Best Activities At Disney World For Non-Park Days

When planning a trip to Walt Disney World, the majority of your planning will most likely be around your trips to the parks – which one(s) to visit, which attractions to ride, how you are getting there, etc.  But it’s also important, if possible, to plan at least one non-park Disney day where you skip the hustle and bustle of the parks.

Not only does this “day off” give your feet a rest from walking up to 10 miles per day, but also allows you to explore the magic of Walt Disney World that is not in the parks. The options below will allow you to plan an enjoyable day whether you’re more inclined to relax or fill every hour with more fun activities and experience it all on your vacation!

Utilize Your Resort Amenities

Donald Duck at Disney Deluxe Resort
Relax by your resort pool and you may be surprised by a special guest!

If you’re staying at one of the many Walt Disney World Resorts, this is the perfect opportunity to take advantage of the amenities at your resort. Many of the resorts are very large, so enjoy a stroll around the grounds, pointing out which view you would like to stay on your next trip and maybe even find a different pool to visit before the end of your stay.

Order room service, go for a swim, browse the gift shop, take family photos, and enjoy a slow day surrounded by the beautiful theming of your resort. If you’re lucky, you may even find that a special someone has stopped by to say hello!  It’s not unusual to find a character or two in the main resort areas greeting guests.

Try A Resort Restaurant

A non-park day is the perfect opportunity to visit one (or several!) of the many popular restaurants located inside of Disney Resorts, including resorts other than the one at which you are staying. The menu at any time of day at Ohana at Disney’s Polynesian Resort brings in a lot of guests as does Beaches & Cream Soda Shop at the Beach Club Resort. For unique snacks head over to Port Orleans for one of their famous Mickey beignets or splurge on one of the delicacies at the Grand Floridian bakery.

A character meal is a great way to add some Disney magic to a non-park day. Photo: Castles, Capes & Clones,

Speaking of trying a new restaurant, a non-park day might just be the perfect opportunity to schedule character dining! This allows you to take your time to enjoy your dining experience instead of having to check your watch and feel like you’re missing out on time in the parks.

Breakfast or brunch at Chef Mickey’s or Topolino’s Terrace is a wonderful way to inject magic into your day even if you’re not going to the parks. If your free day falls on a Saturday, you can also check out Breakfast with Goofy and Friends at Four Seasons Resort Orlando.

Regardless, if you wish to try a restaurant with or without character dining, it is wise to make a reservation to ensure your desired date and time.  At the time of writing this article, you can make a reservation for any of the Disney restaurants 60 days in advance.

Golf For All Ages

Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a prefer to play putt-putt, Disney World has several courses for you to try! Four full-sized golf courses are waiting for you, but you can also choose to start or end your day with Disney’s Sunrise and Sunset 9-Hole Promotions which also include a light meal. Like with most golf courses, it is best to make a tee time ahead of time.

Fantasia Garden Mini Golf, Disney World
Play a round of putt-putt at Fantasia Gardens Miniature Golf Course. Photo: Joe Shlabotnik,

If miniature golf is more your speed, then you must check out Winter Summerland Miniature Golf Course adjacent to Blizzard Beach water park or Fantasia Gardens Miniature Golf Course located a short walk from the Disney’s BoardWalk. These fun-themed courses will be enjoyable for everyone in your family no matter the age.

Visit The BoardWalk

Disney’s BoardWalk is a wonderful place to take a stroll, grab a snack, and people watch.  Find a seat on one of the many benches and relax while watching the friendship boats transport people to and from EPCOT and Hollywood Studios.

View of Beach Club Villas on the BoardWalk, Disney World
The BoardWalk is a beautiful place to spend time during the day or night.

Cure your sweet tooth with some ice cream or a sundae from BoardWalk Ice Cream or choose from a large variety of baked good at BoardWalk Bakery, which also has a quick-serve menu for lunch and dinner. BoardWalk Joe’s Marvelous Margaritas is a great stand to grab a cold beverage (with or without alcohol) and a snack like the famously delicious Mickey pretzels. Time your visit in the evening and you may be lucky enough to view the evening spectacular fireworks show at EPCOT!

