30 Things to Do at Disney World Resorts
You know that there are plenty of things to do at Disney theme parks, but today we’ll discuss 30 things to do at Disney World Resorts.
To be clear, these are things to do at Disney World Resorts (as in the resort hotels), not things to do at Disney World Resort, which includes the parks as well.
Whew, now we have that out of the way! I know the wording is a bit confusing. You might not even know that there are plenty of things to do at Disney World Resorts (or things to do at Disney World hotels), but there are actually more than you’d expect!
Many of these things to do at Disney World Resorts do NOT require you to be a guest at the resorts. Yes, you can visit the Disney resorts if you’re not a guest. In fact, Disney wants you to do that, so you’ll be tempted to come back and stay with them next time.
Although most of the list of things to do at Disney resorts does not require you to stay on Disney property, I have noted the exceptions.
Do I need a rental car at Disney?
Do you need a car during your Disney vacation? Maybe and maybe not! Personally, I like to get around as needed while on vacation, so I like to rent a car.
If you decide to rent a car, I recommend renting a car from Discount USA Car Rental. They offer the best rates available on major brands, and you can pick up your car at MCO or even Sanford. In addition, you don’t pay until arrival and can cancel anytime with no penalties.
Of course, Disney has excellent transportation opportunities, such as the Skyliner (more on that later!), but if you want to explore the Orlando area (did you know there are free things to do in Orlando) or make runs to a grocery store, it’s best to rent a car.
How to get to Disney World Resorts
If you have a rental car, you can drive to whichever resort you’d like to visit. However, you do have to pay for parking (there is an exception below.) There’s a workaround if you really want to avoid those parking fees or visit multiple resorts.
If you drive to Disney Springs, you can take a bus or boat to many of the Disney Resorts. From there, you can even hop on the Skyliner or Monorail if you end up at a resort that has the option. This is easily the best way to visit multiple Disney resorts without paying multiple parking fees.
Is it allowed? Well, kind of. You are not allowed to park at Disney Springs and visit the Disney parks. However, if you only plan to hop to one or two resorts, it should be no problem. Just do this at your work risk, as Disney does not seem to have a firm answer on this.
Finally, if you have an advanced dining reservation, you can park at certain Disney Resorts for free. Just make sure to have a copy of your reservation along with your ID to show the security guard.
Things to do at Disney World Resorts
Here are 30 things to do at Disney World Resorts, listed in no particular order.
1. Visit the Horses at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort
During a resort hopping adventure, you must stop at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort. This Disney Resort is perfect if you love outdoor adventures and horses.
There are stables filled with Shetland Ponies, Appaloosas, and Clydesdales. Horseback riding is a popular activity at this Disney Resort. If you don’t want to ride a horse, you can always tour the Disney property via a horse-drawn carriage ride.
Carriage rides are also offered at the Port Orleans Resorts. These resorts are other Disney hotels that are considered the most magical place to visit.
2. Capture Photographs at The Pop Century Resort
The Pop Century Resort is a Walt Disney World Resort that is perfect for taking pictures. There are numerous sections within this resort. Each one takes you back to another decade.
Explore the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s during your visit. Take pictures. Have fun.
Oh, and don’t forget to look for the staircase that is hidden within a massive yo-yo!
3. Go for a Walk at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
The nature trails at the Wilderness Lodge are perfect for long walks. Your adventures will take you to a geyser. The geyser erupts every hour.
3. Participate in a Painting Class
The Coronado Springs Resort is one of the resort hotels that offer things to do on a rainy day. One of the best things to do is participate in a painting class.
You do need to be a Disney Vacation Club Member to take this class. Sign up for the Colors of Coronado Painting Experience through the My Disney Experience app.
4. Go On Safari at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
You don’t need to visit Disney’s Animal Kingdom to see the animals. You can visit Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge and go on a safari.
You must be a Disney Resort guest to book the safari adventure. You will see more than 30 animal species during this event.
Don’t forget your camera! You will want to take many pictures from the open-sided safari vehicle.
Animal Kingdom Lodge is one of Disney’s deluxe resorts. The deluxe resorts are worth a visit on their own!
5. Go On a Fishing Excursion
Disney World might not be on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean or the Gulf of Mexico. That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a wonderful fishing excursion during your visit! Taking a fishing excursion is one of the lesser-known things to do at Disney World Resorts.
You can book one of these fishing excursions through Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort. It’s one of the best ways to spend time outside on a non-park day.
6. Wander Around the All-Star Resorts
There are three All-Star Resorts at Walt Disney World. They include All-Star Music, All-Star Sports, and All-Star Movies. Wandering around these resorts is one of the favorite free things to do in between visiting Disney theme parks.
During your visit at All-Star Movies, you can walk through a replica of Andy’s room from Toy Story. This DIsney movie has been loved by many since it was released.
All-Star Sports offers a massive football field. And there’s a sky-high jukebox over at All-Star Music.
You can also grab a bite to eat at the World Premiere Food Court at Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort.
