8 Awesome Things To Do At Disney Outside The Parks

Too many people assume that Walt Disney World is only four theme parks and two water parks. Some don’t even know that Disney has that much to do. Walt Disney World has so much more to offer than the parks! It is often recommended that you plan an “off day” in the middle of a week long vacation. Just because you don’t hit the parks one day doesn’t mean that you have to leave the Disney magic behind. Here are eight suggestions of things that you can do on an off day or an off few hours. It might end up being the best time that you have on your vacation.


8) Afternoon Tea at Garden Tea Room

Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

Each afternoon, starting at 2:00, something special takes place at Disney’s Grand Floridian. Guests are invited to step back in time and across the Atlantic to participate in Afternoon Tea. You’ll enjoy international teas, along with finger sandwiches and pastries. Reservations are strongly suggested.

7) Free Campfires and Movies

Various locations

What better way to wind down at the end of the day than to sit around a campfire? There are fire pits at many of the Walt Disney World resorts. You don’t have to be staying at a resort in order to be there. After the marshmallows are gone, stay and watch a free Disney movie under the stars. A mixture of classics and new favorites will be shown. If you want to step the activity up a notch, head to the Campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort. There you’ll sing songs around the campfire, joined by Chip ‘n’ Dale. It’s fun for the whole family.

6) Relax at a Spa

Various locations

You need to relax and pamper yourself for a little while. After all, you’re on vacation. There is no better way to relax than to spend some time at a Walt Disney World spa. There are two locations of Senses Spa; at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort. You could also visit Mandara Spa at Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel. For more information or to make a reservation for Senses, call 407-WDW-SPAS (407-939-7727). For Mandara Spa the number to call is 407-934-4722. No matter which spa you visit, the pampering will have you ready for another day in the theme parks.

5) Take a Tour

Various locations

You might know that there are several behind the scenes tours offered in the Walt Disney World theme parks. Did you know that there are also behind the scenes tours at some of the resorts? Here are three very different tours that you might want to consider. Wilderness Back Trail Adventure is a Segway tour at the Campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort. You’ll first learn how to ride a Segway and then you’ll head out for two hours of fun. Call 407-WDW-TOUR (407-939-8687) for more information. Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge Night Safari will take you out to see the animals at night. At this time the tour is only open to guests of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. For information call 407-938-4755. A third tour outside of the parks is the BoardWalk Ballyhoo Guided Tour. Gather a few minutes before 9:00am in the Belleview Lounge, and you’ll learn about the resort and the various odds and ends that it contains. The tour takes place Wednesdays through Saturdays, and it’s free. You don’t need a reservation and you don’t need to be staying at the resort.

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4) Play a Round

Various locations

Walt Disney World is a golf lover’s dream come true! There are four world class courses to choose from, and the Florida climate makes it easy to play year round. You can take lessons as well. If the littlest ones in your family want to try, take the gang to play a round or two of miniature golf. There are two unique courses that are unlike anything that you have back home. The 18 holes at Fantasia Gardens and Fairways Miniature Golf feature scenes from the movie Fantasia. The fun course is suitable for beginners. Winter Summerland offers two different courses; one based on winter and the other on summer. Miniature golf is a great way to still have the “Disney feel” while taking a break from the parks.

3) Rent a Boat

Disney’s Contemporary Resort and other locations

One nice thing about Florida is that the weather is usually perfect if you want to spend some time out on the water. At Walt Disney World you can rent two-person boats, or maybe you’d like something a little bit bigger. Canoe and sailboat rentals are also available. For more fun on the water, head to Disney’s Contemporary Resort. At Sammy Duvall’s you can go parasailing, water boarding, tubing, and more.

2) Ride a Horse

The Campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort

If you’re looking for a slower thrill than you’ll find in the theme parks, head to Tri-Circle-D Ranch. It’s located at the Campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort. Anyone nine and older can sign up for a gentle horseback ride along the resort’s trails. The ride lasts about 45 minutes. If you just want to look anyone can see the horses at Tri-Circle-D, you don’t have to ride. If you don’t really want to climb onto a horse’s back, consider taking a wagon or carriage ride instead. The price is more reasonable than you might think. For more information, call 407-WDW-PLAY (407-939-7529). If you’re going to be in Florida during the Christmas season, ask about a holiday carriage ride.

1) Disney Springs

Even though there are still some construction walls up at Disney Springs, you still should make it a part of your vacation. The transformation to Disney Springs is interesting to watch, things are changing all the time. Chances are that you already know about the incredible food and great shopping opportunities, but there is so much more to do at Disney Springs than just shop and eat! Catch the latest movie, or bowl in an alley that is unlike any that you have back home. Ride in the basket of a tethered balloon and see Walt Disney World from 400 feet in the air. Enjoy live entertainment, including concerts by musical superstars. Disney Springs offers all of that and so much more. The food and the shopping are not to be missed either.

About PaulaK

I grew up in Western Massachusetts. When I was nine my family went to Disneyland and I was hooked. I grew up, attended New England College in Henniker, NH and eventually moved to Virginia. I worked as a disc jockey, married and became a full time mom when our daughter was born. Fast forward several years. In 2010 we moved to Central Florida and my Disney obsession grew. I now work as a freelance writer and spend my spare time in the parks. Under the name Paula Brown I penned the novels Dream Wanderers and The Coffee Cruiser. I also am a co-author of Dining at Walt Disney World: The Definitive Guide. I'm obsessed with Star Wars, so this is a good time to live in Central Florida. I've been a vegetarian for well over a decade, a choice that my daughter eventually made as well. While my husband still hasn't joined us fully he has given up most meats except for seafood. I was relieved to find that vegetarian dining is not difficult at Walt Disney World.