Ask almost anyone what they think of when you say you’re going to Disney World and they will likely assume that you will be visiting the theme parks. But have you ever considered a trip to Disney without the parks? Let’s think beyond the parks and take a look at all of the fantastic ways you can enjoy a “Resort Only” Disney vacation.
What Can You Do At Disney World Outside Of The Parks?
Plenty! The Disney resorts offer many activities outside the parks to keep everyone in the family entertained. No matter what resort category you choose for your next stay at Disney, from value resorts to luxury villas, Disney’s resorts are always top quality in every price range. They all offer wonderful convenience, spectacular swimming pools, and unique theming full of hidden Mickeys for you to discover.
Here are some of the resort activities you might want to consider:
Relax By The Pool
Every resort at Disney World features its own pool, which is designed to blend into the theme of the resort. As an example, Stormalong Bay at the Yacht and Beach Club Resort has a water park and a life-sized shipwreck with water slides, a sandy lagoon, snorkeling, and a swimming area that flows into the surrounding lake.
Meanwhile, the Uzima Pool at Disney’s Animal Kingdom’s Jambo House is one of the largest of any of the resorts. It features a tropical oasis complete with banana trees and animal viewing areas. Other great pools at Disney resorts include the Cozy Cone Pool and Big Blue Pool at Disney’s Art of Animation, the Lava Pool at Disney’s Polynesian Resort, and the Fuentes del Morro Pool at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort.
Go To The Beach
Florida’s coastline is not the only place to find beaches; several Disney World resorts like the Caribbean Beach Resort and the Beach and Yacht Club resorts have white sandy lakefront beaches as well. Beach chairs are scattered about and you can even find a volleyball net at the Fort Wilderness Campground beach. Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and it’s neighbor, the Polynesian Resort also have beach areas with plenty of fantastic lounge seating. It’s a great place to catch a nap!
Fine And Signature Dining
If you have not explored dining outside of the theme parks, you are in for a treat. If you want a truly one of a kind experience, then consider booking a reservation at Victoria & Albert’s at the Grand Floridian. It is a 13-year recipient of the prestigious AAA Five Diamond award! Disney is also known for their Signature restaurants, and several of them are found at the resorts. Some of our favorites are Topolino’s Terrace at the Riviera resort, and California Grill at the Contemporary Resort.
You can head over to Disney Springs to try Jaleo by world famous chef José Andrés, or Morimoto Asia. Also, the Swan and Dolphin resorts have excellent dining options, such as Il Mulino, or Shula’s Steak House.
Have A Great Workout
After all of that fine dining, a good sweat session is a great way to clear your mind, and maybe burn off a few of those extra calories. Several of the resorts offer workout facilities that are available to guests 24 hours a day. If this is an important feature for you, be sure to check the resort amenities before booking, as not every resort has a fitness center. If running or walking is more your style, there are several marked running paths on Disney property. Check with the front desk at your resort and they can provide you with a map. Disney does a great job measuring the paths, so you will know exactly how far you are going
Treat Yourself To A Spa Day
There are several options for a great spa day on Disney property. First up: the Senses Spa. You can find a Senses Spa at Saratoga Springs, and at the Grand Floridian. Both locations offer a wide variety of options such as facials, massages, and body treatments. You can even book couples massages, and special packages for expectant mothers. Planning a special dinner? Book a style and a manicure at the spa and you will be ready to go!
Another great option is the Mandara Spa located in the Dolphin Hotel. This spa is Balinese-themed, where you will find a serene Meditation Garden, and sip refreshments before moving on to your treatment area.
Hit The Links
Walt Disney World Resort has grown into a world-class golf vacation destination with four championship-caliber courses and a total of 99 holes. Choose from Disney’s Palm, Disney’s Magnolia, Disney’s Lake Buena Vista, and Disney’s Oak Trail courses and tee off for a full day of fun. Admission to the courses is open to all, but you’ll get a discount on your greens fee if you’re staying at one of Disney’s resorts.
More into golfing on a much smaller scale? Then check out Disney’s Miniature Golf courses! Disney World resorts are home to two separate courses: Disney’s Fantasia Gardens and Disney’s Winter Summerland. Finally, if you are someone that likes to play soccer and golf, then Disney has the sport for you: FootGolf! To play FootGolf, athletes use soccer balls on a traditional golf course with 21-inch diameter cups. The rules largely correspond to the rules of golf.
Become One With Nature
One of my favorite ways to relax at Disney is to book a savannah view room at one of the Animal Kingdom resorts and sit on my own balcony watching the animals.
No room? No problem. There are plenty of great viewing areas available at both Animal Kingdom resorts. Grab an order of bread service to-go from Sanaa’a and head out to one of the viewing areas just outside of the lobby at Kidani Village for a great lunch.
Campfires And Movies Under The Stars
All of the resorts offer outdoor Disney movie screenings in the evenings and guests are free to watch a movie at any resort. Certain resorts also host a campfire beforehand with s’mores and other campfire activities which can be a lot of fun for families.
With so many resorts located on the water, there are ample opportunities for fishing (both dockside and by guided excursion), power-boating, canoeing and kayaking. Boat rentals of various types and sizes are available at several resort locations.
The best place to rent a private boat is at one of the Walt Disney World Resort marinas spread throughout the Disney properties. If you’re feeling especially adventurous, you can even try parasailing at the Seven Seas Lagoon just outside the Magic Kingdom resort.
Several bike rental locations are available at Disney World, including Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, Old Key West Resort, Port Orleans Resort, Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa, and Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. However, if you want a truly unique experience, rent a surrey bike at Disney’s Boardwalk. These canopied vehicles built for four are just the thing for taking your whole family from resort to resort without the fear of getting separated from one another.
Other Unique Experiences
Still looking for more non-park Disney experiences?
Here is a short list of even more activities available at Disney World: Archery, Tennis, Basketball, Volleyball, Pool Tables, Horseback Riding, Carriage Rides, Wagon Rides, Sing-a-Longs, Wine Tastings, Cake Decorating, make a Mickey Tie Dye shirt, crafting…..the list goes on and on!
My most recent resort stay was a fantastic getaway with my husband to the Grand Floridian for my birthday. We never set foot in a Disney park! It was our first time staying at the Grand Floridian, and it was wonderful to be able to take the time to enjoy the beauty of that spectacular resort. We relaxed on the beach, strolled around the resort, had dinner at Narcoossee’s, and evening drinks at The Enchanted Rose. It was a perfect Disney day.
Book your next Resort Stay with DVC Shop Rentals for up to 60% off. Have you had a “Resort Only” stay at Disney? Share your experiences in the comments!