101 Things to Do Near Disney World Without Going into a Park (Park Pass Edition)

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Do you have time to kill on your arrival or departure day? Looking to take a chill day mid-vacation? Or what if you can’t get a Park Pass reservation for one or all of the parks?

Whatever the reason, there may be times when you’re at Walt Disney World when you either can’t or don’t want to venture into a theme park. So what do you do?

No worries. We’ve got you covered! Here’s a handy list of 100+ ways for you to keep busy and have fun without visiting the parks during these unprecedented times. (Note: Activity availability may vary due to COVID precautions.)

And now on to the list of 101 Walt Disney World Activities Outside the Theme Parks:

  1. Dine with Characters. While many character meals are still closed, both Chef Mickey’s at the Contemporary Resort (breakfast only) and Breakfast a’ la Art with Mickey and Friends at the Riviera Resort’s Topolino’s Terrace (breakfast only) offer socially distanced character dining outside the theme parks.
  2. Play miniature golf. There are two mini-golf courses on-site: Winter Summerland and Fantasia Gardens. Winter Summerland is currently closed at this time, but Fantasia Gardens is open.

    Fantasia Gardens Mini Golf (photo pre-COVID)
  3. Take in a movie at AMC’s 24 theater complex at Disney Springs.
  4. Swim at your resort’s pool.
  5. Visit the horses and explore Fort Wilderness.
  6. Watch an outdoor movie at your resort. This is a free activity offered nightly at the Disney Resorts. If it’s a rainy night, Cast Members move the film inside.
  7. Take a day trip Kennedy Space Center, a bit over an hour away in Port Canaveral.
  8. Browse the Disney Springs LEGO Store. LEGO sets for both kids and adults are here, and there’s even a station where you can customize your own LEGO person.

    Shopping at the Lego Store can be a great way to appease the kiddos after lots of boring clothes shopping.
  9. Tour the holiday decorations at the Disney resorts, mid-November until the first week of January.
  10. Explore the resorts on a surrey bike. Choose a 2- or 4-person Surrey bike for $25 per person. (Some locations may be currently unavailable.)
  11. Go for a run. Many of the Disney resorts have lovely jogging trails nearby. Inquire at your hotel’s concierge desk.
  12. Go fishing. Disney offers guided fishing excursions at a number of their resorts. Dockside Fishing at Port Orleans Riverside is currently unavailable as the resort is still closed.
  13. Play golf. Disney’s Palm, Magnolia, and Lake Buena Vista links are standard 18-hole courses. Oak Trail is a nine-hole course perfect for beginners. Call 407-WDW-GOLF for more information.
  14. Rent a canoe. Stop by the Fort Wilderness bike barn for hourly rentals.
  15. Hear live music at the House of Blues.
  16. Watch the big game at the ESPN Club on the Boardwalk. The restaurant is currently closed but expected to reopen in the future.
  17. Explore the Carolwood Pacific Room (a.k.a Iron Spike Room) at the Boulder Ridge Villas. The Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge has its own lobby with a train-themed lounge filled with railroad memorabilia related to Walt Disney’s love of trains. © Sarah Graffam
  18. Stroll around the Boardwalk. Back in normal times, live performers entertained guests. While that’s not currently offered, the Boardwalk still offers dining, shopping, views, and more.
  19. See Disney World from the air on the Aerophile tethered balloon ride at Disney Springs.
  20. Shop at the Orlando area outlet malls.
  21. Volunteer at Give Kids the World. This wonderful organization provides cost-free vacations for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families. It an awe-inspiring place.
  22. Take a tour of Fort Wilderness on horseback by calling 407-WDW-PLAY or walk in at the front barn. 
  23. Play tennis. Courts are available at Saratoga Springs, Yacht Club, Fort Wilderness, Contemporary, Animal Kingdom Lodge, Boardwalk, and Old Key West.
  24. Conquer the Kitchen Sink. It’s legendary at Beaches & Cream Soda Shop at Disney’s Beach Club Resort.
  25. Take a nice long nap.
  26. Have a drink and snack at your resort’s lounge.
  27. Rent a cabana. Available at most deluxe resorts. Have your own poolside oasis with comfy chairs, a tv, fresh towels, and the service of an attendant. Call (407) WDW-PLAY for more info.
  28. Go antiquing. Hunt for vintage Disney World memorabilia at area antique shops.
  29. Ride the Monorail. All the Walt Disney World transportation is free, and the Monorail is an absolute must-do.
  30. Ride the Disney Skyliner. Disney’s latest mode of transportation offers aerial views in breezy, colorful gondolas between EPCOT and Hollywood Studios and several Disney resorts.

