Shannon highlights several activities that do not require a ticket to the Walt Disney World parks.Listen to hear more about how to visit the resorts, check out fireworks, try transportation, sample different treats, partake in resort activities, view holiday and special event decor. Explore beyond the resorts to play mini golf or spend time shopping, flying in a hot air balloon, bowling, or watching a Cirque du Soleil show at Disney Springs.
Why would you want to have non-park options?
Sarah’s land and sea trip included a non-park Disney resort stay. Having a vacation that doesn’t include park days isn’t common, but can make for a great trip!
Even if you aren’t planning a non-park trip, we do recommend taking a break day if your trip is more than several days.
You do not need to be a resort guest to visit the resorts! There are lots of things you can do at the various Disney World resorts without a park ticket.
At all of the monorail resorts (Polynesian, Grand Floridian, and Contemporary) you can watch the fireworks and listen to the music that is piped in. You can also watch the Electrical Water Pagent from each of these resorts as well.
It’s fun to even just ride the monorail into the middle of the Contemporary. You can also go to the back of the Contemporary outside toward the water and get your photo taken with the metal Mickey sculpture.
The arcade is especially large at the Contemporary as well, which is fun. The murals are beautiful and it is fun to just walk around.
The 4th floor observatory is a great place to catch the fireworks.
It’s a wonderful resort to wander around. You can also get a dole whip or visit Trader Sam’s. You will want to arrive about 30 minutes before it opens to get a seat because it is very popular.
The beach provides a great spot to watch the fireworks. The music is piped in so you can enjoy that as well.
There are lots of fun things to do at the Grand Floridian including live piano music, a spa, drinks, and shopping. Seasonally there are also fun things to do including Easter decor and Christmas activities.
Tri-Circle D Ranch which includes pony rides and see horses. I recommend taking the boat from Magic Kingdom to Fort Wilderness because it will take you to the end of the resort where the ranch is.
Chip and Dale Campfire which includes characters. You can also purchase supplies to have s’mores as well if you’d like.
Fort Wilderness also has opportunities you can pay for including Segway tour and archery. You could spend a whole day here having fun!
Beach Club and Yacht Club
The pools are not open for non-resort guests – this is true for all resorts, but especially notable for Stormalong Bay.
Beaches and Cream is a great place to stop for food or ice cream. There is both a restaurant and a walk-up window.
Swan and Dolphin
Fantasia Gardens and Fairways Miniature Golf is here and could be a fun place to stop.
There is so much to do in this area even without entering the Boardwalk Resort! This includes:
- Renting Surrey Bikes
- Get food – we espeically like the tomato soup and grilled cheese from Boardwalk Deli
- Jellyrolls Piano Bar
Animal Kingdom Lodge
You can hop on a bus or drive over to Animal Kingdom Lodge. You can check the recreation schedule when you arrive to see what is happening that day.
If you go to the Jambo House building you can see the animals. There are typically cast members there to answer questions and talk with you about the animals.
Port Orleans Resorts
You can book a carriage ride or rent Surrey Bikes at Port Orleans Riverside. If you go to French Quarter, you can get Mickey Beignets. This is the only place you can get them and they are incredible!
Both resorts have a boat to Disney Springs, making it a good stop if you’re headed to Disney Springs.
You can go up in a tethered hot air balloon! This is called Aerophile and gives you great views of Disney Springs. This experience is weather-dependent.
You can take a car out into the water at Disney Springs as well. This can be a fun thing to do as well and see Disney Springs from a different perspective.
Drawn to Life is the Cirque du Soleil show at Disney Springs. It is a collaboration between Cirque du Soleil and Disney. It’s a beautiful and exciting show. We do not recommend getting the most expensive tickets because sitting back a bit it even better.
Splitsville is a fun place to both bowl and eat! I really like the sushi here especially. Splitsville is also a good place to watch sporting events.
Even if you aren’t staying in a resort on the Skyliner, it’s a very fun activity! It’s very fun and could be a great free activity.
There are also a lot of boat opportunities. You can take a boat from Fort Wilderness to Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios to Epcot, or the ferry from the Transportation and Ticket Center to Magic Kingdom.
Of course the Monorail is also a fun activity! You can ride the whole loop and see the resorts from a different perspective.
I mentioned Fantasia Gardens and Fairways Miniature Golf earlier, but our favorite mini-golf course is Winter Summerland Miniature Golf. It is not always the most convenient to get to but when Blizzard Beach is open you can take the bus there and walk over to mini-golf.
- 5 fun things to do outside of the parks
- Best places to watch Magic Kingdom fireworks outside of the park
- Complete Guide to Disney Springs
- All About Drawn to Life in Disney Springs
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