This food court offers a cinema theme. To avoid the long lines, you can place an order on the My Disney Experience app.
7. Wander Around Disney’s Art of Animation Resort
One of the best Disney World Resorts is the Art of Animation Resort. Every Disney World vacation must include a visit to this animation resort.
Sections of this resort are dedicated to Cars, The Little Mermaid, The Lion King, and Finding Nemo. You will feel as if you have stepped onto the movie screen during your visit.
8. Watch a Disney Movie Under the Stars
Many of the Disney Resorts offer movie nights under the stars. Skip going to your hotel room early one night. Instead, find a spot to watch the movie and have a great time.
Watching these movies is one of my favorite things to do at Disney World Resorts. I recommend watching one at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort.
9. Do a Little Singing at Chip ‘n’ Dale’s Campfire Sing-a-Long.
Disney’s Fort Wilderness is where you will find Chip ‘n’ Dale’s Campfire Sing-a-Long. All guests at Disney Resorts are allowed to join in on the fun and live music.f
Sing and dance with other guests. Roast marshmallows over the roaring fire. If you don’t have any marshmallows, you can purchase what you need from the gift shop.
10. Dine at Incredible Resort Restaurants
You don’t need to be a guest at any of the Walt Disney Resorts to enjoy a meal at the restaurants. Remember that you may need to make a reservation before heading over.
Each restaurant carries the resort’s theme, so keep that in mind when making your reservations.
You might not meet any Disney characters at the resort restaurants. Although, you never know where Mickey Mouse, or your other favorite characters, will pop up. But these are still the best restaurants for an excellent meal without the major crowds. Plus, you don’t need a park ticket to dine at these restaurants.
Keep in mind these restaurants are extremely busy during the holiday season. That is when everyone wants to visit Disney World to see the Christmas decorations.
It is best to make reservations early during that time of the year. You will also want to keep an eye out for any special events taking place during the holidays.
Pro Tip: Make sure you make a reservation to dine at a Disney World Resort restaurant. That reservation will give you free parking at the resort for 3 hours.
11. Go Swimming
Almost every Disney Resort hotel has both a swimming pool and a water park. Visiting the water parks is one of the best ways to enjoy a little time in the sun!
These water parks are also great places to meet new friends and relax. If you want to avoid long lines on the slides, I recommend arriving early in the day, especially during peak season.
Just keep in mind you do need to be staying at a Disney hotel to enjoy the pools!
12. Explore the Waterfalls at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
The Polynesian Resort is a great place to visit when you want to experience walking through a rainforest and seeing waterfalls. This is a very relaxing thing to do after a long day of having fun in the Star Wars area at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
13. Experience Princess Tea Time
Princess Tea Time is held every afternoon at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort. This tea time is held in the lobby. Your family can relax, while drinking tea and eating scones. The best part is you won’t be surrounded by those who are spending time at the Disney World theme parks.
As an added bonus, you can order sandwiches and other snacks to enjoy with your tea.
14. Enjoy a Milkshake at Beaches and Cream
Beaches and Cream is a soda shop that is located at Disney’s Boardwalk Villas. Milkshakes are one of the most popular items on the menu. Although, the Kitchen Sink has been featured by the Travel Channel.
The Kitchen Sink includes 8 scoops of ice cream, as well as every topping that is listed on the menu. Bring your appetite!
15. Walk Along Disney’s Boardwalk
Walking along Disney’s Boardwalk is the perfect way to spend an afternoon. Yes, you can wander through the shops. You can grab a bite to eat at the restaurants too.
My favorite thing is watching the boats out on Crescent Lake.
16. Relax on the Beach
Yes, you can actually relax on the beach when you visit Disney’s Polynesian Resort! The white sand beach is steps away from the Seven Seas Lagoon at this beach club resort.
Relax as the palm trees sway in the breeze. Let the kids build sandcastles as the waves crash along the shoreline.
17. Take a Free Tour of Disney’s Contemporary Resort
Free tours are offered at many of the Disney World Resorts. A favorite resort to tour is Disney’s Contemporary Resort.
If this is your first visit to this resort, you must take the time to find the hidden Mickeys. You can spot them at most of the resorts and parks. They can be anywhere, so keep your eyes open.
18. Check Out the Butterfly Gardens at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
The Butterfly Gardens at this Disney World Resort are filled with fragrant flowers that attract butterflies. You may also spot hummingbirds during your visit.
Stopping at these gardens is one of the best things to do at Disney World Resorts.
19. Take a Monorail Tour
Exploring Disney World, and all the resorts, is much easier when you take a Monorail Tour. There are two monorail lines.
The first is the Magic Kingdom Line. This line goes between the Transportation and Ticket Center and Magic Kingdom. The other one is the Epcot Line. It goes between the Transportation Center and Epcot.
You can get off at all the stops along the way. Or you can ride without stopping. The choice is yours.
20. Take a Disney Skyliner Tour
If you want to add a one-of-a-kind experience to your list of things to do at Disney World Resorts, I have you covered! A Disney’s Skyliner Tour is a great way to see the two Disney Parks and some of the resorts.
