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5 fun things to do outside the Walt Disney World parks

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5 fun things to do outside the Walt Disney World parks

As much as we love park time, we also really love spending some time outside the parks, taking in some of the other fun things you can find at Walt Disney World.

Of course, your resort will have some activities available, but if you want something to do outside where you are staying, we have some fun ideas for you.

Here are some of our favorite things to do outside the Walt Disney World theme parks:

First things first

  • If you are traveling to any location via Disney transportation, make sure you double-check the operating hours. And don’t forget the weather. Some of the transportation options (like the Disney Skyliner) won’t be available during thunderstorms.
  • Hours and availability can vary. We recommend double-checking current schedules as your travel dates get closer.
  • And finally, if it gets stormy or if you lose track of time and get stuck somewhere because Disney transportation has stopped running, a taxi or rideshare service like Lyft will be able to pick you up from any of the locations below.

Visit the Tri-Circle-D Ranch

  • Location: Disney’s Ft. Wilderness Campground
  • Cost: Free
Tri circle D
  • How to get there:
  • Drive (if staying onsite), boat from Magic Kingdom, or bus from any park. If arriving via car or bus you’ll need to transfer to the internal bus system to get to where the barn is located in the Settlement area.
  • Tip:
  • Crockett’s Tavern and P&J’s Southern Takeout are located nearby if you want to grab a drink while you soak in the peaceful vibe of this resort. 
  • Other things to check out while you’re here:
  • Ft. Wilderness offers lots of outdoor activities, including pony rides and archery lessons. Some things require reservations, so be sure you check into that before you go.

Tucked away at Disney’s Ft. Wilderness Campground is the lovely home for the “Happiest Horses on Earth.”

This gorgeous barn gives guests the opportunity to (safely) get up close to some of the beautiful horses on property, along with a chance to see some of their history and the connection to Walt Disney via a small museum located there.

Tri circle D disney and horses

The crowning glory is the restored 1907 Dragon Calliope. It is absolutely stunning, and while you can’t see it in action, it is on display with an audio track that is available for you to listen to.

Visit Beaches and Cream

  • Location: Disney’s Beach Club Resort
  • Cost: Varies
Beaches and Cream to go window
  • How to get there:
  • Via the Skyliner (International Gateway station), walk or Friendship (from Epcot, Hollywood Studios, or any resort in the Boardwalk Area), drive (if staying onsite), or bus from Magic Kingdom or Animal Kingdom.
  • Tip:
  • Martha’s Vineyard is located nearby and since they don’t open until 4 PM, during the day the tables make for a fantastic indoor spot to enjoy your ice cream.
  • Other things to check out while you’re here:
  • Depending on the time of day there are several things within a short walk from here. You can hop on the Skyliner at the International Gateway station, take a ride on one of the Friendship boats, explore The Boardwalk, or even enjoy an evening at Jellyrolls or the Atlantic Dance Hall.

Because of its smaller size, reservations for the indoor dining area at Beaches and Cream can be hard to come by, but you don’t need a reservation to enjoy their ice cream creations.

Located to the right of the entrance is a handy walk-up window that allows guests to order ice cream to go. And, with lots of outdoor seating nearby, you don’t even have to worry about your dessert melting before you get a chance to devour it.

One very important note: although there is a menu posted, you aren’t limited to the items on that. You can ask for a menu at the window for the full selection of options.

Beaches and cream menu

Try out some of the extras at Disney Springs

  • Location: Disney Springs
  • Cost: Aerophile: $25 per person, Amphicars: $125 per boat (each boat fits 3-4), Drawn to Life: prices start around $80 per ticket
  • How to get there:
  • Drive or bus from any resort or park, walk (if staying nearby), water taxi (from select resorts).
  • Tip:
  • The views at night aboard the Aerophile are stunning!
  • Other things to check out while you’re here:
  • We love the dining options available at Disney Springs, so consider adding a reservation for one. In the mood for dessert instead? Consider snagging some cookies to take back to your room for a snack. And of course, if you are looking for the perfect souvenir, Disney Springs is the place to find it!
Aerophile

Disney Springs isn’t just about shopping. Of course, if you are in the mood to shop, there are definitely lots of places you can do that here.

But, beyond all of the fun stores you’ll also find lots of fun things to do, including 3 of our favorites: The Aerophile balloon, the vintage Amphicars at The BOATHOUSE, and the new Cirque du Soleil show, Drawn to Life.

Amphicar

Any one of those would make for a fabulous treat on a non-park day. And, paired with a meal and/or some shopping, you could definitely fill an afternoon with fun.

Take a relaxing ride on Disney transportation

  • Location: Varies
  • Cost: Free
Gondola
  • How to get there:
  • Skyliner stations are located at Pop Century, Caribbean Beach, Disney’s Riviera, Hollywood Studios, and Epcot (International Gateway), water taxis can be boarded via the docks at Ft. Wilderness, Wilderness Lodge, and Magic Kingdom, Friendships can be boarded at the docks at Epcot (International Gateway), Hollywood Studios, Boardwalk, Yacht Club, Swan/Dolphin), the monorail can be boarded at Magic Kingdom, Transportation and Ticket Center, and the Contemporary, Grand Floridian, and Polynesian resorts. Note: the Epcot monorail and other resort water taxis are not currently available. 
  • Tip:
  • Lines for all forms of transportation can back up a bit around park openings and closings, so for the shortest waits, consider riding during off times. Also, if taking a ride on one of the boats or water taxis, choose outdoor seating (if it is available) for the best view.
  • Other things to check out while you’re here:
  • Don’t be afraid to hop off and check out the stops along the way. For example, if you’re on the monorail, you can find great cupcakes at the Contempo Cafe (Contemporary Resort) and Dole Whips at Pineapple Lanai (Polynesian) and guests traveling via the Skyliner can hop off at the International Gateway and take a quick walk to Beaches and Cream (Beach Club) for some ice cream. 
Magic Kingdom Water Taxi Boat

Lots of people (ourselves included) love the unique transportation options that Disney offers. Okay, maybe the buses aren’t that exciting, but we definitely think that the boats and monorails and the new Disney Skyliner are lots of fun.

When you are in “park touring” mode, it is so darn easy to be focused on getting to the next stop that you forget to simply enjoy the journey.

We do it ourselves—a lot.

Monorail

But the truth is, slowing down and checking out the view from the water or the sky is a great way to relax and spend some time while still enjoying the Disney magic.

Try some mini-golf

  • How to get there:
  • Fantasia Gardens near the Swan: Via the Skyliner (International Gateway station), walk or Friendship to the Swan (from Epcot, Hollywood Studios, or any resort in the Boardwalk Area), drive (there is a parking lot right next to the course), or bus from Magic Kingdom or Animal Kingdom to the Swan resort.
  • Winter Summerland: Bus to Blizzard Beach, and then it is just a short walk or drive (there is a parking lot right next to the course)
  • Tip:
  • The Fantasia Gardens side typically appeals more to younger children while the Fantasia Fairway side is more like a “real” golf course (just shrunk down). Winter Summerland has 2 courses – one winter-themed and the other summer-themed, and both are adorable.
  • Other things to check out while you’re here:
  • Fantasia Gardens: The Boardwalk area is a short walk away.
  • Winter Summerland: Blizzard Beach is right next to this course; however, depending on when you visit, it may not be open. 

Adults and kids love miniature golf, and Disney has 2 of the most fun courses we’ve ever played.

Have Park Hopper Plus tickets? You’ll get a free round before 4. If that is your plan, we recommend going early to avoid the heat of the day.

Other fun ideas:

Those are just a few of our favorites, but here are a few more:

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Heather Thomas