Before kids, we used to spend every waking hour of our Walt Disney World vacation visiting parks or going to one of the water parks. Our days were jammed full. On our first Family vacation our daughter was only 20 months old. So her days still consisted of naps and early bed times. Being Disney Vacation Club members we knew we would be coming back again and again so there was no need to rush to every park. We decided to do 2 days at the Magic Kingdom, one of which was a shortened day because the park closed early for a special event. With only 2 park days what were we going to do with the rest of our vacation? Enter in Non-Park Days. Days spent on Walt Disney World property without visiting one of the 4 theme parks. There are a number of things you can do on Non-Park Days, so much so you may consider heading down to Walt Disney World without even visiting one of the parks, blasphemy I know. But don’t knock it until you try it. Here are a number of things you can do without going to a park:
Golf. Enjoy one of the 4 courses offered on property. These world class golf courses are available to play at any skill level.
Water Sports. Offered at the Contemporary Resort, and Grand Floridian Resort. Head out on the water for an afternoon of water skiing or on your own private watercraft.
Race Expo. If you’re at Walt Disney World the weekend of a RunDisney race head to ESPN Wide World of Sports for the Race Expo where companies from all over are featuring one of a kind items tailored to runners.
Miniature Golf. Check out one of 2 miniature golf courses. One is located across the street from the Swan and Dolphin hotels and the other is at Blizzard Beach.
Basketball. If you are staying at the Animal Kingdom Lodge – Kidani Village, Grand Floridian, Old Key West, Saratoga Springs, Fort Wilderness or the Swan and Dolphin hotels hit the court for some one on one.
Tennis. There are tennis courts available to those staying at the following resorts: Bay Lake Tower, Animal Kingdom Lodge – Kidani Village, Boardwalk Inn and Villas, Fort Wilderness, Old Key West, Saratoga Springs, Yacht and Beach Club Resort and Swan and Dolphin Resorts.
Shuffleboard. Found at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, Bay Lake Tower, Old Key West and Fort Wilderness, enjoy this classic game during a quiet afternoon at your resort.
Volleyball. There are 8 resorts on Walt Disney World property that have volleyball courts. Any guest of a Walt Disney World resort can head over to these sandy courts and enjoy a game. Find them at Caribbean Beach, Contemporary Resort, Coronado Springs, Old Key West, Polynesian, Yacht & Beach Club, Fort Wilderness and Swan and Dolphin Resort.
Run Disney Race. Whether your distance of choice is 5k, 10k, 1/2 marathon or Full Marathon there is a race for you. There are four race weekends, some races sell out months in advanced while others you can register a couple of days before so check rundisney.com for dates.
Baseball Games. The ESPN Wide World of Sports hosts the Atlanta Braves Spring Training, they also host some college spring training and other baseball games throughout the year. So check the schedule before your next Disney Vacation and see whether there’s a game during your next trip. Find transportation at the Caribbean Beach Resort, Pop Century Resort and All-Star Sport Resort. Double-check with the concierge desk before making your way to to the complex.
ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. This complex hosts a wide variety of tournaments, games and competitions. So whether your interest lies in Basketball, Cheerleading, Soccer or Cross Country, check the schedule and see whether there’s an event taking place that would interest your family and add something different to you vacation.
Pool Hop. Use transportation from one of the parks to gain access to any resort and spend the day cooling off pool side.
Dine at another resort. If you’re on the quick-service dining plan or the Disney dining plan enjoy one of your daily meal credits at any of the resort restaurants. Simply take transportation to one of the theme parks and catch a ride to your resort of choice.
Animal Kingdom Lodge. Take transportation from one of the parks to the Animal Kingdom Lodge and enjoy the Savanna Views found at the lobby and around the pool, both at the main lodge and Kidani Village.
Bicycle Ride. You can find adult and children’s bicycles at 12 Walt Disney World resorts. Art of Animation, Beach Club, Boardwalk, Caribbean Beach, Coronado Springs, Old Key West, Pop Century, Port Orleans – Riverside and French Quarter, Saratoga Springs, Yacht Club and Fort Wilderness. Ride along the trails, Boardwalks and paved pathways for an active Disney morning or afternoon. You can also find 2-person, 4-person, and 6-person Surrey bikes at the following resorts: Art of Animation, Boardwalk, Coronado Springs, Old Key West, Pop Century Resort, Port Orleans- Riverside, Port Orleans- French Quarter and Saratoga Springs.
Boardwalk. Discover all the unique things going on at the Boardwalk. Lots of dining options, entertainment, views, lounges and carnival games. Go at night and take in all the lights and festivities.
Movies under the Stars. Offered at all resorts. Check your package you receive upon arrival for the movies being featured.
Community Halls. Found at a few select Deluxe resorts, hang out at the community hall to enjoy some board games, rent DVDs, enjoy some arts and crafts. There are locations at Old Key West, Saratoga Springs, Boardwalk Villas, Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort and Animal Kingdom Lodge – Kidani Village.
