Ticket-Free Fun!  My Favorite Ways to Spend A Day at Disney Without Visiting a Park!

Posted:  Recreation Resorts Shopping

Just imagine: you’re lying in the sun on a lounger by a sparkling pool. After relaxing poolside, you’re treating yourself to a massage at the nearby spa, and after that, you plan to indulge with a sumptuous meal at a world-class restaurant. Maybe you’re ready to end your day with shopping in designer boutiques, enjoying some live music, or hitting the dancefloor? All of this and more can happen on your Walt Disney World vacation!

Swing on the beach at Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows

The name Disney is definitely synonymous with theme parks, but with so many resorts and other activities right at your fingertips, it’s very easy to enjoy a trip to Walt Disney World without setting foot in a park! Don’t get me wrong, I love the parks just as much as the next gal, but several days of pounding the pavement from rope-drop to closing the park can wear you out! As such, I like to try and plan for a day or two out of the parks, and here are 4 of my favorite ways to spend a magical park-free day at Disney World.

Rocking chairs at Disney’s Saratoga Springs looking out at Disney Springs


1. Enjoy Your Resort Pool

All of the DVC resorts have magnificent pools, perfect for cooling off in the Florida sun! If the kids (or kids at heart) in your family are looking for an aquatic adventure, the DVC resorts’ feature pools all offer waterslides, so you can twist and turn as you speed into the pool with a splash!  

Stormalong Bay at Disney’s Beach Club Villas

Stormalong Bay waterslide at Disney’s Beach Club Villas

Pool and waterslide at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort

Many of the resorts also have splash-pad areas where bubbling geysers, fountains, jets, and even giant buckets of water are the name of the game! If you check the activities listings at your resort, chances are you’ll find a pool party to attend! Friendly resort Cast Members also keep the good times going with games, trivia, and activities that are fun for the whole family.

Splashpad at Disney’s Bay Lake Tower

Splashpad at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort

Splashpad at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas

Poolside activities at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas

Splashpad at Disney’s Copper Creek Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

If you’re looking for something a little more relaxing, you’re in luck! Pop your beach bag by the chair of your choice at one of the leisure pools, or settle in for a soak in one of the whirlpool spas. I don’t know about you, but one of my favorite things to do on vacation is spending a little quiet time soaking up the sun!  

whirlpool spa at Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

lounge chairs at the Boulder Ridge Cove Pool

If you’re looking for a little added luxury, you may even consider renting a private cabana! Full and half-day cabana rentals can be made at the Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian, Contemporary, Yacht Club, and Beach Club Resorts, and are definitely a prime choice for some poolside pampering!

Poolside cabanas at the Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian

2. Explore the Other Resorts

There are so many amazing resorts, and they all have such unique themes, amenities, and décor! Personally, I find it very easy to spend hours exploring the grounds of different properties.

Grand Floridian Society Orchestra

With so many transportation options, it’s easy to make your way around the “World” to check out the amenities and styles of the different resorts. For example, if you’re staying at the Villas at the Grand Floridian and find yourself craving a dole whip, all you need to do is pop down the pedestrian path, and before you know it, you’ll find yourself magically transported from Victorian splendor to the tropical paradise of Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows! I think it’s pretty amazing to be able to go from the savannahs of an African lodge to a turn-of-the-century seaside Boardwalk without traveling around the globe (or through time!)

Savannah at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas

Entrance to Disney’s Boardwalk Villas

 Some resorts also have tours where you can get to know even more about the property and all that they have to offer. From the Sense of Africa or Starlight Safari tours at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas to the Legend of Conch Flats Tour at Disney’s Old Key West, there’s sure to be no shortage of fun to be found!  

Sign for the Legends of Conch Flats Tour at Disney’s Old Key West


3. Recreational Activities

If the great outdoors is calling your name, boat rentals or fishing excursions may be just the ticket for some adventures in the Florida wilderness! Although some of these activities may be temporarily paused, we look forward to when they return in the future!

If you prefer to stay on dry land, there are also bike rentals, tennis and volleyball courts, jogging paths, running trails, and more at different locations across Walt Disney World.

Bike rentals at WDW

Basketball nets at Disney’s Bay Lake Tower

If you’ve got a golf enthusiast in your family, you’ll want to keep the Lake Buena Vista Golf Course at the Saratoga Springs Resort in mind! This course has hosted prestigious PGA, LPGA, and USGA events, and the gorgeous green grounds are sure to impress!  

Mickey Mouse Shaped sand trap on the golf course

If an afternoon rain-storm has come along, there are still plenty of indoor activities to keep you busy! 

Be sure to check out the Community Hall at your DVC resort for table and board games, movies, arts and crafts, video games, and more! Some of the crafts may require a small fee; however, many are complimentary.

Community Hall

list of Community Hall activities

Perhaps you’re looking for a little more relaxation and rest. You are on vacation, after all! The Grand Floridian and Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort both feature the Senses Spa, where you can pamper yourself with a massage, facial, manicure, or one of their other luxurious treatments.

Senses Spa at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort

The fun doesn’t stop when the sun goes down either! One of my favorite activities found at many resorts are Movies Under the Stars, where you can enjoy an outdoor screening of a Disney feature-film for free!



4. Visit Disney Springs

I was bit by the shopping bug at a very early age, so if you tell me I can fill a whole day with shopping at a gorgeous outdoor complex, you are sure to see a big smile on my face! 

Add in the fact that there are also a bunch of delicious dining locations to choose from, as well as entertainment options, and I am one happy girl! Disney Springs truly has something for everyone!

evening shot of Disney Springs

There are currently over 100 different shopping opportunities at Disney Springs! You’ll find shops such as the World of Disney and DisneyStyle that offer magical Disney merchandise, but there are many other specialty boutiques and well-known stores to browse. Sephora, Kate Spade, and the Lego Store are just a few of the familiar names you’ll spot as you stroll through the complex.

Evening shot of Disney Springs

I hope you brought your appetite with you as well, as there are approximately 60 different dining options at Disney Springs! Raglan Road, Maria & Enzo’s Ristorante, and Morimoto Asia are just a few of the fabulous choices for a fantastic table-service meal, but there are several scrumptious quick service and snack options as well. Personally, I can’t leave Disney Springs without scooping up a cupcake from Sprinkles and checking out all of the sweets at Goofy’s Candy Company!

If you’re looking to top it all off with a show, you’ve come to the right place! Live music performances can be found at a variety of venues around Disney Springs, and there’s the AMC theaters if you’re looking to catch a new flick on the big screen.  

Sign for Enzo’s Hideaway with the AMC Theatre in the background

As you can see, you don’t need to cross the park-entry turnstiles to have fun on your Disney trip! 

There is something for everyone to enjoy, and lots of magic to go around!

Firepit at Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge




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