It’s no exaggeration to say you can easily fill up a week or two at Walt Disney World and still not see everything there is to see. But whether have you a week or two weeks or even just a couple of days, sometimes you need a break from visiting the parks. Luckily, Walt has you covered. And you don’t even have to leave Walt Disney World or spend a ton of extra money to enjoy these 5 super fun things to do with kids outside Disney World Parks.
People go to Walt Disney World to experience those four amazing theme parks. But there’s so much more to do while you’re there! Be sure to build some “non-park” down time into your vacation itinerary. Here are 5 great things to do with kids at Walt Disney World!
1. Visit Disney Springs
This is the obvious one so I am just going to straight up mention it first. Formerly known as Downtown Disney, the recently expanded Disney Springs features great restaurants, shopping, and entertainment.
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If you are a fan of the Rainforest Café, be sure to try T-REX. This lively restaurant has a similar menu and dramatic dino-mite setting kids will love. There are literally tons of other great restaurants and eateries to try in Disney Springs. My son’s favorite is the aforementioned T-REX, but when we want to grab something quick we hit Blaze Pizza, Earl of Sandwich or The Smokehouse at House of Blues for ribs. (Bonus: even though The Smokehouse is a walk-up window, you still get to enjoy live blues music as there is usually a band playing outside afternoons and evenings.)
Does your family like to go bowling? Splitsville has 30 lanes, full-service dining and five bars for the grown-ups to enjoy. The AMC Theater boasts 24 screens and the Fork & Screen Dine-In theater. There is also the gigantic Coca-Cola store in Disney Springs. This place is a neat shopping experience featuring cool Coke collectibles. There is a rooftop beverage bar where the whole family can grab a cold one.
For a more adventurous experience, take your family on a one-of-a-kind ride on Characters in Flight. You’ll ascend 400 feet in the air over Disney Springs. This giant helium balloon has a 19-foot-diameter basket, which holds up to 29 people.
You can also cruise Lake Buena Vista and see Disney Springs from the water aboard an Amphicar. We haven’t tried this one, but it looks pretty darn cool! What we have tried though – and is totally free – is hopping aboard the boat that transports guest from Disney Springs to Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside and French Quarter Resorts.
2. Catch a Movie Under the Stars
Almost all the Disney resorts show movies several nights a week, either by the pool or on the beach for those who have one. You can ask the front desk at your hotel for a schedule. Even if you’ve seen the film 100 times (what parent hasn’t seen Disney movies 100 times?) it is still a lovely experience to enjoy a movie outdoors on a warm Florida night.
Our favorite spot to catch a flick is at the Fort Wilderness Resort. The movies here are screened at an outdoor theater in the Meadow Recreation area. Stadium type seating, a large movie screen, and snack bar with ice cream and popcorn make for an unforgettable evening.
3. Visit a Disney Deluxe Resort
Does your budget not allow for a stay at a Deluxe Resort? No problem! Even if you are not staying at one of Disney’s Deluxe Resorts, you are perfectly welcome to pay them a visit during the day. Each uniquely themed resort features fab amenities, restaurants, and shops. These upscale resorts are a great way to pass a few enjoyable hours.
My number one favorite is Animal Kingdom Lodge. You can take a free tour of the property, or just hang out on one of the many terraces overlooking the savannas. There’s always plenty of wildlife to see, and experts on hand to answer questions and lead activities. There’s also a nightly storytelling around the fire pit outside, and after dark you can view the animals wearing night vision goggles.
Our other favorite is Disney’s Polynesian Resort. Set right on the Seven Seas Lagoon across from the Magic Kingdom, the Polynesian is like a tropical oasis right in the middle of Disney World. Grab a fruity cocktail at Trader Sam’s or buy a Dole Whip and sit on the beach. This is the perfect spot to view the nightly Electrical Water Parade which sails around the lagoon each night around 9, followed by the fireworks. If you really want to treat your family, make reservations for the Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show and Luau!
Located on the monorail line, it is easy to hop from the Polynesian to the Grand Floridian or Contemporary Resorts. It is also a lovely stroll along the waterfront from the Polynesian to Disney’s Grand Floridian, an equally marvelous Deluxe Resort.
4. Play Mini Golf
So, you have mini golf courses near your house…why would you want to take time to play at Disney World? Because it’s Disney World! There are two courses to choose from – Disney’s Winter Summerland and Fantasia Gardens.
Winter Summerland Miniature Golf is located near Blizzard Beach Waterpark. It features two different 18 hole courses, “summer” and “winter.” I definitely recommend this one more for younger kids! Fantasia Gardens is a more challenging course. It features five scenes from the animated classic film Fantasia, and is better for older kids.
TMOM Tip: Many Disney World vacation packages even include a free round of golf before 5pm, so be sure to check your fine print!
5. Rent a Bike or Boat
Most resorts at Walt Disney World offer numerous recreational activities for a nominal fee.
Both adult and children’s bikes can be rented at multiple resorts, and Surrey bikes are also available in either 2, 4 or 6 person sizes. Rent one at the Boardwalk near Epcot and ride along the waterfront; stop at Beaches and Cream for ice cream or grab a slice of pizza. You’ll feel like you are cruising down the Boardwalk in Atlantic City! Other favorite spots to rent bikes are at the Wilderness Lodge and Caribbean Beach Resort.
Boats can be rented at several resorts, or you can enjoy a specialty cruise on the Seven Seas Lagoon. (This is a great treat for viewing fireworks!) Water sports such as parasailing, water skiing, and personal watercraft rentals are available at the Sammy Duvall’s Watersports Centre at Disney’s Contemporary Resort.
However you plan to spend your vacation, take some time away from the parks to fully enjoy all that Walt Disney World has to offer.