Walt Disney World Without the Theme Parks

Who needs the Walt Disney World theme parks? There is so much to do outside of the parks that it is easy to keep yourself busy. One of the nice things about spending time outside of the parks is that you will not have to wait in lines all day long. The theme parks are nice, but so is the rest of Walt Disney World. Here are just a few of the things that you can do at Walt Disney World without ever stepping foot in one of the four theme parks or two water parks. Plenty have been left out, including ride or horse or rent a watercraft. If you’re staying on property, be sure to ask a Cast Member if there are any activities going on at your resort. You just might be surprised by some of the things that didn’t make this list.

1. Disney Springs

The obvious place to spend some time outside of the theme parks is Disney Springs. There is something for everyone here! You can enjoy signature dining, or grab ice cream. There is shopping around every corner. You can bowl, watch a movie, or catch live entertainment. You can even have theme park pictures taken, without entering the parks. If you have a desire to ride something, head to Aerophile – The World Leader in Balloon Flight. The tethered balloon will give you a view of the theme parks that you won’t soon forget. There is always something going on at Disney Springs, in fact, there is so much happening that you might forget that you aren’t at a park.

2. Resort Pool Day

No matter which Walt Disney World resort you are staying at, you will find a fantastic pool. The higher the class of resort, the more elaborate the pool complex, but even the Value Resorts have great places to swim. Purchase a refillable mug and then spend the day both in and out of the pool. The water is heated, so you can enjoy pool days no matter what time of year you visit.

Riviera Pool

3. Resort Hopping

All of the Walt Disney World Resorts are themed, and all of the themes are different. Resort Hopping is a great way to see what else is out there. The Deluxe Resorts are luxurious, and most will carry you far away. The Value Resorts feature larger than life touches. The Moderate Resorts are somewhere in between. You are allowed to visit resorts that you are not staying at, so plan to spend a day seeing what the other places look like. If you don’t have a car, Disney Bus Transportation is available.

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4. Character Dining

Character dining in the theme parks is fun, but sometimes it feels rushed because you want to get back out and start riding things again. Character dining at the resorts is a different story. You can enjoy a meal that is relaxed, while having some of the best food of your vacation. There are some great characters at the meals outside of the parks, including several princesses with their princes. You can also meet the Fab Five, and maybe a dwarf or two. There are several character meals outside of the parks for breakfast. It is, after all, the most important meal of the day. The other meals are offered as well. A character meal can add some of the fun of the theme parks, without the stress.

Topolino’s Breakfast

5. Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge takes a little bit of effort to get to if you don’t have a car, but it is worth it. There is so much going on that you will want to spend hours there! Ask at the desk for a Hidden Mickey sheet, there are plenty of them to be found. There are also activities that take place all day long. Don’t forget the animals! You can take a walk outside and see up to 200 different birds and hoofed animals. At night you might be able to see them through night vision goggles. To get there, head to Disney Springs, and then take a bus over. It may take a little bit of time, but you’ll be glad you visited.

Animal Kingdom Lodge

6. Disney’s BoardWalk

Disney’s BoardWalk is a beautiful place to take a walk or a bike ride during the day. In the evening, the area really comes alive. Try your hand at a carnival game, have a caricature drawn, or split a funnel cake. Each evening from 7:00 until 10:00 street performers entertain guests for free. There are three different performers each evening, and you will have a great time at all three acts.


7. Chip ‘n’ Dale’s Campfire Sing-A-Long

You can find campfires and movies under the stars at several of the Walt Disney World Resort hotels. At Disney’s Fort Wilderness, it’s taken to the next level. Chip ‘n’ Dale’s Campfire Sing-A-Long features a visit from the mischievous chipmunks! You’ll sing campfire songs, make s’mores (kits are for sale), and then watch a movie. While the activity is geared towards children, kids of all ages will have a blast.

8. End of the Night

There is a perfect way to end a park-less day at Walt Disney World. At the end of the night, order pizza or room service, depending on which type of resort you’re staying at. Once it arrives, turn on the television in your room, and put on Must Do Disney. While it’s true that you may not have done many of the things that Stacey told you are must dos, that’s okay. Somehow, just watching them from the comfort of your room is enough. After Stacey has cycled through a couple of times, switch the channel to the all Disney music one. You know that you’ll end up singing along.

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.