    The Skyliner may be an issue if you have a fear of heights
  31. Check out the animals at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. Enjoy seeing a variety of African animals roaming free on the savannah at Animal Kingdom Lodge’s Jambo House and/or Kidani Village for free!
  32. Sing your heart out. Kimonos bar at the Swan features karaoke in the evenings. NOTE: Kimonos doesn’t accept MagicBands or the Disney Gift Card as forms of payment.
  33. Go gluten freeBabycakes NYC features cookies, cakes, donuts, and other sweet treats that are gluten-free, egg-free, vegan, and yes, delicious.
  34. Watch Irish Step Dancing. Music and dancing are part of the entertainment at Raglan Road at Disney Springs.
  35. Treat yourself and your family with Disney Floral Gifts.
  36. Take in the Live Entertainment at Disney Springs. A variety of live performers entertain guests at Disney Springs in the afternoons and evenings.
  37. Shop for resort-specific merch. Most of the Disney Resorts sell merch exclusive to their individual resorts, as well as DVC-themed merch.
  38. Ride a carousel. The mini carousel at Downtown Disney is the perfect place for little ones to get their first play on the ponies.
  39. Take an archery lesson at Fort Wilderness. Merida better watch out! © Sarah Graffam
  40. Become a knight at Medieval Times in nearby Kissimmee.
  41. Shoot some pool. Any Disney World Resort guest can use resort pool tables and equipment can be acquired using a valid Resort ID. Disney Vacation Club members may check out equipment free of charge; for all other Guests, an associated fee applies. Pool tables can be found at Animal Kingdom Lodge – Kidani Villages, the Beach Club, Caribbean Beach, Old Key West, and Saratoga Springs.
  42. Return to prehistoric times or dine in a tropical rainforest. The audio-animatronic dinosaurs at Disney Springs’ T-Rex Cafe will have you thinking you’re back in the Stone Age, and Rainforest Cafe at both the Springs and Disney’s Animal Kingdom (no, you don’t need a park ticket or park pass reservation to visit) offers a dining experience complete with a thunderstorm, waterfalls, animals, and tropical fish.
  43. Resort Hop. You don’t have to be a Disney Resort guest to visit all of the resorts at Walt Disney World and enjoy their sights, dining, shopping, and more.
  44. Watch the Electrical Water Pageant. This free boat parade passes by the Magic Kingdom and area resorts every evening, weather permitting.

    Electrical Water Pageant – December 2020
  45. Educate yourself at a Disney Resort. Certain Disney World Resorts like Wilderness Lodge and Animal Kingdom Lodge have artifacts on display for guests to discover.
  46. Get wet at the water parks! While Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon water park is still closed, Disney’s Blizzard Beach and Universal Orlando’s Volcano Bay are open.
  47. Shop Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at the Star Wars Trading Post. For those who can’t visit Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the Star Wars Trading Post at Disney Springs has been known to offer items exclusive to the land ranging from Kyber Crystals to Legacy Lightsabers to handcrafted toys from the Toydarian Toymaker.
  48. Hunt for Easter Eggs. The Grand Floridian Resort is known for displaying elaborately decorated Easter Egg creations for guests to peruse each spring.
  49. Borrow a DVD. Guests of the Disney Vacation Club villas get free DVD rentals during their stay.
  50. Build your castle. There are sandy beach areas at many of the Disney resorts. While you can’t swim in the water, the sand is perfect for digging and building sandcastles.
  51. Hit the beach. Channel your inner Moana and visit actual beach areas (you know, with the ocean) about an hour away from the parks.
  52. Take a ride in an Amphicar. Ready to hit the open …water? At the BOATHOUSE at Disney Springs, guests can take a ride in a retro car that’s also a boat on Lake Buena Vista.
  53. Make your own treat at Goofy’s Candy Company at Disney Springs. Choose cookies, apples, pretzels, or marshmallows. Dip them in caramel, white chocolate, or milk chocolate. Cover them with nuts, sprinkles, cookie crumbs, or more chocolate. Yes!
  54. Bowl a few frames. The new Splitsville luxury lanes feature bowling served up with great eats.
  55. Trade those pins. Stop by the various Disney resort gift shops and Disney Pin Traders at Disney Springs to trade some pins with the Cast Members or add some new finds to your collection.
  56. Strike a pose. At the Disney Springs PhotoPass Studio, guests can get a number of photos taken in a professional, indoor setting with a variety of backdrops and props.
  57. Watch glass blowing at Crystal Arts by Arribas Brothers. In addition to browsing an assortment of handcrafted glassware, tiaras, figures, and jewelry, you can watch the artisans at work creating gorgeous crystal creations!
  58. Check out the Christmas treats at the Disney Resorts. Resort hop to the different Disney Resorts for unique, holiday treats and gingerbread during the holiday season!
  59. Hunt for Hidden Mickeys at your resort.