Wonderland Tea Party. Featured on Weekdays, check out this unique opportunity to spend time with Alice and the Mad Hatter. Found at 1900 Park Fare, call (407) 939-3463 for reservations. This is for children ages 4 to 12, with refreshments and crafts.
Afternoon Tea. Head to the Garden View Tea Room at the Grand Floridian for Afternoon Tea, offered 7 days a week. Call (407) 939-3463 for reservations.
Hoop-Dee-Doo Review. Located at Fort Wilderness Lodge. This show is comical, full of songs and skits, you also get a great feast featuring fried chicken and pork ribs. It’s also unlimited beer, wine and sangria. This could turn into quite the evening.
Take a boat ride. There is boat transportation found all over Walt Disney World, some rides are very short and some are very long. Find boat transportation at any of the Magic Kingdom Resorts. There’s also boat transportation to Disney Springs from Port Orleans, Old Key West and Saratoga Springs. The boat ride from Port Orleans is lengthy, relaxing and you get a nice tour of the area, including the golf course.
Spirit of Aloha. Find this dinner show at the Polynesian Village Resort. Immerse yourself in Hawaiian culture with dancing and great food.
Ride the monorail. Take transportation to the Magic Kingdom and then ride the resort monorail, getting off at all the resort stops to wander around.
Wander a Resort. Every resort is unique, with beautiful lobbies and grounds to explore. You can stick to your resort area by using boat transportation or using connecting trails to get to other resorts. You can also use transportation to the parks to gain access to other resort areas. Spend the morning, afternoon or evening lounging in lobbies or sitting outside on a park bench people watching.
Look for Hidden Mickey’s. These littles guys are not just found at the parks and on rides. They’re also hidden all over resorts, talk to one of the cast members and they should be able to give you clues. If not pick up a copy of the Hidden Mickey book and start the hunt.
Spas. Pamper yourself with a Spa treatment. Senses Spa has two locations: Grand Floridian and Saratoga Springs.
Children’s Activity Centre. Let the adults have some adult time and kids some kid time with one of these 4 children’s activity centres. Located at Animal Kingdom Lodge, Beach Club, Polynesian Village Resort and the Dolphin Hotel. Fees apply.
Shop. Find shops all over Walt Disney World property. Some resorts have as many as 5 shops. With shops specializing in attire, toys, souvenirs, you could spend hours looking for the right purchase.
Grand Floridian Lobby. Any time after 3 o’clock enjoy live entertainment from the Lobby Pianist or the Society Orchestra.
Lounges. All moderate and deluxe resort host at least 1 lounge. Some offer appetizers as well as beverages whereas others only carry something to drink.
Fireworks at the Contemporary, Polynesian or Grand Floridian. Find a spot outside or by a window over looking the water and you will be able to witness the nightly Magic Kingdom fireworks without paying admission.
Playgrounds. Let your kids burn off some energy at one of the following playground locations: All-Star Movies, All-Star Music, All-Star Sports, Animal Kingdom Lodge, Art of Animation, Boardwalk, Caribbean Beach, Coronado Springs, Fort Wilderness, Old Key West, Pop Century, Port Orleans- Riverside and French Quarter, Saratoga Springs and Dolphin Hotel.
Campfires. Found at all moderate and deluxe resorts. Check with concierge to make sure it’s not cancelled due to weather.
Pool Activities. At the majority of the main pools there are cast members with activities for your kids to participate in. Check your itinerary you received upon checking in or chat with your concierge for details for your resort.
Brewery. Head to the Boardwalk to check out Big River Grille & Brewing Works. Sit at the bar or outside on the patio and try their sampler.
ESPN Club. On the Boardwalk you’ll find this restaurant with screens everywhere you look. Perfect for watching your favourite team on the big screen.
Pirates and Pals. Departing from the Contemporary Resort share this unique experience with your child as you watch the fireworks from the lagoon along with Capt. Hook.
Tri-Circle-D Ranch. Located at Fort Wilderness, go horseback riding, on a carriage ride or a wagon ride. Walk through the stables that host the horses you see at the parks walking down Main Street U.S.A.
Hot-Air Balloon Ride. Be lifted high into the skies and enjoy the view of Walt Disney World.
Shop. Explore 110 shops. Some unique to Disney and some of your favourites. Whether you’re a professional shopper, browser or window shopper there’s a store for you.
Splitsville. Head to Disney Springs and go bowling. Great for a rainy afternoon.
Movie Theatre. Remove yourself from the crowd by going and checking out a new release at the AMC Theatre.
So before you book your Disney Vacation Package re-think taking a park pass for every day of your vacation with park hopper. Choose to do 4 days of parks and leave the other days for all the other wonder and magic found across Walt Disney World property.