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Our Top Ten Favorite Resort Experiences for First-Time Guests to Disney World

Visiting Walt Disney World for the first time can be an overwhelming experience.  Guests are exploring a new place, but the new place is a magical creation home to four theme parks, two water parks, and countless other entertainment options and venues.  On top of this first-time guests are likely staying on property in one of the over twenty resort hotels.  With all of the options available to guests, it is easy to overlook the entertainment that the resorts offer to guests, but some of the most memorable experiences you can have on property are found at the resorts.  Here is our top ten for first-time guests to check out at the resorts!

10 – Boat to Disney Springs (Various Resorts)

Disney Springs

Guests staying on the east side of the resort are able to take small boats along the waterways to get to Disney Springs as opposed to taking a bus, driving themselves, or arranging other transportation.  Guests calling either of the Port Orleans resorts home during their stay, or those staying at Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa or the Old Key West Resort will have this truly unique option open to them when getting to Disney Springs!

9 – Nightly Movies (All Resorts)

Each resort displays a select Disney movie every night in a common area of the resort for guests looking to avoid the bustle of the parks at night.  During your check-in, the Cast Members should alert you to the schedule and location for the movies.  These movies are usually shown outdoors, so guests are not missing out on the lovely Florida weather during most of the year.  Make sure to wear some comfy clothes and grab some tasty snacks!

8 – Horse-Drawn Carriage Ride (Port Orleans French Quarter)

Port Orleans

Fashioned after New Orleans, guests at Port Orleans French Quarter are able to climb aboard a horse-drawn carriage and tour the property and take in the views of the wrought-iron terraces throughout the resort, as well as enjoy the clop-clop of the horse trotting along the cobblestoned streets and enjoy the sight of the Sassagoula River in the distance.  This can be an amazing first-time experience or something unique to do for a special occasion!

7 – Nighttime Boat Ride to the Magic Kingdom (Magic Kingdom Resorts)

Guests staying at one of the Magic Kingdom Resorts (Grand Floridian, Polynesian Village, Contemporary Resort, Wilderness Lodge, and Fort Wilderness) are able to travel to the resort via smaller boats that are much more intimate than the huge ferry boat that takes guests from the Ticket and Transportation Center to the Magic Kingdom.  These boat rides are enjoyable at any time of the day, but there is something special and magical about riding the boats at night and taking in the various lights of the resorts and of the Magic Kingdom — this is even more true if you are able to plan your trip during the nightly fireworks show!

6 – Yee-Haw Bob (Port Orleans Riverside)

Most nights at the River Roost Lounge, Yee-Haw Bob entertain guests in a relaxed atmosphere as guests can enjoy a sampling of tasty bar bites and refreshing beer and other liquid creations. Bob’s show is high-energy, but is definitely a great way to either unwind after a long day at the parks or as a perfect appetizer before heading back out for a night of fun and frivolity! 



5 – Spirit of Aloha Dinner (Polynesian Village Resort)

Spirit of Aloha
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Guests wanting to participate in this event need to make reservations in advance and do need to pay for the show beforehand, but once the show starts, guests are entertained with a selection of Polynesian entertainment with dancing, as well as unlimited food in an unbeatable atmosphere on the shores of Seven Seas Lagoon.  You do not need to be a guest at the Polynesian Village Resort to take advantage of this event! 

4 – Holiday Decorations (All Resorts)

Beginning in early November and continuing through the New Year, all of the resorts are decked out in their holiday finery.  Guests will find a bevy of decorations to celebrate the season — Christmas trees adorn the lobbies, while at the deluxe resorts, guests can find a massive gingerbread house (Grand Floridian) or a gingerbread carousel (Beach Club).  If you find yourselves at Disney World during this time of the year and one of your afternoons get washed out by rain, you should definitely make the time explore the resorts and appreciate their decorations!

3 – Rooftop Dining (Select Resorts)

Topolino's Terrace

Disney World has a selection of rooftop dining for guests wanting a new view with their meal.  Guests can choose from the California Grill at the Contemporary for a view of the Magic Kingdom.  Or they may choose to opt for a meal at Topolino’s Terrace at the Riviera Resort which finds itself nestled with views of both Epcot and Hollywood Studios.  And finally, guests can sample a variety of smaller plates when dining at Toledo at the new Gran Destino Tower at Coronado Springs.

2 – Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue (Fort Wilderness Campground)

Hoop De Doo
Photo credit Disney

Similar to the meal that awaits guests at the Spirit of Aloha Dinner, the Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue also requires reservations and advance payment, but once guests make their way inside of the dance hall, they will be treated to foot-stomping entertainment, as well as all-you-care-to-enjoy fare featuring homestyle favorites like cornbread, ribs, fried chicken, beans, corn, and salad.  Adults of age can sip to their content on beer and sangria, but regardless of your age, you’ll want to save room for strawberry shortcake at the end of the meal.  You’ll also want to scheduled some extra time before or after your meal to explore this area of the campgrounds!

1 – Grand Floridian Lobby

Grand Floridian

The lobby at the Grand Floridian is exquisite and immaculate.  It is hard to explain the austere majesty guests will feel just walking into this space and taking a deep breath.  While inside, guests can walk around an shop in the various stores around the lobby or simply sit down and take in the wonderful views.  This can be an amazing afternoon diversion from a hot and sticky afternoon at the Magic Kingdom or a great start to a night if you are dining at any one of the wonderful restaurants that call the Grand Floridian home!

While many first-time guests will spend their time finding the perfect dining reservation or scheduling the best slate of FastPass+ selections, they should not be distracted from the wonderful options that await guests at the various Disney resorts.  What resort activity sounds like the most fun to you?

About Becky

Becky is a full time wife, mother and graphic designer. She loves all-things Disney and loves sharing her advice and experiences on DisneyFanatic.com.