One of the best things to do in Walt Disney World doesn’t require you to set foot in a theme park – and it’s completely free. Checking out the wonderfully diverse resorts on property is a great way to explore the creativity of Disney Imagineers, and you might even get ideas about where you want to spend your next Disney vacation! Thanks to Disney’s complimentary bus, monorail and boat transportation, it’s easy to plan a route to the resorts you want to visit. And soon, you’ll have even more transportation options to visit Disney resorts, when the new Disney Skyliner connects Hollywood Studios and Epcot to four Disney resorts. Here are our top tips for resort hopping in Walt Disney World.
1. Take the Monorail
Happily, you can visit three deluxe Disney resorts in a row, as they’re all stops on the Walt Disney World Monorail System! You can visit Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, and Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa this way. Whether your resort hopping goal is shopping, dining, or simply wandering around taking in the wonders of each resort, the monorail makes it fast and easy. Why not plan a monorail resort dessert crawl, or sip signature drinks on the beach at the Polynesian before heading for a spa treatment at Senses at the Grand Floridian?
2. Go During the Holidays
One of the best resort hopping tips we can give is to go during the holiday season. Each resort is decked out with its own themed take on Christmas, and there’s no better time to check out the beauty and individual character of each resort. From the gingerbread carousel at Disney’s Beach Club Resort, to the huge Cinderella Castle gingerbread display at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, to the must-see life-size gingerbread house selling treats in the lobby of Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, and myriad other decorations and Christmas trees in between, you could spend your whole vacation exploring the holidays, Disney resort style!
3. Walk on the Wild Side
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is one of the most impressive resorts on property. You’ll need to grab a bus from one of the parks to get here, but once you arrive, you won’t want to leave! Our favorite activity here is watching all of the animals out on the savanna. You don’t have to be a guest to partake in this activity, and if you go at night, you can even use complimentary night vision goggles to check out the nocturnal activities of all of your favorite animals! While you’re here, make sure you spend some time checking out all of AKL’s comfy nooks, bedecked with comfy seating and African art.
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4. Hop on a Boat to Louisiana
The next time you’re in Disney Springs, hop on a relaxing water taxi and meander down the lovely Sassagoula River to Disney’s Port Orleans Resort: French Quarter. Here, you’ll be transported to the historic French Quarter of New Orleans amid jazz lounges and Mardi Gras theming. Then it’s just a short walk away to the sister resort Port Orleans Resort: Riverside, where you can lose yourself among sprawling southern plantation mansions and gaze at a working water wheel while you dine. Choose a bicycle, horse-drawn carriage or your own two feet as your transportation here!
5. Take a Walk from Epcot
There are several Walt Disney World resorts within walking distance of Epcot’s World Showcase (or just a boat ride away from Hollywood Studios). Disney’s Yacht Club, Beach Club, Boardwalk Resort, and Swan and Dolphin Resorts are spread out around the beautiful Crescent Lake, and you can make a day of strolling from one to the next, exploring everything they have to offer. You’ll pass plenty of tantalizing food and drink options along the way, and of course, endless photo opps!
6. Watch Fireworks
For some quality resort hopping at night, we highly recommend watching fireworks from prime spots at Disney resorts. It’s a very different experience than watching the action inside the park – and fewer crowds to contend with! Head to Disney’s Contemporary Resort to catch the fireworks from the observation deck on the 4th floor, or snag a reservation at California Grill and wait for a table by the window. Or you can watch the fireworks island-style, lagoon-side at the Polynesian Village Resort. You’ll be able to see the action from the outdoor section of Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto, and also from the restaurant Ohana.
7. Get Lost in the Wilderness
Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort is a great place to go resort hopping! You can get there by bus, or if you’re coming from Magic Kingdom, by boat. If you have a horse lover in your party, this is the place to be! You can go horseback riding at the Tri-Circle-D Ranch here, and check out Cinderella’s ponies. For the even more adventurous, archery lessons and kayak rentals are available. If you’re here around Halloween, take a stroll around the campsites to enjoy all of the spooky decorations.
8. Stay at More Than One Resort
Can’t get enough of Walt Disney World’s gorgeous resorts? Why not consider dividing your stay between two or more Disney resorts on your next vacation? This is an increasingly popular option for guests who want to really experience what it’s like to stay at more than one resort on property – and it’s especially useful if you want to check out a deluxe resort, but don’t have the funds to spend your entire vacation at one. When you check out of one resort and move to the next, cast members will ensure your luggage is sent to your new resort, so it couldn’t be simpler! Make sure you’re staying at WDW long enough to make a resort switch worth it (at least a week, ideally), because it can be a little hectic packing, unpacking and moving. Also, learn from our mistake – if you’re staying at a value level AND a deluxe level resort during your stay, start with the value resort and then move up to the deluxe resort!