Everyone knows about the classic Disney rides, the new thrills, and the exciting shows. But there is so much more at Walt Disney World that you might be missing. Even if you’ve visited again and again, after reading our list you might find yourself saying, “You can do WHAT at Disney World?”
1. A Haircut
While the princess makeovers at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique are pretty famous, guests often don’t know that they can get an actual haircut at Disney World! Harmony Barber Shop on Main Street, U.S.A. in Magic Kingdom treats its clients to haircuts with a little extra Disney magic. Is it a little one’s first time getting a trim? Ask for the My First Haircut package, which includes commemorative Mickey ears and a special certificate.
2. Flag Retreat
Every night at 5:00pm the American flag on Main Street, U.S.A. is retired for the day with a short but moving ceremony. The Pledge of Allegiance is recited, the Main Street Philharmonic plays the Star Spangled Banner, and the flag is brought down and carried in a brief procession. A guest who is a veteran of the United States Armed Forces will be selected at random to participate in the ceremony.
3. Pirate Adventure Cruises
Got a kid aged 4-12 who is pirate obsessed? Book him or her for the ultimate pirate experience, a Pirate Adventure Cruise. Aspiring buccaneers are outfitted in pirate gear and set sail from one of four exotic ports (The Grand Floridian Resort, Caribbean Beach Resort, the Yacht Club and Beach Club Resorts, and Port Orleans Resort.) Your little pirate will be treated to tales of the high seas, a snack fit for a captain, and they might even discover buried treasure! These cruises are for kids only, so no grownups allowed! You’ll want to make reservations to be sure your scallywag gets to join the pirate crew.
4. Disney’s Perfectly Princess Tea
For an unforgettable experience for any princess, check out the Perfectly Princess Tea at the Grand Floridian Resort. This lovely party includes stories, dancing, and of course “tea” and royal treats for little princes and princesses and their grownups. Children are encouraged to dress as their favorite prince or princess. Reservations are highly recommended for this stately celebration.
5. Dining at Resort Hotels
With so many great dining options in the parks and Disney Springs it’s easy to overlook the resort hotels, which have some of the best Disney dining experiences. From the AAA 5 Diamond-rated Victoria and Albert at the Grand Floridian Resort to the crazy antics of the Whispering Canyon Café at the Wilderness Lodge, there’s something for everyone. Don’t be afraid to explore; you might find a new favorite!
6. Golf Courses
If your idea of the perfect vacation involves a round or two of golf, you’re in luck! Walt Disney World has four golf courses on property. The Palm and the Magnolia are championship courses at the Grand Floridian Resort. The Oak Trail Golf Course is 9 holes of family-friendly fun. Disney’s Lake Buena Vista Golf Course has hosted the PGA Tour, the LPGA Tour and USGA events. Reservations are highly recommended for these courses. Is golf on a smaller scale more your speed? There are two miniature golf courses to choose from.
7. Children’s Activity Centers
Looking for a little bit of grownup time during your vacation? Take the kids to one of Walt Disney World’s four Children’s Activity Centers. Little ones between the ages of 3 and 12 can have their own big night, including dinner, at Simba’s Cubhouse at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, Sandcastle Club at Disney’s Beach Club Resort, Lilo’s Playhouse at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, and Camp Dolphin at Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel. The kids will have a blast and you can have a few hours to yourselves. Reservations are required.
8. Outdoor Recreation
Love to spend time in the great outdoors? There are so many great options at Disney World. If horses are your thing, visit the Tri-Circle-D ranch at Fort Wilderness Campgrounds for pony rides, wagon and carriage rides, and guided trail rides. Prefer wheels to hooves? You can rent bicycles and special surrey bikes at several of the resort hotels. Rather explore by water? Kayaks, canoes, and small motorboats can be rented from many of the waterfront resort hotels.
Need to unwind after some busy days in the parks? What better way than with your favorite spa treatments. Senses has two locations, one at the Grand Floridian Resort and the other at Saratoga Springs Resort. Choose from facials, massages, and mani-pedis, just to name a few. There are even Prince and Princess Pedicures and Magical Manicures for the kids!
10. Surf at Typhoon Lagoon
Love to surf but vacationing miles from the beach at Walt Disney World? You can still go surfing in Typhoon Lagoon’s massive wave pool. Sessions are limited to only 25 surfers and you can hit the waves before or after the park is open to the public. Never surfed before but want to give it a try? Lessons are also available. Reservations are required for either experience.
11. Galleries in World Showcase
They’re often tucked away in their respective pavilions, but many of the World Showcase countries have their own art galleries. The pavilions for Morocco, Japan, America, China, Norway, and Mexico all have galleries featuring art and history of their countries. These galleries are air conditioned and rarely crowded, making them great places for breaks on hot days.
12. Behind the Scenes Tours
Ever wanted to see the famous Utilidors that run under the Magic Kingdom? Wondered how the Steam Trains operate? Wanted to dive right in with the fish at The Seas with Nemo & Friends? There’s a tour for that! Walt Disney World offers a vast array of behind-the-scenes tours that give you a glimpse into the inner workings of the parks. Keep in mind that many of these tours are only available for adults, as Disney doesn’t want to spoil any magic for its younger guests. And you guessed it, reservations are required.
13. Tom Sawyer Island
Right in the heart of Frontier Land, Magic Kingdom, is Tom Sawyer Island. Accessible by raft, the island was designed by Walt Disney and inspired by the works of Mark Twain. The island is especially great for kids, who love to explore the forts, caves, and dirt roads through the trees. It’s a nice break from the hustle and bustle of the Magic Kingdom.
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14. Jedi Training
Got kids who loves Star Wars? Give them a chance to train as a Jedi and battle a legendary Star Wars villain. Younglings will be outfitted in Jedi robes and taught light saber technique to prepare for their battle. While the battle is performed for the general public and is far from secret, getting to participate means knowing where to go; register at the Indiana Jones Adventure Outpost located between the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular! and the 50’s Prime Time Café. Registration opens when the park does, so get there first thing to get a slot!
15. Special Events
The majority of Walt Disney World guests visit in the summer months, but coming at other times allows you to enjoy some great special events. In the fall, WDW hosts the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival. In addition to sampling delicacies from around the world, you can watch demonstrations, attend food and beverage seminars, and enjoy concerts and special music. In the spring you can visit during the Epcot International Flower and Garden Show, featuring Disney topiaries, specialty gardens, children’s play gardens, as well as special foods and music. Over at Magic Kingdom you can celebrate Halloween at Mickey’s Not so Scary Halloween Party and Christmas at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, both separately ticketed events.
Disney World has so much more to offer than meets the eye. On your next visit, try out a few of the things that you’ve been missing. It might lead to your best vacation ever!
BONUS TIP: Consider planning and booking your next Disney trip with an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner you can trust like Mickey Travels. They’ll help you get the best Walt Disney World deal, share expert advice and their services are totally FREE! It’s genius!
Photo courtesy of Disney Photo Snapper
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