8 Fantastic Things to do at Disney World Outside the Parks

Disney's Boardwalk
Disney's Boardwalk

It is undeniable that the Walt Disney World parks are the main reason for traveling to the happiest place on earth; however, the magic doesn’t stop there! Just outside the park lie so many other activities packed with Disney Magic for everyone to enjoy! Here are the top eight things to do outside of the parks at the Walt Disney World Resort.

8. Hotel Dining Experiences

While the parks have some unbelievable dining experiences for all ages, there are a plethora of unforgettable ones at the resorts on Walt Disney World property. If you’re looking for a simple meal, exotic flavors, or even dinner and a show, you can find it at several of the resorts on Disney World property. My personal favorites include ‘Ohana at the Polynesian resort, 1900 Park Fare at the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, Boma at Animal Kingdom Lodge, Trails End and the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue at the Fort Wilderness Campgrounds, Yachtsmans Steakhouse at the Yacht and Beach Club, and the Whispering Canyon Café at the Fort Wilderness Lodge (don’t forget to ask for extra ketchup here). With so many places to choose from, you can’t go wrong!

7. Fantasia Gardens and Fairway Miniature Golf

Located right across the Swan and Dolphin Resort and Spa, you will find Fantasia Gardens and Fairway Miniature Golf, a great place to unwind with the kids and play a little game of golf. With eighteen holes based on the iconic Fantasia film, this is a great way to experience some recreation and beautiful Florida weather. The best part about this golf course is that it accommodates the little ones, teens, and adults since each hole ranges from par-3 to par-5 and are different lengths for various levels of difficulty. The views from the golf course are stunning as well. You can enjoy the Tower of Terror background and the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin hotel architecture while you golf!

6. Senses and Mandara Spa

Lets face it, Walt Disney World requires tons of walking and can be mentally exhausting after figuring out when to meet characters and where to make a dining reservation. After all of the chaos, it’s important to relax. After all, isn’t that what vacation is for? This is where the Senses spa at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Mandara Spa at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort come in to save the day. Relax in a beautiful spa and receive top of the line treatment as you indulge in pure relaxation. Both spas offer various massages to choose from as well as services for kids and teens. The Mandara spa also offers services for hair and nails! Reservations are recommended for both spas.

5. Fort Wilderness Campgrounds

If you love recreation, you will fall in love with all of the activities that the Fort Wilderness Campgrounds has to offer. The best part about being able to enjoy these activities is that they are suitable for all ages, making it a great way to bond with your family and friends. The Fort Wilderness Campgrounds offers boat, kayak, and canoe rentals, carriage rides, bike rentals, wagon rides, horse drawn excursions, archery, fishing, and much more. Looking for more water related recreation? Disney’s Contemporary Resort offers water skiing, boat rentals, parasailing, personal watercraft rentals, wakeboarding, tubing, and more! After all your recreational activities, be sure to head over to the campfire with Chip and Dale for some s’more eating and singing fun!

4. Hotel amenities

This may sound like a no brainer, but staying on property has it’s advantages. There is no reason to have to just head over to the parks for fun. The hotels on property offer many amenities to keep the fun going. The resorts always offer great pools with a team of cast members that host games, activities, and dance parties for the little ones. Select hotels also offer arcades, kid clubs, diverse dining, fitness clubs, volleyball and basketball courts, beaches, and even movies under the stars every night. The deluxe resorts offer more amenities than the moderate and value resorts, but remember, you can enjoy the magic no matter where you are staying!

3. Exotic Driving Experience

Do you love fast racecars? Does the roaring sound of an engine get your heart pumping? Head on over to the Walt Disney World Speedway where you can experience the track with a professional driver as you zoom the speedway in a high-end, high-performance racing vehicle. This experience is available for kids, tweens, teens, and adults. Reservations are recommended.

2. Downtown Disney

Just around the corner form Epcot and Hollywood Studios, you will find a whole new world of entertainment. Downtown Disney offers dozens and dozens of restaurants to choose from with unique dining experiences. From authentic Cuban food at Bongos Cuban Café, to a roaring pre-historic feat at T-Rex Café, to having dinner right at your movie seat at the AMC Theater, you can’t go wrong! If you’re looking for exceptional and authentic Disney merchandise and souvenirs, look no further than the shops at Downtown Disney. The stores vary and include candy shops, Christmas shops, Personalization shops (including your own personal cell phone cover, t-shirt, and hat), art galleries, couture apparel, make-up products, and of course, Disney merchandise stores. The list goes on and on! You can also experience live dance parties, concerts, movies, the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique salon, Cirque Du Soleil, Disney Quest (a great indoor theme park), bowling at Splitsville, and much, much more. You can’t go wrong at Downtown Disney!

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1. Disney Boardwalk

My all time favorite hangout spot outside of the parks has to be Disney’s Boardwalk. This quaint little area offers a Coney Island style boardwalk loaded with areas to dine and shop as well as rent bicycles, watch magic shows, and play carnival style games. My favorite part of the Boardwalk has to be Jellyrolls and the Atlantic Dance Hall. This piano bar and nightclub offer lots of fun as you dance and sing the night away without the little ones. The restaurants on the boardwalk also offer outdoor seating, giving you a beautiful view of the lake which is surrounded by the Swan and Dolphin and Yacht and Beach Club resort. In the evening, you can enjoy the Epcot fireworks right from the boardwalk benches. The charming Boardwalk is a must do for outside-of-the-parks activities!

About Natalie

Natalie is an elementary school teacher and a native Floridian who lives and breathes all things Disney. Her love for Disney started at the age of two during her first visit, and has continued to flourish into her adult life. She loves to share her Disney passion with her students and believes Disney is so special because there is no other place to forget about your worries and be a kid again, which is why she refuses to ‘grow up’.

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