Like the monorail “tour” this is not a guided tour but something you can do at your own pace. All you need to do is sit in the gondola and take in the sights! You can hop on and off if you want to stop.
21. Take a Disney Boat Ride
A Disney Boat Ride is a wonderful way to travel from resort to resort. You can even take the boat to the parks and Disney Springs.
All Disney Resort guests can ride the boat for free. The timing of each ride is dependent on where you are boarding the boat and where you are going.
22. Watch the Magic Kingdom Fireworks
Disney World has sprinkled a little pixie dust to make it possible to see the Magic Kingdom fireworks without being inside the parks. You don’t need to stand on Main Street looking towards Cinderella’s Castle to enjoy the magic.
The good news is you can head over to Disney’s Polynesian Resort to check out the lit up sky. You can check with cast members at the front desk to see where the best place to stand is to see the sky light up.
23. Watch the Electrical Water Pageant
The Electrical Water Pageant is one of the free activities you can enjoy during a vacation at Disney World. This nighttime parade is held on the Seven Seas Lagoon.
If a Disney World Resort is on the lagoon, the magic of the pageant will pass on by. I recommend heading to the Grand Floridian, so you are at the beginning of the parade route.
24. Go On an Art Scavenger Hunt
Over at the Riviera Resort, you can go on an art scavenger hunt. Simply stop at the information desk in the lobby to pick up your map. Place a sticker on each piece of art you find.
Once you have discovered all the art, you can return the map for a free print! It’s a great souvenir that will only cost you your time.
25. Collect Pressed Coins
Sometimes the best souvenirs are ones that don’t take up a lot of space. You can easily collect all the pressed coins from the machines at Disney World Resorts.
Those coins will usually have the name of the resort on them. They will also have Disney characters. Keep an eye out for your favorites!
26. Play a Round of Miniature Golf
Not too far from the Disney World Resorts are two Disney miniature golf courses. The best time to visit them both is early in the day. You beat the heat and the crowds when you go in the morning.
Both Fantasia Gardens and Winter Summerland have two 18-hole courses.
The features at Fantasia Gardens are all from the movie of the same name. In Winter Summerland, it is all about summer and winter. The summer course is packed with sandcastles and melting snowmen. Over on the winter course, you will see igloos, an ice castle, and hockey features.
27. Watch the street performers
If you spend any time on the boardwalk, you may catch live music by street performers. The best time to catch a live performance is in the evening.
28. EAT ALL THE FOOD!
I know that I’ve already mentioned the restaurants, but the Disney food doesn’t stop there! You can eat almost anything that your heart desires at Disney, from high-end dining to baked goods to Dole Whip. If you haven’t checked out our post about Where to find Dole Whip at Disney World, check it out next!
We have a blog post with The 27 Best Places to Eat in Orlando for Families, and not surprisingly, many Disney restaurants are on the list!
29. Hit the gift shops
You don’t have to visit the Disney parks or even stay at a Disney resort to purchase some souvenirs. Disney has plenty of merchandise that can only be purchased online, including many of the gift shops at the resorts.
No matter what kind of souvenirs you’re looking for, you’ll be able to find them at the Disney Resorts or Disney Springs!
30. Rent Swan Paddle Boats
I saved this for last because you have to be a guest at the Swan, Dolphin, or Swan Reserve, so this isn’t accessible to everyone. However, if you are a guest at one of these hotels, it’s included in your resort fee!
In true Disney style, these are not regular paddle boats but SWAN paddle boats.
Things to do at Disney World Resorts
I hope this list of 30 things to do at Disney World Resorts gave you some ideas for some non-theme park things to do during your Disney vacation.
So what are your favorite things to do at Disney World Resorts? Did I miss your favorite? If so, make sure to let me know in the comments. There are plenty of things to do at Disney World Resorts, so I couldn’t possibly list them all. However, this list should be enough to get you started with some ideas.
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Disney Travel Tips
If you’re new here, we have plenty of travel tips for Disney and Universal here at Florida Travel with Kids. Check them out!
- The Closest Disney Resorts to the Parks
- The Best Fanny Pack for Disney
- How to keep cool at Disney World
- First-Timer Tips for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter
- 50 free things to do in Orlando
- 25 Free Things at Disney World
- Things to do in Orlando for Christmas
Are you planning a Universal Vacation or a Disney vacation? I highly recommend buying your tickets through Undercover Tourist.
There are a lot of really scammy sites out there, so make sure you’re booking through an approved partner (like Undercover Tourist) or an approved Travel Agent!
If staying at the Disney World Resort hotels is outside your budget, there’s a great option nearby! We once stayed at Marriott Cypress Harbour Villas Review near Universal and Disney and highly recommended it if you need a bit more room.
About Florida Travel With Kids
Florida Travel with Kids was started by a family who loves to travel the state of Florida with kids! This site will help you explore the fun state of Florida and all of the kid-friendly activities you’ll find here.
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