7 Fabulous Walt Disney World Resort Experiences Most People Miss

Disney's Polynesian Village Resort

It’s hard to fit everything in on a Disney World vacation, especially when it comes to the resorts; I completely get that. But there are some really fabulous resort experiences that most people miss without even realizing what they’re missing! Here are 7 of my favorites:

7. Movie Nights

This one covers all of the resorts and is a bit better known throughout the Disney community. But I love it, nonetheless. Disney calls these evening experiences Movies Under the Stars. They are always outside and happen on various nights throughout the week. It’s a different experience depending on where you’re staying, but these events are always really fun! Whether you’re watching on a beach, in the woods, in a pool, or any of the other gorgeous spots around Disney resorts, these movie nights are great experiences for the whole family!

6. In-Room Celebrations

Disney is all about making magical memories, right? Well this can happen before you even unpack! For various fees, you can order in-room surprises for your family on check-in day or a special occasion! My family has gotten welcome and birthday packages in the past and they are just so fun. These surprises usually include banners, decorations, some sort of snack, maybe Mickey ears or something like that. There are lots of different packages to choose from, depending on the season. For example, there are birthday, romantic, Christmas, princess and even Frozen celebration displays. These aren’t necessarily for every visit, but they make the special ones just a little more so.

5. Electrical Water Pageant at the Contemporary

Okay, so granted, this one can be seen in various resorts around Bay Lake, but I love this viewing area. The Electrical Water Pageant isn’t super popular and people who haven’t stayed at the surrounding Bay Lake resorts probably don’t know it even exists. Every night before (usually) the Happily Ever After, this aquatic parade happens. The Pageant features sea monsters and critters and American patriotism to boot. The beginning of the Pageant floats to the tunes of Disney classics and the end to patriotic ballads. This is a great evening experience that doesn’t involve a big time or money commitment-it’s just fun!

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4. Pony Rides and Ranch Living at Fort Wilderness

How can you go wrong with pony rides? Fort Wilderness Resort is all about being outdoors and with family. It has great experiences that provide both of these things and are easily accessible, yet lots of people overlook. Families are welcome to mosey on down to the Tri-Circle-D Ranch to give their little ones an experience to remember with ponies galore! These rides come at a very small fee, but are always open with no reservations necessary. (You might even see Cinderella’s Ponies while you’re there!) The Ranch is also just a really fun place to explore. Totally authentic and completely charming, this ranch makes you never want to go indoors! There are also carriage and horseback riding experiences for a slightly larger fee. It’s a rootin,’ tootin’ time!

3. Taking the Boat To Disney Springs

It’s easy enough to drive or take a bus to Disney Springs from Port Orleans, Old Key West, and Saratoga Springs, but then you have to risk traffic and parking and then it’s a hassle. But most people miss that you can actually get to Disney Springs via boat from Port Orleans, Old Key West, and Saratoga Springs. These resorts are along the beautiful river and have lovely little boats ready to take guests on an adventure. Once you board, the boat takes you down the river and on the back route to Disney Springs. It’s not a very long ride and is super convenient and fun!

2. Culture Learning in Animal Kingdom Lodge

One of, if not the coolest part about Disney resorts is the authenticity. For Animal Kingdom Lodge, this means more than just serving fantastic African cuisine. It means teaching its guests the true culture of Africa. AKL even has cultural representatives around the resort to help and educate guests. Occasionally there are story times around the fire pits where those representatives share tales and adventures from their homes. Or, if your kiddos are feeling a bit more active, there are kid parades around the Lodge! Kids get native instruments and get to dance behind their guide, smiling all the way. And if you happen to be lucky enough to be there on September 30th, you’ll get to experience Botswana Independence Day! If there are enough Botswanans around, they throw a great big celebration, parade and music and all!

1. Watching the Fireworks from the Beach at the Polynesian

Some people love the thrill of being right up close and personal to a particular fireworks show in the Parks, but my family likes things a little quieter. One of my absolute favorite Disney resort experiences is watching Happily Ever After from the Polynesian. I love snagging a hammock or beach chair (and maybe some towels to keep warm depending on the time of year!) and relaxing before the show. We usually grab a Dole whip for a snack because they’re the best. The glow from the surrounding resorts on the water mixed with the soft lapping of waves is truly a wonderful, relaxing experience. But then music gets pumped through the speakers from Magic Kingdom and it’s show time! The spectacular is straight ahead of the beach and gives fantastic views. You can even see Tinkerbell flying from the beach!

About Molly Elias

Molly Elias has been a dedicated Disney fan since she was 18-months old. She has grown up with and learned from Disney her whole life. As her family's main vacation spot, Disney World is a place of love and laughter and magic for her. Her family also prides themselves on their Disney Cruise Line knowledge and would rather be on the high seas with Mickey than anywhere else in the world. Molly plans to keep Disney in her life forever, while also pursuing a writing career. She recently completed a master's program in creative writing in the hopes that someday she will be able to be a writer for the Happiest Company on Earth. Molly keeps Walt's famous quote at the forefront of her life: "Around here, however, we don't look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we're curious...and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths."