15 unique things to do at Disney World (and some are even free)
(Article last updated: April 11, 2016)
So you know about Space Mountain and Toy Story Mania.
And you know about character meals and autographs.
What else is there?
Today, I'm showing you 15 unique things that most first-timers don't do that you might want to add to your trip plans.
Let's get started...
1. Have dessert with your fireworks
One hour prior to the fireworks starting at Magic Kingdom, there is a Wishes Fireworks Dessert Party that is held at Tomorrowland Terrace. There is a self-service buffet of desserts and beverages and a great view of the fireworks from this location.
Some people complain that viewing was difficult because people rushed to the front of the area once fireworks began. Our family didn't run into that issue when we did it.
Prices: $35 for children ages 3-9 and $59 for people ages 10+ (both prices include tax). The Disney Dining Plan is not accepted here.
Reservations: Reservations can be made online or by calling 407-WDW-DINE.
Note: The Fireworks Dessert Party often has a start time of 6:00 p.m. listed, even though the actual party may start later. If you plan to schedule a dinner Advanced Dining Reservation around 6:00 p.m. you will need to call 407-WDW-DINE for your Fireworks Dessert Party reservations as the online system won't let you hold 2 reservations with conflicting times.
2. Watch an outdoor movie
All of the Disney resorts have outdoor movies in the evenings, with many of them being pool-side using blow-up screens. Some resorts even include a dance party or campfire as part of the festivities.
More info: Recreation guides for each resort (which include the outdoor movie schedule) can be found in my binder download post
3. Have family pics taken
You can have professional portraits taken of you and your family while you're at Disney World. You'll have the gorgeous resorts as a backdrop as they take dozens and dozens of photos.
Portrait session are available at these resorts:
- Grand Floridian
- Beach Club
- Art of Animation
- Animal Kingdom Lodge
You can choose from Professional Print packages or get all of your session images on a flash drive (separate from Disney's PhotoPass products). Because the flash drives gives you full copyright of your pictures, you can have prints done at less expensive places.
Price: Varies, depending on what you order
4. Mail a coconut
In the gift shops at Pirates of the Caribbean, Caribbean Beach Resort, and the Polynesian, you can buy a postage-paid coconut and mail it anywhere in the United States. Simply write on the flat service and drop it in the mail!
Price: $20 (includes postage)
5. Get a haircut
Right when you walk into Magic Kingdom and just to the left, there is a place to get your hair cut called Harmony Barber Shop. This is an old-fashioned kind of place where you can get a quick trim or a full groom.
Services at Harmony Barber Shop used to be just available by walking in but they now take appointments.
Price: $19 for adult haircut, $18 for children 9 and under (other services are available as well)
See this post for a full review of the My First Haircut Experience.
Other places to get your hair cut at Disney World: American Beauty Shoppe and Captain's Chair (at Contemporary Resort), Casa de Belleza (Coronado Springs), Ivy Trellis (Grand Floridian) or Periwig's (Yacht and Beach Club)
6. Enjoy some water sports
At Sammy Duvall's Watersports Centre (located at The Contemporary Resort), you can choose from several different water sports: water skiing, parasailing, wakeboarding, stand up paddle boarding or inner tubing.
Guests have to be 18 to rent, 16 to drive and any age to ride along. Parasailing has a minimum age of 6.
Price: $80 and up
More info: discount and info available at SammyDuvall.com
7. Play miniature golf
There are 2 mini golf courses at Disney World: Fantasia Gardens (located near the Swan/Dolphin) and Winter Summerland Miniature Golf Course (located near Blizzard Beach). Each golf course has 2 separate sections to choose from.
Price: $12 for kids 3-9 and $14 for people 10+ (also something you can do if you purchase the Water Parks Fun and More park tickets)
8. Take a dive
Inside The Seas Pavilion at Epcot is DiveQuest, which allows visitors to dive inside the 5.7-million-gallon saltwater tank. Scuba-certified guests can swim with over 6,000 sea creatures—including sea turtles, angelfish, dolphins, eagle rays and sharks.
