Mention Walt Disney World vacation and the first thing that comes to mind for many people is RIDES. And yes, rides are one component of the Disney experience, but there are at least seven types of Disney vacation enticements, with enough to do regardless of your priorities.
In reality, your Disney World vacation is likely to include components of all of these types of fun, but breaking it down can be useful if you’re traveling with a naysayer (why would I go to Disney, I don’t like rides) or if you’re a veteran park-goer looking to add some variety to your annual visits.
If you love theme park rides, Walt Disney World obviously has you covered. With everything from inverted roller coasters (Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster) to gentle carnival fare (Prince Charming Regal Carrousel), Disney World has 50+ rides scattered across four theme parks.
If all you want to do is experience ride-on attractions, Disney has you covered. The Disney World rides have enough variety that most guests have plenty to keep them busy for several days, no matter their age, height, mobility level, or tolerance for thrills.
Check out our selection of touring plans for strategies to experience the greatest possible number of rides per day.
Shopping is entertainment for many folks; particularly guests coming from other countries (remember those?) may want to dedicate a significant portion of their trip to exploring stores, looking for iconic Disneyana, unique items, or bargains.
With the reimagining of Disney Springs a few years ago, that area has become a shoppers paradise, with several locations devoted to Disney-branded merchandise, as well as a wide range of stores featuring clothing, shoes, accessories, housewares, art, sporting goods, and gifts.
Plentiful shopping opportunities also exist in the theme parks, particularly EPCOT, where you can find tea sets in the UK pavilion, plush anime characters in the Japan pavilion, and authentic serapes in the Mexico pavilion.
If you’re willing to go off-campus, there are several malls and outlet malls within a half hour drive. And don’t forget the Disney outlets!
While some WDW eateries are currently paused due to COVID (much lauded Victoria & Albert’s, I’m talking to you), even during the pandemic there are well over 100 different restaurants to choose from, including gourmet signature dining, table service, quick service, and food cart options.
An incomplete list of food styles and cuisines featured at the Disney World restaurants includes Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Indian, pizza, burgers, chicken nuggets, steak, sushi, British, Mexican, Cajun, German, Irish, Mediterranean, Latin, Moroccan, pastries, ice cream, seafood, and more, with ample selections for both adults and children.
I will confess that I’ve been to Disney World several times without stepping on a single ride, but I’ve never visited without working sampling more than my fair share of the restaurant offerings.
There is obviously LOTS to do at Disney World, but that doesn’t mean you have to do any of it.
If you just want to chill with a good book and a frosty drink, every resort has several pools and many have sandy beach areas. There are paths for taking leisurely strolls; lounges with yummy snacks and lengthy cocktail menus; and lots of friendly staff to take care of you. And though the spas and salons are currently closed due to the pandemic, if you’re booking a trip for next year, it’s likely that those forms of downtime pampering will be available to you as well.
Some folks are only having fun if they’re running around, literally. For those that like to keep active, there are enough sporty activities available to keep you moving during an entire vacation. Resort fitness centers are open for guest use.
The golf courses and mini-golf courses are in full swing.
The Disney water parks, with their swimming, sliding, and rafting are opening again on March 7, 2021. Several Disney resorts have tennis courts. There is canoeing, horseback riding, and archery at Fort Wilderness. Many resorts will rent you a bike or a surrey bike. Old Key West has shuffleboard. There’s bowling at Splitsville at Disney Springs.
You can run or walk around miles of paths around the resorts. runDisney races are currently paused, but we expect those events to be back in 2022 and beyond.
If you’re a fan of the Disney film catalog or anything Star Wars, there is no better place in the world to be than a Disney theme park. More than one Touring Plans staffer has broken into tears when stepping into Galaxy’s Edge for the first time, it’s that real.
While the current selection of entertainment is somewhat abbreviated due to COVID, there are still plenty of opportunities to see live music and other entertainment including the Dapper Dans barbershop quartet, Mariachi Cobre, the Voices of Liberty, and the Disney classic Electrical Water Pageant in and around the parks. You can take a drawing class at Animal Kingdom.
As the pandemic wanes, more entertainment such as the new Cirque du Soleil show and live bands will return to Disney Springs.
What’s your preferred way to focus your fun at Disney World?