Fireworks Viewing From The Outside

If you’re taking a day off from the parks but still want to make the evening magical, there are plenty of places to view the nightly firework shows. One of those places is the BoardWalk as mentioned above. If you can find your way to either the bridge connecting the BoardWalk to the Beach Club Resort or the bridge connecting the Dolphin and Swan to the BoardWalk, you’ll be able to see the EPCOT fireworks show. Just keep in mind that some of the show and special effects take place inside of the park, making the entire show difficult to view, but a fun way to end the night nonetheless.

If you wish to see the nighttime spectacular at Hollywood Studios, from the BoardWalk, take the walking path located behind the Boardwalk Villas and arrive at the main entrance. Stand with your back toward the water and watch the show and enjoy the music as it projects on the Tower of Terror.

View from California Grill at sunset, Disney World
What a beautiful view from California Grill, a perfect spot for seeing the the fireworks from Magic Kingdom! Photo: Andrew Dupont (CC BY-SA 2.0)

And last, but certainly not least, for viewing fireworks at Magic Kingdom, head to one of the lounges for a drink in the Grand Floridian or Polynesian resorts, or schedule a dinner at the California Grill at the Contemporary which has magnificent views of Bay Lake. If you’re lucky, you’ll be seated at a table with a fireworks view, but you can also see them from their observation deck. Another option for viewing the fireworks from Magic Kingdom is dining at Capa steakhouse located on the top floor of the Four Seasons Resort.  This resort has a magnificent view from high up where the fireworks can be seen from Magic Kingdom and other parks as well.

While the options for viewing fireworks outside of the park are all fantastic, keep in mind that you won’t be the only family with that idea.  You will want to arrive with plenty of time to spare before the show begins to ensure you have a great spot!

Set Sail On A Fireworks Cruise

This one is on my Disney bucket list. A great way to beat the outside-of-the-park fireworks crowds is to schedule a fireworks cruise! Ferrytale Fireworks dessert cruises return on September 18, 2020 and set sail from the Transportation and Ticket Center.  If you’re celebrating a special occasion or just want to surprise your family, you can book a private fireworks cruise for up to 10 people to view either the show from EPCOT or Magic Kingdom! These cruises set sail from the Grand Floridian, Polynesian, Contemporary, Wilderness Lodge, and Fort Wilderness marinas. What a way to make some very special memories!

Shop, Eat, And Have Fun At Disney Springs

view of Disney Springs attractions from the lake
The Aerophile balloon at Disney Springs takes guests on an 8-minute high in the sky ride.

Disney Springs is a large commercial center located within Walt Disney World that will fill your day with shopping, dining, and entertainment. Many people may overlook Disney Springs, but it’s the perfect stop on a day when you are not at the parks. From unique high-end boutiques to the largest World of Disney store, everyone will find a way to treat themselves to a special souvenir or two. The same wide variety is present for restaurants at Disney Springs. There are quick burger and fry joints, high-end steakhouses, and also fun themed places to dine such as The Rainforest Café or T-Rex Restaurant.  No matter where you choose to eat, just make sure you save room for dessert from Gideon’s Bakehouse.

Girl in princess costume with Disney World backdrop
You wont be disappointed with the photos you receive from the PhotoPass Studio at Disney Springs!

If your stomach can handle high heights, don’t miss out on the Aerophile balloon ride which will give you 8 glorious minutes up high in the largest hand-painted helium balloon. You also can go bowling, see a movie, and beginning November 18, view the newest Cirque de Soleil show! Live music stages are positioned around the property and a small train and carousel are available for your little ones to ride. For fun-Disney themed photos, visit the PhotoPass Studio, where you can get your portrait taken for free in front of Disney backdrops picked perfectly for you by the photographer! There is so much to do at Disney Springs!  Make sure you schedule time there during your vacation!

We hope you find some ideas for what to plan for your non-park days at Walt Disney World. What do you usually do when you are not at the parks? Did your favorite non-park activity make our list? Let us know in the comments below.

Written by

Shelley Wehler

Contributing Writer

Shelley is a stay-at-home mother of two girls living outside of Charlotte, North Carolina. Her love of all things Disney has grown even more as she sees the magic come alive through the lens of her young daughters. She spends her free time keeping up with the latest in Disney news and daydreaming of her next trip to the parks!

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