Things to Do at Walt Disney World Without a Park Ticket

Whether you are looking for something to do on your travel day or just planning a relaxing day away from the theme parks, you’ll find lots to do at the Walt Disney World Resort without using a theme park ticket. From movies and bowling at Disney Springs to mini-golf, boat rides, resort hopping, and more, here are some of the best ways to spend a day at Walt Disney World outside of the theme parks.

Spend the day at Disney Springs

Disney Springs

Credit: Brittany DiCologero / Disney Fanatic

This shopping, dining, and entertainment complex has plenty to do whether you are looking to fill an entire day of your trip or just a couple of hours. Shopping at Disney Springs ranges from uniquely Disney stores like Disney Style, the Dress Shop, and Ever After Jewelry Co., along with the massive World of Disney Store, to high-end brands like Coach, Lilly Pulitzer, Sperry, Kate Spade, and more.

Because it is Disney Springs, after all, many of the non-Disney branded stores carry Disney designs that you won’t find at the chains’ other locations. A great place to pick up Disney tees, that just happens to be easy on the wallet, is Uniqlo which carries a wide selection of Disney artwork printed on their affordable t-shirts.

The dining options at Disney Springs are unmatched, even when compared to some Walt Disney World Resort hotels and theme parks. From waterfront dining at The Boathouse to upscale Asian cuisine at Morimoto Asia, restaurants at Disney Springs offer something for every taste and budget, including the area’s quick service locations.

Swirls on the Water

Credit: Disney

Disney Springs is the only place at Disney World where you can order a cupcake at an ATM, and it’s home to restaurants like D-Luxe Burger, which many fans believe to offer the best burgers at Walt Disney World, as well as Chicken Guy, a favorite for those eating out on a budget. Disney Springs also recently opened Swirls on the Water, a brand new destination for DOLE Whip fans to try DOLE Whip flights, nachos, and even a boozy take on the classic treat with DOLE Whip Sangrias and rum floats.

There is more than shopping and dining at Disney Springs. Whether you grab tickets to see Drawn to Life, the newest Disney-inspired production by Cirque du Soleil, take to the skies with the Characters in Flight hot air balloon, or cruise with an Amphicar tour from the Boathouse there are lots of interesting ways to spend a day outside the parks. For something more low-key, there is also bowling at Splitsville Luxury Lanes, or you could check the showtimes to see a movie at AMC.

Miniature Golf at Fantasia Gardens & Fairways or Winter Summerland

Winter Summerland Mini Golf

Credit: Disney

Did you know there are three miniature golf courses at Walt Disney World? Fantasia Gardens & Fairways offer two courses with greens and theming inspired by the hit Walt Disney Animation Studios film, Fantasia (1940). The courses are classic Disney, and while Fantasia Gardens is great for the whole family, Fantasia Fairways offers some extra challenges perfect for teens and adults with par-3 and par-5 holes that range in length from 63 to 109 feet long.

Winter Summerland is one of the best-themed areas outside of Disney parks and resorts, with an interesting storyline in its own right. Designed by Santa Claus, himself, Winter Summerland appropriately features a winter course and a summer course. The courses were created one Christmas eve as Santa flew over Florida and spotted the location that he believed would be the perfect location spot for his elves.

Today, Guests at Walt Disney World can get a taste of winter all year long with the two 18-hole golf courses. And don’t miss the last putt on Hole 18– You might receive a message from Santa via the “WinterNet!”

Explore Disney Resorts

Disney's Yacht Club Resort

Credit: Disney

You can visit Disney resorts to stop for lunch or dinner, check out the shops, or simply browse the details in each lobby and around the grounds. A resort hopping trip could even be broken up into bar crawls or cupcake crawls if you like, with stops around all of the quick service and lounge locations at each resort.

To spend a whole day resort hopping, you may want to head to the Magic Kingdom or EPCOT Area Resorts. From the Magic Kingdom, you can hop on the monorail and easily visit Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Polynesian Village Resort , and Grand Floridian Resort & Spa (and Disney’s Wilderness Lodge and Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground are only a short boat ride through Bay Lake away).

And from the EPCOT Resort Area, you can take a FriendShip boat or walk around Crescent Lake to visit the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin, Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club Resort, and Disney’s BoardWalk Inn. The Disney Skyliner is helpful, too, connecting Disney’s Hollywood Studios and International Gateway at EPCOT to Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, Art of Animation Resort, Pop Century Resort, and the Riviera Resort.

Another great resort to visit? Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. In addition to the artwork and exhibits on display in the lobby, and one of the best Disney resort gift shops, you can head outside to see some of the animals that live in the savanna, including giraffes, zebras, wildebeests, and more.

Spend the evening on the BoardWalk

Credit: Jellyrolls

One Disney resort, in particular, comes with some enhanced entertainment options. Visit the BoardWalk to spend the night at Jellyrolls Dueling Piano Bar or dance the night away at the Atlantic Dance Hall. AbracadaBAR is also onsite offering magic-inspired cocktails and mocktails, as well as Beaches and Cream, home to delicious eats and massive sundaes like the Kitchen Sink.

Go pin-trading

Mickey and Minnie Pin Trading _ disney fanatic

You don’t need to be in a Disney theme park to do some pin-trading. Grab your lanyard and make your way through Disney Springs and Disney resorts. While exploring resorts, you will find pins primarily at the front desk and in merchandise locations (you may even be able to shop for pins specific to the resort you’re visiting, too.)

Note that COVID-19 has altered the way pin trading is done at Walt Disney World and many Cast Members are not yet wearing pin lanyards, at each Disney Park and resort. If you do not see any pins to trade, ask a Cast Member as they may have just moved all of their pins to a board for you to trade from.

About Brittany DiCologero

Brittany is a New England-based writer focused on the history of the Walt Disney World Resort. She is the author of "Red, White, and Disney: The Myths and Reality of American History at the Walt Disney World Resort," and "Brittany Earns Her Ears."

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