Beyond the ParksResortsShoppingWalt Disney World (FL)

101 Things to Do Near Walt Disney World Without Going into a Theme Park

Share This!

You’ve got time to kill on your arrival or departure day. You’re taking a chill day mid-vacation. You’ve got a park-phobic in your party. Whatever the reason, there may be times when you’re at Walt Disney World or Universal Orlando, but can’t, or don’t want to, venture into a theme park. Here’s a handy list of 101 ways to keep busy and have fun without heading into the parks.

Before I get going, let me say that one oft-mentioned reason for avoiding the theme parks is to save money. I mean, going into the park means a big outlay of funds for admission, right? Well, yes, if you’re going into the parks, you will need a ticket, but you should be aware that spending a day in the park may actually end up cheaper than looking for fun elsewhere. For example, the price difference between an 8-day Walt Disney World park ticket and a 9-day park ticket could be as little as $15 per adult, depending on your travel dates. Even simple activities like mini-golf ($19 per adult at Winter Summerland) or a trip to the movies (about $20 per adult ticket at AMC Disney Springs, depending on the film and time of the showing) will cost more than that. The math is less clear with a shorter stay, and you still may want or need to avoid the parks for sanity purposes, but you should sit down and do the math to make sure that a non-park day makes financial sense for you.

1. Sleep in. Take a nap. Take another nap. You’re on vacation!

2. Dine with characters at a resort hotel.

3. Go to a concert at House of Blues.

4. Create a candle at Bowes Signature Candles or at Basin, both at Disney Springs.

5. Watch the Magic Kingdom fireworks from any of the monorail line resorts.

6. Indulge in some decadent pastries at Amorette’s. Cake decorating lessons are also available.

7. Explore the holiday decorations at the resorts. This is primarily a winter activity, but some resorts also have small displays for Easter, Halloween, and other events.

8. Stage a family photoshoot at the Disney Springs PhotoPass Studio.

9. Swim at your resort pool.

10. Taste all the tapas at Jaleo.

11. Get a personalized ornament for your tree at the Disney Springs Days of Christmas Shop.

12. Shop for fashion. There are so many stores at Disney Springs or at Orlando area outlet malls.

13. Bowl a few frames at Splitsville.

14. Go to a hoedown dinner at the Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue.

15. Rent a canoe at Fort Wilderness.

16. Get your face painted at Disney Springs.

17. Visit a Disney merchandise outlet shop.

18. Rent a bike. Several resorts have both standard bike and surrey bike options.

19. See a movie at AMC Disney Springs.

20. Ride the monorail.

21. Ride the Skyliner.

22. Learn some circus skills.

23. Run a marathon.

24. Take a ride in a hot air balloon.

25. Visit the horses at Fort Wilderness.

26. Use the fitness center, several Walt Disney World resorts have gyms for guest use.

27. Play some games at the hotel arcade.

28. Have a drink and sing along with the amazing keyboardists at Jellyrolls piano bar.

29. Watch the big game at City Works bar.

30. Watch a Cirque du Soleil show.

31. Play miniature golf. There are two courses on Disney property, Winter Summerland and Fantasia Gardens, as well as many off-site options.

32. Stroll around the Boardwalk and watch the free evening entertainment: magicians, musicians, jugglers, etc.

33. Go for a jog. Many Disney resorts have interesting jogging or walking paths. Ask for a map at your hotel’s front desk.

34. 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.

35. Take a day trip to Kennedy Space Center, a bit over an hour away in Port Canaveral.

36. Play tennis. Courts are available at Saratoga Springs, Yacht Club, Fort Wilderness, Contemporary, Animal Kingdom Lodge, Boardwalk, and Old Key West.

37. Karaoke, baby. Kimonos bar at the Swan features karaoke on Wednesday through Sunday evenings.

38. Check out the animals at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. You can see many of the same animals available for viewing on the Animal Kingdom’s Kilimanjaro Safari, without entering the theme park.

39. 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.

40. Visit a trampoline park.

41. Play regulation golf. Disney has three 18-hole and one 9-hole golf courses.

42. Go fishing. There are both guided experiences from a boat and dock-based fishing options available.

43. Create a plush animal at the Build-A-Dino Store at the T-Rex Cafe.

44. Take a horse-drawn carriage ride at Fort Wilderness or Port Orleans.

45. Take the kids to a playground.

46. Attend the free Chip & Dale Campfire Singalong at Fort Wilderness.

47. Watch a sporting event at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.

48. Watch Irish Step Dancing. Music and dancing are part of the entertainment at Raglan Road.

49. Have tea. The soon-to-be-open Cake Bake Shop at Disney’s Boardwalk will offer traditional tea service.

50. Ride a carousel. The mini carousel at Disney Springs is the perfect place for little ones to get their first play on the ponies. There’s a tiny train ride too.

