Top 10 Free Things To Do Outside Of The Walt Disney World Parks

There are plenty of reasons that you might want to do something outside of the Walt Disney World parks. It could be that the park that you visited closed early and you don’t want to waste an evening. You might want something to do after all the days on your ticket are gone. You could be taking an “off day” in the middle of your vacation but you don’t want to sit in the hotel doing nothing. Whatever your reason for staying out of the parks, you probably want to save money by finding something free to do. Don’t worry, there are plenty of fun, free things that you can do around Disney so you won’t waste one moment of your vacation.

If you haven’t already, take a look at the Top Ten Hidden Gems at Disney World list. Some of the things on the list are free and outside of the parks, those haven’t been included again. Some of the things on this list require you to visit one of the resort hotels. If you’re staying on Disney property you can take their transportation there. If not you’ll need to drive through a security gate. Have a picture ID ready and tell the guard why you’re there. He or she will then instruct you where to park.

10) Visit Celebration, Florida

While Celebration isn’t on Walt Disney World property, it’s not far away. The town was developed by Disney and it has a yesteryear feel to it. Take a walk on the miles of trails or let the kids play in the interactive fountain (more on that later). Check the town’s website, to see the latest goings on and events. Celebration is a busy town, with farmer’s markets, outdoor concerts and other events planned all year long. The residents really love Halloween and Christmas! Browse the shops on Market Street and if you don’t mind spending a little bit of money, grab an ice cream cone at Kilwins on Front Street. Some people love Celebration so much that they don’t want to ever leave.

9) Take a Boat Ride

While renting a boat costs money, there are plenty of boats that you can ride on Walt Disney World property for free. The first place to check out is Disney Springs. You can catch the boat that will take you to Saratoga Springs, Port Orleans, and Old Key West then return you to Disney Springs. Disney’s BoardWalk area has boats that run the loop around Crescent Lake, one heads towards Epcot and the other towards Disney’s Hollywood Studios. You could also catch a boat along Seven Seas Lagoon. Head to the Contemporary Resort for one loop or the Polynesian for a different one. Make sure that you don’t plan to catch a boat when the parks are opening or closing, they will be packed at those times.

8) Ride the Monorail

The monorail is a huge disappointment for many Disney guests. They only experience it first thing in the morning when heading to the Magic Kingdom and again at night when the park is about to close. It is cramped and stuffy, with strollers crowded in and people standing too close together. If you want to have a great memory of riding the monorail take a ride in the middle of the day. Park at the Contemporary, Polynesian or Grand Floridian and take a loop around. It’s a great way to see Disney property and enjoy the trip. You might even want to get off at the Transportation & Ticket Center and catch the monorail to Epcot and back again. You’ll see the park from a totally different view. You’ll need to switch back to the first train in order to return to your car.

7) Learn the Hula

Did you know that Disney’s Polynesian Resort offers free hula lessons? Neither do a lot of people. The classes are offered on Monday through Saturday at 3:45 and on Saturday mornings from 10:00 until noon. The 3:45 classes are meant for the little ones but the Saturday morning class is geared towards all ages. They are taught by Auntie Kaui, who is a hula dancer with over 50 years of experience. The classes are held in the lobby of the resort, towards the back.

6) See Happily Ever After Fireworks Without the Crowds

Happily Ever After is one of the most amazing fireworks shows on the planet. It’s a “must see” on everyone’s Disney list. The problem is that the Magic Kingdom is crowded at the end of the night and then everyone rushes to take the monorail back to the Transportation & Ticket Center. Instead of watching Happily Ever After with everyone else, make plans to enjoy the show in a more relaxed setting. Both Disney’s Grand Floridian and Disney’s Polynesian offer fantastic views of the fireworks. You can also see the special fireworks displays that are held for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at either hotel without having to buy a ticket for the event.

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For a no obligation, FREE Quote with new bookings contact our sponsor Magical Vacation Planner by calling: 1(407)442-0289 Or for a free no obligation quote with new bookings you can fill out the form by Clicking HERE!

5) Explore the Resort Hotels

One thing that is nice about Disney is the attention to detail. Every resort hotel is themed and they all deserve a look. Whether it’s the over the top memory inducing themes of Disney’s Pop Century or the sheer elegance of Disney’s Grand Floridian, they are all awe inspiring. Park your car at one hotel and take advantage of Disney transportation to visit those that are close by. Some of the deluxe hotels even have free tours, ask a cast member at the front desk for more information.

4) Interactive Fountains

Kids and water seem to go hand in hand. On a hot summer day, when you’ve spent hours on your feet in the theme parks the children often have energy to burn while you don’t. Interactive fountains are a great way to allow them to get rid of some of that excess energy while you sit back and relax. There are two such fountains in the Marketplace area of Disney Springs, although they aren’t both always open. If you really want to let your kids have a great time in a fountain take them to Celebration. There is a huge fountain there that guarantees that the kids will get soaked and will have a blast at the same time. Remember that you are in charge of your children, you need to keep an eye on them while they play in the water.

3) Visit the Wildlife Preserve at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge deserves a look on any trip to Central Florida. The lobby is incredible, it’s Disney at its finest. Head through the lobby and out the back door and you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into Africa. Disney has designed a 43 acre wildlife preserve behind the lodge. On any given day you could see giraffes, zebras, countless birds and dozens of other animals. Often there are cast members outside to help you to spot more animals and answer your questions. In the evening they will sometimes provide night vision goggles so that you will still be able to see. The animal lovers in your party will never want to leave.

2) Disney’s BoardWalk at Night

So you spent the day at Disney’s Animal Kingdom until it closed and then you grabbed a quick bite to eat. You still have the entire evening ahead of you. Where do you go? The answer is simple, head to Disney’s BoardWalk resort. Make sure that you read Disney’s BoardWalk 101 for an in depth description of the area. Each evening there are street performers from 7:00 until 10:00. You can watch parts of IllumiNations at Epcot by walking past the ESPN Club and heading up to the bridge. For those 21 and over the Atlantic Dance Hall opens nightly at 9:00 and there is no cover charge. You can take a stroll around Crescent Lake (it’s beautiful at night) or ride the boats that were mentioned earlier. Explore the lobby of the hotel or head over to Disney’s Swan and Dolphin to see what they look like inside. Disney’s BoardWalk is the perfect place to spend an evening.

1) Disney Springs

There is almost always something going on at Disney Springs. While many people think of it as a place to shop or have a meal, there are plenty of free things to do. As already mentioned, Disney Springs is a great place for a free boat ride or an interactive fountain. Another thing that your whole family will love is the LEGO Imagination Center. You will want to take plenty of pictures of the Disney themed LEGO sculptures, both inside and out. The kids will love all of the LEGOS that they can build with, there’s a 3,000 foot play area. Also check out the Waterside Stage, there are often events happening all day long.

In the evenings Disney Springs really comes alive. Remember that the area does get crowded at night, not only do the tourists love to stop by but it is also a favorite for many locals. There are amazing Living Statues for you to take a picture with (watching the reaction of the crowd is also fun). There’s also free music in several spots. Many evenings there is a dance party for all ages. Disney Springs is also known for seasonal activities and special events. There is so much more to the area than just shopping and dining.

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.