Over the years I’ve been fortunate to visit Walt Disney World multiple times and one thing I’ve learned, is that spending a day outside of the magical gates of a park can be a great way to see a whole new side of Disney.
In the past, I’ve been so focussed on making Fast Passes and finding optimal seating for a parade, that I missed the more laid-back options Disney has to offer. So, in recent years, I’ve begun to adopt a park free day mid-way during my stay. I use this day as a way to stop and smell the roses, or more aptly, pause and see the magic that Walt Disney World offers outside of the parks. Below are just a few of the options available to fill a day without being in a park.
I love staying at the different DVC resorts as it gives me the chance to experience the various pools.
Feature pools have activities throughout the day such as; pool parties, bingo or Disney trivia (which easily bring out the competitive side of my family). Yet by far, the largest appeal for me at a feature pool is the waterslide!
I’m currently on a mission that each time I stay at a resort, I make sure to “research” the waterslide. I’ve found the best way for me to remember one pool over another, is by remembering the ungraceful splash I make when exiting the slide. 😊
I also enjoy spending an afternoon at one of the leisure pools. These pools tend to be quieter then the main pool and can offer a serene atmosphere to sit back and relax. There have been more then a few times where hours have flown by as I sat basking in the sun and reading a good book.
Located at several of the Disney Vacation Club resorts are bicycle rentals. Guests can choose between a standard 2 wheel bike or the vintage option of a 4 seater Surrey bike. Riding around a resort is a great way to see the property and the added appeal with a Surrey bike is being able to place two small children in the front seats for an unobstructed view of their surroundings.
If peddling on bicycles isn’t your preference, guests can choose to rent a motorized boat around some of the Disney waterways.
This option puts guests in the Captain’s chair as you set a course to explore the Seven Seas Lagoon or Crescent Lake. For me, an added bonus is that it provides a chance for scenic pictures of the Walt Disney World property.
Boardwalk and Disney Springs Entertainers
As the sun goes down and day turns into evening, I enjoy strolling along both the Boardwalk and Disney Springs.
Watching Disney performers entertain small crowds offers a different and intimate experience then seeing Illuminations or Happily Ever After.
Personally, I like witnessing how an entertainer adjusts their act to the responses they get from the crowd. If a performer is looking for an audience response and the crowd remains silent, they have to be able to effortless move forward with the show as their audience is standing only a few feet away and watching their every move.
Another perk for strolling around these areas and watching the entertainers, is that it usually coincides with me purchasing one of my favorite Disney snacks.
There is nothing like an evening stroll with a Mickey Mouse Ice Cream bar or a Gingerbread cookie to celebrate another great day at Disney. After all, there is no such thing as too many Disney snacks!
An alternative from the shops and entertainers at Disney’s Boardwalk and Disney Springs can be enjoying a wagon ride at Fort Wilderness. Running nightly at 6:00pm and 8:30pm (weather permitting) guests can climb onboard a wooden wagon and enjoy a scenic tour through Disney’s Fort Wilderness. I’d recommend taking a look at the Walt Disney World website for current pricing, as sometimes savings can be had by taking a summertime wagon ride over rides offered in the fall.
Disney Movie Under the Stars
When I’m looking to stay close to home (my resort that is), enjoying a movie under the stars is a charming way to spend the evening. The recreation calendar is available at the front desk of the resorts, and often given to guests when they check in. Printed on it, is a schedule of which movies will be playing each evening. There is usually a few of my favorites listed during my stay and the hardest decision is picking which night will be movie night.
And last but not least, is my top pick for enjoying a day without a park and it is….
By far Hoop Dee Doo is my favorite Disney dinner show and even though I’ve seen it more times then I can count, I’m ecstatic every time I have the chance to see it again.
Dinner shows fill your evening with entertainment and endless food. I absolutely CRAVE the cornbread and fried chicken at Hoop Dee Doo. I always leave being pleasantly stuffed.
In my opinion, this vaudeville style show is a great way for family members of all ages to enjoy an evening together. It’s packed with singing, dancing and a healthy dose of humor which has me smiling the entire time I’m in Pioneer Hall.
Well there you have it. My list of ways to spend a day at Disney without ever stepping into a park. I love the Disney Parks, yet I’ve found I also enjoy spending one day during my stay at a more relaxed pace. It can help reenergize me to be ready to hit the ground running for the next day’s rope drop.