All Guests must be SCUBA-certified and at least 10 years of age to participate. Guests ages 10 to 12 must be accompanied by a paying, participating parent or guardian.
The experience lasts 3 hours, and guests will spend about 40 minutes underwater in the huge Caribbean Coral Reef aquarium—which until 2005 was the largest saltwater tank in the world. Participants also get to see the massive backstage infrastructure required to filter and maintain a vast manmade ocean.
9. Have a campfire
Near the Meadow Trading Post at Ft. Wilderness is Chip and Dale's Campfire, held around 7 p.m. during the fall/winter season and 8 p.m. beginning sometime in April through the summer. A Cast Member starts it off with a sing-along, followed by a marshmallow roast and a visit from Chip and Dale.
10. Go fishing
Guests can go on private fishing excursions in a catch-and-release program for large-mouth bass. The excursions include a guide, rod and reel, tackle, bait and beverages.
Guests are not allowed to bring their own food, beverages or coolers.
Most excursions accommodate up to 5 people. They're available at the following locations:
- Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort
- Disney's Contemporary Resort
- Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort & Campgrounds
- Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa
- Disney's Old Key West Resort
- Disney's Polynesian Resort
- Disney's Port Orleans Resort - Riverside
- Disney's Yacht Club Resort
7 a.m.: $270 for two-hour excursion; $455 for four-hour excursion
10 a.m.: $270 for two-hour excursion
1:30 p.m.: $235 (a single guest can take this excursion for only $170)
11. Take surfing lessons
At Typhoon Lagoon, guests 8 and up can learn to surf in the gigantic wave pool. Surf lessons are offered on most Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, early in the morning before the park opens. Each lesson is 2 1/2 hours and includes:
- 2 professional instructors
- Soft-sided surfboard for use during the lesson
- Instruction on land
- Opportunities to ride waves up to 6 feet tall
12. Play at the arcade
Most Disney resorts have an arcade that's open from 7 a.m. to midnight with a wide variety of games to play. Most of the arcades use a rechargeable card that holds credits for game play (people who book a package will get some credits as part of their package).
These resorts have arcades available:
- Animal Kingdom Lodge
- Beach Club Resort
- BoardWalk Inn Resort
- Contemporary Resort
- Grand Floridian Resort
- Polynesian Resort
- Wilderness Lodge
- Yacht Club Resort
- Caribbean Beach Resort
- Coronado Springs Resort
- Port Orleans Resort - French Quarter
- Port Orleans Resort - Riverside
- All-Star Movies Resort
- All-Star Music Resort
- All-Star Sports Resort
- Pop Century Resort
- Saratoga Springs Resort
- Old Key West Resort
- Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground
13. Ride a horse
The Tri-Circle-D Ranch at Ft. Wilderness Resort has lots of ways to enjoy horses - trail rides (offered daily at 8:30 am, 10 am, 11:30 am, 1:00 pm, 2:30 pm, and 4:00 pm for riders age 9+), pony rides and carriage rides*. Also available at the ranch: hay rides and wagon rides.
Available in December: horse-drawn sleigh rides.
Prices: Trail rides - $46, pony rides - $5, carriage rides - $45
* carriage rides also available at Port Orleans Riverside
14. Decorate a Christmas tree
In the Liberty Square section of Magic Kingdom, there's a Christmas shop that often allows the first child who shows up there each day to decorate the tree inside. They even put their name and the date on a little sign to let everybody know.
15. Play an interactive game
Falling under the nerdy category (i.e., I love it) are these 2 games: Agent P's World Showcase Adventure at Epcot and Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom at the....Magic Kingdom.
Both of these games involve an interactive scavenger hunt where you solve things and you are able to make things happen in the parks as you go through the game.
Sorcerers of Magic Kingdom info
Thoughts? Questions? I know some of you have things that could be added to this list. Talk about it in the comments.