8 Sensational Yet Overlooked Experiences Outside Of Disney’s Parks
There’s so much to do at the Disney parks, but you can also spend several days just enjoying all the fun activities that take place outside the parks. If you’re crunched for time and can only do a few of them, here are some sensational experiences that are often overlooked by guests who just focus on the Disney parks.
8. Hot Tubs
All Moderate and Deluxe resorts on Disney property have at least one hot tub that’s usually conveniently near the poolside bar. A great experience that not everyone takes the time for is to sit back at the end of the day, enjoy a drink (if you’re of age), and a long soak in the hot tub. Not only will you get a chance to relax your muscles after walking all day, but you’ll get to meet other park guests and see what they’ve done. You may learn some insider tips that can help you during the rest of your vacation.
7. Disney Springs/Downtown Disney
Disney Springs, formerly Downtown Disney, is a great place to explore. If you want to see a show, experience phenomenal dining, get all your shopping done at once, or see a movie, it’s all right here. Especially with the Disney Springs expansions opening up, there’s more to experience whether you’re with the whole family or just the adults. You’ll definitely want to see La Nouba, the Irish step dancers outside of Raglan Road, and the new car boats at the Boathouse.
6. The Boardwalk
The Boardwalk is its own hidden amusement park in a way. With a Coney Island feel, there’s so much to do in the way of dining, entertainment, and recreation. Be sure to visit the Boardwalk Bakery and the Flying Fish Café for some amazing dishes and visit at night for some adults only entertainment at Atlantic Dance Hall or Jellyrolls where you can see a dueling pianos show.
5. The Spa
Disney actually has several spas around the property, but perhaps the most popular is Senses located at the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. Enjoy a massage, body wrap, facial, pedicure, or any of the packages the resort offers. Do yourself a favor and really give yourself the royal treatment by being pampered. Advance reservations are required for this experience so be sure to call (407) WDW-SPAS to see what times are available.
4. Mickey’s Backyard BBQ
This is a great way to meet Mickey without having to use a Fastpass or wait in a long line. Located at The Campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort, you can enjoy some all-you-can-eat BBQ and meet Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, and Chip ‘n Dale. Entertainment also includes rope trick performances and line dancing. This experience also includes complimentary wine and beer for those guests over 21.
This experience is available during the day and is also at The Campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort. Disney guests can go horseback riding or take a carriage ride. Pony rides are available for younger guests. It’s here where you can get up close and personal with the horses that pull the trolleys in the Magic Kingdom. This is also where you can find the Dragon Calliope, which was used in a Disneyland parade in the 1950s. The ranch tends to close around 3:30pm so it’s better to do this one earlier in the day and then enjoy something else at night.
2. View Fireworks from Polynesian or Contemporary
If you enjoy watching Wishes, but hate the crowds at Magic Kingdom, you can also get a great view from either the Polynesian or the Contemporary resorts. At the Polynesian, pull up a lounge chair on the sandy beach as music from the show is played through nearby speakers so you still get to experience the great soundtrack. Over at the Contemporary, the Observation Deck gives a great aerial view of the fireworks show with a spectacular view. If you get the chance to eat at the California Grill, you can get a ticket to come back later and watch the show.
1. Disney’s Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show
This is an experience every Disney fan should do at least once. By booking a reservation for the Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show at the Polynesian resort, which takes up two Meal Plan tickets, you’ll get a completely immersive Hawaiian experience. To start with, you get a lei and a picture of your entire family taken. Later you’ll be asked if you want to buy it, but cast members will also take pictures with your own camera. Then you get to enjoy an all-you-can-eat meal served family style of delicious favors that melt in your mouth. Then there’s the entertainment. With songs, dances, audience participation, and tie-ins to the film Lilo and Stitch, it offers the best in out-of-park entertainment.
Take the time to explore what there is to do outside of the parks. You wouldn’t want to miss out on these amazing experiences.
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Kristina is a freelance writer and full-time marketer who is a loud and proud Disney fan. Besides Disney Fanatic and How To Disney, she has also written for Examiner.com, Disney Avenue, and XOJane. A frequent visitor to Disney World, she enjoys trying something new each trip and experiencing all Disney has to offer. She lives in New York with her cat, Lizzie.