A Walt Disney World Vacation with No Parks? You Bet.

Basin White, Disney's Grand Floridian Resort

Beyond the Theme Parks: There’s Much More to Walt Disney World than You May Think

Walt Disney World is a much bigger place than many people realize. So big, in fact, that it’s quite possible to enjoy a Walt Disney World vacation without ever entering a theme park at all.

It’s Quite Possible to Have a Relaxing and Rewarding Walt Disney World Vacation Without Ever Entering a Theme Park

For those of you who love Disney, but who don’t necessarily care for the theme park experience, Walt Disney World has a huge variety of fun and relaxing things to see and do outside of the parks that will easily keep you busy for an entire week of non-park Walt Disney World vacation time. So whether you are like some of my own family members (who went for a stretch of several years of Disney vacations without ever entering a park), or you simply don’t want to join the kids and your spouse during their daily ritual visits to the parks, here are some of the things that you can do during your non-park Walt Disney World vacation.

Courtyard Pool Disney's Grand Floridian

The Courtyard Pool is the larger and quieter of the two pools at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort.

Lazy Days By the Pool

If lounging poolside is your idea of a relaxing vacation, you can do this Disney-style during your non-park Disney vacation.

One of the many great features of Disney’s Deluxe Resorts is their signature themed pools. These top-tier pool areas are a great place to spend a day poolside for those who really want to kick back and relax on their Walt Disney World vacation. Most pools at Deluxe Resorts have pool bars and snack bars (including service to your lounger if you like), so you can relax in the sun or shade with a signature cocktail and poolside snack. Most Disney Deluxe Resorts also have quiet pools and active pools (the active pools have music, pool parties, slides and games). Regardless of which ambiance you care to enjoy, you can spend a relaxing day in the Florida breeze, surrounded by palm trees and Disney magic while relaxing poolside.

Disney Contemporary Resort Pool Cabana

Pool Cabana at Disney’s Contemporary Resort.

For the ultimate pool deck experience, rent a private cabana for the day and be pampered poolside at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort or Disney’s Contemporary Resort. The Private Cabanas are well equipped with lounge chairs and regular chairs and some even feature a TV screen, Bluetooth speakers, phone, ceiling fan, mini refrigerator, fruit basket and more. Everything you need to enjoy your Disney day poolside away from the hustle and bustle of the parks nearby.

Shopping Excursions: Disney and Beyond

The thing about Disney Parks vacations is that you never seem to have enough time to do the other things that you really want to do on a Walt Disney World vacation. Once you take the theme parks out of the mix, you’ll find that an entire world opens up of other Disney possibilities. For those who like to shop, you know that time is a valuable commodity.

Shopping can be had in many forms on your Disney vacation. Most Deluxe Resorts have a small selection of onsite shops, including gift shops and non-Disney shops for resort wear and other unique items. The best place in this regard is Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, which has several unique shops, featuring men’s and women’s apparel and more.

Tren-D, Disney-Springs

Disney Springs is full of shops, entertainment and much more. Tren-D pictured.

Beyond the Resorts, Disney Springs is the undisputed shopping mecca within Walt Disney World. Originally named the Lake Buena Vista Shopping Village, Disney Springs has now grown into a fairly large outdoor shopping, dining and entertainment complex where you can easily spend a half day strolling, shopping and more.

Canadians who visit the U.S. are often drawn to outlet malls for a little exploratory reconnaissance (just to see if anything can tempt you to buy). If outlet malls are your thing, you can easily hop in an Uber from any Disney Deluxe Resort and take a short ride to the Orlando Vineland Premium Outlets, not too far from the Walt Disney World main gates. Here you can shop to your heart’s content at over 160 stores (including the ever popular Disney Character Warehouse). Be sure to get there early to beat the crowds — especially if you have a car and plan to drive yourself. The parking lot can get very full very quickly. In these cases I recommend going straight to the paid premium parking area, as the nominal cost is much better than driving around in circles in the Florida sun.

Kona Cafe, Disney's Polynesian Village Resort

The Kona Cafe at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort.

Leisurely Lunch

Take a mid-day break from whatever you are doing and spend an hour or two having a leisurely lunch in one of the many great options you’ll find outside the parks at Walt Disney World. Personal favourites here include the Grand Floridian Cafe, Kona Cafe (Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort) and The Boathouse (Disney Springs).

Golf at Disney Magnolia

Golfing at the Walt Disney World Magnolia Course.

Tee It Up

Golfers can happily spend a day on one of the many premium golf courses at Walt Disney World Resort. Anchored by the picturesque Magnolia and Palm courses, Walt Disney World has a wide range of options to challenge golfers of any skill level.

Even More Walt Disney World Non-Park Activities and Excursions

I have highlighted only a few popular ideas above, but there are countless choices for ways that you can enjoy the magic of a Disney vacation without ever entering a theme park. Other ideas include boat excursions, parasailing, bike rentals, archery, spa days, horseback riding, carriage rides, afternoon tea, fishing excursions, tennis, surfing lessons, diving excursions, dinner shows, campfire shows and much much more.

The bottom line here is that once you free up time by not spending all of your time (and money) in Disney Parks (and on park tickets), there is literally a World of opportunities for unique and fun ways to spend your Deluxe Disney days at Walt Disney World Resort.

So if you love Disney but aren’t inclined to spend your time in theme parks, just know that you can still enjoy a fun and relaxing Walt Disney World vacation in any number of different ways. You will definitely come home with some unique stories to tell that will be much different than most other Walt Disney World experiences.

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.

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Mike Belobradic: The Finer Side of Disney Travel
Luxury Travel Blogger – Deluxe Disney Travel Specialist
The Finer Side of Travel