    Mickeys — hidden and obvious. (Photo by Julia Mascardo)
  60. Crash a wedding. I’m not encouraging you to pull a Vince Vaughn, but if you station yourself near Disney’s Wedding Pavillion for a while, you’re bound to see some wedding parties and blushing brides heading to their nuptials. Always charming.
  61. Visit a Target or Walmart near Walt Disney World. They have sections dedicated to Disney products and merch for a significantly cheaper price. This is also where you should go for ponchos, umbrellas, cooling towels, and the like.
  62. Play volleyball. Most of the resorts with sand beaches also have a volleyball net on site. Ask the nearby lifeguard to lend you a ball.
  63. Take a walk. There’s a walking path from the Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC) to the Polynesian Village Resort which then goes to the Grand Floridian Resort, the Magic Kingdom, and then the Contemporary Resort. Take in the gorgeous views and escape the masses on this pathway.
  64. Get a silhouette portrait. At Disney Springs, artisans are available to hand-cut paper silhouettes of you, your family, and even your pets! There are also frames for sale, as well as pre-cut silhouettes of Disney icons and characters.

    Custom silhouettes make a great gift for family members.
  65. Have a Dole Whip. The Polynesian Village Resort offers a Dole Whip window known as the Pineapple Lanai. In addition to your classic Dole Whip combos, this locale also offers specialty flavors from time to time. You can also get a Dole Whip at Marketplace Snacks at Disney Springs.
  66. Get a sugar buzz. Disney Springs is home to several locations to satisfy your sweet tooth such as Amorette’s Patisserie, The Ganachery, Everglazed Donuts & Cold Brew, Sprinkles and its cupcake ATM, and now Gideon’s Bakery with its half-pound cookies.
  67. Have a Coke. The Disney Springs Coca-Cola Store offers two levels of Coca-Cola merch along with a rooftop bar serving up Coca-Cola products from around the world plus a view.
  68. Hit the gym. Need to work off the Kitchen Sink? The deluxe resorts and Coronado Springs resort feature fitness centers with cardio machines, weights, and much more.
  69. Wash your hands. Take health and safety during these times to a new level by washing your hands with incredible products at The Basin stores at both the Grand Floridian Resort and at Disney Springs.
  70. Go to church. If services are important to you, your resort concierge can help you find a nearby congregation that meets your needs. Many local churches welcome visitors.
  71. Mine for gems. Embrace your inner Doc or Dopey and mine for gems at L&B Gem Mining at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort. Purchase a bag at the Bike Barn and then get sifting!

    Gem Mining at Fort Wilderness
  72. Browse the Christmas Tree Trail. At Disney Springs throughout the holidays, Disney displays an assortment of Christmas trees themed after Disney characters, franchises, and even the resort itself.
  73. Photoshoot at Disney’s Art of Animation and All-Star Movies Resort. Each section of Disney’s Art of Animation and All-Star Movies Resort is themed after a Disney film or project and features massive icons of Disney characters and themed backdrops perfect for photos.
  74. Toss a ball or Frisbee. Most of the Disney resorts have open areas suitable for active play. Be careful not to disturb other guests, but feel free to let the kiddos burn off some steam on the grass or the beach. Many resort gift shops have balls available for purchase.
  75. Make a friend. Disney guests and cast members come from every state and all over the world. Strike up a conversation at the pool, bar, or spa. You never know who you’ll meet.
  76. Book your next trip. Disney typically offers discounts to repeat visitors if they book their next vacation during their current vacation. Look for an offer sheet in your room, or if you don’t see one, speak to your resort concierge about a “Bounce Back” discount.
  77. Personalize your M&Ms. At the Disney Springs M&Ms Store, you can personalize your own M&Ms with your own photos, messages, or Disney icons.
  78. Take a Disney Vacation Club Tour. See a stand or representative for the Disney Vacation Club? Stop by to learn more about Disney’s version of a timeshare and maybe to take a tour of certain DVC Villas. You may even get a cool freebie too.
  79. Get some real coffee. Now that Starbucks has made its way into the Disney universe, finding palatable caffeine isn’t the challenge that it once was. There are two Starbucks locations at Disney Springs, a Joffrey’s Coffee location offering Disney character latte art, and several resorts offer specialty coffees like Coronado Springs’ Barlecona Lounge, the Riviera’s Le Petit Cafe, press pot coffee at Kona Cafe, and more.
  80. Relax by the fire. On rainy days and during cooler times of the year, catch up on that book or take a nap at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge where you have the choice of the Grand Canyon fireplace and other nooks with their own fireplaces on the upper levels of the main lobby.
  81. Rent a golf cart and go for a spin. Take a tour of the Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground, especially to see the different Halloween and Christmas decorations, aboard a golf cart! Reservations are not required but are recommended.
  82. Enjoy free Resort activities. The Disney Resorts offer activities throughout the day ranging from cookie decorating to tie-dye t-shirts.
  83. Spread some Disney magic. Thank a Cast Member, tip well, talk to your server about their day, tell a guest Happy Birthday or wish them a Happy Anniversary, pay for someone’s coffee or treat, and take the time to compliment a Cast Member to management.
  84. Grab a park snack, Mouse Ears, and a Mickey balloon. Yes, you can items from the parks outside the parks! At Disney Springs, you can enjoy a candy apple or Mickey Mouse rice krispie treat at either Disney’s Candy Cauldron or Goofy’s Candy Company at Disney Springs. Many of the Disney-owned stores sell Mouse Ears, and Cast Members are often about selling those classic Mickey balloons.
  85. Collect Pressed Pennies. At many of the resorts, you can find pressed penny machines that make for a cool (and inexpensive!) souvenir. Plus, it’s a challenge to try to collect them all.
  86. Check out CityWalk. CityWalk is the shopping and dining district at the Universal Orlando Resort. While it costs to park, CityWalk offers a number of restaurants and stores including the new Universal Legacy Store.

