10 Fun Things to do Outside the Parks at Walt Disney World
When You Stay Onsite at Walt Disney World Resort, there’s a Whole World of Activities Close By for You to Explore
One of the points that I underscore most often when talking about Walt Disney World vacations is the importance of breaking away from the conventional approach of making your way through the Parks every day (even if just for a little while). There’s no question that the big four Walt Disney World Theme Parks (Disney’s Magic Kingdom Park, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park) can take a lifetime to explore (I can vouch for that), but that doesn’t mean that you have to spend every waking minute of your vacation in the parks.
In fact, I recommend that you don’t.
It’s Important to Take a Balanced Approach to Your Walt Disney World Vacation
When working with my Disney travel clients I always stress the importance of taking a balanced approach to your Walt Disney World vacation. You don’t need to try to see everything in one visit. Sure, if you’re really pumped to power through it all and go end-to-end, then Bob’s Your Uncle—let’s do this! But if you’re the type of traveler who has been skeptical about a Walt Disney World vacation because you’ve heard you’ll need a vacation from your vacation afterwards, then this post is for you.
There are a huge number of fun things that you can do outside of the four Walt Disney World theme parks. Yes. Walt Disney World is much much more than the four main parks. Once you make the mental break that you don’t have to spend every waking hour of your Walt Disney World vacation inside a park, a whole new world of Disney will open up for you. In fact, in an average week-long Disney vacation you can easily visit a good chunk of all four parks and still have time to do some of the fun things on this list.
I can help you plan for that.
10 Fun Family Activities that You Can Do Outside the Parks at Walt Disney World
But leaving aside the details of itinerary planning for the moment, here are 10 fun family things that you can do outside of the Parks on your Walt Disney World vacation (in no particular order).
1. Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park
Walt Disney World has two large Water Parks that are separate and distinct. Disney’s Blizzard Beach is my personal favourite because I am a thrill seeker and I love Summit Plummet (arguably the scariest “ride” at Walt Disney World). But there is something for everyone here in this ski-resort-melts-and-becomes-water-park themed play area.
2. Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park
Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park is equally fun and has a unique theme of its own. The big draw here is the gigantic wave pool, along with the artificial reef where you can swim with the fishies. There are even surfing programs available if you want a truly unique Disney VIP experience.
3. Horseback Riding at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort
If you really want to get away from the fast pace of the parks for a little while, nothing beats a relaxing horseback trail ride from the Tri-Circle-D Ranch at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campground. There are also pony rides, carriage rides, wagon rides and more. If you love horses and nature, this one is for you.
4. Shopping and Exploring at Disney Springs
If you want to wander through a bustling shopping and entertainment district, head on over to the newly rejuvenated Disney Springs area for a morning, afternoon or evening escape. Here you’ll find a huge variety of shops, restaurants, attractions and entertainment. There is fun for the whole family at Disney Springs, including a bowling alley complex done Disney style!
5. Hot Air Balloon Ride on the Aerophile Balloon
Want a bit of a thrill while visiting Disney Springs? Take flight on Disney’s Aerophile hot air balloon ride (formerly known as Characters in Flight). This is a really fun experience and you can get spectacular views of the entire Walt Disney World Resort on a clear day. Don’t worry, even though you’ll rise to over 400 feet in the air the balloon itself is tethered so there’s no risk of floating away to Oz.
6. Rent a SeaRaycer Mini Speedboat
If you’d prefer to stay closer to the ground but still want a thrill, you can rent a watercraft in many areas around Walt Disney World Resort. My personal favourite is to rent SeaRaycers (mini speedboats) at one of the Magic Kingdom Resorts. From there you can explore the waters of Bay Lake and Seven Seas Lagoon and get a unique perspective on the Resorts and Magic Kingdom area.
7. Meet Chip and Dale at the Campfire Sing-a-long
This is one of my all-time favorite non-park experiences because it takes me back to my childhood of 1970s Walt Disney World. Head on over to Fort Wilderness for a laid back campfire sing-a-long show where you can roast marshmallows or make s’mores over a campfire (supplies are sold onsite if you need them) and you can meet Chip and Dale in a relaxed family environment while watching a live guitar-playing entertainer on the rustic stage. Then, stay for the nightly feature film if you wish, all in an outdoor amphitheatre under the stars. Best of all, there is no cost for any of this, unless you wish to buy s’mores supplies. A true Walt Disney World classic.
8. Archery Experience at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort
Do you have a budding archer in your family? For Wilderness is also home to the Walt Disney World archery experience. Kids (and adults) age seven and up can take an archery lesson and test their skills with a bow and arrow in this 90-minute adventure.
9. Rent a Bike at Various Walt Disney World Locations
Get a little exercise and explore Walt Disney World at your own pace by renting a bike at one of over 12 bike rental locations across Walt Disney World Resort. You can even rent bikes for two, four or six individuals, so the whole family can have fun together!
10. Fishing on the Waters of Walt Disney World Resort
If you love to fish, then you can add a little magic to your rod and reel through one of the many fishing experiences available on the waters of Walt Disney World Resort. Some of these are quite unique. There is fun to be had for kids of all ages, dockside or on a guided excursion on a boat. You decide!
Planning a Walt Disney World Deluxe Vacation?
Be sure to read my Guide to Planning A Walt Disney World Vacation and my post on the Five Golden Rules of Walt Disney World Vacation Planning.
Mike Belobradic: The Finer Side of Disney Travel
Luxury Travel Blogger – Luxury Disney Travel Specialist
The Finer Side of Travel™