ResortsWalt Disney World (FL)

Reasons to Visit EVERY Walt Disney World Resort

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“Visit the resorts” is a common suggestion for guests wondering how to spend a day outside the theme parks or for guests visiting during the holiday season. Along with suggestion, the same few hotels are mentioned time and time again. And yes, checking out the Grand Floridian gingerbread house is a must-do during December, but there are fun things to see and do at EVERY Walt Disney World hotel throughout the year.

Before we get started, a caveat … While everyone is welcome to visit all the hotels, there may be rules about how you get to those hotels. The deluxe resorts often having parking restrictions in place, limiting drive-up guests or even sometime Uber/Lyft/taxi drop-offs to guests registered at those hotels. Other hotels might implement similar rules at any time. When in doubt, use Disney’s internal free transportation system of buses, boats, monorails, and Skyliners to get to the resorts and you’ll be fine.

Some general reasons why you might want to visit any Disney World resort include:

  • To scope out whether the resort makes sense for your family/friends for a future visit
  • To admire the architecture or decor
  • To dine at the resort’s restaurants
  • To shop for items only found in the resort’s stores
  • To participate in the resort’s recreational opportunities
  • To understand the scope of Walt Disney World
  • To occupy vacation time in an area that does not require an admission fee
  • To find interesting places to “get your steps in” walking or running
  • To get your kids some playground time
  • To kill some time in the arcade

Note: Pool hopping is allowed only in limited circumstances. Don’t expect to swim at a resort other than your own. 

Along with those macro reasons for stopping by any WDW hotel, here are some specific points of interest at each individual resort. While I’ve listed the hotels separately, there are some natural pairings with hotels that are near each other. For example, if you’ve trekked over to All Star Movies, seeing all the All Stars is easy peasy. The same is true for the Port Orleans resorts, the Yacht & Beach Club resorts, and for the Art of Animation and Pop Century resorts. And of course, this is by no means exhaustive, rather it’s just the tiny tip of the iceberg.

All Star Movies

  • Play a game of giant chess or checkers
  • Pose with giant Toy Story characters
  • Pose with giant toy soldiers – a fun holiday card backdrop
  • Check out the lobby displays of movie memorabilia

All Star Music

  • Pose with giant instruments
  • Enjoy the lobby photos of the iconic musicians and discuss what you think of Disney’s selections
  • Play shuffleboard

All Star Sports

  • Have a photo shoot with your favorite football fan
  • Enjoy the photos of iconic athletes and discuss what you think of Disney’s selections
  • Stock up on ESPN branded merchandise

Animal Kingdom Lodge (Jambo and Kidani)

  • View the African art and artifacts in the lobbies
  • View giraffes, zebras, flamingos, and other wild animals
  • Speak with animal experts (select times)
  • Shop for African crafts
  • Grab a drink at the Victoria Falls Lounge

Art of Animation

  • Pose with giant Little Mermaid characters
  • Immerse yourself in the Cars-themed area
  • Watch an animation artist at work
  • Pose with giant Lion King characters
  • Participate in a trivia competition (select evenings)

Beach Club

  • Have your caricature drawn
  • Rest in the Solarium – The Beach Club is an easy walk from the Epcot. The Beach Club’s Solarium is a nice place to rest and recharge if you need a break.
  • Take a painting class at the Vineyard Lounge (select days)
  • Grab an ice cream at the Beaches & Cream to-go window

BoardWalk Inn and Villas

  • Have an ice cream
  • Have a drink and a see some magic at AbracadaBar
  • Watch a “street” performer (most evenings, weather permitting)
  • Rent a surrey bike
  • Play games of chance (open evenings, weather permitting)
  • Sign along at Jellyrolls
  • Dance the night away at Atlantic Dance

Caribbean Beach Resort

  • Relax on a hammock
  • Watch the Skyliner drift by
  • Take a boat ride from the marina

Contemporary and Bay Lake Tower

  • See the famous Mary Blair-designed mosaic in the Contemporary lobby
  • Watch the Magic Kingdom fireworks from an elevated vantage
  • Take nap
  • Learn to paint (select days)

Coronado Springs

  • See live cacti in a Southwest setting
  • Use the printing and shipping services at the business center
  • Admire the decor in the Gran Destino tower

Fort Wilderness Cabins and Campground

  • Enjoy a slice of homespun Americana at the Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue dinner show
  • Take a horseback ride, pony ride, or horse drawn carriage ride
  • Rent a canoe
  • Play shuffleboard

Grand Floridian (including Villas)

  • Visit the giant gingerbread house (November and December)
  • Enjoy a cocktail at the Enchanted Rose Lounge
  • Shop for resortwear
  • People watch in the lobby

Old Key West

  • Hunt for Orange Birds in the lobby
  • Rent a bike
  • Take a tennis lesson

Polynesian Village and Villas

  • Grab a Dole Whip without paying park admission
  • Sip a classic lapu lapu cocktail
  • Buy some Hawaiian souvenirs

Pop Century

  • Pose with giant toys
  • View pop culture artifacts
  • Learn some trivia about ancient history (like the 1970s)
  • Sample the famous tie-dye cheesecake

Port Orleans French Quarter

  • Enjoy some Mickey-shaped beignets
  • Buy some New Orleans food favorites
  • Take a mosaic art class (select days)
  • Pose for pictures with a banjo-playing gator

Port Orleans Riverside

  • Take a horse-drawn carriage ride
  • Rent a surrey bike
  • Experience cane pole fishing

Riviera Resort

  • Take in panoramic views from the bar at Topolino Terrace
  • Enjoy a gelato while strolling the beach area
  • Play bocce
  • Admire the artwork

Saratoga Springs

  • Book at treatment at Senses Spa
  • Pose in the Winner’s Circle
  • Play golf and shop for supplies at the pro shop

Wilderness Lodge (and Boulder Ridge and Copper Creek Villas)

  • Relax by the fire
  • View the educational displays in the lobby
  • Watch a geyser erupt

Yacht Club

  • Grab a drink at the Ale & Compass Lounge
  • Examine the model ships in the lobby
  • Shop classic resortwear brands
Resortwear sold in the Yacht Club shop

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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.

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