comes later – but I think it’s the most involved. Disney calls this pool actually an “Outdoor Recreation Area.” It includes a massive waterslide, a lazy river, whirlpool spas, tanning deck, and children only areas. The coolest part is that it is shared by the Yacht and Beach clubs, so it extends the length of both resorts.
6. Big Blue Pool at Art of Animation
I think Art of Animation is a hidden gem in it of itself. It’s generally considered the best/most popular value resort and has a lot going for it. But one of the coolest parts about it, and unknown to some, is that it has the biggest pool on property. This pool is massive and is Finding Nemo themed. It also has a first for Disney: underwater speakers!
7. Old Movie Machines at Boardwalk
The Boardwalk Inn has a way of bringing to life things of old. One of the ways it does this best is in its decorations. The one that seems like a hidden gem to me are the old movie machines. Located right off of the lobby, across from the bathrooms, are two worn metal machines with a crank. If you look into them, you’ll see sheets of paper with drawings on them. To make it run, you crank the lever and it plays the movie for you! Note: they don’t always work, but when they do, you’re so cool!
8. Activities at Fort Wilderness
Activities at a Disney Resort are kind of a given, but I don’t think a lot of people know just how much you can do at Fort Wilderness. These include: pools, an archery experience, a full ranch, pony, wagon, and carriage rides, campfire sing-a-longs, movies under the stars, fishing, boat, bike, canoe, and kayak rentals, basketball courts, jogging trails, volleyball, playgrounds, arcades, and a back trail Segway adventure!
9. Fireworks Viewing Spot at Contemporary
Bay Lake is prime real estate for Magic Kingdom fireworks viewing. Anywhere on the lake is great, but the Contemporary Resort has a special viewing spot right across from the Castle. Up on the main level of the resort, near all the shops, is a little door that lets out to a patio just big enough for a few people to enjoy the show!
10. The Boat to Disney Springs
Not quite a secret for those staying at Port Orleans, Saratoga Springs, or Old Key West Resorts but definitely for those who have never visited. Each of these resorts has a small dock and marina on the river. From here boat shuttles run between Disney Springs, Saratoga Springs, Port Orleans, and Old Key West Resorts all day long. This is such a nice addition to these resorts and definitely worth taking advantage!
11. Grand Floridian Society Orchestra
Similar to the boat to Disney Springs, the Society Orchestra wouldn’t be hidden to those who frequent the Grand Floridian. But otherwise, you might miss this fantastic aspect of the resort. This ragtime/swing band has regular shows scheduled throughout the day on the balcony stage in the lobby of the Grand Floridian. They are so talented and just fun to listen to!