    Universal Orlando CityWalk Crowds – August 15, 2020
  87. Personalize a Christmas ornament. At Disney’s Days of Christmas at Disney Springs, it’s Christmas all year round! A selection of the ornaments for sale can be personalized by Cast Members.
  88. Hunt for characters at the Grand Floridian Resort. A number of Disney characters are hidden in the tilework floor at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort.
  89. Stuff yourself with S’mores. Even though the Chip ‘n Dale sing-a-long currently isn’t offered, you can still buy S’more packs from the Chuck Wagon near Pioneer Hall or from both merchandise locations – Meadow Trading Post and Settlement Trading Post.
  90. Do your laundry. No, it’s not exciting, but sometimes you do need to take care of chores. Every WDW resort hotel has guest laundry facilities available. And let’s face it, it is more fun to wait for your whites to dry when you’re sitting poolside than it is when you’re in your kitchen.
  91. Hunt for Indiana Jones artifacts. Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar at Disney Springs is packed with references and items from the Indiana Jones films.
  92.  Visit Celebration, Florida. Celebration is a community originally planned by the Walt Disney Company that’s only ten minutes away from Walt Disney World. Its gorgeous homes, small-town charm, and shops and restaurants are worth a visit. Celebration is also known to go all-out for the holidays, complete with fake snow!
  93. Travel through time at Disney’s Pop Century Resort. Each section of Disney’s Pop Century Resort is themed after a decade of the 20th Century beginning with the 1950s. Take a stroll through the resort to see icons and phrases from the past and pose with larger-than-life Disney characters.
  94. Go camping. Get away from it all and enjoy nature while still at Walt Disney World! In addition to cabins, Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort also offers campsites.
  95. Take a boat ride. Boat transportation is offered at many of the Disney Resorts, especially the Deluxe Resorts. Hop aboard, especially in the Bay Lake and Seven Seas Lagoon area, for views of the park and the surrounding resorts.
    Adventure is out there
    The ferry boat does provide a beautiful view for approaching the Magic Kingdom!

     

  96. Say hello to the characters. Due to social distancing, guests can’t meet with characters like they used to. Characters are now making random appearances at the Disney Resorts to interact with guests from afar.
  97. Listen to a pianist. At the Grand Floridian Resort lobby, a pianist plays a variety of tunes on a grand piano.
  98. Shoot some hoops. Equipment and access are free for guests with a valid resort ID at Disney World Resorts such as Animal Kingdom Lodge – Kidani Village, the Contemporary and Bay Lake Tower, the Grand Floridian and the Villas the Grand Floridian, Old Key West, Saratoga Springs, and Fort Wilderness.
  99. Listen to old radio broadcasts. At the Boardwalk’s Belle Vue Lounge, guests can listen to vintage radio broadcasts.
  100. Find your perfect shoe at Fit2Run. This Disney Springs store is known for its running shoes and apparel, but also for its custom fit analysis that evaluates your foot to determine the shoe that’s best for you.
  101. Pick a Pearl. While you can’t pick an oyster at EPCOT’s Japan pavilion these days, you can enjoy a similar experience at Disney Springs’ Pearl Factory.

So what have I missed? Is there something that YOU always do when spending a day away from the parks? Let us know in the comments below.

 

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Savannah Sanders

Savannah has been visiting Disney World since she was a year old and has gone back almost every year since. In the real world, she teaches high school history and government and enjoys writing about all things Disney. Savannah can be reached on Twitter @DisneyParkSavvy.

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