51. Shoot some pool. There are free tables located just outside the Turf Club Bar and Grill at Saratoga Springs.

52. Watch the Electrical Water Pageant. This free boat parade passes by the Magic Kingdom and area resorts every evening, weather permitting.

53. Listen to some light opera at Lowes Portofino Bay Hotel.

54. Build a sand castle. There are sandy beach areas at the many of the Disney resorts. While you can’t swim in the water, the sand is perfect for digging and sculpting.

55. Hit the beach. Real live beach areas (you know, with the ocean) are about an hour away from the parks.

56. Get a makeover. The Sephora at Disney Springs will be the place for all things beautification, and on the off chance that they don’t have what you need, the nearby MAC Cosmetics surely will.

57. Have the best meal of your life at Victoria & Albert’s.

58. 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!

59. Get in Tiki mode at Trader Sam’s.

60. Get a cupcake from a vending machine at Sprinkles.

61. Pretend you’re on the islands at Margaritaville.

62. Listen to some tunes at the Hard Rock Hotel.

63. Get a massage at the Senses Salon at the Grand Floridian, or a pedicure at The Mandara Spa (there’s one at Universal too!)

64. Chow down on some roasted pig at a luau.

65. Be amazed at the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not museum.

66. Make a trade. Stop by your resort’s gift shop or the pin trading station at Disney Springs. You can tweak your collection by swapping pins with the cast members or other guests.

67. Hunt for Hidden Mickeys at your resort.

68. 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.

69. Get a Hair Wrap.

70. Break your way out of an escape room.

71. Sample dozens of sodas at the Coca-Cola Store.

72. Show off your moves at Atlantic Dance Hall.

73. See the entire area from above on Icon Park Orlando.

74. Make your own crayon at the Crayola Experience.

75. See some theater or other live entertainment at the Dr. Phillips Center.

76. Have your portrait cut in silhouette at Disney Springs.

77. Go for a river cruise — in an automobile. The Boathouse offers an amphicar experience where you can tour the Disney Springs waterways in rare style.

78. Get some culture at the Orlando Museum of Art.

79. Create a masterpiece at the Disney Springs LEGO store.

80. 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.

81. Get inked. The Hart and Huntington Studio at Universal City Walk can adorn you with a permanent souvenir of your vacation.

82. 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.

83. Read a trashy novel. We won’t judge.

84. Rent a swan boat at Lake Eola Park.

85. Pretend you’re royalty at Medieval Times.

86. Try some gluten-free eats at Erin McKenna’s Bakery.

87. 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.

88. Conquer the famous Kitchen Sink. It’s legendary at Beaches & Cream Soda Shop at Disney’s Beach Club Resort.

89. Go antiquing. Hunt for vintage Disney World memorabilia at area antique shops.

90. Take an archery lesson at Fort Wilderness. Merida better watch out!

91. 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.

92. 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.

93. 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.

94. 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.

95. Hunt for Indiana Jones artifacts. Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar at Disney Springs is packed with references and items from the Indiana Jones films.

96. 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.

97. Participate in the cult of the Gideon’s Bakehouse cookie.

98. Enjoy a Caribbean tasting dinner with a rum pairing.

99. Listen to a pianist. At the Grand Floridian Resort lobby, a pianist plays a variety of tunes on a grand piano.

100. 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.

101. 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 (they’re often in the welcome folder on the table or desk), or if you don’t see one, speak to your resort concierge about a “Bounce Back” discount.

These are just some of the things you can do in Central Florida without venturing into a theme park. What are your favorite non-park activities?

You May Also Like...

Erin Foster

Erin Foster is an original member of the Walt Disney World Moms Panel (now PlanDisney), a regular contributor to, and co-author of The Unofficial Guide to Disney Cruise Line. She's been to WDW, DL, DL Paris, Hong Kong Disneyland, Aulani, DVC Vero Beach, and DVC Hilton Head. She's a Platinum DCL cruiser and veteran of 10 Adventures by Disney trips. Erin lives near New York City, where she can often be found indulging in her other obsession - Broadway theater.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *